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Posts Tagged ‘demons’

The photo is not about proclaiming the author’s beauty. I picked the grittiest, most unflattering filter I could find. I wanted to show something about me. This is my state of mind these days. I am squinting at reality because I don’t like what I see. It hurts; it’s overwhelming. I am unable to control it, understand it, or manage it any way. It’s happening, and I’m watching it. I’m wondering how to escape it, but knowing all along that you can’t. There is no escape from reality–there is no escape from anything. All you can do is change your perception. Changing a perception requires seeing the world around you–with its tragedies, insanity, cruelty, power struggles, and deep sadness–with different eyes.

I now understand detachment as a survival mechanism. There is a practical reason that Eastern religions promote observing reality rather than reacting to it. If you were to react emotionally to everything that happens to you, to your loved ones, to your community, to the world, you would lose your sanity and any ability to change what is under your control. An example of this is happening right now. Southern California is burning. Houses, neighborhoods, entire cities are vanishing in smoke. A ranch up north lost 40 horses in the blaze. The coyotes are screaming as the flames engulf them. We are surrounded by black, billowing smoke and ash. The world, our world, seems to be dying. At any moment, an ember could drift into my area and start a raging inferno.

My level of anxiety has skyrocketed to the point of paralysis. I now understand why people stand in front of the tsunami or the wildfire and don’t run. There comes a point where you can’t react anymore. The body and mind shut down. You decide to give in and drown. Or burn. Anything but continuing to live like a prisoner of panic and horror. What else can one do besides slowly go insane with the bad news that floods us minute by minute, or abandon ourselves to the abyss? There is only the option that I mentioned above: observe. Take only targeted and specific action. What does it really mean to ‘be the observer’? You must step outside of your mind. You must detach yourself from the spinning thoughts, worries, hypothetical disaster ruminations, and other chaotic maneuvers of the mind.

This means, of course, that you must understand that you are not your mind. There is an identity separate from the crazy chatterbox that pushes you to misery, depression, and anxiety. The Self that is not a slave to the mind is always there, always available to take over, always silently connected to God, or the creative principle, the One, the Source, or whatever you wish to call it. You have to find that Self and bring her forth and grant her control of reality. How to do that? This is what I did last night that has helped me tremendously to conceptualize the pain my mind subjects me to. I sat on the sofa, closed my eyes, and observed my thoughts, my state of mind.

It wasn’t enjoyable to watch my mind. It conjured up pictures of me burning alive, of my loved ones going up in flames, and my lungs shutting down and filling with smoke. Then I watched as my mind ran through multiple disaster scenarios and played them out. My mind noticed that my Self had detached from it, so it decided to call in the Big Guns: Demons. The pictures of Hell played out across a screen in my consciousness: Satan ripping me to pieces, devils eating me alive, horrifying monsters committing atrocious acts to my body, and animal predators chewing at my skin and muscles. Needless to say, it wasn’t my favorite meditation. However, there seemed to be a purpose. No matter how many scenes of graphic torture my mind put me through, “I” still survived. Kirsten’s essential self was unaffected by any of it. I arrived at the point where I didn’t care what horrors I was subjected to, because none of them destroyed the Observer. I was watching it all, but it was just another bad movie.

The news depends on keeping our minds in a state of total panic and fear. I am not denying the emotional impact of what is actually happening here in Southern California and elsewhere in the world; but what we are subjected to on social media and all over the Internet is far beyond calling our attention to situations that require our intervention or assistance. It’s not about how we can help; it’s about keeping us in a permanent state of alarm. A populace in a constant state of tension will willingly give in to whatever ‘fixes’ the people in power decide to ram through. Fear allows us to look for false solutions, which often are based on finding a scapegoat to absorb our sense of terror and powerlessness.

Most situations are beyond your control. There is nothing you can do concerning the events playing out at the moment. There are small, compassionate actions that you can engage in: offer a room to a displaced person, provide financial assistance when you can to relief agencies, or bring food/clothing/toiletries to a shelter. There are multiple kindnesses we can present as an offering to assuage the suffering of the world. But we can’t change the course of events alone; the fires will burn no matter how much we pray. Reach out to people and see what they need, but the course of droughts, fires, destruction, and climate changes are out of our hands now. Our world is reacting violently to our collective lack of caring, our exploitation, our rampant selfishness. We are going to pay the price for that for a long time. It will hurt.

But you can save your soul in the process. Stand back. Connect to the part of you that isn’t spinning in outrage and fear. Hold on to that authentic self through meditation, through prayer, through whatever means necessary. For if there is any hope for the world, it is only through our collective connection to something higher and finer in ourselves that can reach out and uplift others; if this divine vibration reaches enough of us, perhaps we can douse the flames of our own destruction.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

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Lucifer 1

I watched the first episode of “Lucifer” when it premiered. One would expect a few things given that this is television, after all: the supposedly “immune to Lucifer’s charms” detective looks to be about 26, tops, and is hot, of course. Nothing new there.

Lauren German

I expected Lucifer to be tall, dark and handsome, as is appropriate for a Romantic portrayal of the fallen angel (there’s a rich tradition in European, 19th century literature of portraying the Devil that way). There are plenty of inside jokes about Lucifer’s “Father,” and his reluctance to return to the Underworld. Some of the acting is rather bad, and the story is somewhat simplistic and seems targeted to teens and 20-somethings, who deserve better than these diluted story lines and predictable plot twists. Everything seems too easy, natural and light in this show, and even when they are attempting to be serious via the apparitions of the black-winged angel admonishing Lucifer for being bad, nothing seems particularly weighty, and certainly nothing here suggests real evil.

And therein lies the rub. There is no attempt here to address the nature of evil. Here, Lucifer is portrayed as the “devil with a soul,” a character that nobody would take seriously as evil incarnate. This reinforces the idea that evil is kind of cool, sexy, bad in a rebellious teenager kind of bad, and most of all, nothing to be truly afraid of. If, however, you have ever been confronted with true evil, the kind that sears your soul and makes you fear for your sanity, then you know that it’s truly dangerous to make evil appear bland and adventurous.

Hanna Arendt

True evil loves to hide behind such silliness. My favorite line about the Devil comes from “The Usual Suspects”: ‘The greatest trick of the Devil was convincing the world he didn’t exist’. The other ‘greatest trick of the devil’ is convincing the world that evil isn’t all that bad, and can actually be fun and super sexy! Our American media culture is so used to downplaying anything truly awful and scary to the point of inculcating in us all a sort of moral mediocrity, a blase attitude about anything too upsetting. Yes, I do understand that the Entertainment Industry’s job is to ‘entertain’ us, but I also think that if your topic is Lucifer and, by association, evil, then you have some obligation to at least SUGGEST how evil truly operates in the world. This has been done well before: think of the iconic figure of Hannibal Lecter. Look at those eyes. Those are eyes that suggest the power and horror of evil. Not the blandly handsome eyes of our hero in this new show.

Hannibal

Why bother taking evil seriously? Quite simply, because it exists and can destroy our lives. It kills, mains, seduces, rapes, distracts, lies, manipulates and destroys the good and the noble in our character. It threatens our humanity, our love, our hope and our belief in God. It can lurk in obvious places, such as in the hearts of ruthless killers, but it also can be found corrupting our politicians, bankers, CEOs and anyone or any group with power over others’ lives. Evil can be found all over social media, distracting us from useful and creative pursuits. It can be found in a raised fist at home. It can be found on paranormal investigations, classrooms, offices, homes, churches . . . it’s everywhere.

banality of evil

That, my friend, is truly terrifying. We have to fight it wherever it infects our environment. It’s not going to show itself in obvious ways. We need a moral education; we are starving for shows about the true nature of Good and Evil and powerful ways to combat the demons. Shows like “Lucifer” do us all a disservice by turning evil into a fun hour of hot guys in nightclubs. We can’t be warriors for the Good until we know what we are truly fighting.

Lucifer

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Ouija_Board
(This is a scary story that I wrote. It’s one of my hobbies. I welcome all comments and hope you enjoy it.)

January 14th, 1984
I have never heard of mandatory therapy. Even stranger is Dr. Joe’s insistence that I keep a diary every day. When your house is infested with demons, you can’t really blame the family that lives there for the death on the property. None of that was my fault. There are forces greater than yourself that work in ways you barely understand. Even the most terrible thing you have ever done might be for the good. Mother taught me that nothing is as it seems; the best in us has a dark side, and the worst has a silver lining.

My job here is to convince Dr. Joe that I am blameless, because I don’t think he understands what Mother understood. He assumes that everything works a certain way, that there are healthy people who see time and events as linear and coherent, progressing towards something perfected; on the flip side, he thinks those who see time and events as jumbled, senseless and circular, belong in a cage, hidden from the world. I have to convince him with these words that I belong where I am, on the outside, where healthy people shop, eat out, fix up their houses, buy cars, raise kids and work most of the day. In order to do that, I have to tell my story, and I have to start here:

January 15th, 1984
Dr. Joe knows some things about me, but he doesn’t know everything. He knows I’m 16, very pretty, blonde and blue eyed. I listen to K-ROQ non-stop. I have a great tan from my afternoons at the beach. I work at a bakery and I dropped out of school. My mom is (was) an addict who spends all day locked in her room, and my dad took off a long time ago. My mom’s psycho boyfriend stays with us most of the time. I can’t remember his name. They come and go every few months . . . her boyfriends, I mean. My brother is 19 and a total nut job. He’s been in and out of a state hospital whose name I am supposed to keep secret. They say he’s moderately schizophrenic and has some personality disorder that makes him potentially dangerous. No kidding (read that in a sarcastic manner, Dr. Joe).

I like to spend my abundant free time reading about the survival of the soul after death. I always thought that religion was useless because it can’t prove anything; how am I supposed to believe in Heaven, when I can’t even imagine it? I used to ask Mother what Heaven was. She said, ‘imagine how you felt when you picked up Puddy Tat for the first time, and he cuddled with you and fell asleep in your arms. Heaven feels just like that, all of the time.’ I wanted to go to Heaven right then and there, but I didn’t understand that you had to die first.

Now I want proof for everything. Leonora Piper was a very famous medium, and she said the afterlife was a big reunion with all your loved ones who died before you, and other people say you have lots of lives and you live them all at once, even though you really only perceive one life at a time. Thinking about all this hurts my head, but I have to think about it. It’s important to know where you are, and where you are going, and why you are here. I am still very confused about the ‘why’ question.

I read about one book a day. I don’t have much else to do and no one to talk to. For the last few years, Mother has been totally useless and mostly absent, and my brother is either locked up or about to be locked up because he’s raving about Armageddon on some street corner and intimidating passers-by, or he’s begging for money on the freeway on-ramp holding a sign that says he needs to support four kids and a wife with cancer. That’s one thing I can say: we’re all liars in this family.

January ? 1984
I like starting paragraphs with the sentence “the trouble started on a Tuesday . . .” because it sounds so official and cool. The really awesome thing is that the trouble really did start on a Tuesday. I left Dairy Queen after a fight started in the parking lot between the surf Nazis and some Mexican rocker kids from the Valley. I headed home that day, because the Santa Ana winds were throwing sand in my face at the beach and it hurt. Not only that, but the waves were spitting sea foam and stuff was flying down the beach and it was freaking me out.

Our house is an old Craftsman, built in 1927 and on the Register of Historic Places. We got to live there because we are the official ‘caretakers’ and my dad, before he took off, was a member of the Historical Resources Board. The agreement was that we keep the place vintage and don’t do anything stupid like install vinyl windows or ‘update’ the bathrooms with the latest crap from Angel’s Hardware. Every now and then, we’re supposed to open up the house to the public—on Tuesdays, to be precise—and let them wander through to see what a real Craftsman looks like. There’s like hundreds of them in this crappy beach town, but whatever, I guess ours is special. Our house backs to an alley and behind the alley is a field dotted with trash and transients. I always wonder who is going to scale the fire escape behind Mother’s window and commit unmentionable crimes. The houses around us are old and falling apart. They just peel and rust under the beach sun and the salt air, and from behind the bars the occupants watch the weeds grow in the front yards while they smoke, drink and wait for the beach report.

As I was saying, the trouble started on a Tuesday. I was alone or with Mother, which is really a way to say the same thing. It was highly unlikely that any random strangers would want to see our historic house, because in the last year we had precisely three people show up on a Tuesday, and they showed up together the week before Christmas. I headed to my room at the top of the stairs. Even though I’m a teenager and you would probably expect my room to be covered in Miami Vice posters, you would be wrong. I have an Eastlake bedroom set and my walls have Victorian prints of ladies of leisure enjoying English gardens. I keep my room spotless. My Persian rug is clean and I vacuum the draperies once a week. How many other teenagers can say that?

Mother’s room, on the other hand, is a complete disaster. She sleeps on a mattress on the floor and covers her windows in towels. She has bottles of cheap wine and drug paraphernalia spread out all over the entire room, and for some reason, she sawed the legs off of a lovely side table from the 1940s. We don’t live in the rest of the house. It looks like a museum and it creeps me out. We don’t even use the kitchen except to microwave popcorn or make a ham sandwich. Everything in the kitchen is from the 1930s, and when I’m in there, I feel confused about living in a 1920s home with a 1930s kitchen in the 1980s with furnishings from the turn of the century and a blue-ray player in the common area. It scares me.

Mother came running into my room screaming about something. She had bruises on her face and arms, and her hair was literally standing on end. “It shook my bed and scratched me!” were the only words I could make out. She pulled up her shirt and showed me three, long, jagged scratches down her lower back. She was so thin that I could make out the topography of her spine and ribs as if she were an anatomical model. “It’s talking to me all the time, telling me terrible things, it’s going to kill your brother, just wait!” she wailed on, making a bit more sense as she continued. “You brought it here, this is YOUR fault, you have that damned Ouija board in your closet, don’t you?”

I do have a Ouija board in my closet, but I was eleven the last time I used it. I highly doubt that demons wait around five years before they decide to torture an old alcoholic and her loser kid. But I have to say, something had changed in the house and things started happening. Bad things. Before, this house was filled with light and was always quiet, like a church. After Mother’s breakdown, the house filled up with shadows that moved around from the corner of my eyes. It was cold in the living room, freezing cold, and sometimes that cold would travel to other parts of the house. Old houses make noises, I know, but do they growl? Sometimes I heard what sounded like a cocktail party or something coming from the dining room, with clinking glasses, women laughing in a delicate way, and men telling stories or giving instructions to the servants. Do I really have to tell you that nothing was ever there when I wandered halfway down the staircase?

I started losing things. I never lose things. My keys disappear at least once a day, and I would find them in the strangest places. Yesterday, I left them on my nightstand and I found them later on top of a burner. My latest copy of Cosmo vanished from my room and ended up in the freezer. I swear. I am not making this up. What really freaks me out, though, are the scratches on my back. Just like Mother, they appear in threes. I don’t like to think about things like devils, but I’m really not sure what else to blame. Why us, though? We barely have a life here.

May 1985
My brother came back from wherever he was yesterday. His eyes were both wild and glazed over, giving him a weird, Manson look. He’s skinny and bony like Mother, and it looks like he’s worn the same green tee shirt and ratty jeans for the last several weeks. He wears these brown leather sandals and his hair is long and messy, all blonde curls that smell like the beach. He looks like Jesus from a kid’s play at school. His nose seems thinner and kind of beaked, and his lips are chapped, like he’s dehydrated. He has cheekbones now and his eyes are hollow, so he looks older than 20. Or 23; honestly, I have no idea how old he is. He reminds me a little of Mother’s boyfriend, who hasn’t shown up—as far as I know—since she freaked out.

“I hear you guys are under demonic attack,” he smirks, turning every sentence into a joke or a weapon. I remind him that he preaches about Armageddon on a regular basis, so who is he to make fun of us? He laughs, tilting back in a very expensive chair in our very formal dining room, and says he doesn’t remember his preaching, but that other people do. “Shit, I don’t remember half of what I do or say. That’s why I keep ending up at . . .” Shut up! I yell at him, “don’t say it.” And he doesn’t, but he keeps winking at me and making me feel really uncomfortable. “What are you going to do about Mother? Are you going to move her off the shelf?” he whispers, as if she could hear us from upstairs behind a closed and locked door. My brother says things like that, designed to throw you off and make you wonder what’s happening in his head. “Nothing,” I say, because there is nothing to do. Demons or no demons, we can’t afford to move.

“Actually,” he whispers, “No joke. I see them everywhere, all over this house. It’s serious, this time. They’re not joking around anymore. They want your soul. They already have Mother’s, and they took mine years ago.” He starts laughing, and it’s a jarring, crazy sound, something out of a Halloween maze where they try to scare you at every turn in the labyrinth.

February? 1987?
Sorry, Doc Joe, I know you wanted this a long time ago—three years ago, right?—but I just couldn’t keep going after the Incident. I know you know all about the Incident, because that’s what keeps me in mandated therapy. It’s fine, I know there’s no rush. My life is much better now than it was back then. It’s much easier to be 19 and independent than 16 and still hoping for guidance and care from your Mother! But, as you know, Mother has been very hard to find these days. In fact, I can’t say when I saw her last. I try to remember, but it’s like pulling a car out of the mud or trying to remember what Rocky Road tastes like after 43 years of vanilla pudding.

I don’t miss her. My brother doesn’t miss her, either. He is still battling the mental health system, and losing most of the time. He kept a job for six months, making something in a shop, I forget what, but eventually even that required too much discipline for him. He shaved his head and gained twenty pounds, and I guess decided to go full-on white supremacist or something, judging by his Nazi tattoos and general aggressive vibe. He traded out the Jesus sandals and green tees for jack boots with studs and tight, white tee shirts that outline his little gut. His shredded jeans are probably the same ones he was wearing three years ago. OK, I know, this isn’t supposed to be about David. It’s supposed to be about me.

Me. Well, the last time I wrote, there was that demon problem. They might have chased her out of the house; I’m not too sure about that. She was delicate already, with that shady boyfriend who was such a loser that he wouldn’t use the front door. He used to come up the fire escape stairs and crawl into Mother’s window. I would see him and throw food or balls of paper at him and call him names. I know that wasn’t very mature, but what kind of guy doesn’t care enough about his girlfriend to actually knock at the front door? Plus, he looked kind of like a really ugly Fonzie and brought her drugs; so there was nothing to like.

Mother didn’t come out much as it was, but after the scratches, the whispers, the shadows and the eerie conversations taking place at 3:00 AM in the living room and dining room, she hardly ever cracked open that door. It didn’t make any difference, though; they still attacked her, scratching pentagrams into the skin on her back, throwing items around her room, laughing like hyenas, and worst of all, sending her into fits that made her arch her back and foam at the mouth. I saw all of this, and a couple times I ran away, but sleeping on the beach, freezing cold, and fighting off the meth heads and perverted bums was even worse than dealing with demons. So I always went back.

I told Mother not to react to them so much, not to talk to them, argue with them, scream at them or curse them out. She just couldn’t help it, though; and pretty soon her relationship with them became so all-consuming that her skanky boyfriend finally flew the coop and never came back. David watched us with amused detachment. That’s what I hate the most about David, to be honest. He just doesn’t care about anything. He used to take Polaroid pictures of Mother’s terrible fits (we eventually started to call them by their real name, possessions) and stick them on the fridge with magnets. The photos had strange foggy areas in them, and on some of them, I swear you could see faces. David called it his art project, and pretty soon he was recording the voices as well, and playing them back for Mother and me to hear. We didn’t want to hear those voices from Hell, but neither one of us had the courage to tell David to stop. People can be scarier than demons, you know?

I suppose that I started to hate David at that point. He was always in control of the house. He never cleaned up after himself or made his bed. He came and went at all hours of the day and night, never sticking to any kind of schedule. He didn’t bother to look for work or go to school. He just used the house as a rest stop between his stints at the State Hospital. He became obsessed with the demons in the house, and started to call them by name, which I knew was dangerous. He said that they talked to him on audio and through the Ouija board, but who’s to say they weren’t just voices in his head. How would David ever know the difference?

Tuesday, 1988
The Ouija board was his biggest mistake. As soon as he brought it out, I knew something terrible was going to happen. OK, Dr. Joe, here’s the part you really wanted to hear: it was Tuesday night, the worst night of the week. It had been cloudy for fourteen days in a row; I know, because I counted. I thought I was going to lose my mind. Mother was kind of there and not there, if you know what I mean. I was the only one cleaning up the house and fixing the little things that go wrong on a weekly basis in old houses. I had that fuzzy, angry feeling that can’t find any direction or outlet. I tried redecorating the living room with the funds we had from the Historical Resources Board, thinking that just maybe that would clear out the ghosts downstairs. I tried writing some poetry, walking around the neighborhood, even taking a couple of art classes at the local college. It was better than nothing, but it didn’t erase the hum in my head, the nervous energy, the uninvited, dark thoughts that I blame on the demons. No, that I blame on David for bring in to the house.

David was playing with the damn board on the dining room table. He put a big class of Coke right on the wood and didn’t care that he was going to leave a ring on the Louis XV walnut table that I had spent hours polishing and waxing. Instead, he started calling out words that the demons were spelling out. I won’t repeat what they said, because that gives them power, and that’s the last thing that they need. David stopped eating and showering and barely had the will to get up and use the bathroom. He was spending almost the entire day playing with it, listening to the voices on his audio clips, organizing his creepy Polaroid photos and writing in his journal. Who knows what he was writing; it was probably the story of his pathetic life with the paranormal. I tried telling him to stop, but he ignored me. Finally, I started yelling. That I do remember; I could hear my own voice, but it sounded distant and metallic, like something from outer space.

At that point, I was watching myself yelling at David. I wondered if I was my own ghost. Mother appeared at the top of the stairs, and I screamed at her to get back in the room or the demons would kill her. She made an ‘O’ with her mouth and turned around; she walked back into her room and I heard the sound of the door locking. My second me, the one that had moved back into the living room, was watching the original me gesticulating and pushing David, who stood up and poured his Coke all over the Louis XV dining room table, smiling at me with those infernal eyes. Then he slapped me. I don’t remember anything else for awhile. I was in the kitchen, drinking glass after glass of tepid water and then throwing it up.

It’s hard to know who walked back into the dining room, because I had been two people, and I wasn’t sure if I was back to just one yet. The first thing I saw was the scarlet, blood-soaked white tee shirt and then the disjointed position my brother had assumed in death, because I knew he was dead. Dead people, as it turns out, have their own body language. You know that there’s no soul left from across the room. He was a stiff, awkward shell of David, covered in blood and bits of something gooey.

It situations like that, it’s hard to know what a normal reaction is. I wanted my Mother more than anything, I wanted her to tell me that it was OK, that we could live without him, but her door was locked and she wouldn’t answer. I ran to my room and looked out the window. She must have disappeared down the fire escape. She didn’t come back. To this day, I don’t know where she is; she has never once visited me or even called. I know she’s alive, but I guess she’s too scared to look for me. She didn’t love David, so I don’t know why she would be so upset that he’s dead. All she did was complain about him, and she agreed that he was a loser that needed to get a life.

I kinda found God after that. We were all sinners in that house, and the Bible tells us that Satan loves sinners. He finds your weak spot and exploits it until you have no energy left to fight him off. The he does whatever he wants with you. Mother and David are responsible for bringing in the demons. Satan loves alcoholics and crazy people. He is also a liar, of course, and on some level, so am I. When we’re forced to tell our stories, we all lie. Not on purpose, but because we think that if people really knew us, we would spend eternity alone. That’s why the demons picked on me. They like scared people most of all. David used to say he didn’t believe in demons or Satan or God or anything that had more powers than he did. I bet David believes now that he’s burning in Hell.

August or October, 1989
Dr. Joe will let me out sooner if I tell the truth. He says it doesn’t matter how many years I need to tell it; because, as he always repeats in every therapy session, “the truth shall set you free.” I don’t think time is what we think it is. Sometimes years seem to pass, but it’s only been a few hours. Sometimes we think that something just happened, and it was thirty years ago. When you’re stuck at the State Hospital, time is completely meaningless. The routines, the repetitions, they destroy any notion of forward progress. Here, all we do is go in circles. When Dr. Joe says that I can leave as soon as I tell the truth, my hope is that time will start moving forward again. Maybe, that way, I will get the old Craftsman with the picket fence by the beach. Maybe then, I’ll have beautiful things and a family that loves me. Maybe then, people will have forgotten what I did to David in a fit of rage over that stupid Ouija board. It was my turn, and he wouldn’t let me play. He wouldn’t let me talk to Mother.

I just wanted my turn. The ghosts had started to talk to me, they were letting me into their secret world . . . they let me talk to Mother sometimes, and that was all I wanted, so that she could tell me that she loved me, that she was OK, and that it didn’t hurt when the car hit the tree and sunk in the lake. I don’t even remember what Mother looks like anymore. I keep seeing her under water, her hair like sea grass, her eyes open, cloudy and fixed on nothing, her mouth frozen in a little ‘O’, like death caught her by surprise.

Dr. Joe tells me that drugs and alcohol can make a person violent and irrational. He tells me that I don’t need to blame demons or ghosts for what I did to David. He wants me to be free of guilt. Even if he lets me out tomorrow, even if I confess that’s it’s 2015 and I’m fifty years old, even if I, as he says, ‘accept reality,’ it doesn’t change one, very important fact.

David talks to me every day. How they allowed a Ouija board in here is something of a mystery, but I guess he wants me to finally have my turn. David is waiting for Dr. Joe to let me out. The ghosts swear that I’m talking to Mother, but I’m not so sure anymore. I don’t think Mother would want me to hurt anyone. David says that as soon as I get my pretty house and sit down to have quail at my Louis XV walnut dining table, he’s going to dash my brains out with the jar of his ashes. He says that‘s what I deserve for covering him in Mother’s remains and keeping him forever from the Light.

He’s probably right. First thing tomorrow, I’m going to tell Dr. Joe that it’s 1965, and as it turns out, I died a long, long time ago. That’s the only truth that can set me free.

Kirsten A. Thorne
Kitty Serious

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Allan1952 on flickr.com

What, exactly, makes contact with us on paranormal investigations, or “ghost hunts?” This question has haunted me, so to speak, for years. Most of us assume that it is the intact spirit of a dead human being; however, after reading Colin Wilson’s Poltergeist: a Classic Study in Destructive Haunting, I may have another answer. This time the answer may be definitive.

The path to the answer is long and winding, requiring us to make some assumptions the materialist will not necessarily welcome. First and foremost—and I doubt anyone would disagree with this point—humans are inexhaustible fountains of kinetic, magnetic and electrical energy. Secondly, that energy does not evaporate or disappear upon the death of the body (the laws of physics support this notion, specifically the Second Law of Thermodynamics). If we can accept the first two premises, I will add a third—human personality is intimately bound and expressed by the energy we store, produce and throw out into the world. Most of don’t ever attempt to harness or use our energy to affect the physical world; however, the interplay between human “foci” and the boundless energy of the poltergeist (more on this later) exemplifies this relationship between both complementary and oppositional forces (here I consider the forces in classic and quantum physics, but I must leave that for another entry). The evidence for the previous affirmations ranges from psychic healing to E.S.P. to apparitions of the dead (and living).  Anyone who thinks that the evidence does not exist has not researched the history of the so-called “paranormal”, and needs to read the peer-reviewed papers of William James and Frederic Myers from the Society for Psychical Research (to name two among hundreds who have studied anomalous phenomena).

How do we understand ourselves? We need to answer that question before we can decide what a ghost, a poltergeist or an elemental might be. There is an intimate interplay between our various “selves” and what we observe to be happening around us in haunted locations. It is a fact that something is “happening” during some paranormal investigations—but what we don’t often consider is the relationship between what we are observing and how we operate as human beings. Our minds do not create the phenomena per se, but the structure of our psyche organizes and energizes the spirits that draw from us in order to manifest or interact. If it seems intellectually suspicious to accept the existence of spirits as fact, I ask the reader to please read Wilson’s book—it makes perfect sense in the context of thousands of years of human experience. I am not asking for a leap of faith, but for the reader to consult an expert (Wilson) and to accept the preponderance of the evidence.

Our identity is not a solid, continuous, coherent structure. We have to construct our “selves” and create an identity from the fragments of our personality. Freud famously described the Id, Ego and Superego as the elements that constitute human personality. In the Huna philosophy, there are Lower, Middle and Upper selves. We are all aware of the “left brain, right brain” dichotomy, and the fact that one side of the brain can operate independently of the other. In broader strokes, there is the conscious and the unconscious mind, and the differences between “soul” and “spirit” that so many religions define (see Peter Novak’s The Lost Secret of Death for a fascinating discussion of this division). Across cultures, religions and philosophies, we find the same tendencies to view the human psyche as divided into various “compartments”, like rooms in a basement. Science itself supports this notion through studies of the brain, although doesn’t admit that there is a spiritual or extra-corporeal dimension to consciousness.

Wilson takes hundreds of cases of poltergeist disturbances and hauntings—both ancient and modern—and delves into the various theories that best explain the phenomena. He is particularly impressed by Max Long, Allen Kardec (father of Spiritism in Brazil), Cesare Lombroso, T.C. Lethbridge and the Huna philosophy of the self when attempting a coherent theory for the behavior and existence of “discarnate entities” Consider his understanding of the poltergeist:

“In addition to these two ‘souls’ [the conscious and the unconscious] we also “possess” (or “are?) a higher self, a superconscious being who might be regarded as the guardian angel, and—this is perhaps the most interesting suggestion—controls our future. It does so according to the desires and suggestions of the “middle self”—the conscious ego—and most of us have such messy lives because our suggestions are so muddled and contradictory.   . . .

These three souls use three kinds of vital force, or mana, each with a different “voltage,” so to speak. The form used by the higher self is symbolized in religions by the sun. By way of illustrating this vital force on its lowest level, Long cites Nandoor Fodor’s Encyclopedia of Psychic Science, and Lombroso’s case of the poltergeist in the tavern. For the poltergeist, according to Long, is a spirit—“lower soul” which has somehow, in death, become separated from the middle and higher selves. According to Long, the lower self possesses memory, and the middle self does not. So a disembodied lower self is an earthbound spirit of the type that causes poltergeist disturbances. The disembodied middle self, separated from the other selves, is a wandering wraith without memory—in fact, what we would generally regard as a ghost.” (312-13)

A poltergeist, then, is a manifestation that draws energy from our lower selves. The destructive haunting takes advantage of our “energy leaks” to create disturbances in the environment, from rappings and scratching noises in the walls to smashed plates and spontaneous fires. The ghost is a remnant of a soul that never integrated itself, never found a way towards union through a higher spiritual purpose or mission. The ghost, possessing no memory, repeats actions in a mindless loop; it never realizes that time has moved forward. For the ghost, time does not move, but is paralyzed in an eternal present moment where is replays a trauma or relives the habits of an old life. The “higher self” presumably is capable of moving on to another plane of existence or another dimension of reality that we cannot perceive. The higher self is what we usually understand as the soul, capable of evolution and transformation. It seems to me that this is what reincarnates, what is reborn and continues a particular journey of self discovery.

This suggests that one person can divide into various energy forms, both while alive and after death. Lower spirits find us at our most vulnerable and feed off our energy; we can project our “middle selves,” the spirit without memory, into a double that does our bidding at a distance. This may be the body involved in astral travel and out-of-body experiences. All of this can occur while we are consciously occupying the only “self” we recognize: the higher self, the superego, or the seat of the soul. After death, our lower self can continue to generate energy or seek it from others–it is the instinct unleashed, the primitive desires of the frustrated child loosed upon the world. We could haunt someone through the lower self, sucking up the energies of those who allow us, and creating havoc and chaos without the higher self ever realizing it. Our “middle self” could split from us and create a ghost, again without our conscious awareness. What happens to our soul, our “higher self” after death? I believe that we strongly identify with our most developed and aware right brain, and consider that to be the source of our true identity; however, if we have not integrated the elements of our personality, our being, then we may well create the hauntings that others investigate. Could our divided mind fill the world with ghosts and poltergeists? Could that happen even in life? That would explain the complicated relationship we have with spirits and ghosts, the interplay between our conscious and unconscious minds with the myriad wandering spirits and thought forms (elementals and nature spirits ) that surround us.

I have often wondered, as I sit in the darkened hallways of Camarillo or the dingy surgical suites at Linda Vista what is speaking to us, what is slinking around the perimeter, who is touching our hair or brushing our face. If we have enough experience, we know what is exterior to us and what has a “natural” explanation; or so we think. If activity seems to occur more often when a certain person is in the room, it isn’t luck or “sensitivity”: it’s a mild form of possession, an interplay between the overflowing energy of the lower self, the unconscious, and a fragment of consciousness “out there” that is seeking self expression. I now believe that we can be possessed if we are weak, incautious, vulnerable or unaware of our own powerful emotions. Our energy is like food for lower entities, who–in the end–are fragments of the psyche of the dead (and in some cases, the living). We need to exercise extreme caution when we undertake such voyages of discovery in the land of the spirits, because we occupy the same space–and we create the same potential for chaos and terror.

If there is a way around the dilemma of the divided self, it would have to consist of a combination of mental and spiritual practices: as Wilson states, cultivate the authority of your higher self, so that “you” (your true soul) remains in control of your unconscious or lower self. I would add to that the necessity of continual spiritual development and transformation. Pray, meditate, find your path and purpose–protect the soul and foster its potential for great good in the world. Only through conscious integration of all your emotions, instincts, desires and mindless urges will you achieve the possibility of eternity as a soul with its memory–the past– intact; only through such integration is there a future, many futures, for you–the authentic you. Without such a resolution, such a marriage of the selves, the haunting that will most terrify you will be your own.

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