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Posts Tagged ‘evidence for survival’

By Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

Bio: My PhD is from Yale University in the area of Spanish and Modern Languages. Although I am not a physicist or a scientist by training, I was trained in critical thinking across the disciplines and have read a wide array of texts on the nature of time, physics for the lay reader, and theories of reality in the field of philosophy. I have attempted, though direct investigations of the so-called paranormal, to access the nature of reality, death, time and the afterlife, although most of my research is academic in nature. I have experienced anomalous events my entire life, and my primary goal here at Soulbank is to find plausible scientific theories to explain common human experiences that science has not yet adequately explained. If you are a professional scientist/physicist who happens to stumble across my blog, I ask that you please consider seriously my analyses and patiently correct any misstatements or misunderstandings that might inadvertently arise due to my lack of technical (mathematical) training. 

My last post attempted to elucidate the “block theory” of time and how–if we were able to view events from a vantage point outside of the spacetime bubble we occupy–we would see time as an endless series of events stretching from what we call the ‘past,’ through something nebulous and impossible to define called the ‘present,’ on into what we consider the ‘future.’ My theory, pieced together from various theorists such as Richard Muller, Sean Carroll, and John Ashmead (a big influence) among many others. These are my basic starting points:

  • Past, present and future are human categories of understanding experience and have no necessary, permanent standing in reality;
  • Although most texts seem to affirm that the “Big Bang” kicked off entropy and our current perception of time as following entropic processes from low to high, this is by no means everyone’s opinion; Richard Muller argues that there are many instances of entropy working in various directions all around us, and that there is no reason to assume that increasing entropy creates time. Therefore, I will leave that discussion alone for the most part, seeing as there appears to be no general consensus on the matter.
  • Humans associate time with their own aging and eventual death, based on the breakdown of material substances we observe daily. We see nature’s cycles of birth, growth, decay and death and create our timeline based upon them. However, and I believe this is an important point to make, not all cultures measure time in the same fashion. The Maya calendar is nothing like our modern, Western version. Many indigenous calendars are based on ever-widening cycles that, when viewed, bear a fascinating resemblance to block time. All events are laid out in cycles that allow for predictions of what is to come. Not all cultures are as aggressively ego-centric as the West concerning measuring time simply as a function of the self’s material decay; we are obsessed with our mortality and our aging, to the point that we’ve created a culture that deifies youth and demonizes death. There is certainly a cultural explanation for why time, for the West, is tied to the shortening of our telomeres. Correlation is not causation: we correlate the passing of seconds, minutes, hours, years, decades, etc. to our observations of physical decline and from those observations, create time. Simply because we’ve chosen to create this association between physical death and time passing, does not imply that there is anything fundamental or necessary (no rules required here) about it. We have not defined time by associating it with aging and death. Death is simply another event in the block universe, inevitable because we occupy a physical cycle of experience, but not ontologically the terminus of anything but a body (now, of course, would normally be the moment when I argue that the biggest illusion of all is to tie our consciousness to a body, but I’ll wait on that).
  • I will not be the person to reconcile quantum theories of ‘spooky action at a distance’ with General Relativity. However, it makes sense to me that our consciousness is quantum based, and Stuart Hameroff, MD has extensively discussed this. I realize that most physicists won’t touch this topic, or anything related to consciousness, but I am at liberty to do so and hope some of you are willing to take it seriously. It seems to me that the only way to reconcile two apparently irreconcilable theories of reality is to accept that consciousness plays a role in the reality we experience and possibly creates what we observe. This is not really a novel statement. Many others have said it before. The implications are, however, stunning. It is our consciousness that has access to the block universe and can overcome the limitations of time and death by recognizing the non-material basis of experience, observation, self awareness and the universality of concepts such as justice, love, peace, selflessness and sacrifice. And if all of that sounds too New Age, please be aware that I base this on reading intensively across several disciplines, and it’s not a belief system based upon nebulous emotions or desires.

The above points represent the basics for what I am about to say next. Any theory on time, reality of events, observation of events and the role of consciousness in the creation of the reality we observe must always circle back to what makes intuitive sense an average, rational, thinking human being. We must respect human experience while enlarging said experience at the same time. While it is true that we observe aging and death in all living things, that is not the ONLY reality that we are aware of; it’s simply the only reality we feel comfortable sharing, discussing, and advocating for fear of criticism, ridicule or censure if we openly discuss alternative experiences that point to a different interpretation of our lives.

Human beings across the centuries have shared certain anomalous experiences (although they were not considered ‘anomalous’ for most cultures) that point both to the reality of the Block Universe AND to the quantum underpinnings of consciousness. It may well be that free will and autonomy–two concepts so central to the West’s ideology of limitless expansion, progress, perfectibility, and endless opportunity for self creation–are not real in and of themselves, but simply appear that way to us. In the end, if it SEEMS that we create the future, do we really need to panic if that isn’t how the universe works? But first, let’s look at some common features of human experience that point to Eternalism or some close cousin to it:

  • Precognition: Knowing what is about to happen and consequently experiencing that event is not about motion towards the future and then backwards motion to the past, but about human consciousness briefly occupying a different ‘slice’ of spacetime that contains the events that result from previous conditions in spacetime slice X1. Both slices–X in the ‘present’ and X1 in the ‘future’ are both forward and retro causal in keeping with observations that the distinction between cause and effect is not fundamental to the field of physics. Of course, cause and effect rules the physical world, but once you are in the realm of precognition and retrocognition, you are in a realm where the ordinary laws of physics may or may not apply.
  • Deja-vu, or the ‘reliving’ of an experience that you don’t consciously recognize as ever happening before. Often, there is an abundance of veridical information that the individual could not have known under normal circumstances. Consciousness can have glitches, where the brain stops ordering experience chronologically and for a moment allows us to enter the Block Universe by skipping us to another page in the flip book. Both deja-vu (‘already seen’) and precognition are not ‘reading’ future events or reliving past events that haven’t occurred yet, but reflecting a breakdown of our perception of time that allows access to other realities in spacetime that are always already there.
  • It’s possible that we experience ‘prior’ and ‘post’ events on a regular basis, but our brains only record experiences that allow for the perception of time as flowing into the future. Our memory function is designed for this perception, thus memories of the future are routinely ‘wiped’ from consciousness in order to preserve the illusion of the self moving into an uncreated future of infinite possibility. If we did not believe that the future is open and uncreated, then we would cease to evolve, to struggle, to create, to suffer, to work, to dream, to hope and to transcend our physical, material reality; for those with faith, we would stop seeking God.
  • GHOSTS (finally): What we call ‘ghosts’ are simply human beings freed of the material universe moving freely through the Block Universe, or not moving at all and simply experiencing everything all at once, always. They are also us in a different spacetime slice. They might be entirely free of time, or they might have reversed to a particular reality where they are frozen and on endless repeat. To use the analogy of a record, they could be experiencing the whole of the album timelessly, or stuck in a glitch with the needle circling endlessly over the same experiences of trauma, desire, grief or guilt. Our ability to perceive them is an act of reciprocal consciousness: we observe them observing us. We call each other into existence similar to quantum experiments where the observer ‘collapses the wave function.’ A ghost is a collapsed wave function that consciousness has called into being. Before that, they were everywhere; or, they were stuck in a spacetime slice. Either way, seeing the ghost, accessing the future and remembering events that never happened, and all manner of other paranormal experience represent quantum effects of consciousness acting in and through the Block Universe of physics. With so-called ‘ghosts’, we need to remember that the old trope of ghosts ‘not knowing that they are dead’ represents a false conception of reality in the Block Universe. We have accessed their CURRENT REALITY. It’s not in the same ‘place’ as ours, so we assume that they are communicating from a place of non-existence (death), when in reality,  there is no such thing as non-existence in the Block Universe, and therefore no such thing as ‘death’ as we commonly understand it as the ‘end’ of one’s existence.   

This paradigm has staggering implications. Your death as a physical being is simply another event in the Block Universe, no more real than any other event; and since you obviously exist now, in the Block Universe you always exist somewhere. You will continue to exist after your physical functions cease, because somewhere in spacetime your physical functions have NOT ceased; so, when your brain is no longer filtering, ordering, organizing and interpreting your experiences, you can range through multiple ‘reality slices’ freed from the constraints of illusory chronology. Since consciousness creates, directs, and filters your experiences through a brain, connecting them to a body that is, in turn, ruled by entropy, once the body succumbs to disorganization, consciousness is free of time but not of experience. Consider this quote from the website scienceandnonduality.com:

“You create the experience of movement by thinking that the ‘you’ reading this article is the same self that ate breakfast this morning or went running yesterday. But in fact, all those selves are distinct, each one existing at a different point in time–which you could see simultaneously if you stepped outside of the universe. It’s only when your mind ties all these separate selves together that time starts to flow, much like flipping through the frames of an animated movie.”

Of course, these ‘selves’ are of necessity connected in some way, or the result would be psychosis or schizophrenia. Consciousness transcends the selves in the flip book, being atemporal and connected to all “time” frames at once. Consciousness chooses the form, format and organizational principles of human existence, so that we do not experience the fragmented selves of the flip book but a continuous flow of experience.

Consciousness can be said to have a dual function: The creation of the temporal flow, and the illusion of moving through time; and the transcendence of the previous illusion. Therefore, consciousness both creates and destroys the illusion of temporality, aging and death; it creates the fear of non-existence and is responsible for transcending that fear, since in the Block Universe, non-existence is a tautology.

If all of this is indeed how reality works, then we would expect that different versions of ourselves are already ‘out there’ and affecting material reality in some way. In fact, I believe that other versions of ourselves are occasionally perceived both by us and others. In Frederic Myer’s Census of Hallucinations (1894), some of the most intriguing reports concerned apparitions of the living. There is an extensive literature on astral projection, doubles, and ‘ghosts’ of those who are still alive appearing in various locales. It is possible for one to ‘haunt’ oneself, when another version of the self imposes itself on the consciousness of the version we most identify with. I have investigated sites with a friend who swears that she is haunting the sites of past trauma, and I myself have been told on more than one occasion that someone saw me clear as day somewhere other than where I was at that time. Instead of dismissing all of these accounts as psychological distortions or misperceptions, we should consider the possibility that our many, many selves in the Block Universe can occasionally wander through our current world and make themselves known to an observer.

There are so many versions of us and our stories out there that the possibilities for experiencing ourselves are infinite; if our stories have countless versions, then perhaps we have some control over which one we consciously experience. This might be as close as we can get to free will: we can make choices in this vague ‘now’ that will collapse the wave function of all those ‘future’ Kirstens out there. I can pick the version that will play out like changing the record. The records library is out there for all eternity, but I can choose which one to listen to. Maybe.

I think of all the mediums in history who were discredited by someone who believed to have ‘tricked’ them by asking for contact with someone who is still alive. There is no reason why a medium could not pick up on another version of an individual who has not experienced physical death. The Block Universe makes this just as feasible as contacting the physically ‘dead’. In fact, the Block Universe negates the power of death altogether.

The big question, however, remains: just what do we experience after physical death frees the brain from its task of making our lives seem coherent and chronological? I think of the fantastic possibilities of one’s consciousness invading someone else’s spacetime slice (possession or oppression), or of returning to your 10th birthday party unaware that you just ‘lived’ 96 years and ‘died’ and now you’re back to re experience another version of yourself from 10 onwards, perhaps only dimly recalling your retirement party (that won’t happen for another 55 years).

I can also see us jumping into another story altogether with a different body, family, country, language, customs, and so on. Ian Stevenson certainly provided compelling evidence for reincarnation, and the Block Universe provides a framework for consciousness to re-experience itself in a different physical reality. Or perhaps we can move into a universe entirely different from our own and experiencing a consciousness that we would not call human. Once you remove the boundaries of time and space, the scenarios are endless and awe inspiring. If nothing else, it should be clear to us that our current categories of understanding are often breached by direct experience. Those of us who believe in ‘progress’ are often shocked to realize that we cycle back to primitive behaviors on a regular basis. Those of us who think we live once and die to nothingness cannot explain consciousness using a materialist paradigm. How many times do we say things like, “I can’t believe I did that,” as if the person who did ‘that’ were someone else? We talk about ourselves all the time as different people in time; hence the reminder note for the future self who will forget the priorities of the past self. We all, in practice, recognize that our ‘selves’ are distinct, yet we also know that we are connected by ‘something,’ which is our awareness of ourselves and the world as an eternal reality.

How many panic attacks and relived traumas come from selves that ‘died’ in a moment of extreme suffering? Could our ongoing anxieties have less to do with ‘memory’ and more to do with our free access to other selves who might, on occasion, occupy our spacetime? And what of others who might take advantage of our ‘moment’ to express themselves in our body? The Block Universe fixes all possible events, or our consciousness fixes all possible realities, but in the end, the controls over experience can slip or falter in a number of ways. These ‘glitches’ are built into the fabric of spacetime so that we might be allowed a glimpse into who we really are and how everything works; yet we will never ultimately solve this grand mystery while encased and ensconced in our physical bodies. I will end with beautiful quote by David Fontana in Is There An Afterlife: 

“William James may have been right when he lamented that it rather looks as if the Almighty has decreed that this area should forever retain its mystery. If this is indeed the case, then I assume it is because the Almighty has decreed that the personal search for meaning and purpose in life and in death are of more value than having meaning and purpose handed down as certainties from others. If the certainties of life and death were so well known that they appeared in every school textbooks [sic], there would no longer be scope for the personal search, and for the inner development that may be possible only as a product of such a search.” (327)

Be that as it may, the truth is indeed ‘out there’, and I ask that we all continue to seek it with renewed vigor, especially in dire times where the lack of Light is particularly obvious and painful. We should never forget the role we all play in creating this multiverse and bringing certain realities to the forefront. The future may be written, but we can always edit it for the betterment of all.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

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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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My mother didn’t believe in ghosts until she stayed at the Bella Maggiore Inn. Now, she doesn’t even want to talk about what happened to her in the upstairs sitting room. I’ve never seen my mother so shaken, so upset, and so pale. This was not a pleasant encounter with a benign spirit–this was something terrifying and unforgettable.

The Bella Maggiore Inn in Ventura, CA was once a “flop house” and a brothel. This, of course, was during the 1930s and 1940s. Now, it’s a charming Italianate-style inn with the best breakfast I’ve had in a long, long time. I decided to spend one night of my Spring Break here in the hope I could convince someone to join me and perhaps find some evidence of a haunting. A woman named Sylvia, who had worked here as a prostitute decades ago, hung herself in room 17 (some say room 15, where my parents stayed) over a romantic entanglement. Elsewhere I have read that she was murdered and her killer was never brought to justice. After so long, with the distortions of a story passed down in the great oral tradition of ghost tales, it’s very difficult to know what actually happened. I invited investigators to join me, as well as my parents. To my surprise and delight, not only did my parents join me but so did the two founders of the Southern California Society for Paranormal Research and one additional investigator.

The sitting room on the second floor has what can only be described as a creepy ambiance; you feel as if you are surrounded by something or watched by someone as soon as you walk in. My mother sat in one chair, my father on the love seat next to her, and I on the chair next to him. It was quiet and deserted; we had come back from dinner and were looking for a place to chat. My mother called my sister on her cell phone. They were talking about my nephew and all the new things he has learned how to do, when I noticed my mother’s face change. She seemed both surprised and upset. “Is that you? Do you hear that? Is Connor OK?” she asked, appearing more and more shaken as she spoke. My sister was clearly asking her what she was talking about, my mother was trying to explain, but there was a communication gap. She held the phone away from her, frowned, tried to continue the conversation, but finally couldn’t. She hung up, and I saw that she was shaking. “Someone was screaming on the phone, a woman . . .  it was horrible. She screamed over and over again. It wasn’t interference from the cell phone. I’ve never heard anything like this. It was like someone was murdering her. It was horrible.” She repeated those lines again and again, unable to understand what she had heard, and what it might mean. During her phone call, before I knew what was happening, I felt a chill run up my left side, as if someone were standing there and congealing the atmosphere. The lights flickered and everything felt darker. Even my father was glancing around as if someone had entered the room.

Later, after my mother had calmed down, she crawled into bed early and didn’t want to talk about it anymore. My father looked up a few stories about Sylvia, but she didn’t want to hear them, and I decided that it was time to head to my own room. If someone had hanged herself in the place I supposed to sleep, I wanted to at least run some audio. I found that the EMF meter was behaving strangely in the hallway, but I didn’t feel much in the room itself. I was getting

lonely when Frank and Louis showed up and rescued me from the rather gloomy hotel and took me to dessert at the Busy Bee. Before that, they set up their equipment in my room hoping to catch something. I hoped that they would, and I hoped that they wouldn’t. I was tired, and it was going to be a long night. Kimberly from SCSPR joined us later, and the discussion was lively. I had shaken off the strangeness of the Bella Maggiore, but it was not to last.

We returned to my room and listened to the audio. There was a constant, low-level conversation in the background. It was silent in the hallway, and there was no one in the rooms on either side of me. The male voices were obviously engaged in a significant discussion, yet there was no way to decipher the words. It sounded so far away, decades away, from another place and time. Every now and then one of the male voices would say something I could almost understand, but after straining to hear them for so long, we finally gave up.

We gathered our equipment and headed towards the sitting room where my mother had experienced such horror over the cell phone. We walked in and said hello, as is polite when there are spirits waiting for you. We all heard a response; when we played back the audio, the “Hello” was as clear as day. Our second greeting was also returned, and we captured that as well. A few minutes into the EVP session, Louis asks if anyone has anything to say. We heard no response at the time, but when he played back the audio a male voice said:  “He still loves you.” Three EVPs within minutes of each other is quite rare. Although we investigated the rest of the hotel that night, nothing was as active as that room. We are still reviewing evidence from that night, so it’s possible that we captured more fragments of those lost lives.

“He still loves you.” I don’t know what that means. I don’t think I am going to ever know, since that is the nature of paranormal investigations. You can’t figure out the specifics of the story, only experience the vague and tantalizing after-effects of the lingering spirits. Of course, I ask myself what it is that we found. It occurs to me that sometimes, as “ghost hunters,” we find ourselves at intersections of the tragic and the lost. I suppose that most of the voices are all “residual,” meaning that the imprints of those lives and deaths are embedded like a recording in the very walls of the hotel. The responses we received upon entering the sitting room, however, point to an intelligent entity who could and did respond to visitors.

I don’t like what this implies about life after death. But then again, I know nothing more about the specifics of the afterlife than I did before I started this journey, with the huge exception that SOMETHING survives of us. I have more questions than answers, and some better theories, but I want to know who screamed in terror over my mother’s cell phone, who greeted us as we walked in, and who was carrying on the distant conversations in Room 17. I want to know all this, yet I will never know.

And not knowing will compel me back, to the place, to the time, to the desire to learn more. Someone might decide to tell me something substantive, because they want their story told . . . I can do that, but only if–for the dead–communication with the living  weren’t so much like “standing behind a sheet of frosted glass which blurs sight and deadens sound, [attempting to dictate] feebly to a reluctant and somewhat obtuse secretary” (Wilson 1987: 176). That was the message of the late Frederic Myers, one of the pioneers of the Society for Psychical Research in the late 1800s. In this case, us ghost hunters are the reluctant and somewhat obtuse secretaries, trying desperately to interpret the messages.

But we will never quit trying. The mystery is too great, and the need to know too imperious; and of course, we are happy to cast our lot with the world’s greatest enigma. This is why I close with Louis smiling. At the end of the night, the truth is–we are alive. We can eat apple pie and hot fudge sundaes and review our evidence and write our blog posts. I hope the afterlife permits such pleasures . . . but for some, I know it does not.

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