Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Ghosts and the Church’

I dread the ‘reveal’, the ‘outing’, of Kirsten as Paranormal Investigator; or, God forbid, Ghost Hunter. This happens, eventually, at work or at church, which is part of the reason I have joined and abandoned eight churches in five years. The voice changes, lowers: “so . . . ” they say, as if they were about to ask me about a sordid affair I’m having, or query me regarding illicit drug use, or any number of other unsavory possibilities, “I hear you . . . hunt ghosts”. Then they giggle, or raise their eyebrows, cock their heads, and smile in that particular way that tells me that they are thrilled that they have just discovered that I am mad or stupid. They are normal in comparison; they are infinitely stable, acceptable, and logical when standing next to a GHOST HUNTER. Then come the questions. I feel heavy, trapped, and exhausted by this point, because I know exactly how the conversation is going to go. I usually fall into a chair and prepare myself for the stereotypes, the ignorance, and the criticism that is about to come my way. Yes, I could simply refuse to discuss this topic with people and walk away; but deep in my heart, I still think that I have the opportunity to change hearts and minds. And no, it doesn’t usually happen; but hope springs eternal. So, without further delay, here are the Top Three Most Annoying Questions for the Paranormal Investigator:

1. So you believe in ghosts???

No. I don’t believe in them. I don’t believe in you, either. I see you and am talking to you, but I don’t BELIEVE in you. You are not God or Jesus or Buddha. I am interacting with you. Therefore, I ascribe some reality to you. You seem rather material and solid, and you are asking questions that I can hear, and I am responding to you, so you exist–materially and spiritually. Now, for that word, “ghost”, let’s drop that already, OK? Nobody knows what a ghost is. All we can do is describe what we think it is, but since we are talking about a non-material entity that manifests itself in a variety of mysterious ways in this visible universe, let’s stop pretending that we know its identity and purpose. Oh, and if you’re envisioning Caspar floating in a sheet, can we just end this miserable conversation right now???

2. You’re so smart; why do you believe this stuff is real?

Well . . . thank you for the compliment. I am, like, SO SMART. So to prove that to you, let’s deconstruct your assumptions, turn them on their head, and force YOU to define reality. I already discussed the ‘believe in’ issue. Let’s move on to ‘this stuff’: what you mean by this is ANYTHING that you don’t understand or that you can’t sense. If your definition of reality is challenged by what others have discovered, or simply by other people’s observations and experiences that point to something beyond the everyday, ordinary reality of collective consciousness, then you decide to attack someone else’s cosmovision. In other words, if you don’t perceive it or understand it, it doesn’t exist. Let’s talk about the word “real”: this is one of those words like ‘love’ or ‘ghosts’ that simply can’t be defined in a simple, straightforward way. What you REALLY mean by this word is this: real is what is real to me, to my community, to my colleagues, to my family, and is supported by my values, ideologies, politics, beliefs, and stereotypes. If what you experience falls outside of what my community values, or what makes me comfortable, or what my church says, or what my chem professor told me, in other words, if YOUR experience causes me discomfort because it falls outside of what I am willing to accept in my life, I will turn on you and label you delusional or strange. The labels keep you at a distance and allow me to continue to live in my little bubble.

3. Can I go with you on an investigation?

No.

Truth is, most people who ask insulting questions of a paranormal researcher are, deep down, fascinated by the varieties of anomalous consciousness (ghosts). They want to know more, but they’re afraid. I understand that. It’s wise to be afraid. At some point, they admit that they are scared of what I do. So I ask them: “What are you scared of?” The answer is, usually, “I’m afraid that ghosts are real”.

That’s where the conversation can start. Yes, my dear, ghosts are real. Now please stop calling them that.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

Read Full Post »

angel-monument

It’s been awhile, dear readers. So much has been happening in my life that it’s been difficult to organize and express my thoughts. I will do my best, however.

These are the thoughts swirling about my brain:

· Ghosts led me to God;
· God led me to the Catholic Church;
· The Catholic Church has reinforced the reality of spirit in general, and the Holy Spirit in particular;
· I am wondering about the purpose and point of paranormal investigations as a result of the above.

Where to start . . . I suppose that once one accepts the reality of spirit life, or survival of consciousness, one must confront the notion of God. It isn’t as simple as saying to oneself, “I guess God exists”. I had to further define what I understood as God, how s/he works in the world, how God could be human and divine, whether or not I believed that God has anything to do with this world anymore, and most of all, could I accept God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as real and actual, or were they destined to remain metaphors and stories?

The questioning process continues, and likely will continue until I kick this body to the curb. In my particular journey of understanding and faith, I needed more than a nebulous notion of God. He had to either be something real and tangible, or nothing at all. Paranormal investigations had taken me to a certain point: EVP, weird photos, inexplicable personal experiences, accurate impressions from sensitives and psychics, all were valuable and interesting (and, in general, continue to be interesting but less and less valuable) for quite a few years. Then, however, I hit a wall. I have hundreds of EVP. I have a nice collection of weird photos. I have many, many fascinating stories; but they did not reveal anything after a certain point. Paranormal investigations taught me exactly three things about spirit:

· Spirits, human and otherwise, do exist;
· Limited communication is possible;
· Accuracy of communication depends on how fine-tuned is the instrument; you can ramp up your sensitivity through practice and dedication.

That pretty much sums it up. I have had some truly spectacular experiences as an investigator and have some great evidence of spirit communication. But that’s it–the spirits don’t say much that teaches me something about the nature of life after the body. The spirits didn’t answer any burning questions. It’s almost as if they didn’t know themselves, or “they” were simply fragments of an old consciousness hanging out in the ether. Their real selves, the authentic part of them–their soul, if you will–was somewhere else. Either they had already been born again (reincarnated, not in the Christian, evangelical sense) or they were waiting for something to happen in a place where time is irrelevant, or a space where time is irrelevant . . . but then, place and space don’t really exist without time, so perhaps I should say a “dimension” of reality. Waiting. Waiting for what? For a group of ghost hunters to call them into our world for a few moments, so that they can say something nonsensical or trivial?

No, that could not be the answer. Places are ‘haunted’ because of the emotion that they emanate, the energy they continue to emit. Where, however, was this energy, and was it human in any real sense? The spirits we’ve encountered are not fully human. Something fundamental is missing in them. Therefore, what we seek as paranormal investigators is something akin to energy or emotion hunting. The thrill, the adrenaline rush (when it happens, which is not all that often) comes from connecting to feelings that we recognize within ourselves. It’s a communion, of sorts, but not a communion of two, fully formed human beings. The soul is missing from one half of the communication. I had to find the soul. Where was the soul?

In desperation, I finally gave in to an institution that I have been fighting against for decades, a battle that my mother started when she left the Church at 18. When I dragged myself to Saint Bernadine’s, it was with the greatest of reluctance. I know–better than most people, as a Spanish teacher who has spent her entire life studying the crimes and some of the more insidious moral and social teachings of Catholicism–what I am getting myself into. There have been some nasty surprises, and more will surely come my way, but for the most part, my experience with the Church has been liberating, illuminating, deeply emotional and intensely satisfying. Nothing in recent memory has transformed me so deeply in such a short amount of time. In other words, for me, the soul was God, and God expresses herself most profoundly through the teachings of the Trinity and the lives of the saints. This is only a personal declaration. I respect how anyone from any faith or tradition finds God. The point is, find God.

If you know me at all, then you know that my house is filled and covered with images of the Virgin Mary, various saints, and crosses. Jesus shows up every now and again, but I didn’t really know Him very well, so Mary and the saints take center stage. The reasons for this go back to my year in Spain at age 15, where I had my first and most intense conversion to Catholicism. In the intervening 32 years, I simply denied, prevaricated and ignored what the Holy Spirit had communicated to me as a teen. As much as I can pour bile and bitterness on some aspects of the Church, there is simply no other path to God that makes more sense for me on a personal, emotional level. In fact, it has been through the Church that I know understand so much more about the spirit, and what, exactly, I have been doing as an investigator for the last several years.

First of all: There is evil in the world. It is not fictional, metaphorical, or symbolic. There is real, intense, evil in the spirit world. Stay the hell away from it.

Secondly: Without God–or at the very least, a sense of a higher power or transcendence of the body–, paranormal investigations descend into ritual or entertainment.

Thirdly: Paranormal investigations, at least as we currently conduct them with fancy gadgets and the same old questions, are a stage in a journey and not the destination itself.

And lastly: what you can learn from these investigations is fairly limited if you don’t break the mold on a regular bases.

I do struggle these days, but not with God or spirits. I struggle with boredom and distraction during investigations. Once you have ‘crossed over’ to the literal and physical reality of God in your life, once you have experienced the certainty of eternal life and not just expounded the theory, once you have shelved the academic interest and replaced it with spiritual transformation, then what is there left to prove to yourself or anyone else regarding the human transcendence of death? I used to ‘chase ghosts’ to convince others of life after death; then I did it to prove it to myself; now, I wonder what is left to do in this field.

I suppose, paradoxically, what is left to do is to work with the community of investigators on the quality of this life. After all, if ‘ghost hunting’ led me to the Catholic Church, could it do something similar for others? I have no intention of converting anyone to any particular religion; but if I can assist some in their spiritual journey in this manner, then it would be worth it, an honor and a privilege to continue to call myself an investigator.

For truly, I am an investigator. I am also a teacher. I learn as much as I can about the life of the spirit, and I share what I have learned with others who are willing to listen and walk the path with me. I hope that in some small way, the readers of soulbank will be my companions on the most amazing discovery of all time: we have always been, we are, and we always will be.

Amen.

Read Full Post »