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Posts Tagged ‘ghosts’

Want to hear something scary? There is a growing consensus in the psychiatric community that some cases of mental illness are caused by malignant spirits taking over a mind. Richard Gallagher trained in psychiatry at Yale University and is a practicing psychoanalyst and . . . exorcist. Although the vast majority of those practicing mental health care refuse to believe in the reality of demons affecting one’s mind, Dr. Gallagher is ” . . . pleasantly surprised by the number of psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners nowadays who are open to entertaining such hypotheses. Many believe exactly what I do, though they may be reluctant to speak out.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/07/01/as-a-psychiatrist-i-diagnose-mental-illness-and-sometimes-demonic-possession/?utm_term=.b5895e67d890)

I’ve written before about possession and exorcism, and the insights I gleaned from my meeting with a Catholic priest who is also an exorcist. In that meeting, I received his blessing to assist in such work. I have yet to truly throw myself into this vital, spiritual work, a fact which may explain my current state of mind (I’m wasting my talents, truth be told, as are so many of us who study the ‘paranormal’). However, the topic of this post is slightly different. Many of us–scholars or not, mental health experts or not–agree based on the evidence that demonic possession is a reality for an unfortunate few. What I don’t see discussed as much in academic circles is the reality of possession by non-demonic entities.

Once you admit the possibility that an evil entity, a dark spirit, can and does take over a body, mind and soul, then you must admit that the same phenomena can occur with beings that are not demonic in nature. If it is possible for a demon to possess a living person, then it is possible for any person in spirit to do the exact, same thing via a similar mechanism. Exactly how this happens is unknown to me, but I hypothesize that you must be in a vulnerable state: altered by drugs or alcohol, severely depressed and/or anxious, inviting such contact via ouija boards, channeling, automatic writing or (it must be said) so-called ‘ghost hunting’. If you are a spiritually grounded person with a strong religious practice and belief, you are more protected from the invading spirit; however, those of us who dabble in spirit contact are most definitely at risk. The reality of this possibility is what is at the heart of our gradual decline in time spent investigating the paranormal, which seems to happen to all of us. It isn’t that we don’t believe it after years of spirit contact, it’s that we discover how powerful these connections are, and we realize how much that contact affects us emotionally and spiritually.

Spirits, souls, conscious beings, are in contact with us on a daily basis. Most mediums talk about the ‘veil’ that separates the living and the ‘dead’; this language is reflected in theories of the multiverse and other ‘theories of everything’ that postulate multiple dimensions. Dr. Robert Lanza’s ideas concerning death and multiple dimensions go a step further: not only does consciousness continue in other dimensions, ‘death’ as a concept is meaningless. It essentially doesn’t exist except as a description of a mundane, physical process which has no bearing on the conscious, individual human being. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/is-there-an-afterlife-the-science-of-biocentrism-can-prove-there-is-claims-professor-robert-lanza-8942558.htmlWhatever it is that separates multiple dimensions, whether it be vibrating strings or dark matter, the systems of separation are not perfect and break down. Or, more tantalizingly, WE can break them down through mental effort and meditative practice. Once the boundaries of a multiverse are breached, we can’t keep whoever is living there ‘out’ of our reality. Their energy flows through, finds us, penetrates our consciousness and plays out its need for communication or emotion.

In simple terms, our interaction with what we call ‘ghosts’ often results in spirits finding a receptive home to express themselves through us.  This explains many mysteries and questions of mine that up to now, seem to have no answer. Boundaries are broken down between dimensions, and our easy classification of ourselves as one being, one spirit, in isolation from all others, disintegrates. We are all interconnected and affect one another in ways both subtle and obvious. Therefore, to provide an example, a haunted house story is not a story of a person who discovers ghosts, but of ghosts who discover a person and the beginning of a relationship where all entities rely on each other’s energy and emotion. When you enter into an emotional relationship with the spirits around you, the ‘haunting’ isn’t about the ‘other,’ it’s about all parties involved. You may not realize that your persistent, depressed mood or your strange reactions to familiar situations have to do with someone else living in you, with someone else sharing your psychic space.

Is that possession? It’s probably more ‘influence’ or even relationship. If you have ever felt an inexplicably strong connection to a house or other place, it is likely that you are experiencing the effects of your intimate interaction with the spirits you’ve come to know quite well there, even if not consciously. Much of this phenomena is experienced in the subconscious mind, where our ego and super ego (to borrow from Freud for a moment) expend much energy repressing, denying and fleeing from the truth of our spiritual attachments and engagements. How much of what we feel, what we do, how we react to other people, how we live our lives, has to do with spiritual relationships of which we are hardly aware? That is a sobering question.

There are things I need to know, but the process of understanding frightens me. I would like to know the identity of the spirits who live with me or interact with me. I would like to separate myself just a little more from their influence. That requires an investigation into other dimensions of reality and that, in turn, requires a professional medium of great talent and respectability. That is more than likely the next step for me. It is not easy for me to trust other people, especially people who interpret in my stead what my reality might be. I have always despised that trait in others: the individual who pretends to know more than you about your own life. However, I do believe that trustworthy mediums exist and can shed light on the spiritual mystery that surrounds us all. Of course, those of us who regularly attend church in the Christian tradition understand that this spirit world is all around us at all times, effecting changes and transitions of which we are barely aware. The church, however, tries hard to manage, limit and interpret our spiritual experiences so that they do not fall outside the accepted boundaries of Scripture. I need more than that.

Think about the ways that your spirit interacts with others, both in the flesh and transcendent. If there are no boundaries to spirit, and we are all spirit, then to speak of ‘containers’ of flesh, vibrating strings, dark matter, conscious and subconscious, is all a waste of time. The categories ‘dead’ and ‘living’ are nonsensical when you’re are speaking of souls and not of matter. Just as the spirit of your nasty boss can harm you, so can the spirit of the guy who drowned himself in your bathtub years before you moved into your house. The charge, then, is to be more aware, more conscious, of who is affecting your heart, mind and soul, and where you need to draw the line on a psychic invasion. It would be wise to start with meditation and prayer. But I don’t plan to end there.

Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHWkirsten-in-2017

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Bowie Major Tom

The year started with my hero vanishing into space. Others followed, creating a vacuum where my teenage soul used to be. I defined myself with “Major Tom” and every song on Purple Rain. When people die, my beliefs tell me that they are still ‘here,’ just on the other side of a thin veil. I didn’t know them, of course; it wasn’t their physical demise that slammed me into shock. It was the past that disappeared. The past was always already gone, so what do I mourn? I’m not sure. I don’t know.

The news in 2016 just got worse and worse. Syria. Trump. Russian hacking. Climate changing faster and faster. Cancer diagnosis in the family. Depression and other issues surfacing like dead fish in a pond. It seemed as if the downturn in my mood paralleled the swirling misery of the election and the general feeling of anxiety that permeates everything concerning human affairs.

There were the highlights, as well: I became the Project MATCH Faculty Coordinator and was able to assist in the training of some very talented and smart interns. I felt that I was making some real progress towards the betterment of education for the students in the LA Community College District. It was the best summer in a long time. We were finally able to buy a house, up in the mountains of Santa Susana. In the morning, I no longer hear the 101 Freeway blaring through the windows. I hear an anemic rooster, toads and owls hooting in the distance. I feel protected by the giant boulders and ancient oak trees. The spirits around this area are powerful and very, very old. This has allowed me peace of mind, even as the world falls into pieces.

This is where the knot is. I have a peaceful environment in which to contemplate all the things I didn’t understand as a younger version of myself. My bubble of ignorance burst three times: in 1997, 2002 and 2012. I was told I was going to die from a progressive disease in ’97 (that turned out to be a misdiagnosis, but I lived with it for almost a year), my ex husband moved out and divorced me in 2002 and in 2012 my kid had some serious issues which I am not at liberty to discuss in detail. After 2012, we moved three times in three years. The idea that things get easier and more understandable as you get older is bullshit. I understand less now and everything is more confusing and complicated than it was at any other time in my past.

My nickname in Middle School was “Polly Pure”. I was always told how naive I was, how easy to dupe and fool. I assumed everybody was nice and good, and that the world was always moving towards a better, more perfect state. I believed in constant spiritual progression: all things were destined to achieve perfection. I was such an idiot that I actually thought I had achieved enlightenment, somewhere around 2010 or 2011. I truly believed that I was on the fast track to Paradise, Oneness with the Brahma, the Source, whatever. I resent the fact that the world showed me otherwise.

The world showed me that I was (and am) a spiritual infant, and the state of affairs on our planet is regressing. Not only are we not moving forward, we are traveling backwards, undoing what little good we had managed to accomplish. As for people: nope, they are not inherently good. They are propelled by insecurities and fears that drive them to do terrible things to themselves and others, all in the name of protecting fragile egos. My entire world view was based on progress and enlightenment, and that paradigm has been shot to hell. Therefore, my view of time has been turned upside down. The arrow of time from now into the future is pure illusion, along with the idea of future perfection. We go in circles, falling backwards, struggling to break out of the present only to fall into the past and repeat, repeat, repeat.

All progress is individual, I fear. And it is not necessarily accomplished in this life. The arc of progress is LONG and requires so much more time than I thought, if such an idea exists at all. I would like to think that there is ultimate transformation after X number of lives wind themselves down, but I don’t know. I just don’t know. Maybe it’s two steps forward, one step back, and I’m in the middle of the one step back. One thing I do know:

Polly Pure was beaten with a barbed-wire covered bat and lies bleeding and dying in the ashes of her naive dreams for the world. I am waiting for Major Tom and Prince’s elevator to take her up, to be saved from her mistakes and her lost hopes.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PWH

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NOTE: As in all my discussions on Christianity and its beliefs, my intent is to link certain ideas regarding Biblical theology with current theories on the afterlife. There is NO evangelical purpose here; I am not trying to convince anybody of the truth of one religion over any other. I simply write what I know.

There are a great many Biblical stories that upset me. One of them is contained in Revelations and concerns the Apocalypse. The verses have to do with ‘being awake’ and aware as if you were protecting yourself from a ‘thief in the night.’ When the end of the world comes, one of every two people will be ‘taken up’ or rescued from a dying world. This is the ‘Rapture,’ which I simply cannot understand as something literal. The idea that these verses concern a literal end of the world where people actually rise to Heaven has created much confusion: there are entire cults built around this idea of Apocalypse, and as they patiently await the end of the world, they are also waiting for the second arrival of the Savior. This too strikes me as allegorical and symbolic. It also occurs for me as a lesson on time, and how we are tricked into thinking salvation is a future act for which we are supposed to wait.

Last Sunday, a guest pastor at Saint Francis Episcopal explained these troubling stories in a way that links them to quantum physics and human psychology, although not explicitly. The question he asked us was painfully simple: “Have you ever had something happen to you that made you feel that your world had just ended?” Most of us can answer with a yes. When my grandmother died, there was a sudden rupture in my life that would forever change my existence. There was the world with Nana, and the world without her. I was different in each of those worlds. There are many examples of this: when my first husband told me that he was no longer in love with me, I felt that I died that evening. Of course, I woke up the next morning, but I was not the same person nor was my world the one I knew before. Everything seemed unfamiliar, as if I had just started over somewhere strange where I had to learn new rules and build another life.

You do not have to stop breathing to die. You can die to your old life and wake up to a different one many times before you lose your physical body. I suspect that losing your physical existence won’t be much different than losing your husband, your grandmother or another important person that has defined so much of you. You will wake up from your physical death as you wake up from an emotional or spiritual death and have to start over.

The ‘many worlds’ theory in quantum physics states that there are many dimensions of existence (perhaps uncountably many) where we exist in slightly different circumstances. There is a universe where Nana still is my grandmother and where I never endured a divorce. There is a universe where I wrote this post and one where I did not. Although there are logical problems with this interpretation of reality, and I don’t necessarily buy into it, the idea that multiple dimensions of reality intersect with this one explains a great deal of paranormal phenomena. Ghosts, EVP, NDE, OBE and so on might simply represent interactions between dimensions of reality where other beings are living out their lives and where we occasionally slip into a universe where the rules governing reality are vastly different.

The Apocalypse, then, is about the ending of YOUR world, not all of Creation. When your life utterly falls apart, you have died to your old reality. What will you do then? Do you find salvation? Or do you turn away from the Divine Principle and end up alone, isolated and abandoned? You have a choice regarding which world you inhabit: in one, you have reconnected to God and life; in the other, you have become a shadow, a lost soul in the darkness. Perhaps in some worlds, we are lost and in others, we are saved. Which one is the Ultimate Reality? Not all of these universes can be coequal. I suspect there is only One World where we live out our true and eternal lives, but until then, we are fragmented in infinite ways.

Our task, then, is to find the unification of these disparate selves living out multiple lives. This is not about waiting for a Savior to pull us together and raise us to Heaven. Heaven, Hell, Salvation and damnation are always happening right now. They are not ‘in time,’ but ‘of time’. All aspects of our soul and spirit are eternal–nothing concerning salvation can happen in the future, because past and future rely upon time to have any meaning. We are outside of time. The Apocalypse is now, and has always been now; salvation is now, and has always been now. There are many worlds where we exist simultaneously: in some, we are moving towards our ultimate salvation and integration (we are making the right choices); in others, we are moving away from God and spirit into oblivion. Fragmentation of our souls and spirits is the enemy. Integration of our essence within the multiverse is what saves us and recreates us as a whole being.

Jesus, then, isn’t waiting to show up again. He’s already here. He has ALWAYS ALREADY been here. The Second Coming isn’t about Him, but about us: do we make our way towards Salvation, or not? That’s the religious understanding. The scientific one is similar: time is not an independent quality of the universe; everything that has happened, is happening or will happen is actually occurring right now! Actions, lives, events, and simply spread out in space-time. There is no ‘before’ or ‘after’. Only now. Every potential you have as a human being is ‘out there’ for you to discover–but to see it, you need a new and radically different perspective. And that is where the Divine Principle comes in, or whatever you wish to call it. You don’t achieve that kind of radical vision and perspective without serious transformation; how you discover that transformation that gives you the gift of true sight is the purpose of your live(s).

–Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D.

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Jim Tucker

You know that a book is important to me when I still have 15 pages left and I can’t wait to write about what I have read so far. I am a big fan of Dr. Ian Stevenson’s research and Jim Tucker’s work as well (see: Life Before Life). The late Dr. Stevenson worked out of the University of Virginia in the Division of Perceptual Studies where Jim Tucker continues his work on reincarnation. Drs. Stevenson and Tucker are the world’s leading authorities on children’s past-life memories along with Carol Bowman, who is a non-scientist studying the phenomena in depth.
Return to Life picks up on Dr. Tucker’s American reincarnation cases and offers several examples of apparent past lives lingering well into a current life. Typically, children start forgetting these memories at around age 5, but some remember key features of a past life well into adulthood. One of the stories recounted is quite well known already—the case of young James who remembered a life as a WWII pilot shot down over Iwo Jima—and is well documented in Soul Survivor, a book his parents wrote after documenting his case for many years.
One of the chapters is particularly interesting to me: those cases where there is little hard, objective evidence that connects one person to a previous personality but where the child (or adult) continues to exhibit behaviors, phobias and emotional reactions that are not easily explained by current life situations or childhood traumas. I fall into that category myself, and to this day struggle with emotions and reactions that don’t appear to originate in this life.
I have discussed this elsewhere in this blog, but I still have more to talk about when it comes to the topic of past lives. In my case, my childhood was remarkable for the ‘weird’ remarks I would make and the odd behavior I would display, for no apparent reason. Lately, I have been reinterpreting stories and memories from the past and wondering if my experiences had something to do with breakthrough memories from the past. All of this, of course, leads me to wonder what the ‘self’ really is, and what part of Kirsten has come back this time around. One of the children in the book explains it as having a different personality, but a same self. That might take me hundreds of pages of writing to unravel (sorry, Soulbank readers, but sometimes I just have to write it out!).
When I was around five years old, I remember feelings of terror regarding drug use (illegal drug use). Anytime someone tried to make me take a pill or give me a shot, I would lose my mind. This was especially difficult for me, since I underwent two major surgeries at age five for unrelated issues and was often forced to deal with prescription drugs. I also had asthma and spent a fair amount of my childhood attached to an inhaler and prescriptions for steroids. However, I did know that there were medicines that one had to take for illness and drugs that people took for fun or to alter their consciousness. The idea of taking or being forced to take a drug to alter my consciousness terrified me to the point of trauma.
When I discovered joints hidden at the bottom of a drawer (I was seven or eight at the time), I lectured my parents about drug use even though they had never discussed the topic with me and were shocked that I knew what a joint was. I was obsessed with marijuana plants, hating them intensely and trying to keep my parents away from them (they did have one on the deck of one of our many apartment buildings, and no matter how much they lied to me about what it really was, I KNEW it was a ‘bad plant’). The 1960s psychedelic culture created total panic in me, even though I was not directly exposed to it. My parents listened to Cream and The Beatles, and even though there were psychedelic elements to some of the music, it was not their interest and there is no good way to explain my trauma around a certain aspect of 1960s hippy culture.
My fear of psychedelic music, images or lyrics had to do with the fear of losing consciousness. I associated that kind of experience with death. I know that the 1960s were obsessed with alterations in consciousness, but as a four and five year-old, it was odd that I was in full panic mode over any alterations of my consciousness produced by certain music, sights or sounds. To this day, I suffer from severe anxiety over anything I ingest that I don’t feel is 100% tested and safe for me. I am terrified of any kind of drug; I don’t even take Tylenol without extensive soul searching and fear. In high school and college, I would drink alcohol to excess—there was no panic over that unless I started to feel like I was seriously altering my consciousness—but I would not touch any pill or illegal drug even though everybody around me had no such qualms.
Even now, falling asleep is scary because it involves alterations in consciousness. A threat to my conscious awareness can come in almost any form, but I struggle attempting to remain in control of my faculties and not drift off, never to return. I remember an incident at 15 that triggered a very old memory. I was watching “Major Tom,” performed by David Bowie, on our old television in the living room. It was 1980. As I watched him and listened to the song, I had an out of body experience and a profound alteration of consciousness that so terrified me that to this day, I cannot watch Bowie perform the song without profound feelings of fear. I felt that this music would, somehow, kill me or take me so far out of my normal, rational experience of life that I would be mad or drugged and not be able to return.
The fear of drugs seriously affected my friendships. I would cry if a friend smoked a joint. I would lecture fellow college students on the dangers of drugs and make myself an unwelcome guest at many school parties. Anything, even an aspirin, seemed to contain the horrendous possibility of a slow, downward spiral into unconsciousness. As I have written about before, I ‘knew’ the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco not from a tourist point of view, but from the standpoint of a drug addicted, teen-aged prostitute.
That, of course, is speculation. However, it fits with certain behaviors, automatic reactions and responses, emotional trauma and general life perspective that doesn’t make much sense unless I lived a certain kind of life in my distant, previous-personality past. There are other aspects to my life as a young adult that point strongly in the direction of the past life that I mention above, but the details are so personal and painful that I don’t wish to relive them in a blog post. The most I am willing to say is simply this: I knew what it felt like to prostitute myself for money and drugs without ever actually doing it. I would talk to myself about my life as a prostitute, the narratives rich with detail, yet I should not have known or understood the content of those narratives. I have repeated those stories for years, for decades, even.
As weird as that sounds, I know that my instinctual reaction of nausea, sadness and depression simply writing about it validates that it did happen, and not in my current lifetime. Psychologists are the enemy of reincarnation theories, since they would always say that the roots of this narrative are in my childhood, and that I repressed the memories that would lead me to understand myself a certain way. Of course, when an entire profession bases its authority on key evidence that the individual cannot, by definition, access—repressed memories resulting in unconscious behaviors—there is no way for me to claim my life as within my understanding. The mental health profession cannot prove their theory nor can I prove mine; but how many key aspects of our lives can we not prove yet know to be true? Most, I think.
My strongest evidence comes from the memories that I do indeed have access to, and no ‘logical’ explanation for. My highly precocious childhood and my abnormal understanding and knowledge of a world I never lived in is proof enough for me. In many ways, I am still struggling to overcome the legacy of that past life. I believe that it continues to traumatize me to this day, but since I can’t find a mental health professional who treats past life trauma (wait—I’m in L.A.—they are probably everywhere), I will continue to work on the details of this life the best way I know how: bringing these issues into the light.
Back to Jim Tucker’s book; I DID finish it as of this writing, and I have to say that I am slightly disappointed with the theories he proposes that explain reincarnation. It is common in the last several years to use quantum theory as a tool to understand everything anomalous, but dare I say we lay people might not understand quantum theory well enough to make such sweeping connections to phenomena such as reincarnation? Yes, it’s true that particles behave strangely in quantum physics, so much so that an observer is required to bring a result into reality; it is also true that particles can exhibit backwards causality, where an observer can determine in the present the outcome of something that supposedly already happened.
It’s fun to go in circles with quantum mechanics and speculate on what it means for consciousness, but until there is some definitive proof that consciousness is required in the observation process in order for a present reality to coalesce, I have to take all this as interesting but not necessarily compelling. OK, so Dr. Tucker does say that important figures in the field of quantum physics have stated that the conscious observer is necessary for the outcome of present reality, but I need to read the original sources in order to accept that. My fear, of course, is that I will not be able to comprehend the original sources at the depth necessary to be able to make any true statements.
Dr. Tucker admits that he is speculating based on some commonplace tropes in quantum physics (I am really tired of the double-slit experiment and Schrödinger’s stupid cat), but I keep coming back to a basic problem with the idea that the universe and everything in it does not exist without my conscious observation (or someone’s conscious observation). It sounds too much like solipsism, the notion that the individual creates his own reality with every act of observation, and therefore the moon is not there if I do not look at it. Dr. Tucker does address that briefly, but doesn’t satisfy my objections.
Maybe this sounds stupid and reduces my credibility, but this little story doesn’t seem to have a good answer for me: the other day, I was looking up at the balcony and I tripped over a clump of grass that I had no idea was there. I fell and was injured. I did not observe that clump of grass, but it was there nonetheless. This sounds a lot like the disagreement between Bishop Berkeley and Samuel Johnson, which goes like this:
Refutation of Bishop Berkeley
After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”
Boswell: Life
It appears that quantum physics is being used to prove the validity of what I see as sophistry: matter only appears to exist because we perceive it to exist. I don’t want to start walking down this long road of philosophical debate, because, frankly, it exhausts me. If the universe is a great thought, and our lives are successions of dreams, then there really is something pointless about existence itself, since it is not REAL (and here, drum roll please, is where I am supposed to ask ‘what is real,’ but let’s hold off for a moment on that one). Dr. Tucker disturbs me when he compares lives we live to dreams. He finds that metaphor most apt to understand our multiple incarnations, but for me the metaphor falls flat. Most dreams have very little in common with what it feels like to be alive in the world. He quotes a communicator through the famous medium Leonor Piper who, when asked what the afterlife is like, states that she was most shocked at how REAL it was, how everything had substance and weight. Reports on the afterlife via reputable mediums coincide on this observation; there is nothing vaporous, illogical, bizarre or contradictory in the afterlife. It seems just like a natural extension of this life.
Therefore, the extended comparisons to dreams don’t make much sense to me. If incarnations are us dreaming new existences, then it sounds like our lives are rather inconsequential. We are working out our spiritual development, but to what end? In which world? With what consequences? Dreams are experiments in reality that are not, in the end, real; dreams are psychological in nature when not precognitive, lucid or visionary or facilitating contact with the spirits of the deceased. Most dreams, probably 99% of them, are not indicative of a new reality but are rehashing our current one. No one can argue that most dreams feel like dreams, and that wandering around in the world of the awake is very, very different—very predictable, for one thing.
So while the dream analogy falls flat for me, I do understand why Dr. Tucker has to follow that route. If you accept that reality is created by the observer, you take away an external, objective world that forces people to interact and engage with challenging situations. If you believe that the world only exists as your projection of consciousness, then you run the risk of believing that you have no obligation to change it for the better, unless it’s to work on your personal, spiritual evolution. There is no suffering ‘other’ that needs you, just endless projections of you, everywhere you look. Take away the suffering other, all that which is NOT you, and you are left with a world saturated with your consciousness alone, your giant ego in search of self expression. It makes you God. And that makes me very, very uncomfortable.
I suppose that is the crux of the problem. These “we create the universe” theories turn the self into the Creator. Whether or not you believe in a Creator separate from you is not the issue; do you believe in anything that is not an extension of you? If you don’t, you’re probably two years old or a certain kind of scientist. I might have misinterpreted Dr. Tucker’s intentions or analyses here, and if I have, I hope he or someone who knows his work better than I do will set me straight.
We may not ever be able to “prove” reincarnation as scientific fact. I am dismayed by the fact that science is considered the ONLY way to prove an assertion. The statement “we live more than one life” can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt through other venues besides hard science. It can be proven using legal definitions of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.” Once you have accumulated enough anecdotal and circumstantial evidence that it becomes preposterous to reasonably believe anything else, you can declare your case proven for the vast majority of the population. Why is it that we are so obsessed—especially in the study of the so-called ‘paranormal’—with proving via the scientific method something which hard science CANNOT EVER ACCEPT AS PROVEN?
The blessings of neuroscience or psychiatry will not be forthcoming. We can use their language and their methods to explore issues of continuation of consciousness, but we are not going to be invited to their awards ceremonies or ever find a place at their table.
That does not change the fact that reincarnation is the closest theory that fits the truth of so many people’s experiences. It does not change the truth of my life or the truth of the lives that I lived before, or the reality of the lives I have yet to live.
–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD
Kirsten with glasses

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abandoned_house_chicago
I used to wonder about all of those homes out there abandoned to foreclosure; were they haunted by the emotions of the living, or did the trauma stir up the spirits that were already there? Or, perhaps, were both situations occurring at once? Of course, there is no way to prove spirit activity in a home, only build a case for it; however, my personal situation placed me in an interesting position to study such a theory.
On a personal note, we have decided to sell our beloved cabin via short sale. There isn’t much else you can do when your home is worth $300,000 less than when you purchased it, and your banks (IndyMac and Green Tree) refuse to modify your loans to an affordable level. For those of you who don’t know this, IndyMac—a subsidiary of OneWest—has already been reimbursed for their real estate losses by 80% of the original loan amount (through the FDIC), PLUS they can resell your house through foreclosure or short sale. So, they stand to make about $340,000 from the sale of my house. Why modify my loan when there are profits to be made? This is why, dear readers, when people email me asking about whether or not they should try to stay in their homes, I say “beware”. It is not in the banks’ best interest to modify anyone’s loan, although some banks are better than others.
What does this have to do with hauntings? Plenty, as it turns out. When you place a homeowner under extraordinary amounts of stress over months, sometimes years, as they navigate the emotional horrors of the loan mod scams, you see an increase in paranormal activity in the house. I used to think that it was a poltergeist-like phenomenon, something like telekinesis, but now I think that it’s our emotions that stir up the spirits that linger around us and our own personalities in distress that split off from our psyche. In my case, I’ve noticed that when I am most upset about the fate of my home, I start hearing raps and cracks all around me, but especially on the ceiling or roof. This terrifies the cats, who can see things I cannot. They start following something across the room and bristle in fear. Yesterday, after yet another crying jag, the entire house started popping and knocking with such force that I felt alarmed.
Perhaps that was the signal that I need to tone down my emotional response to selling my house. As for the new place, it appeared to be nothing but an empty shell at first. It is fairly new; our family has never lived in a house built after 1950! So, for the first time, I was thinking that the home would be both history and spirit free. It is far too early to tell, of course, but there is something funny going on over there, too. The strange noises I attributed to a new house with unfamiliar aches and pains. Fairly quickly, however, I zeroed in on an “active zone” in the house that is very specific (and NOT in my daughter’s room, in case she is reading this) and feels entirely different from anything I have experienced in the old house.
The new house also saw its share of trauma. The owners endured a bitter divorce where the husband underwent a complete change of personality, moved to a distant country and engaged in activities which broke his wife’s heart. She was forced to live alone in the house that he had lovingly remodeled for her. In our small way, we are helping her by taking care of the house and plants and making sure that her home is occupied and well loved. Of course, over time, her house will become ours. What makes a house “yours” is the time, love, and care that you invest in it, not what a bank loan states or who appears on title. In any case, something strange happened at the new house that was not at all traumatic, but plain weird.
Early in the morning, I was lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, wishing that I was looking at wood instead of plaster (my current cabin has wood ceilings, and I adore them), when I heard the insistent and loud coughing of a man in the room. My husband was fast asleep, and I was wide awake. Obviously, there was no source for another man’s hacking up a lung in the bedroom. It wasn’t us, so who was it?
The noises in the house and the general feeling of “occupancy” are very specific to certain areas, and the energy is entirely male, and sardonic . . . it’s a feeling that is close to mockery, but not quite that strong. It’s a slightly arrogant, male energy who seems to feel amused by us. I get the sense that his humor was slightly cruel or condescending. Now, my guess is that the ex-husband might have left some of his personality behind in the house that he built (or extensively remodeled), but given the fact that he is still alive, the theory that works here is simply this: you do NOT have to be dead to haunt your house. I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating: your energy, personality, all of you that is non-local and expressed through mind (not matter) can split off and remain behind, especially where strong emotions were involved.
For that reason, I am trying very hard not to haunt my old house. The only way to accomplish this is to maintain your integrity, your values and your love of your family, yourself, and God (or your equivalent). Most important is to continue in your spiritual practice, since almost—if not all—spiritual traditions seek to keep one’s self, soul and spirit, intact through belief in a higher reality and regular spiritual practice, whether through prayer, meditation or some other union with the divine.
I hope to be successful in this endeavor, but it’s very hard. For not only do I not wish to split my soul and spirit, I do not wish to upset the existing spirits of the house. I have not invited them to the new house, because I am not quite sure who they are, and perhaps I need a ghost-free home for once in my life. However, I suspect the new home is not ghost-free; I need to banish the remnants of a very angry and confused man who left part of himself behind when he jumped ship on one life and started a new one in bad faith.
So, loyal readers and fellow ghost hunters, it appears that hauntings can be very complicated. Just when you think you might understand the dead, you have to bury the remnants of the living, usually the worst part of their personalities and inclinations. If you have any thoughts on this, advice or commentary, I would certainly welcome hearing from you!
Yours in spirit,
Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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Dear reader: I reproduce below, in its entirety, an article by Michael Talbot that summarizes recent thinking into the nature of reality itself. It is based on the work of theoretical physicists, psychologists and scientists working in various fields. Do you care about such things as ghosts, spirits, survival of consciousness and the possibilities for reincarnation? Does it matter that science is on the track of providing us a model of reality that accommodates such experiences and validates them as real? (or, as real as anything gets in the holographic model) If this topic fascinates you, then I IMPLORE you to read the article below. Soon, I will provide my own commentary and insights into what this could all mean for paranormal investigators. I anxiously await your feedback.

Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D.

In 1982 a remarkable event took place. At the University of Paris a research team led by physicist Alain Aspect performed what may turn out to be one of the most important experiments of the 20th century. You did not hear about it on the evening news. In fact, unless you are in the habit of reading scientific journals you probably have never even heard Aspect’s name, though there are some who believe his discovery may change the face of science.

Aspect and his team discovered that under certain circumstances subatomic particles such as electrons are able to instantaneously communicate with each other regardless of the distance separating them. It doesn’t matter whether they are 10 feet or 10 billion miles apart.

Somehow each particle always seems to know what the other is doing. The problem with this feat is that it violates Einstein’s long-held tenet that no communication can travel faster than the speed of light. Since traveling faster than the speed of light is tantamount to breaking the time barrier, this daunting prospect has caused some physicists to try to come up with elaborate ways to explain away Aspect’s findings. But it has inspired others to offer even more radical explanations.

University of London physicist David Bohm, for example, believes Aspect’s findings imply that objective reality does not exist, that despite its apparent solidity the universe is at heart a phantasm, a gigantic and splendidly detailed hologram.

To understand why Bohm makes this startling assertion, one must first understand a little about holograms. A hologram is a three- dimensional photograph made with the aid of a laser.

To make a hologram, the object to be photographed is first bathed in the light of a laser beam. Then a second laser beam is bounced off the reflected light of the first and the resulting interference pattern (the area where the two laser beams commingle) is captured on film.

When the film is developed, it looks like a meaningless swirl of light and dark lines. But as soon as the developed film is illuminated by another laser beam, a three-dimensional image of the original object appears.

The three-dimensionality of such images is not the only remarkable characteristic of holograms. If a hologram of a rose is cut in half and then illuminated by a laser, each half will still be found to contain the entire image of the rose.

Indeed, even if the halves are divided again, each snippet of film will always be found to contain a smaller but intact version of the original image. Unlike normal photographs, every part of a hologram contains all the information possessed by the whole.

The “whole in every part” nature of a hologram provides us with an entirely new way of understanding organization and order. For most of its history, Western science has labored under the bias that the best way to understand a physical phenomenon, whether a frog or an atom, is to dissect it and study its respective parts.

A hologram teaches us that some things in the universe may not lend themselves to this approach. If we try to take apart something constructed holographically, we will not get the pieces of which it is made, we will only get smaller wholes.

This insight suggested to Bohm another way of understanding Aspect’s discovery. Bohm believes the reason subatomic particles are able to remain in contact with one another regardless of the distance separating them is not because they are sending some sort of mysterious signal back and forth, but because their separateness is an illusion. He argues that at some deeper level of reality such particles are not individual entities, but are actually extensions of the same fundamental something.

To enable people to better visualize what he means, Bohm offers the following illustration.

Imagine an aquarium containing a fish. Imagine also that you are unable to see the aquarium directly and your knowledge about it and what it contains comes from two television cameras, one directed at the aquarium’s front and the other directed at its side.

As you stare at the two television monitors, you might assume that the fish on each of the screens are separate entities. After all, because the cameras are set at different angles, each of the images will be slightly different. But as you continue to watch the two fish, you will eventually become aware that there is a certain relationship between them.

When one turns, the other also makes a slightly different but corresponding turn; when one faces the front, the other always faces toward the side. If you remain unaware of the full scope of the situation, you might even conclude that the fish must be instantaneously communicating with one another, but this is clearly not the case.

This, says Bohm, is precisely what is going on between the subatomic particles in Aspect’s experiment.

According to Bohm, the apparent faster-than-light connection between subatomic particles is really telling us that there is a deeper level of reality we are not privy to, a more complex dimension beyond our own that is analogous to the aquarium. And, he adds, we view objects such as subatomic particles as separate from one another because we are seeing only a portion of their reality.

Such particles are not separate “parts”, but facets of a deeper and more underlying unity that is ultimately as holographic and indivisible as the previously mentioned rose. And since everything in physical reality is comprised of these “eidolons”, the universe is itself a projection, a hologram.

In addition to its phantomlike nature, such a universe would possess other rather startling features. If the apparent separateness of subatomic particles is illusory, it means that at a deeper level of reality all things in the universe are infinitely interconnected.

The electrons in a carbon atom in the human brain are connected to the subatomic particles that comprise every salmon that swims, every heart that beats, and every star that shimmers in the sky.

Everything interpenetrates everything, and although human nature may seek to categorize and pigeonhole and subdivide, the various phenomena of the universe, all apportionments are of necessity artificial and all of nature is ultimately a seamless web.

In a holographic universe, even time and space could no longer be viewed as fundamentals. Because concepts such as location break down in a universe in which nothing is truly separate from anything else, time and three-dimensional space, like the images of the fish on the TV monitors, would also have to be viewed as projections of this deeper order.

At its deeper level reality is a sort of superhologram in which the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. This suggests that given the proper tools it might even be possible to someday reach into the superholographic level of reality and pluck out scenes from the long-forgotten past.

What else the superhologram contains is an open-ended question. Allowing, for the sake of argument, that the superhologram is the matrix that has given birth to everything in our universe, at the very least it contains every subatomic particle that has been or will be — every configuration of matter and energy that is possible, from snowflakes to quasars, from bluü whales to gamma rays. It must be seen as a sort of cosmic storehouse of “All That Is.”

Although Bohm concedes that we have no way of knowing what else might lie hidden in the superhologram, he does venture to say that we have no reason to assume it does not contain more. Or as he puts it, perhaps the superholographic level of reality is a “mere stage” beyond which lies “an infinity of further development”.

Bohm is not the only researcher who has found evidence that the universe is a hologram. Working independently in the field of brain research, Standford neurophysiologist Karl Pribram has also become persuaded of the holographic nature of reality.

Pribram was drawn to the holographic model by the puzzle of how and where memories are stored in the brain. For decades numerous studies have shown that rather than being confined to a specific location, memories are dispersed throughout the brain.

In a series of landmark experiments in the 1920s, brain scientist Karl Lashley found that no matter what portion of a rat’s brain he removed he was unable to eradicate its memory of how to perform complex tasks it had learned prior to surgery. The only problem was that no one was able to come up with a mechanism that might explain this curious “whole in every part” nature of memory storage.

Then in the 1960s Pribram encountered the concept of holography and realized he had found the explanation brain scientists had been looking for. Pribram believes memories are encoded not in neurons, or small groupings of neurons, but in patterns of nerve impulses that crisscross the entire brain in the same way that patterns of laser light interference crisscross the entire area of a piece of film containing a holographic image. In other words, Pribram believes the brain is itself a hologram.

Pribram’s theory also explains how the human brain can store so many memories in so little space. It has been estimated that the human brain has the capacity to memorize something on the order of 10 billion bits of information during the average human lifetime (or roughly the same amount of information contained in five sets of the Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Similarly, it has been discovered that in addition to their other capabilities, holograms possess an astounding capacity for information storage–simply by changing the angle at which the two lasers strike a piece of photographic film, it is possible to record many different images on the same surface. It has been demonstrated that one cubic centimeter of film can hold as many as 10 billion bits of information.

Our uncanny ability to quickly retrieve whatever information we need from the enormous store of our memories becomes more understandable if the brain functions according to holographic principles. If a friend asks you to tell him what comes to mind when he says the word “zebra”, you do not have to clumsily sort back through ome gigantic and cerebral alphabetic file to arrive at an answer. Instead, associations like “striped”, “horselike”, and “animal native to Africa” all pop into your head instantly.

Indeed, one of the most amazing things about the human thinking process is that every piece of information seems instantly cross- correlated with every other piece of information–another feature intrinsic to the hologram. Because every portion of a hologram is infinitely interconnected with evey other portion, it is perhaps nature’s supreme example of a cross-correlated system.

The storage of memory is not the only neurophysiological puzzle that becomes more tractable in light of Pribram’s holographic model of the brain. Another is how the brain is able to translate the avalanche of frequencies it receives via the senses (light frequencies, sound frequencies, and so on) into the concrete world of our perceptions. Encoding and decoding frequencies is precisely what a hologram does best. Just as a hologram functions as a sort of lens, a translating device able to convert an apparently meaningless blur of frequencies into a coherent image, Pribram believes the brain also comprises a lens and uses holographic principles to mathematically convert the frequencies it receives through the senses into the inner world of our perceptions.

An impressive body of evidence suggests that the brain uses holographic principles to perform its operations. Pribram’s theory, in fact, has gained increasing support among neurophysiologists.

Argentinian-Italian researcher Hugo Zucarelli recently extended the holographic model into the world of acoustic phenomena. Puzzled by the fact that humans can locate the source of sounds without moving their heads, even if they only possess hearing in one ear, Zucarelli discovered that holographic principles can explain this ability.

Zucarelli has also developed the technology of holophonic sound, a recording technique able to reproduce acoustic situations with an almost uncanny realism.

Pribram’s belief that our brains mathematically construct “hard” reality by relying on input from a frequency domain has also received a good deal of experimental support.

It has been found that each of our senses is sensitive to a much broader range of frequencies than was previously suspected.

Researchers have discovered, for instance, that our visual systems are sensitive to sound frequencies, that our sense of smell is in part dependent on what are now called “osmic frequencies”, and that even the cells in our bodies are sensitive to a broad range of frequencies. Such findings suggest that it is only in the holographic domain of consciousness that such frequencies are sorted out and divided up into conventional perceptions.

But the most mind-boggling aspect of Pribram’s holographic model of the brain is what happens when it is put together with Bohm’s theory. For if the concreteness of the world is but a secondary reality and what is “there” is actually a holographic blur of frequencies, and if the brain is also a hologram and only selects some of the frequencies out of this blur and mathematically transforms them into sensory perceptions, what becomes of objective reality?

Put quite simply, it ceases to exist. As the religions of the East have long upheld, the material world is Maya, an illusion, and although we may think we are physical beings moving through a physical world, this too is an illusion.

We are really “receivers” floating through a kaleidoscopic sea of frequency, and what we extract from this sea and transmogrify into physical reality is but one channel from many extracted out of the superhologram.

This striking new picture of reality, the synthesis of Bohm and Pribram’s views, has come to be called the holographic paradigm, and although many scientists have greeted it with skepticism, it has galvanized others. A small but growing group of researchers believe it may be the most accurate model of reality science has arrived at thus far. More than that, some believe it may solve some mysteries that have never before been explainable by science and even establish the paranormal as a part of nature.

Numerous researchers, including Bohm and Pribram, have noted that many para-psychological phenomena become much more understandable in terms of the holographic paradigm.

In a universe in which individual brains are actually indivisible portions of the greater hologram and everything is infinitely interconnected, telepathy may merely be the accessing of the holographic level.

It is obviously much easier to understand how information can travel from the mind of individual ‘A’ to that of individual ‘B’ at a far distance point and helps to understand a number of unsolved puzzles in psychology. In particular, Grof feels the holographic paradigm offers a model for understanding many of the baffling phenomena experienced by individuals during altered states of consciousness.

Creation – Holographic Universe
In the 1950s, while conducting research into the beliefs of LSD as a psychotherapeutic tool, Grof had one female patient who suddenly became convinced she had assumed the identity of a female of a species of prehistoric reptile. During the course of her hallucination, she not only gave a richly detailed description of what it felt like to be encapsuled in such a form, but noted that the portion of the male of the species’s anatomy was a patch of colored scales on the side of its head.

What was startling to Grof was that although the woman had no prior knowledge about such things, a conversation with a zoologist later confirmed that in certain species of reptiles colored areas on the head do indeed play an important role as triggers of sexual arousal.

The woman’s experience was not unique. During the course of his research, Grof encountered examples of patients regressing and identifying with virtually every species on the evolutionary tree (research findings which helped influence the man-into-ape scene in the movie Altered States). Moreover, he found that such experiences frequently contained obscure zoological details which turned out to be accurate.

Regressions into the animal kingdom were not the only puzzling psychological phenomena Grof encountered. He also had patients who appeared to tap into some sort of collective or racial unconscious. Individuals with little or no education suddenly gave detailed descriptions of Zoroastrian funerary practices and scenes from Hindu mythology. In other categories of experience, individuals gave persuasive accounts of out-of-body journeys, of precognitive glimpses of the future, of regressions into apparent past-life incarnations.

In later research, Grof found the same range of phenomena manifested in therapy sessions which did not involve the use of drugs. Because the common element in such experiences appeared to be the transcending of an individual’s consciousness beyond the usual boundaries of ego and/or limitations of space and time, Grof called such manifestations “transpersonal experiences”, and in the late ’60s he helped found a branch of psychology called “transpersonal psychology” devoted entirely to their study.

Although Grof’s newly founded Association of Transpersonal Psychology garnered a rapidly growing group of like-minded professionals and has become a respected branch of psychology, for years neither Grof or any of his colleagues were able to offer a mechanism for explaining the bizarre psychological phenomena they were witnessing. But that has changed with the advent of the holographic paradigm.

As Grof recently noted, if the mind is actually part of a continuum, a labyrinth that is connected not only to every other mind that exists or has existed, but to every atom, organism, and region in the vastness of space and time itself, the fact that it is able to occasionally make forays into the labyrinth and have transpersonal experiences no longer seems so strange.

The holographic prardigm also has implications for so-called hard sciences like biology. Keith Floyd, a psychologist at Virginia Intermont College, has pointed out that if the concreteness of reality is but a holographic illusion, it would no longer be true to say the brain produces consciousness. Rather, it is consciousness that creates the appearance of the brain — as well as the body and everything else around us we interpret as physical.

Such a turnabout in the way we view biological structures has caused researchers to point out that medicine and our understanding of the healing process could also be transformed by the holographic paradigm. If the apparent physical structure of the body is but a holographic projection of consciousness, it becomes clear that each of us is much more responsible for our health than current medical wisdom allows. What we now view as miraculous remissions of disease may actually be due to changes in consciousness which in turn effect changes in the hologram of the body.

Similarly, controversial new healing techniques such as visualization may work so well because in the holographic domain of thought images are ultimately as real as “reality”.

Even visions and experiences involving “non-ordinary” reality become explainable under the holographic paradigm. In his book “Gifts of Unknown Things,” biologist Lyall Watson discribes his encounter with an Indonesian shaman woman who, by performing a ritual dance, was able to make an entire grove of trees instantly vanish into thin air. Watson relates that as he and another astonished onlooker continued to watch the woman, she caused the trees to reappear, then “click” off again and on again several times in succession.

Although current scientific understanding is incapable of explaining such events, experiences like this become more tenable if “hard” reality is only a holographic projection.

Perhaps we agree on what is “there” or “not there” because what we call consensus reality is formulated and ratified at the level of the human unconscious at which all minds are infinitely interconnected.

If this is true, it is the most profound implication of the holographic paradigm of all, for it means that experiences such as Watson’s are not commonplace only because we have not programmed our minds with the beliefs that would make them so. In a holographic universe there are no limits to the extent to which we can alter the fabric of reality.

What we perceive as reality is only a canvas waiting for us to draw upon it any picture we want. Anything is possible, from bending spoons with the power of the mind to the phantasmagoric events experienced by Castaneda during his encounters with the Yaqui brujo don Juan, for magic is our birthright, no more or less miraculous than our ability to compute the reality we want when we are in our dreams.

Indeed, even our most fundamental notions about reality become suspect, for in a holographic universe, as Pribram has pointed out, even random events would have to be seen as based on holographic principles and therefore determined. Synchronicities or meaningful coincidences suddenly makes sense, and everything in reality would have to be seen as a metaphor, for even the most haphazard events would express some underlying symmetry.

Whether Bohm and Pribram’s holographic paradigm becomes accepted in science or dies an ignoble death remains to be seen, but it is safe to say that it has already had an influence on the thinking of many scientists. And even if it is found that the holographic model does not provide the best explanation for the instantaneous communications that seem to be passing back and forth between subatomic particles, at the very least, as noted by Basil Hiley, a physicist at Birbeck College in London, Aspect’s findings “indicate that we must be prepared to consider radically new views of reality”.

http://www.crystalinks.com/holographic.html

Article from: http://www.rense.com/general69/holo.htm

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I am one of the few people disappointed by Steve Volk’s Fringeology. It’s well written, compelling, interesting and thoroughly researched, so I certainly can’t fault him for providing us all with a great read. I do, however, fault him for not fully exploring and embracing the significance of his Family Ghost Story (spoiler alert warning: if you are planning to read the book, you may not want to continue here. I will reveal the ending!).

Volk tackles several areas of paranormal activity and/or research, such as aliens and U.F.O.s, lucid dreaming, consciousness outside of brain activity, Near Death Experiences, and—of course—ghosts. In every chapter, he makes the case that most people will ardently defend paranormal phenomena without applying sufficient critical thinking skills, or rabidly debunk it without considering the evidence. He argues for a middle ground where one is not forced into either position, but allows the paranormal to remain a mystery. On the surface, I find that argument compelling. Of course, the two camps will always war over the reality of survival of death or the existence of alien civilizations; that does not further discourse or advance our search for the truth. However, maintaining the fence-sitting position does nothing to move us forward in our quest for knowledge. Volk’s contention that much of the paranormal is “unprovable” by the scientific method doesn’t take into account the vast amount of research that has been conducted in this area over the last 150 years (at least). Yes, attempting to recreate paranormal phenomena in a laboratory setting is nearly impossible—or at the very least, very difficult. The psi results obtained so far, for example, are fairly unimpressive but statistically significant.

Clearly, much of the frustration of anomalous phenomena consists of its amorphous, changeable nature. Volk doesn’t appear to place much trust in the truth of people’s experiences and stories, which is how most of what we know about the paranormal is examined. Volk comes across as afraid to take the stories too seriously, because so much of our current knowledge is anecdotal. “Proving” the existence of another reality is more like making a court case and presenting the evidence. In the legal profession, we rely on eyewitness accounts and a preponderance of evidence indicating that something is more than likely true than not when deciding someone’s fate. That is precisely what we need to do with the paranormal—treat it at as a court case, subject it to academic and legal standards for evaluation and interpretation instead of our odd insistence that only hard science can validate what most of us already know is real.

The average citizen appears to believe that only a laboratory can yield the hardest of truths, but I am at a loss as to why we treat the paranormal that way. After all, so much of what we accept as truth comes from sociological, psychological, legal and historical epistemology (ways of knowing) and our own hard-won wisdom gleaned from experience. Volk still has traces of that annoying “you can’t trust yourself” philosophy that bases everything we perceive as potentially explicable by chemical reactions and primitive responses. Yes, it’s true that we are often governed by chemical and endocrine processes, but that does not mean we can’t separate reality from fantasy or understand on a profound level the meaning and validity of our experiences. Fringeology is a text afraid to move too far from science when it comes to documenting and understanding anomalous experiences.

What really bothers me about this book, however, is the way Volk refuses to explicitly state what he believes about the Family Ghost. The phenomena he describes during his years in the family home are so intense and compelling that it boggles the mind to think there is any explanation other than the paranormal (assuming we believe that our author is telling the truth, and I have no reason to disbelieve him). When he discovers the answer to what he thinks caused the disturbance (which, apparently, continues to this day) through lucid dreaming, he REFUSES TO ACTUALLY DISCUSS IT or openly state his hypothesis. He has boxed himself into a corner with his own philosophy, which is to leave the strange stuff to mystery and wonder. We can feel and appreciate the mystery and wonder without refusing to come up with a theory or advance a belief. Volk forces the reader to figure it out on her own, through suggestion and hinting, a literary practice that does not work for me here.

What we are supposed to divine from the last chapter or so is that his grandfather’s alcoholism created the disturbances, or perhaps the ghost of the grandfather himself, unable to be at peace with his soul due to his substance abuse issues. Volk doesn’t want to SAY that, yet I don’t see what other conclusion can be drawn based on his presentation of events and the content of his lucid dream, which he either takes seriously but is embarrassed to admit it, or he doesn’t take seriously, in which case there is no point in wrapping up his entire text with that revelatory vision. You either take your dreams/visions/lucid hallucinations as meaningful, or you don’t—but it’s a coward’s way out to refuse to delve deeply into the implications of what you have discovered.

Judging by the reviews the book has received, I am fairly alone in my assessment here. Perhaps most readers will find the mysterious ending to be consistent with the book’s message and perfectly appropriate. My issue is that the ending is NOT mysterious, simply vague. Yes, I get what the author is attempting to convey here—but sometimes, you need to take a stand and tell the world what you suspect is or has been happening in your haunted home. Volk seems to KNOW, to have a theory, but I get the sense he is far too embarrassed to lose his street cred as a hard-nosed, objective journalist and acquire the dreaded Paranormal Taint from which he sees the worst of the skeptics flee.

I love mystery and a good ghost story. More than that, however, I am passionate about the pursuit of truth. That requires taking a stand with the evidence that you have at your disposal. It also requires that you risk making a mistake or having to revise your beliefs. That is the dialectical method, and it moves forward your thinking and that of others who engage with you in debate and discussion. If your grandfather haunts your house in a violent and negative fashion, it’s time to dig in and go deeper. Yes, you could leave it as a “mystery”, or you could dare to confront the questions of a family tragedy that will haunt you forever if you don’t.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D.

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