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Posts Tagged ‘ghosts’

I’ve given up. Completely. Paranormal investigations might be many things, but one thing they are not: a way to prove that dead people can communicate with the living.

I still go out with my team. I love the ladies with all my heart; but I don’t believe that we are finding proof or even evidence of life after death. I’ve spent years writing about all the possible explanations for our EVP and weird photos, odd shadows and lights on video, anomalous Ghost Radar word strings, and so on. All this data we collected led us to no conclusions and no ‘proof’ that would satisfy anyone who wasn’t there. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: what we do is not ‘scientific,’ not verifiable, not convincing to a die-hard materialist or even an agnostic. There will always be an alternative explanation, the suspicion of fraud (even though we’ve never attempted to mislead anyone in the entire eight years we’ve been together), the “I wasn’t there” attitude, and the general questions regarding our methods, motives, and procedures. Mostly, though, people just don’t care about the paranormal like they used to. There was a heyday for investigations when Hollywood sniffed out money-making opportunities and came calling, causing so many of us to fall in the Industry’s snares. Yup. I was opportunistic and fame-hungry too. I admit it. I cloaked those all-too-human desires with the idea that I could ‘share’ our discoveries with the world, and we would Make Them Believe.

The general public is no longer interested in our cool sound bites or our shadows that could be ghosts. I doubt that we will experience any kind of Renaissance in the field of the paranormal that involves iPhones or hacked AM radios ever again. That’s probably for the best. We never really knew what we were looking for, anyway, beyond the idea that souls might hang out at creepy places and want to talk into our recorders; the weird data we collected over the years was always inconclusive and misleading, subject to interpretation and doubt.

So why do I claim that we will never prove life after death? First of all, because there is no spiritual death–just the death of our flesh casing–and I simply don’t believe that our regenerated consciousness is going to choose to float around a dank, nasty hallway in an old asylum. Also, because whatever God you believe in–no matter what you call it–has placed an absolute prohibition on such proof. Not because ‘proof’ negates faith, but because if such a thing as scientific proof for the afterlife ever presented itself, it would terminate the individual’s spiritual path. Seeking and striving would end, and there would be complacency and pointlessness in our material lives.

I think that we found bits and pieces of consciousness out there that might well have been just enough to keep us searching and pushing forward on our spiritual quests, but never enough to answer our questions. Every spiritual quest eventually comes to an end, when we realize that we have hit the proverbial dead end. I hit the wall with paranormal investigations years ago, but I loved hanging out with my dear ones in scary places, and I still do. I probably always will; but I have adjusted my expectations and no longer expect to learn anything new or life changing with my trusty ghost tools. That part of my search is over.

Each individual is on the Earth in their particular incarnation to figure out the nature of life, change, death, consciousness, God, the spirit world, reality, karma, and how to manage other people and the planet itself. Our job is to figure all this out; it might take forever, but that’s what we’re assigned to do. This is the problem, then, with what we as paranormal investigators attempted to do: hijack others’ spiritual paths with information that would render the individual’s search for meaning unnecessary. By ‘proving’ the continuity of our eternal selves–our stated goal–all someone had to do was accept the truth of our findings and carry on, knowing that there was no spiritual work to do because we had done that for them.

Humans, however, resist like crazy anyone else’s attempt to define reality. We all instinctively know that we are on our own when it comes to the Big Questions. We can join esoteric communities, profess certain faiths, ghost hunt, meditate, wander the desert with our possessions in a small bag, chew on magic plants, or spin in circles until we leave our bodies. The point is, we do this alone even if we are part of a faith community. Every, single one of us has to figure this out in one way or the other: are we eternal? Are we a manifestation of God? Do we come back again and again to work on these existential issues until, one day, we fade into Oneness? Are we ghosts at some point? Are we, perhaps, always a form of ghost? No matter how hard we try to supply these answers for others, we simply cannot. This is hard, painful, frustrating, and intense work that we do in the process of our transformation.

I no longer look for answers in the outside world. I look within and stare into the darkness as well as the light. The outside world changes as I change; there are strange messages and astounding signs that point me in new directions and confirm some of my tentative beliefs about the nature of true reality. But I don’t share these deeply personal revelations easily, if at all; I don’t need someone ‘debunking’ my path or sneering at my methods.

The only thing I ‘hunt’ for these days is myself and God. Sometimes I find neither; sometimes both appear to be one; other days I simply wander, lost, wondering if would be easier to just open up my Ghost Radar and stare at the dots.

Much love to all,

Kirsten

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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

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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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