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Posts Tagged ‘paranormal investigations’

Chilling Photos of Abandoned Mental Asylums Across Italy | The ...
(from The Weather Channel)

The following story is from my book, True and Imagined Stories of the Paranormal: Can You Tell the Difference? Every now and then, I plan to upload to this site a selection of true and imagined stories of the paranormal, and the readers will decide whether or not the events described happened in reality or only in my creative imagination. By “true,” I mean that I have as faithfully as possible recreated events that actually happened to me or come from a reliable and vetted source. Stories that I created may have true elements or make reference to some true events, but are mostly fictional in nature. The purpose of the book is to show the reader what characterizes real experiences, versus the stereotypes and assumptions about what the paranormal is: false stories will be entertaining, yet misleading.

Here is the first story. Did this really happen? You tell me!

“We had entered the old State Hospital countless times before; sometimes, we trespassed. Other times, as my lawyer husband admonished me, it was blatant breaking and entering, a far more serious infraction. On this particular evening, a side door to one of the enormous wings was open. There was no sign telling us not to enter; there was no picking of locks; there was nothing to do but push the door open and feel that cool air envelop us with the peculiar odor of the old hospital: slightly antiseptic with undertones of dust, mold and animal feces. It was the smell that defined the place; should I live a 150 years, I would never forget that odd combination of old hospital and decay.

Marcy, Kathy and I were seasoned investigators at this point in our lives. We had dedicated the last 12 years to the dogged pursuit of ghosts, demons, shadow people, spirits of unknown provenance, and anything else that tapped on walls, knocked things over, or whispered strange words into our recorders. These hallways, nurses stations, common areas, patient rooms and storage areas were so familiar as to be like a second home of sorts, and yet, there was never a moment where I wasn’t aware of the presence of something, watching us, following our movements, aware of our wanderings and whispered conversations.

We ended up in a very dark hallway in the middle of a large unit. I was never sure which unit served what purpose. Some of them had multiple uses over the decades, and others had never strayed from their original function as giant warehouses for the insane, the disabled, the outcasts, the drug addicts, or even the unfortunate immigrant or divorcee whose husband had declared her neurotic. The units that had been abandoned when the hospital closed in 1997 were the most ‘atmospheric’, retaining a heaviness and despair from hundreds, if not thousands, of confused, unhappy, frightened patients, many of whom are still wandering the streets of the local communities. There were many deaths in those buildings. There was state sanctioned torture in the name of psychiatry. And yes, there were people happy to be there that were protected and well treated. It was a complex mixture of emotions that left its mark in the very walls of the units, a permanent recording of human trauma and fear that replays itself endlessly. I don’t think peace or happiness are trapped in homes or buildings; those emotions go with you to the next life.

In the middle of this dismally dark hallway, Marcy stops and sets up various devices. The devices record anomalies, strange words, and changes in EMF and temperature. This is to be expected, of course, in a place like this. As a group, however, we have grown weary of our typical questions (‘can you hear me?’ ‘What year is it’?) and requests (‘tap three times if you can see me’, ‘knock on the walls,’ ‘make a noise so that we know where you are’), so we decide that we are going to take a different approach. Marcy asks it the thing in the hallway would like to play a game. This always makes me nervous, because I rarely sense the presence of children, and she frequently does. Not only does this mean we are attuned to different energies, it implies for me that she is opening up her tender heart to a child spirit that, for me, is a dirty, crazy old man who feels an attraction to her that is not at all innocent. I am scared, and Marcy is excited. I ‘see’ this energy in the hallway as someone who is toying with us. Yes, he taps on the walls, and yes, he has made some indistinct noise that raises my blood pressure; but, I don’t think that this is cooperation or sincere interest. This is his opportunity to lure us into an unhealthy interaction that will make me sick later. “Let’s play hide and seek!” Marcy cries out into the black hallway; “I’m going to hide and you’re going to find me!” Or, “you’re going to hide, and I’m going to find you!” I wasn’t paying much attention to the specifics of the rules, because the game unnerved me.

So Marcy hides behind a wall near a nurses’ station. She counts to ten. All I am aware of is my nausea and my fear, because it feels more and more obvious to me that this entity, this energy, or whatever it is, will not play any game without exacting a price. Shortly after Marcy says “ten,” there is an astonishingly clear noise: it’s a shower curtain being pulled aside on a metal bar. I know that sound, because we had been in one of the old, turquoise bathrooms before we started to investigate. The bathtub–suspiciously clean after all these decades–had a metal bar around the top where the shower curtain hung from shower curtain roller rings. They looked like this:

The curtain itself was open when we first entered the bathroom. After we heard the distinctive noise of the shower curtain opening–which is the noise that the roller rings make when moving across a metal shower rod–we ran back to that bathroom in a state of total shock, only to notice that the shower curtain was now drawn around the bathtub. Someone had moved it. Someone was hiding from Marcy, just as she had requested.

After the initial excitement wore off, we of course wanted to replay the recording of the voice. We heard it, clear as day. And then, something happened that I find mysterious, a quite frequent phenomenon: when we attempted to clip and send the file with the sound, we could no longer clearly hear it. We assume that it’s about compressing the file and sending it to an email address that degrades the quality of the audio. However, there is something more at work here. Countless EVP (electronic voice phenomena) degrades over time even when you listen to the same clip on the same computer using the same software. A voice that the entire team heard clearly the first few times it is played begins a slow and inexorable transformation over time until doubt creeps in about its veracity or intelligibility, and even the best EVP can end up as mere question marks.

We exited the building and wandered around the overgrown courtyards, following the trails of decay and entropy. I had that feeling again that we had been manipulated or simply drained by something that was intelligent enough to play a game. I felt that he was an older man who was stuck in Camarillo for crimes of a sexual, deviant nature. He was not someone who could be rehabilitated or released. He was thrilled that three women were paying attention to him and affording him the opportunity to interact with us, and yet his intention was dark. What would he have done in this afterlife state, this life of a fragmented consciousness, this self expression as instinct and pure id? All he could do, I think, was to trick us and invade our awareness, knowing as he did that we wanted contact, any contact. Once he was in our minds, in our consciousness, he could play there.

Ghosts require energy and an audience that is eager to connect. No matter who they are, they can suck the life force right out of you, as if you were a living battery. I’m not sure that Marcy agreed with me regarding the identity of this entity, and Kathy liked to keep a critical distance from such inquiries and identifications, because once you formulate an image of who is responsible for noises and feelings, you have strayed into the territory of mediums and channelers, and Kathy is comfortable with neither. It is probably folly to attempt to identify the spirit that has entered your space, unless you have a strong, instinctual response to their energy. I have certain physical responses to children, to teenagers, to men and women, and especially to creepy sociopaths. I can sense that presence from a mile away in either the living or the dead.

The next day, I had a headache, extreme fatigue, and slight vertigo. I was just sick enough to know that I had run into someone from whom I would have run like mad, had I met him in the flesh. This observation always begs the question: why do we want contact with someone in spirit who we would avoid at all costs in the flesh? Of course, one often doesn’t know who you have come into contact with until it’s too late, after you’ve engaged him. It’s a little like carrying on an intimate conversation with someone in a dark room who can disguise their voice and speaks in riddles. It’s a dangerous practice, one fueled by endless curiosity and the thrill of the hunt.

The problem with that is that we–the ones who seek out such contact–are the ones who are captured in the end. We end up in cages of confusion and partial answers, speculations and strange emotions, wondering if someone we couldn’t see might have taken up residence in an abandoned and dark corner of our souls.”

Was this a story based on true events? Or is this a cleverly crafted ghost story designed to sound true? You be the judge.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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What does science say about 'paranormal' sleep experiences ...

Every now and then, I like to dust off my critical mind and find an article that–yet again!–seeks to describe all paranormal phenomena as a by product of brain functions, ‘stress’, or some other physical or psychological glitch in the system. The latest assault on the paranormal comes from this source, which you are welcome to read in its entirety should you feel inspired: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/out-the-ooze/201507/why-some-people-see-ghosts-and-other-apparitions

Here is a quote that I find interesting yet dismaying: “A recent study by Kirsten Barnes and Nicholas Gibson (2013) explored the differences between individuals who have never had a paranormal experience and those who have. They confirmed that experiences of supernatural phenomena are most likely to occur in threatening or ambiguous environments, and they also found that those who had paranormal experiences scored higher on scales measuring empathy and a tendency to become deeply absorbed in one’s own subjective experience.”

One of the most common assumptions of scientists and psychologists when dealing with anomalous experiences is that the environment or the brain itself PRODUCES the paranormal experience. There are so many variations on this assumption: blind spots create the effect of seeing something out of the corner of your eye; variations in the electromagnetic field produce the feeling of a presence or being watched; variations in infrasound create feelings of doom or dread; sleep paralysis and the hypnagogic state bring our dreams into reality; or environmental contaminants make us hallucinate. The article under discussion here states that both stressful and boring environments create the necessary conditions for the brain to hallucinate ghosts. If you are a sensitive person, an empath, or simply prone to self analysis, your brain will supply you with visions. The problem with this hypothesis should be fairly clear, but allow me to break down my objections:

  1. Instead of assuming that conditions and brain states CREATE the paranormal experience, it is more likely that the proper CONDITIONS lead to the ability to perceive non-ordinary realities and presences. You can study the brains of meditators and mystics and exclaim that the changes you see in their brains have created their visions, or you can conclude that the changes in their brains are the result of sustained and focused connection with “God” or the world of spirit. The brain changes are the result of their spiritual practices, not the cause.
  2. The same can be said for people who enter trance states, ingest psychedelic substances, engage in intense religious rituals, or in any other way alter their consciousness with the express intent to contact the world of spirit. Yes, the brain changes in response to the substance, activity or intention of the participant in any kind of ritual, because the brain is accommodating and facilitating the connection, not creating it.
  3. This does not mean that you can’t genuinely hallucinate while under the influence of drugs, carbon monoxide, or some other physical agent. What’s the difference? In genuine cases of spiritual contact, there is logic, emotional impact, a sense of the divine, a coherent story, or the fulfillment of one’s deepest intentions. There is, in other words, a sense of the holy or sacred that accompanies one’s vision, a transcendence that serves to elevate the experience to another level of reality and often ends up changing the life of the person who has witnessed or sensed the presence. I have, unfortunately, endured an episode of carbon monoxide poisoning when I was a teenager in Spain–I woke up disoriented, confused, and seeing strange things. I knew immediately that this was not ‘paranormal’, but something that was sickening me in body and mind. I have also had multiple surgeries where I struggled through the effects of anesthesia and other drugs, and it was always clear that those effects were not at all supernatural due to their chaotic and irrational nature. There is simply no way to compare the effects of drugs and poison to a true, spiritual experience that leaves you in awe.
  4. And, finally, to reduce spiritual experiences to brain effects or environmental stresses completely ignores centuries of human experiences of the holy and the uncanny. If you reduce the power of religion to, for example, the stress Jesus felt while wandering through the desert, you have denied the most powerful aspect of humanity: our ability to connect to higher realities and transmit those messages to others.

Our brains serve as a sort of ‘reducing valve’ for an overwhelming amount of information that we cannot possibly process in its entirety. This quote from Aldous Huxley is quite famous in certain spiritual circles:

“Each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. […]

But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet.” https://www.ianmack.com/aldous-huxley-dont-mistake-the-trickle-for-ultimate-reality/

And yes, Huxley wrote this after his experiments with mescaline; and yet, think about it: there is infinitely more information ‘out there’ than we are able to process. If some event, circumstance, drug, or stressor hampers the brain’s ability to filter out the greater reality, extra information can sneak past the gates and flood us with ‘paranormal’ experiences: messages from the gods or from God, spirit contact, or the ability to perceive what is normally blocked from view. How do we know what is ‘real’ and what is the result of a brain on overload? “By their fruits you shall know them”: this refers to false prophets, but it could easily refer to false messages or hallucinations. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit; likewise, true spiritual contact, ‘real’ paranormal experiences, are life changing and profound.

I have not mentioned the fact that documented and verifiable paranormal experiences are abundant and well researched. The Society for Psychical Research, for example, has published volumes of excellent evidence for the existence of ‘ghosts’, telepathy, near death experiences, mediumship, out of body experiences, and so much more. The SPR has been around since 1882 and included some of the most prominent and respected scientists of their time. Their work continues today. Gary Schwartz in the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona has carried out fascinating experiments in afterlife communication. I could go on and on, but the point is: before one decides what is ‘science’ and what is not, you must do your research. There are centuries of evidence that spiritual energy is real and communicates with us on a regular basis. You don’t need to be an empath to receive these communications, but you do need to allow that such experiences are possible; if you block the full range of human consciousness with your materialism in the name of science, you lose the most profound aspect of our humanity: our connection to spirit.

The end of the article offers advice for the psychologist faced with the patient reporting paranormal contact:

“There are really only three possibilities:

  1. The event really happened, just as the person has reported.
  2. The person believes that the event has really happened, but it has not.
  3. The person is fabricating a story for some reason.”

I am not entirely sure how the psychologist would know that the event has not really happened, in the case of the second scenario. I would recommend option number 1, assuming that there is no serious mental illness present (although, some argue that schizophrenia, for example, is simply a case of a reducing valve that does not work well and allows too much information in without context or intention).

In the end, we simply cannot assume that we have access to the full display of reality that the Universe contains. Some of our brains are more plastic, more open, than others, for a multitude of reasons. Why not treat those people for whom the larger realities intrude as wise instead of crazy? Why not see what doors open for psychology and science when this extra information flows through freely, without judgment or skepticism? And, of course, why not educate yourselves in the rich history of the ‘paranormal’ and realize that the science is, actually, already settled?

—Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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Image result for authentic ghost photos

Welcome to my first, bilingual post for those who read Spanish. In this post, I will endeavor to explain why the statement “I don’t believe in ghosts” doesn’t mean what people think it does.

Bienvenidos a mi primer ‘post’ en español. Hoy pienso explicar por qué la afirmación “no creo en los fantasmas” no significa lo que muchos piensan.

Language is the first barrier to mutual comprehension. The word ‘ghost’ is a loaded term; it conjures images from movies, faked photos, and horror novels. The word carries so much cultural baggage that it’s time to let it go, and talk about what I really mean when I use the term ‘ghost’. A ‘ghost’ refers to a remaining or persisting aspect of a once material being; some energetic or perceptual imprint that implies a consciousness has continued to function without a material form.

El lenguaje es la primera barrera a la comprensión mutua. La palabra ‘fantasma’ es un término cargado; conjura imágenes de las películas, fotos falseadas, y novelas de terror. La palabra conlleva tantas asunciones y estereotipos culturales que ya es hora de abandonarla o reconstruirla. Pero, no se puede evitar su uso en la comunicación diaria, así que vamos a entenderla de esta forma: Un ‘fantasma’ se refiere a un aspecto persistente de un ser otrora material, algún patrón energético o perceptual que implica que una consciencia ha continuado funcionando sin forma física.

Now, let’s talk about what we mean by ‘belief’: The word ‘belief’ has strong religious overtones; it requires ‘faith’ as a correlate. When people say they do not ‘believe’ in ‘ghosts’, what they are saying is that they do not have faith in the existence of wispy, ghostly forms of once living people. I would agree with that statement. No investigator of the paranormal who takes herself seriously would ask that someone have faith or ‘believe’ in something without evidence for it. So, I never ask for faith or belief, but for a sincere desire to investigate the evidence that human consciousness survives bodily death. There is abundant evidence in favor of that hypothesis, and that is what this web site is about: presenting all the evidence that most people are unaware exists.

Ahora, hablemos de lo que queremos decir por ‘creencia’: la palabra ‘creencia’ tiene fuertes tintes religiosos; requiere e implica la fe. Cuando la gente afirma que no ‘cree’ en fantasmas, lo que está diciendo de verdad es que no tiene fe en la existencia de formas cuasi transparentes de personas antes vivas y ahora suspendidas entre el ser y el no ser. Estoy de acuerdo con que no creo en fantasmas, si así los definimos. Ningún investigador de lo paranormal pediría que alguien tuviera fe o creencia en algo sin que haya evidencia a su favor. Así que nunca pido que alguien tenga tal fe o creencia, sino que expresen un sincero interés de investigar la evidencia de que la consciencia humana sobreviva la muerte del cuerpo. Hay evidencia abundante y rigorosa que apoya tal hipótesis, y de eso se trata este blog: presentar la evidencia que tanta gente ni sabe que existe.

So no, I do not ask nor wish for you to ‘believe’ in anything that does not make sense to you after a careful weighing of the evidence in favor of a hypothesis. Instead of saying, “I do not believe in ghosts”, my hope is that you will say, “after carefully considering the evidence for and against the survival of human consciousness, I think X is true”. Notice that the conclusions you might come to are less important that the willingness to consider what you might think now is impossible. For many things were considered to be impossible until the day when the weight of the evidence changed the point of view of the collective cultural beliefs. When we make statements about what we do not believe in, that too, is a statement of faith without evidence.

No, no deseo que creas en nada que no tenga sentido para ti después de una cuidadosa examinación de la evidencia a favor de una hipótesis. En vez de decir, “no creo en los fantasmas”, mi esperanza es que digas “después de estudiar cuidadosamente la evidencia a favor y en contra para la continuación de la consciencia humana después de la muerte física, he llegado a la conclusión que X representa la verdad”. Nota que las conclusiones a las que finalmente llegas (si es que llegas a tal punto final de tus consideraciones), es menos importante que la buena voluntad de ponderar lo que ahora te pueda parecer imposible. Muchas cosas se consideraban imposibles hasta el día cuando el peso de la evidencia cambió para siempre el punto de vista de las creencias culturales populares de una época. Cuando hacemos declaraciones acerca de lo que no creemos, eso también es una aserción que depende de la fe sin evidencia.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

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Spirit is everywhere. You don’t need to seek it; you need to discover it. What most investigators forget is that they are spirit themselves; we are looking for our own essence ‘out there’ when, in reality, to connect to spirit we must first connect to our authentic selves. 

This requires silence, meditation, ‘tuning in’, contemplation, and for some, an alteration of normal consciousness (trance states). The ‘ghosts’ out there can be perceived not through gadgets and devices (if it were possible to prove anything that way, it would have happened already), but through adjusting our brain waves to match the frequencies of expanded consciousness. What do I mean by that? Simply that you must be in the right state of mind to make contact with a non-material human consciousness. If you maintain your ‘normal’, waking state of business and distraction, you don’t–you can’t–contact subtle energies. 

This time of year–December into January–is the best for contact with spirit. The separation between our waking consciousness and the worlds where spirits roam is very thin. Anyone who wishes to make contact with spirit will find it far easier now than any other time of year. Of course, that’s not a rule–our best investigation happened in July of 2013–but the long, dark hours and the contemplative feeling of the season allow for a deeper communion between our deep, spiritual selves and the dimensions where all kinds of beings find their expression: both human and other. 

The trick this season is to find your deepest self and allow its expression and communion with the souls that wander in the soft darkness of December. Once you’ve allowed for that to happen, you won’t need to search for anyone; the ghosts will find you.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

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Anyone who meditates on a regular basis knows that some strange material can float to the surface of our minds. I used to dismiss such information as a product of random, subconscious associations, but now I pay attention. I realized that what I used to ignore was teaching that I didn’t want and lessons that contradicted what I desired to believe. It seems, sadly enough, that I don’t grow as a human being unless I suffer the pain of reality contradicting my illusions.

I was far away in space during a meditation where I quickly vanished as a ‘person’. I found myself in an odd, geometric void where there were several points displayed in front of ‘me’, or the observer. A master teacher was explaining that the points represented versions of the self. During our lifetimes, we create multiple copies of the true Self, typically by assigning them roles to play. There is the self as mother, teacher, wife, daughter, and so forth. We come to identify with those roles, and therein lies the pain and suffering that so many of us experience when we realize that the roles we play are primarily determined by our culture, family, country of origin, media, and other forces that act upon us in hidden ways. The ‘false selves’ are only painful when they separate from the true Self and take on a life of their own, divorced from a higher, ultimate reality (some call this God, the Divine, the Field, or the Theory of Everything). When the role-identified ego fragments view themselves as independent, the emotional pain grows and intensifies every time we fail to meet the ego’s standards, which are tied to our culture’s definition of success. We become bad mothers, poor teachers, disappointing wives, or bankrupted entrepreneurs. There are an infinite variety of ways we ‘fail’ in our culture: we are old, fat, unattractive, and unsuccessful. Every negative judgment we struggle with is a result of identifying with a false construct of the self that has broken off from the True Self and become autonomous.

Our very culture, the medium in which we live and act, promotes the fragmentation of the self. If we are ‘unsuccessful’ at any of the roles assigned to us, then we will spend money to ‘fix’ the problem that our society created for us. We chase solutions to invented problems, and the people responsible for selling us said ‘solutions’ become rich and powerful at our expense. To some extent, we are all responsible for selling ourselves and others the lies of our culture: how many times have we promoted a damaging, false view of who we are ‘supposed’ to be that is in service to a diseased, dominant culture? If we think that we are substandard employees, daughters, sons, parents, citizens, and so on, we exist in a perpetual state of self loathing and criticism, making us far less likely to pursue avenues of change in our environment, politics, educational system, or social networks. How do you keep the population from rebelling or protesting? Make them believe that they are not good enough to try. I have classrooms filled with students who believe that there is no point in attempting change of any kind. They passively accept the version of themselves that their communities and cultures promote, consciously or otherwise.

While I floated in this space of false selves, I decided that I must be ‘the Observer’ who understood the lessons; the student, if you will. But the Voice, very gently, asked me: “Who observes the observer?” This sounded to me like one of those impossible Zen scenarios where there is, for all intents and purposes, no answer. I was then led to, and ‘infused’ with, the Observer of the observer, and discovered that it was God; but God was me. I was God. Of course, this upset the little ‘me’, who considered this blasphemy. The little observer started protesting that she was a miserable sinner, far from God, and that this truth that I was experiencing could not be true (a tautology if there ever was one). This was now the second time that I have been shown that the true self is God. After all, God experiences herself/themselves (no pronoun works here) in an infinite variety of forms and beings, and I am one of those beings whose true identity is with God.

If we were all to believe this, instead of the lies and distortions that we DO believe, how would the world change? Indeed, the world as we know it would look utterly different (to be clear, I am not talking about the ego delusion that one is God; that’s entirely another problem. I am talking about the actual, true, real Self through which God experiences creation). How beautiful our experience on Earth would be if everyone followed the path of the true Self. It’s too painful to see how far we are from that vision. Perhaps the whole point of life on Earth is to overcome the vast distance between our repressive cultures/constructed selves and our true nature. We come back here again and again, learning and remembering these lessons in various ways, in differing circumstances. Pain and suffering are the most effective teachers when we are ready to accept the falling away of the myriad, scattered, ego selves.
This is why we pray, why we meditate, why we alter our consciousness: to get closer to our true identity and to realize that fundamental change is possible. To make that change requires those little selves floating out there in space to self destruct under the weight of their false values and internal contradictions. Losing those fragments hurts. Those painful identities don’t seem to actually ‘die’: they become ghosts and haunt our collective consciousness forever and ever. But they don’t have to define me anymore, or crush me under the weight of their unprocessed emotion. I choose to send them to the far corners of the Earth, where they can rattle their chains, moan and lament, and scare the paranormal investigators and urban explorers. For that is where they belong, after all: in the agonized and remote regions of our worst fears.

I will keep moving towards the Light, which we all need to do long before we die.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

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I received a couple of comments from someone who is scared. She is an investigator who feels that she has lost something in the process of contacting the spirit world: she worries that it might be part of her soul. This is a valid concern, and I will try to address it.

There are times when we wonder if we are ‘oppressed’ by a spirit who seeks to harm us. I have wondered that in the past; in fact, there are a couple of entries here on soulbank where I worked through my terror at feeling that someone unholy and powerful was attempting to take over my mind and emotions. Do I think this is possible? Yes, I do. However, I don’t think that any spirit can accomplish this completely without our conscious consent. If we have not specifically invited evil in, then we will not become possessed.

I am thinking here of the rite of exorcism and the priests that work to rid people of demonic entities. There are a couple of points that exorcists make on a regular basis: very few people are truly possessed, and those that are have almost always given their consent to the evil spirit in one way or another. This is why I caution against using any instrument that turns you into a channel or conduit for the spirit world. It is difficult to control who will ‘use’ you to spread their message. I was watching a documentary on Malachi Martin the other night, exorcist and author of the very famous HOSTAGE TO THE DEVIL, and I learned through multiple interviews with him and other exorcists that there are signs of possession that we can ‘read’ in ourselves or others, and almost no one needs to worry about this. The most important sign is someone ‘turning on a dime,’ changing from a normal, decent human being to something suddenly sinister and completely out of character. It’s as if the veil of normalcy and kindness dropped for a moment, and the evil displays itself through their eyes in a flash. I’m not talking about having a temper or suffering from a mood disorder; I’m talking about that person who seems completely normal one moment and quickly morphs into something cruel, inhuman, vile and terrifying. The moment doesn’t last long, but it can be perceived by others. This does not happen to 99% of the people who are concerned for their soul.

If you are worried about attachments, spirit influence, or demonic interference in your life, here is a list of what needs to happen:

1) STOP INVESTIGATING the paranormal until you are 100% certain that you are fully yourself. If you’re not sure, don’t do it.

2) Realize that spirits can influence us, but that we are more powerful. A spirit with ill intent can be rebuffed and removed from our lives, but we need help. Talk to your church, synagogue or mosque leader and tell that person everything. Find spiritual support from those who do that for a living. If you don’t have anyone, go find someone at your local church. DON’T DELAY. Make the appointment, and tell them exactly what you fear has happened without reservation.

3) Continue to pray and know that God is always there and always listening. We can’t always feel inspired and filled with divine love. That doesn’t mean that we are not loved and protected. We are. It is fear and depression that drive away divine love, not God.

4) Fear and depression are more responsible for feeling ‘oppressed’ and not ourselves than anything to do with demons or bad spirits. What I read in you is depression. That is often the root cause of the feelings you describe. Regular, old dead people who weren’t all that nice in life and are still nasty in death will jump on that low aura and take advantage of it to express themselves. For some souls, depression is a beacon, something they like to attach to. YOU ARE STILL MORE POWERFUL than they are, because you still have God. You can pray for them as you pray for yourself.

5) Seek therapy. Find a good support system with your friends. Make sure that you do NOT investigate until this works itself out. Go bowling. Sit in cafes and libraries. Join a Meetup group. Get out of the house. Sit in the sun. Take long walks. Pet your animals. If you have no animals, go adopt one. Remember that this life is for the living. You are the living. Leave the dead alone.

6) If you are worried about the state of your soul, if you are concerned that you are not feeling the presence of God as you would like to or need to, YOU ARE NOT POSSESSED OR OPPRESSED. You are a normal human being who is seeking greater connection to the Divine. You can and will find that connection again. You need to speak to a spiritual counselor and get involved in your local religious community. Take care of those who are in need. Find a way to improve the life of someone who needs you.

You are loved and you are never, ever alone. God does not abandon those who love, those who seek, those who never give up. Your feelings of ‘spiritual dryness’ are normal and will go away when you take the steps I have recommended. Be patient and don’t worry.

Give the spirit world a rest and work on enjoying the beautiful life that we have been given to enjoy, right here, right now.

With much love,

Kirsten A. Thorne, PHW/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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Ghost children

Marsha and I heard the voice again. It sounded like a child singing a tuneless melody somewhere in the vast, dark hallways of the old hospital. We recorded it and played it back later, many, many times. That night, as we strained to hear the child’s voice, Marsha became very, very sad and asked, “why would God allow a child to be alone in a place like this?” I came up with some theory of consciousness, reassuring her it was just a fragment of a mind, lost in time and space, not a whole personality, not a person as we understand people to be. She didn’t respond. We continued to listen for the oddly terrifying sounds echoing in dark. Why was I so frightened, if this was a ‘child’ spirit, or even a fragment of one?

In other lost places we heard ‘her’. The same, sing-song voice, sometimes attempting to speak, sometimes singing that same, wandering tune. We had many recordings of that voice before we started to ask ourselves who this might be. This child seemed to be traveling with us from one site to another. She started showing up even in our homes. I have recordings of her in the living room of our old house. Had she followed me home? I have recordings of her at Marsha’s house, too. It was always the same pitch, the same tone, the same vocal pattern. I asked many questions of myself, but they were always the wrong questions. “Who is this poor, lost soul?” “What can I do to help her?” “How can I ‘send her to the light’?”

My life during this time period was falling apart at a dizzying pace. There was financial distress, physical illnesses, mental illness, job loss and painful ruptures in my closest relationships. I continued recording voices and communicating with the spirits until, gradually, I realized that I was probably not communicating with spirits only. The answer hit me fairly recently: God would most certainly not condemn a child to eternity in a dark vacuum of empty space in a mental hospital or a jail.

ghost children 5

This plaintive voice was produced by something with evil intent. I won’t debate the existence of evil or even that entity we call the ‘devil’, because I’ve done that before in previous posts. Evil has certain characteristics that are now quite clear to me. It disguises itself as the one thing you can’t resist, whatever it is that involves you emotionally; it then confuses you, causing you to doubt the existence of an all-loving God; after that, it chips away at your life relentlessly until you are at your breaking point. When you reach that soul-crushing moment, the decision is yours: you either humble yourself completely and give yourself–heart and soul–to who you understand God to be, OR, you continue to pursue those practices, beliefs and values that led you to self destruct.

There was no little girl, crying in the dark. The devil found an ingenious way to draw us all in, to make us doubt and question everything good and holy in the world. I went back to these accursed spaces and places without giving myself completely to God first. I made myself available to the confusion and manipulation of evil. I allowed evil to lead me further and further down the dark hallways of my soul until I was in communication with something that wanted to kill my spirit. Don’t talk to me about ‘coincidences’; during this time, evil tried to hurt my own child. That’s when I drew the line. No one and nothing hurts my child.

The result of my brush with ultimate darkness was illumination. I understood how evil operates in the world: it pretends always to be something else, something attractive, something you really, really want. It often seems logical, understandable and promising. It justifies its existence. It makes people rally around it. It loves the violence, hatred, misery and suffering that it produces. Most people don’t see it for what it really is; they think its presence is natural, necessary and inevitable. Evil appears to everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or any other identifying characteristics. It worms its way into politics, culture, social media, news media, institutions; it’s everywhere.

You can recognize it by its effects on you and your loved ones. If you feel crazy, disoriented, confused, aggressive, even violent: it owns you . . . or it’s starting to. Be very, very careful before you give in to hatred and anger. It may feel righteous. It may feel really, really good on a basic, instinctual level; but trust me. It lies. It will find a way to destroy you, and you may not see how it works on you, changing you, hurting you, creating divisions and dissent.

ghost children 6

God does not condemn child spirits to the dank misery of the worst places on Earth. God does not play with your emotions or hurt your family and friends. God waits for us to fall on our knees and ask for love, for help, for light, for hope. We can spin forever in a web of insanity, or we can break free and admit that we don’t know what we think we know. Love someone today who you have not dared to love before, and you will see evil twist and scream in pain. Love like you have never loved before, and your spirit will forever be in the Light, blessed for all eternity.

In peace,

Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

Heaven

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Maria marin

I was listening to “Maria Marin Live” (forgive the lack of accents; not sure how to add them here!) on AM 1020, as is my custom after my last class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She pulls no punches and forces her callers to be direct, honest and sincere. Woe betide you if you can’t make your point or you’re full of B.S.; she will call you on it. I’m not sure how many of my readers listen to talk radio in Spanish, but I recommend you listen to what she has to say if you understand Spanish.

The topic of one of her recent shows concerned life after death, or more specifically, what her callers believe happens after death. There were those who had the quick answer, “you go to Heaven to be with God,” but when pressed on the details, became utterly incapable of providing any realistic descriptions or scenarios. Others, of course, said that nothing happens; and the majority stumbled around attempting to answer the question without the Heaven or the nothingness explanation, only to find themselves impaled on their own uncertainty. Ms. Marin did not provide them an easy out; she pressed them relentlessly to answer the question in a specific and meaningful way. When they couldn’t do it, she moved on to the next person.

I found myself in something of a panic, imagining that I was one of her callers and I had been pressured into answering the question. Even though this topic is my area of research and interest, there is NO WAY to spit out a quick answer to the question, ‘what happens after you die’. I realize that those who have had a near death experience might be able to answer this with the typical imagery: the tunnel, the white light, meeting relatives who have passed on, the life review, the inability to cross a certain boundary between life and death, and the final (usually unwanted) return to the body. However, this describes a transitional state between life in the flesh and the life of consciousness, not what happens after actual, physical death.

No one can answer definitively, since no one has died 100% in the flesh and returned to talk about it except Jesus, and well, there are some issues there, as well. My experience tells me that while there is no quick answer to the question, there is–at least–a concept that we can hold onto when forced to answer questions about life after death. In terms of scientific research, nowhere is there better evidence for the continuation of life than in the work of the late Dr. Ian Stevenson from the University of Virginia. His work on the past lives of children from around the world is legendary; I’ve discussed it extensively in other blog posts. What his work points to is that ‘life’ after ‘death’ is about the transference of consciousness from one body to another.

The best evidence points to the indestructibility of the conscious mind, spirit or soul (I do not think that these terms are interchangeable, but the differences between them are the subject of another post). It doesn’t disappear, but finds another body through which it expresses a self. How this happens is pure speculation, but it must happen at some point in fetal development. I remember my sister telling me–and she is nothing if not a skeptic–that she felt the precise moment when a spirit ‘jumped into’ my nephew while in the womb. He was pure potential and suddenly became a personality. This personality was, in his case, external to him and perhaps had nothing to do with our family and genetics at all.

Consciousness finds a way to continue, whether it be through reincarnation or through some other mechanism, such as inhabiting another dimension or alternate universe as posited by some quantum theories. One of these alternate dimensions of reality might look and feel much like the Heaven that the faithful expect to experience. Many Eastern religions posit the twin existence of soul and spirit, each living out separate existences as the same personality: the “spirit” continues to reincarnate with limited or absent memories of the previous existence, and the “soul” inhabits a timeless dimension where the expected rewards and/or punishments are experienced as expected. Some quantum theories posit that there are infinite versions of us in infinite universes, so that when one of us dies in one world, we simply skip over to another and pick up our lives there, either in the ‘present’ moment or a past or future moment.

It doesn’t work to think of time as important to consciousness after death, since it is a biological concept useful to understand what we perceive as forward movement towards a goal, but it is not an independent entity necessary to understand reality (at least as far physics is concerned–time could just as easily move backwards as forwards, and we only need the ‘arrow of time’ for formulas concerning entropy, which some physicists think doesn’t exist as an independent measure of anything, anyway). You can see why, by now, there is no way to answer Maria Marin’s challenge in a one-minute phone call. When you are discussing issues concerning consciousness–that great mystery–it doesn’t make sense to explain exactly what will happen, since that requires us to know exactly how our minds will perceive reality when we are no longer dependent on a brain or a body to filter and limit our experiences.

Since Ms. Marin requires total honesty, I will say this: I am afraid that the best evidence points to a recycling of consciousness that does not involve karma, reward, Heaven or eternal rest. It seems that our personalities are transferred to another human being, and we drag our baggage along into another life–whether in the form of unconscious trauma or conscious memories. I do think there is room for spiritual evolution from life to life, but that is not the same concept as karma or reward. Our suffering in one life might purify us and lead us closer to God, but it certainly doesn’t mean our next lives will be easy, fun, interesting or rewarding. The most spiritually evolved person might appear to have the worst material circumstances.

For what it’s worth, that’s my answer to Ms. Marin, if I had called in. We come back, again and again, working towards a nobler, more refined relationship with God. What that looks like for each individual is unknown. So, I take my last breath, I might have a transitional period where I’m in the Light and meet up with those long gone, and then I probably black out or go to sleep and wake up screaming, inhaling that first breath again, remembering or not that I was here before, and here I go again.

Yours on the journey,

Kitty Soul bank Post

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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PHW 8

The news was all over Facebook: Aaron from Ghost Adventures had been fired for revealing that the show required him to fake his audio clips! That turned out to be untrue; a “satirical” news site had published the piece to stir up controversy, and they succeeded. I fell for it, because the fake news was not satirical or ironic, simply libelous. Satire requires an exaggeration of the truth for amusing or ironic effect, not the wholesale invention of news designed to tarnish the reputation of an individual or a production.

This ‘fake news’ story was so successful precisely because it touched a nerve with the community of paranormal investigators. There is always the lingering suspicion that the best audio and video clips have been invented or created by a show’s producer. The requirements of the entertainment industry are in direct conflict with the requirements of a good, thorough investigation into a haunting or other paranormal activity.

Hollywood requires melodrama and will invent situations among ‘characters’ (investigators are always turned into characters) in order to provoke conflict, pain, upset and a theatrical expression of emotion. In reality, a team of individuals investigating a location must take themselves out of the equation and focus on the external environment. Any upset or misunderstandings between investigators will hurt the success of the investigation. When one is tuning in to activity around them, you forget yourself and enter into something of a meditative or semi-trance state. That does not make for good television.

Hours may go by where nothing appears to be happening. We are all straining to hear something or ‘catch’ something, but often the result of your efforts is a sore back and exhaustion. Later, we might find gems on our audio clips, but again–the voices are often subtle and odd, not explosive declarations of ‘paranormality’. My team has often sent off some of our best audio to producers who want a sample of our data, only to be told that they need something obvious and definitive: one person actually asked for a clip where the spirit identified itself by name and declared he or she was dead. If these consciousness fragments stated their names, family history, their ontological status and their purpose in contacting us, our jobs would be so much easier!

I was interviewed recently for a national radio show (not Paranormal Kool-Aid–that was a blast!). I didn’t tell anyone about it, because I knew from the beginning that my story would be rejected. I was right, of course. They asked for stories about personal transformation: nothing has transformed my life more than the experiences I have had while investigating the world of spirit. I had one particular story that involved becoming lost and trapped in an abandoned hospital, possessed by the spirits of those who were patients there, and redeemed by a woman in white who freed the three of us. This led to my epiphany that the world of spirit was real and not to be played or trifled with. I was a different person from that point on. I even had spectacular audio from that night that was nothing if not clear. So how could a story like that be rejected?

The answer was: We don’t want to be in the business of proving or disproving the existence of ghosts. Ghosts? I didn’t mention that word a single time to them! And yet: everything always came down to that gross over-simplification of our experiences as investigators. I tried to explain that the popular conception of ‘ghosts’ did not apply here. We were dealing with the anguished remains of suffering patients, who had taken over our conscious minds in order to teach us a divine truth: in order to understand injustice and pain, we must experience it directly sometimes; we must help each other, the living and the ‘dead’. We must transform each other for the good. But no; sadly, the question for the producers remained the same: can you prove the existence of ghosts? No? Well, forget it then.

I didn’t ask the producers to prove anything. The story was about personal transformation. They had fallen into the same trap that almost everyone in the entertainment industry falls into: prove it’s real, or at least fake it so well that most people will believe it. Or, perhaps, they didn’t want to start the ‘real or fake’ discussion with their listeners, and maybe they knew intuitively that nobody would listen to my story for its spiritual value; it would end up where all paranormal stories end up: everyone weighing in with their opinion regarding the veracity of someone’s evidence for ‘ghosts’. Whether this experience “transforms” you or not is entirely beside the point.

I was disappointed and sad, not because I wasn’t going to appear on a national show–that part filled me with a certain amount of dread, due to my fear of misinterpretation and backlash–but because once again, a rep from the ‘industry’ had completely misunderstand the importance of my story. My team and I go through this process on a regular basis. Who we are and why we do what we do is not as important as whether or not we can create the required drama, pain, anger and emotional firestorms that television (and radio) require. The ideal show is one where I turn on my best friends, throw wine in their face during some disagreement about an audio clip, present my friend Wheezer the ghost to the audience, and then throw up on him after a night of drinking margaritas at a haunted restaurant.

Even a respectable show doesn’t want to be part of the conversation about the reality of the soul or the world of spirit (with the exception of the shows our own paranormal community produces). A national radio program that wishes to be taken seriously has to turn its back on the entire question–arguably, the most important question for all humankind–in order to avoid the idiocy of Hollywood’s ‘ghost shows’. We tried to change that. The ladies of the PHW stuck to their guns and refused to fabricate emotions or data in the service of selling a show. My personal role models are still the boys of Ghost Adventures. I worked with them on an episode (“Linda Vista”), and I never saw anything remotely fabricated during those long hours of filming. Not only that, we collected some truly amazing evidence right there on camera. You don’t have to believe me. See the episode yourself and make up your minds.

As soon as I wrote that, it occurred to me that anyone reading Soulbank could accuse me of self promotion. That’s how deeply I’ve been affected by the poisonous environment of entertainment. By simply inviting people to make up their own minds, I’ve fallen into my own trap: ghosts are real! This is what I truly want to say: my life has been utterly changed by the data I have collected on investigations. I think that anyone with a sincere interest in life after life could do exactly what I have done and find themselves flabbergasted by what they discover. What I can’t change is the apathy and lack of interest that many people seem to feel about pretty much everything of importance in their lives. Television is responding to what they see people care about: confusion, discord, negative emotions, dysfunction and theatrics.

But maybe, just maybe, there is a sizable market out there of people who truly, honestly care about the Big Questions; could the ‘industry’ change the entertainment culture by taking us seriously? Of course it could; it’s just easier and more profitable to sell shows that roll in the mud instead of fly with the angels.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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