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Posts Tagged ‘Paranormal Proof’

The scariest courses you can study at university | Student

For my Soulbank readers, I am pleased to report the creation of my new research and investigation project, the “International Society for Paranormal Research”, or the ISPR. Soulbank will continue to be the official blog site for this society, and I will soon start up the social media machine.

The ISPR was born out of a deep, existential crisis. Allow me to elaborate. As many of you know, I was very active in the Southern California paranormal ‘scene’, for lack of a better word, that used to meet fairly regularly on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. There were a great number of “ghost hunting” groups at the time (2008 to 2013 or so), and the popularity of the paranormal shows on television was at an all-time high. It was during this time that I started the Paranormal Housewives (still ongoing–check out paranormalhousewives.com and our FB page), an all-female group of investigators with a very diverse background, brought together by a common interest in all things mysterious and unexplained. We helped families with hauntings, we investigated countless sites of historical and paranormal interest, and we landed on television more than once. We appeared on the Ricky Lake show (https://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/the-ricki-lake-show/episode-38-season-1/a-ricki-halloween/381207/), Ghost Adventures before we formed the group (https://www.travelchannel.com/shows/ghost-adventures/episodes/linda-vista-hospital), we recorded a sizzle reel for our own reality show and were “shopped” to multiple networks, we gave countless interviews, appeared on the local news, landed an article in the Los Angeles Times (https://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-cpt-1028-paranormal-20111027-story.html) and other newspapers, and so on and so forth. In other words, we were almost famous.

It was the “almost” that was our near undoing. High hopes for a reality show were dashed. The requests for interviews and television appearances faded, along with the popularity of the entire genre of the paranormal. Teams dissolved all around the state. We stopped meeting at the Queen Mary. With the pandemic, it no longer made sense to get together in enclosed spaces and huddle together seeking spirits. There were other issues, as well: teams are hard to maintain. Establishing common goals and guidelines was difficult; expectations, hopes, and dreams were not always easy to reconcile. And then, of course, there was the thorny issue of the “evidence”. It wasn’t clear that we had convinced anyone about the existence of the afterlife, in spite of the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours we spent reviewing our audio for EVP. We sifted through video, audio, photographs, and documented our impressions and experiences as we all discovered newly acquired clairvoyant and psychic skills. I wrote hundreds of pages about our experiences, presented our data, and waited for the public to be as excited as we were. That rarely, if ever, happened. I used to post our best EVP begging for public commentary, and nobody listened or commented. That used to keep me up at night. My disappointment convinced me to give up. However . . .

Paranormal research is a passion. You don’t engage in it to convince skeptics, to be on television, to make a ton of money, to find fame online, or to rub elbows with the VIP of the paranormal community; but I am proud of what the Paranormal Housewives accomplished, and it was often thrilling and exciting, especially because it seemed that the general public was truly fascinated by what we did. It wasn’t the public that lost interest; the media did. I’m not sure we knew how to recover from that. The truth is, paranormal research of any kind–whether the classic “ghost hunting” version, the traditional seance and medium modality, or the intellectual investigations of the Society for Psychical Research, is often work done alone, without accolades, without fame, without media interest. What I finally understood is this: that is just fine. I don’t care if the general public doesn’t review my ‘data’, or whether or not anyone in the entertainment industry finds my work interesting enough to create a show around. I don’t mind that most of the time, an investigation might simply be three or four people with a shared need to explore the non-material worlds that surround us.

What do I care about? The community of people who find this work fascinating, compelling, and endlessly mysterious. I care about the investigative process, the sifting of data, the interpretation of audio, video, the information from our various devices, and our experiences. I care about our impressions, our feelings, our instincts, as much as I care about the hard evidence; it’s all part of creating a larger picture, a weaving together of different strands of information that leads to conclusions and to truths that are larger than anything the laboratory can prove. I care about research, about our forefathers and mothers who engaged in this work; I care about our history, our collective past, and how we wish to create the future as investigators. This is about the search; our common desire as paranormal researchers to go beyond the superficially obvious and to penetrate the veil. There are far more questions than we have answers for. This journey will take our entire lifetime, and perhaps far more than one.

Now I can introduce the International Society for Paranormal Research. Our mission statement:

The ISPR is an open organization dedicated to investigating and presenting evidence for all aspects of the “paranormal”, including, but not limited to: all manifestations of human consciousness in post-material form; alleged hauntings of homes and sites; poltergeist activity; the work of mediums, psychics, clairvoyants and empaths; anomalous experiences that include UFO activity or any other unusual or unprecedented event, sighting, or manifestation. We are:

  • Open to all amateur and professional investigators who wish to contribute their data and conclusions for review;
  • A forum for investigators and researchers to share their research and data, but also a site for meaningful conversations among investigators regarding methodology, personal experiences, concerns, and questions;
  • International in scope, since we are all interconnected more now than ever, and paranormal phenomena is not restricted to one, particular country;
  • Non profit, with no financial or professional interests that would interfere with our primary mission;
  • Not a ‘team’ of investigators, but may announce investigations and/or invite participants.

Are you interested in working with me on this project? I will announce here the social media sites and the eventual website for the ISPR. Let me know if you have evidence that you would like to share with us. I am excited to get back into the game and start the search again.

As always,

–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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Medium-Eva-Carriere-1912.jpg
The medium Marthe Béraud with an ectoplasmatic structure (materialization) on her head. Marthe Béraud also performed under the names Eva C. and Eva Carrière. Photograph taken in 1912 by German parapsychological researcher Albert von Schrenck-Notzing M.D.(1862 – 1929).

When my mother informed me that my cousin had passed away, I knew immediately what had happened. She had no information that day, but after we hung up, I struggled to contain the flood of images surrounding his death. I found a quiet place, asked for permission to contact him, and then I spoke to him. What happened during the 30 minutes that we spoke, and the images and knowledge that were shared with me, is something I cannot share publicly; however, I can say that it was very difficult to manage the emotions that my connection with him produced in me. I prayed for him, I spoke to him about God, and I tried to guide him to something familiar, someone who might lead the way. After it was over, I ‘heard’ a deep, resounding voice say, “thank you.”

I was not raised to have such experiences. My father was an academic and a skeptic, and although my mother was freer in her world view, she saw me as someone with a big imagination and prone to fantasy. She did not take my paranormal knowledge seriously and refused to allow me to take it seriously, either. Anything that might inflate my ego she was sure to shoot down, and communicating with the dead, in her opinion, was a way of drawing attention to myself. So, I learned to disappear as much as possible and not say or do things that others might find odd, weird, or incomprehensible. I gagged myself and throttled my natural instincts. But one’s true nature has a way of breaking through all resistance.

When I was walking home after contacting my cousin, the skeptic’s voice cropped up; was I making this up? Was what had just happened a delusional, wish-fulfillment fantasy? I decided that, if my details were wrong, if my cousin had NOT died the way I saw that he did, I would give up on the idea that I could talk to the deceased, or receive any information from them. I would, in other words, give into the world’s low opinion of mediums and psychics and continue the not-so-venerable tradition of self hatred.

I recorded everything that came through to me on my phone, so that later I could check my accuracy. When I arrived at home, I cried to my husband. What I had seen and experienced was hard; it had broken my heart. If I had ‘make it up’, there is no explanation for why I would choose something so terrible to invent. The next day, there was more information about my cousin. Everything that my family told me had transpired was exactly what I had seen. I had not been wrong in any of the details save for one, and the one I ‘missed’ had been an auto-correction of previous information that had been true. Of course, some of what came through could not be verified, as it was information that only my cousin could have had. I had seen and sensed what had happened to him; now, the question was, had I helped in any way?

I set up an appointment with a psychic medium that I had met once, long ago, who struck me as compassionate and gifted. Although her student, who did most of the reading, missed many pieces of information and was wrong more often that she was right, the professional medium honed in immediately on what I needed to know. “Yes, you did help him. He thanked you. He has crossed over; he is not here anymore”. There had been no leading questions up to that point. She simply knew. She confirmed what I had seen and sensed, and added a couple of details that explained what I had experienced during meditation that didn’t make sense to me at the time. Some of the ‘hits’ were so specific, not even a super-skeptic could possibly be left unmoved. It was a reading that went on a long time, much longer than planned, because family members kept coming forward. In the end, though, everyone who wanted to say something was able to do so. And although I recognized when one or both of them was filling time or bridging gaps with generic information, there was enough there to convince me that indeed, I was able to reach someone who needed help, and in some way, I was able to guide him.

Does that mean I can call myself a medium? I don’t feel comfortable with that word, but I suppose so. I do what mediums do, and I’ve done it for decades, even when ridiculed or marginalized for it. I have never taken money for my time, although I respect the fact that you can’t work at this for free, once you are open to sharing what you can do with others. I think many people, if not all people, could develop these gifts for themselves; and yet, most people are afraid of this kind of contact, feeling it to be somehow outside the bounds of acceptability. Our culture is fascinated by death and destruction and terrified by the prospect of life as a never-ending reality that changes form, but not essence.

Most people seem to prefer the idea that we die and do nothing but rest for all eternity in some kind of oblivion. I believe that American culture is profoundly fearful of life and mistrustful of its continuation in a new form. We hide and protect ourselves from the grandeur of existence, the riotous explosion of forms radiating energy and consciousness. We distract ourselves, we make ourselves small and unobtrusive, and we hide from our most powerful connections to Spirit. Sometimes, however, Spirit itself doesn’t allow you to hide, to deny, to ridicule or to pretend. Sometimes, Spirit simply refuses to allow you to be anyone else but who you actually are.

And who I am is someone who has allowed herself to speak to and for those who have moved on. I hope to be able to share that talent with others who are open to it and take it seriously. This is not an ego project, something to brag about, or an ability that makes me feel special or superior; quite the opposite. I am terrified and humbled by it, and I work very, very hard not to misinterpret what I pick up. I would appreciate support and genuine interest; my only purpose is to help and to educate, if anyone is willing to listen. My support system is very weak within my family; my husband is always there for me, however, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I am planning to start my own, small business doing readings for donations. If anyone is interested in taking these first, few steps with me, simply send me a message. I can be reached through this site or at kirstenthorne@gmail.com.

May you have a blessed day in the midst of so much uncertainty and chaos.

–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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