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Dear Readers, (in case any are left)
I apologize for the extensive delay in posting. After I declared that there was no spiritual path, I was not sure how to follow up. After all, the entire point of this blog site was to address issues of a spiritual nature, and Soulbank in many ways WAS an important part of my spiritual path. So why would I declare that all of this was an illusion?

I spent the better part of the last 20 years deeply engaged in questions related to life after death and survival of some form of consciousness, in addition to reading everything that I could get my hands on that was in any way related to paranormal phenomena, mostly what we call spirits or ghosts. What I needed was some kind of direct experience of God, the universe, the Goddess, the cosmos, whatever you wish to call that which transcends human experience and yet somehow produced it. As you all know, I experienced a sudden memory of my death from a heroin overdose as Mary, a foster child who died in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. That memory kicked off a strange series of events in my life. My emotions bubbled to the surface, and I was overwhelmed with traumatic memories from not only Mary’s life, but my current one. I had no idea that the bizarre physical, emotional, and perceptual symptoms were due to a recognized phenomenon: spiritual awakening, or spiritual emergence. It was a total transformation, one that continues on unabated (although not nearly so intense) to this day. I can only describe it as a completely unexpected trip to my subconscious mind, where I met God and assorted spirits and guides. Was it real? It was at least as real as my everyday life. If you wish to call our day-to-day existence an illusion, then I would say it was MORE real than said illusion. It’s very difficult to explain the process to someone who has not experienced it. I was not seeking this out, because I didn’t even know what it was. The process shocked and surprised me precisely because it was utterly unpredictable and was orchestrated by some force far greater than me; it was so awe inspiring and humbling that all I could do was bow down to it and give up.

I still wake up at 3:00 AM feeling like I’m about to crawl out of my skin and overwhelmed with energies that I can barely comprehend. I stretch, jog in place, pray, fall to my knees, and wait for the spiritual episode to run its course. I am something like a conduit now for cosmic energies. I don’t know to what end or for what purpose this is happening to me. It started on June 26th, 2017, and rolls forward.

With that in mind, what I would like to do is revise my statements in the last post. I don’t think that there is no such thing as a spiritual path; I think that most humans cannot understand said path. I certainly do not know why this is happening to me, or where I will go with the cosmic downloads of energy, visions, mood swings, and my new perspectives. All I can say is this: I take more action now for the people I love, and the people I love number far higher than before. I feel intense empathy for the plight of human beings and our planet. I want to do something, no matter how small, to ease our collective sufferings and to celebrate our accomplishments and our innate beauty and promise. I am showing up and ready to work for something better. I want to create small spaces for peace and beauty that perhaps, one day, will grow larger and affect more and more of us.

I have become a beginner and am starting over. The journey begins with the small hope that you are all still out there, that you care, that you want to help me raise the collective vibration; I still love to talk to ghosts and read about where memories are stored in the brain, and figure out how time was created, and whether or not space actually exists; I remain curious, dazzled by life, and ready to research any fascinating topic. The difference is, I no longer feel agonized in the process, because I found out that I’m eternal and the Universe loves me. Even if that statement makes you want to roll your eyes, consider that it might possibly be true. I can’t convince you of that; all I can do is ask that you go find the way–however you choose to do it–to answer the question yourself.

This site is no longer about proving anything to anyone; it’s about creating a community of curious seekers and adventurers who are dedicated to enjoying this human experience. Much love to you all,

Kirsten

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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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 Image

(Please note that I have changed all identities involved in this account)

Whenever someone I don’t know—a psychic, a medium or anyone claiming paranormal powers—offers to take me on an investigation, I start feeling just a tad nervous. You enter the twilight zone of truth vs. fiction, the authentic vs. the fabricated and entertainment vs. fraud. My husband and I participated in a ‘paranormal’ investigation of a historical site recently, and we were fleeced in what I can only describe as a good, old-fashioned hoodwinking by someone swearing to be clairvoyant/sentient/audient and so on. We lost 50 bucks and a few hours of our lives, but the lessons were priceless.

Our ‘guide’ played for us some ‘class A’ EVP, and immediately my hackles rose. One of the EVP was so clearly faked, that I was convinced the whole thing was a joke; but the punch line never came. After years of listening to EVP, I’ve discovered that they have certain characteristics. A good EVP does not sound like something you can (easily, anyway) recreate. It has an ‘otherworldly’ quality to it, and at times the real clips sound slightly distorted or mediated by either distance or their particular frequency. Figuring out the difference comes from experience. The laughing children on the fake EVP were an insult to anyone who spends hours slogging through audio; but the real fun was yet to come.

While standing in a dismal hallway, our psychic announced that a female ghost was present, and we would know for sure that she was with us by the scent of her lavender perfume. One of our tour mates—a cop, no less—heard a distinctive spritz before we were inundated with a very worldly scent, concentrated around the psychic who, for the rest of the night, dragged around that flowery cloud everywhere he went. At this point, I was starting to feel depressed. This was so obvious, so silly, that I continued to believe that at some point our guide would burst out laughing and declare that he was just kidding. That didn’t happen.

We wandered off to an abandoned house and were regaled with stories about a fourteen-year-old girl who died there. We stood around the living room, my husband filming in night vision mode, when I heard the strangest squeak. It didn’t sound like anything paranormal, but the third time I heard it, I declared it an equipment noise. It was then I noticed that my husband was moving his camera to follow our psychic. Every time he focused on him, our guide moved out of camera range. This little dance went on for the several minutes before the medium declared that it was time to move on. My husband and the cop informed us that the bizarre squeaks were actually our guide attempting to throw his voice; however, he had trouble disguising his facial expressions as he tried to recreate the sound of a fourteen-year-old girl ‘communicating’ with the investigators.

I was thoroughly discouraged by this point. I wanted the whole thing to stop, but I plodded on so that we could see other abandoned properties and maybe take some cool photos. It was hard to believe that something so ridiculous was happening to us, something so obvious and cheap. We finished up that portion of the so-called investigation, and I took a break in the lobby to drink tea and discuss the evening’s antics with some other guests on the tour. Everyone was surprised, but the reactions were different: some were offended, as I was, others found the whole thing amusing, and others professed that they were having a good time regardless. Within a few minutes, we were summoned to an old bathroom with communal showers for a ‘big surprise’. I dragged myself down the hallway and into the abandoned area of the building, feeling as if all my energy had been drained from my body. I suspected that the ‘surprise’ was not going to be pleasant for me.

I walked in and saw that a few members of our tour group had already experienced the ‘surprise’; one lady was trembling on her husband’s lap. There was, apparently, a stone-throwing ghost that was terrifying some of our group. As we all settled in, my husband set up the camera and our guide told us about the gang-rape of some poor soul that occurred in this bathroom. Stories of rape are not entertaining; it sickens me if they are fabricated in order to produce an emotional reaction and prepare us all for paranormal trickery. Indeed, that is what happened: rocks sailed across the room, warmed by our psychic’s hands. He was throwing them around the room while my husband attempted to film his hands. One member of our group was staring at the floor in what looked like despair; another was laughing; I sat there in stunned silence. When our guide announced that one of these rocks had hit his wife ‘square in the head,’ I was also worried.

Part of the show in the bathroom included random K2 spikes that appeared every 32 seconds. This, of course, was ‘proof’ that something paranormal was happening, according to Mr. Medium (later, about three of us returned to that bathroom and debunked the K2 hits: they were caused by the Wi-Fi signal that waxed and waned in different areas of the building. Our guide surely knew that the bathroom was a Wi-Fi hot spot). By that point, none of us really believed anything he had to say. When our guide realized that my husband was trying to film his hands, he decided that our ‘investigation’ was over, and he finally left us alone. We all wandered back to the lobby, where I threw a monumental fit.

Looking back, I should have expected that fraud was bound to happen some time in my paranormal career. However, I was not prepared that night to be lied to in such a grievous way. I always give people the benefit of the doubt. Even if I think someone has interpreted an event as paranormal when I don’t think it is, I respect everyone’s reading of reality. I keep an open mind, I always strive for complete honesty and I have never in my life invented a paranormal event or phenomenon. I could be mistaken about some of my data, but I would never represent something as paranormal when I know that it isn’t. This ‘event’ was called an investigation (NOT a ‘show’ or a ‘tour’, even though I have referred to it that way in this post) and there were paranormal investigators in that group of people, all of whom had paid for an experience they expected would be genuine.

I felt betrayed. My intelligence was not only insulted, it was mocked. A true investigation is a spiritual experience by definition. If you seek spirits, you are attempting to make contact with real people who are—by the grace of God—willing to contact you in some way so that you might believe in and understand the realm of non-physical existence. As such, a genuine investigation is a communion with the souls of those who have passed on, and it something that deserves awe, respect and gratitude. Anyone who has had an authentic paranormal experience knows that such moments can be intensely beautiful and change your life.

I have experienced such moments many times alone and with my investigative team. Imagine watching spirits form all around you in a distant and lost little cemetery; imagine watching your equipment go crazy when you are in a building with no power sources whatsoever; try to feel what I did when I uploaded a picture of a filmy, undulating spirit in the old pantry of the San Juan Capistrano Mission. I have countless such moments of grace and power in my life, and I have those experiences to thank for discovering just how much I believe in God and the pattern and purpose in all of life. That is why it is not only unnecessary to fake phenomena of this nature; it’s an act of emotional violence to spiritual seekers everywhere. It’s more than simply a lie. It’s an offense.

If that is the case, why don’t I come out with names, dates, locations and exact details so that this person and his operation might be revealed? I wanted to, originally. There were members of our group that did not want me to drag this into the light, and I respect their wishes. I believe that the truth will come out, at some point, and perhaps those involved in such a demeaning show will think twice before trying such chicanery again. It was quite clear to our psychic guide that most of us were well aware of his actions.

I want to end this by warning those who find paranormal phenomena fascinating (and might be interested in paying for a ‘paranormal investigation’) to be careful and always use your critical reasoning and logical brain. Know who your guide is, don’t be afraid to do some of your own research both on the people leading you around an abandoned building and the site/stories themselves. Don’t depend on a group who profits from a haunting to tell you the absolute truth; many will, perhaps most, but there will always be the unscrupulous character, who—like the medium of old who used elaborate contraptions to create fun séances—is not above throwing some rocks at your head in a dark, stinky bathroom.

Better to go see a scary movie and know what you’re paying for.

Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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Contrary to the title of this picture, I will not discuss what the Bible says about the Devil. I will, however, tell you what my subconscious mind says about him, or her, as the case may be. It was 3:00 AM, and I was not fully asleep when a vision took over my mind. It was not a dream; it had none of the bizarre, disjointed features of a dream. It was a lucid presentation of an event–just how to classify such an event is beyond my skills to describe. Suffice to say that I saw an old, old woman–revealed to be 96 years old, the age of my death as foretold by a gypsy–who approached me, smiling. I was happy to see her at first, until I realized that there was something terribly wrong with this old lady. She grinned at me, up close, and I saw a mouthful of rotten teeth as the stench of her breath hit my face. “I am the Devil,” she hissed, and then lifted her arm and attacked me with a pitchfork, stabbing me again and again in my side.

I knew she had come to take me away, and I was terrified. The vision faded, and I forced myself to fully return to my normal, conscious state. My first thought was: I can’t go out ghost hunting anymore. Pursuing phantoms in the dead of night is messing with my head. My second thought was: I am possessed, or about to be, and I’m scared that I might end up committed at a place quite similar to the one I investigate on a regular basis. Thank God such asylums are not longer legal . . . my third thought: GET THEE TO A YOGA CLASS at the crack of dawn. So away I went, early in the morning, to a yoga class that included a meditation that seemed designed for me and my particular needs (i.e., escaping the Devil). We were instructed to sit across from an image of the Divine and he/she directed a beam of light to explode the dark kernels of fear and bad karma that we had accumulated. Those dark seeds turned to ashes and were blown away by the divine wind of love and unconditional acceptance. All the corners had been illuminated, and I need not fear. I was crying like a child by the end of that meditation, and most importantly, I no longer felt as if the Devil were trying to take my soul.

Ghost hunters are a hardy bunch. We stare death in the face and record what is left over. We listen to hours of audio that might include something we don’t want to hear, and don’t wish to invade our lives. We don’t know what responds to us late at night in the old mental hospital, but we’re OK with that. Most of the time. The last time I was at Cam, Louis captured an EVP that could be life changing–yet again. At the time we heard nothing but the insane, incessant banging of the pipes with their attendant odd after-effects that sometimes seem to carry the voices into the atmosphere. I don’t remember exactly what Louis said, something like “do you remember me?” and the response that we heard, huddled around his digital audio recorder in a courtyard, was: “Is that all you want?” No, it was not vague or distorted; yes, we ALL heard it, and Ty (my husband) verified on video that none of us was talking at the time. It was so clear that we could all identify the words quite easily, without headphones or any audio enhancement programs. The voice was . . . tired, and slightly metallic, and perhaps a little sarcastic. He, whoever this was responding to us, wherever he might be–did not believe that all we wanted was an answer to our usual, repetitive questions. Of course we ask the same things over and over, because we are not engaged in a real conversation–we don’t hear the response until hours, days, or weeks later. The voice appeared to know something that even we do not–no, that is not all we want, we want so much more than to know whether or not you recognize us, or know us, or even what you think about our activities in these hideous hallways . . . we want to know more . . . we want to know if you are really the soul of a dead man, and if so, where the hell are you that you can talk to us, why in the name of all that’s holy are you still at Camarillo, what kind of afterlife is that, and the scariest question of all–is there no Heaven? Because if there’s a Heaven, then why are YOU, whatever you are, STILL HERE, inhabiting one of the worst places on Earth?

If a little girl’s spirit can find itself trapped in a place like this, then what is going to happen to me? What if I happen to die somewhere that I really don’t wish to, such as a hospital or a crappy hospice center somewhere in South Dakota? What about reincarnation? I thought we had a choice. Some of my sappier, New Age tomes on the afterlife talk about the fields of flowers and the Being of Diving Love who reunites us with all the people we loved and who loved us, and it’s one, big party until we have to decide whether or not to move on to Higher Spiritual Realms or choose another life to live on Earth. It’s all good, right?

No, it’s not all good. Sometimes, it’s sad, tragic, upsetting, scary and a touch evil. We don’t know shit about the afterlife, really. Of course, if you are devoutly religious, then you DO know, and I admire your faith and divine knowledge–I mean that sincerely–but if you are unlucky enough to not feel that kind of faith to the marrow of your bones, you go out searching for your own answers.

Sometimes you get laughter and humor.

Sometimes you get confusion and sadness.

Sometimes you get the Devil, and he tries to take your soul.

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