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Posts Tagged ‘thupancic’

Have you ever glimpsed something so beautiful that your life changed?

Did you call it Heaven, Paradise, Nirvana, cosmic bliss, or something else? Did it matter what you called it? You know that names mean nothing now. Only experience teaches.

How did you get there? Did you fast for three days, eat a mind-bending plant, drag yourself on your hands and knees to Talpa, whip yourself into a frenzy, pray until you collapsed, or did you simply look deeply into the eyes of a loved one and see God? Does it matter how you got there? You know it doesn’t matter. It is in the finding it.

What did you see? Is it beyond words? Of course; but words are all I have, all you have, in this strange, disconnected world. Can you describe it? The world is glowing from a perfect Light, but most of the time we see through a glass darkly. There is perfect Love, but most of the time we can’t feel it. Life never ends, but we choose to kill ourselves, just a little, every day. Eternity is where we live, but we ruin our lives with clocks and fear, because time is terrifying when you see it with human eyes. There is a center to everything, and it’s still and quiet; there is a communion every day with every creation, and you could live there . . .

There is this place, which is not a place, there is this reality, which is nothing like reality, there is this state, which is constant, behind and over and through the buzzing craziness of us and the world we created, which is, which is, which is . . . something like the deepest love we ever felt, the freedom of when we were eight, climbing a tree and seeing every leaf as a novel, something like that, which now we can’t reach, can’t grasp, can’t see, can’t touch.

But we know it’s there.

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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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In my last post, I attempted to reconcile Dr. Lanza’s theory of biocentrism with prevailing notions of time and causality. After much consideration, I have to discard the notion that nothing exists outside of our perception of it, or that we create our reality without any interaction from a separate, external reality. I started to feel crazy the more I read, which is why it took more than a month to add to this post. Current theories of consciousness and reality are in conflict with one another, and I doubt that I will be the one to resolve these disparate philosophies.

I’m currently reading Christian de Quincey’s amazing and incredibly thorough Radical Nature, (2010) and I’ve just completed Colm A. Kelleher’s Hunt for the Skinwalker (2005). These works are apparently unrelated: Quincey’s tome covers the history and current theories of “panpsychism” (a theory that proposes the notion that all matter is imbued with consciousness at the most fundamental level)  and Kelleher’s book details the years-long investigation of a Utah ranch with a long history of UFO contact and other “high strangeness” (an investigation carried out by the now-defunct National Institute for Discovery Science). However, something does connect the two along with our best EVP evidence. The result for me, at least, is disturbing and overwhelming. Every time I get close to understanding what might be happening out there, I have to stop all research and plant some herbs. It’s just too much.

So here it is: consciousness, for de Quincey, permeates all levels of reality, down to the microscopic core. Everything, therefore, is alive:

“If the universe is dead, it tells no stories. The implication of this is that if the universe is not “dead,” if it is not simply a huge mechanical system running according to a handful of laws at work in a vast ocean of chaos, then it is in some sense “alive.” A more accurate term would be “sentient”–an inherent capacity for feeling or experience. In other words, to make explicit the main argument of this book: The matter of the universe, its raw “stuff” or ingredients, has within itself the essence of what we call “consciousness.” There is something about matter itself, some quality or property, some intrinsic principle, that moves matter from within, an automotive urge toward self-organization, evolution, and complexity. In short, matter feels and moves itself. It doesn’t require external forces pushing and pulling it.” (38)

Perhaps this is where there is some relationship possible between Lanza’s and de Quincey’s view: we can “call forth” this ‘quality or property’ that moves itself. Human, animal consciousness could exert great power over living matter and space. It could create the necessary conditions for contact with other souls/spirits/energies/beings that might spring forth from this matrix that allows for or creates life at all levels. Another way of saying this is simply that the energy of our awareness and mental/emotional will could ‘draw out’ specific aspects–even specific individuals or souls–from the universe. If the universe is multidimensional, as many physicists believe that it is–we could connect with living beings through our questioning and conscious intent to make contact. If all of matter is conscious–if the entire fabric of our reality is, in some sense ‘aware’, as both quantum physics and de Quincey’s consciousness study suggest–then is could also be ‘responsive,’ able to interact with us when we make the request (or call something into being, as Lanza would say). 

What, exactly, responds to us is another issue entirely. Lanza might suggest that we are seeking and responding to ourselves, creating our own fragmented consciousness and then–in the ultimate display of solipsism–listening back to projections of our own mental processes while thinking that through our audio recordings we’ve ‘made contact’ with a separate, human being.  I don’t go that far. It’s a more complex question than that. If we are inhabiting a living universe with multiple dimensions, then we could, on occasion, cross that barrier and find someone. That someone might be the spirit of Grandpa Joe, or it could be entirely alien, originating in a split-off universe inhabited by creatures we can only imagine.

In Hunt for the Skinwalker, Kelleher ponders the possible reasons for the Gorman’s terrifying experiences on the ranch, including (but not limited to) cattle mutilations, flying orbs of various sizes and colors, UFO sightings, strange animal sighting and poltergeist-like activity. After covering a number of explanations, I find myself stuck on a particular one that weaves together the experiences of so many witnesses (and victims) over the decades and also works with the theories of reality that make the most sense of quantum behaviors:

“After experiencing all sorts of bizarre activity during his research on UFOs, John Keel formulated his “ultraterrestrial” hypothesis, which postulates that Earth has shared living space for millenia with other intelligent beings who interact with humans when they choose to, who are more intelligent than us, and who manipulate our physical and psychic reality for their own obscure agendas. [See Keel’s Operation Trojan Horse for details on the phenomena he endured] . . . Keel’s description of existing in the strange netherworld between reality and some deeply disturbing nightmare exactly encapsulate the Gormans’ description of what life was like on the ranch prior to NIDS investigation.” (240-241)

UFO experiencers and victims of hauntings and poltergeists might be on the threshold of new realities that choose to (or happen to) invade or flood our dimension either purposefully (the ‘unknown agenda’ to which Kelleher refers) or accidentally (although the patterns of this ultra or extraterrestrial activity seem to indicate otherwise). These ‘new realities’ also rely on our participation and interaction in the experience itself. Weaving these strands together, we see the following:

1) The Universe is sentient from ‘top to bottom’;

2) Humans call into being a particular reality which is not necessarily ‘ultimate’, transcendent or common to all life forms (indeed, it is not) but suited to our current, terrestrial condition as intelligent and conscious animals–however, this does NOT mean that we have wholly created something with no independent existence;

3) Our consciousness is not of necessity connected to our animal state and is, rather, an expression of the sentient universes;

4) There are likely multiple dimensions with a tremendous variety of life forms inhabiting them;

5) Space and time perceptions will vary from world to world;

6) Our consciousness can ‘disconnect’ from it’s biological moorings and allow us glimpses into other worlds and realities.

I could probably come up with 100 statements like this, but to sum up: EVPs could be inter or intra dimensional voices that are not human (hence the odd, robotic sounds we often pick up that sound nothing like someone’s voice) or they could be capturing a consciousness unmoored from the constraints of time and space; in other words, we could pick up not only voices from our world’s past, but from some other world’s future. We could also be picking up our own voices in another dimension. We can’t assume that what we hear is from the past, present or future or even emanates from a human consciousness–we could well be hearing alien voices from 2300 AD. The reason we’re hearing anything at all is because we are bringing it into reality; whereas paranormal phenomena were only floating in a sea of multiple possibilities before, we capture something specific as soon as we start to measure it. Our measurement does not CREATE multiple realities, but simply collapses the possibilities into one. Were we to experience all realities at once, we would certainly abandon our sanity or simply shut it all out due to biological necessity.

Sometimes it seems that our multiverses and created realities are something out of science fiction. I actually would prefer that all this were fiction, instead of the result of well-researched work by scientists, doctors, philosophers and other professionals who are all slowly, gradually, beginning to agree on some of the basic characteristics and origins of the high strangeness that permeates our world. I’m afraid that now, after thinking about this all morning before committing words to paper, I must go plant some basil . . . or I might lose my mind.

Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D

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Robert Lanza, MD

 Author’s note: I’m writing this in bits and pieces, which seems appropriate to the topic. Since I wrote the body of the paper, I posted a query on Facebook regarding time and entropy, and received some great responses and leads. I’ve dutifully read and considered the responses and followed up the recommendation to read Sean Carroll’s website. I did, in fact, slog through great sections of From Eternity to Here, but I confess that I felt, at times, overwhelmed by the content. I must revisit the book and read it again more carefully. Also, I checked reviews for Biocentrism and was dismayed by the sheer nastiness of many people purporting to “critique” his work. More often than not, reviewers—scientists and non-scientists alike—were unbearably nasty and disrespectful to the author. A notable exception is Richard Conn Henry’s quick overview (http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/biocentrism.pdf) where he points out factual errors in Lanza’s physics, but ends up agreeing with his major tenets. Otherwise, there was much Lanza bashing out there, boiling down to the fact that anyone who seeks to merge any kind of spirituality into the study of the universe is a complete, babbling New Age idiot enamored of bad science and bewitched by ‘woo’. Sigh. My entire website would be bashed mercilessly for the same reason. I am not a scientist, but I do have a sharp, critical mind honed by decades of reading and study, helped along by a Yale Ph.D in literature and culture. That doesn’t matter at all for those with degrees in the sciences, which apparently gives many critics license to disembowel you with sarcasm and contempt. However, if you try to do something really big—like explain the universe and its workings as related to human consciousness—you’re bound to upset people. What interests me, of course, is how all of this relates to life after death, or to the survival of consciousness unfettered from the animal, so to speak. If you will kindly bear with me as I first discuss the general implications of Lanza’s work, I will address the issue of EVPs and evidence for the afterlife right afterwards. I promise.

I tried. I really did. I’ve slogged through so many ‘popular’ books on quantum mechanics and Theories of Everything that I’ve lost count. The latest one was Dr. Robert Lanza’s Biocentrism. I have not finished the book yet, but I’m close. I’ve made it through six of the basic tenets or precepts of his theory. I thought this biocentric view—in which living things create all reality according to their perceptions and perspective–was pretty amazing, but I was troubled by the need to obliterate objective reality in favor of one entirely dependent on us. He explained why it is when you kick a tree, it hurts—it’s not because the tree has any objective reality, it’s simply a complex reaction between wave-functions of the tree that have collapsed into ‘thing that causes pain’, or something like that. I confess, it’s a little murky to me. I lay awake last night wondering how Dr. Lanza would explain why it is that a tree could fall on us and kill us, even though we never looked at it, never ‘collapsed’ it into reality or filtered it through our sensory systems.

I then wondered why it is that we all agree to such a large extent on what constitutes outside reality (assuming, as I’m afraid I still do, that such a thing exists) and to what we are referring when we use language. I suppose Dr. Lanza would say that a community of human animals agrees on illusory external realities because we all process information in a similar way: we’re built from the same ‘stuff’, so to speak. Then, just because I thought it would be fun to fret over this until 4 AM, I questioned the entire time issue. Of course, time is relative, and I do understand that on a layperson’s level. If you’re shot out into space and travel at a certain speed, you will age more slowly than your counterparts on Earth. There is even a formula to determine this. What upsets me about time is its relation to aging, to ‘entropy’, I think, if one can equate the two. We assume that as we age, time is passing; somehow, time is responsible for wrinkles and bad knees. Dr. Lanza says that the very notion of time is illusory, created by humans to make sure we can get to the office on time and function in a capitalist society (those are my words regarding the office and capitalism). Simply because we measure something does not mean that it exists in any objective sense or in any sense at all. Clocks are solely for convenience; as the author claims, we could measure the same thing by melting ice cubes or sunsets or tides.

So why, then, do we age and die as all biological things are wont to do? Dr. Lanza maintains that where we see progressive change there is really only a series of present moments that we link together and pretend form some kind of coherent trajectory from past to present to future. I think we all accept that the past and future don’t really ‘exist’ in any meaningful sense; the past lives only through memory of it (and we all know how tricky and deceptive memory is; even if we could remember everything ‘perfectly,’ we still don’t know what it is that we are remembering—certainly nothing material, nothing we can point to) and the future hasn’t happened yet, so by definition it has no objective existence either. This eternal present has always terrified me, because it rips me out of context. I think our author would say that ‘context’ is just the human animal’s way of making sense of things that aren’t there. That’s the problem. The previous statement doesn’t mean anything, yet that’s what Dr. Lanza is saying. Back to the aging and dying issue: all of humans experience this trajectory, whether or not ‘time’ exists. It seems to me that if we all share this path, always, without exception, then something ‘like’ time is happening to us. We don’t have to call it time, but we have to call it something. Here’s a quick and concise definition of entropy:

“Entropy is a measure of order and disorder. If left alone, aging systems go spontaneously from youthful, low entropy and order to old, high entropy and disorder”. (http://www.worldscibooks.com/popsci/p597.html)

So if entropy is responsible for aging and ultimately what we call ‘death’, then what is entropy’s relationship to time? If time is a human-made illusion, then what is killing us? The key word in the quote above is ‘spontaneously’. That word, by definition, indicates that a process is occurring without resorting to the passage of time. How is it that aging can occur ‘spontaneously’? If it is not a process, and doesn’t the word ‘process’ indicate something occurring over time, then what the heck is it? I’m afraid that Dr. Lanza cannot say that time is purely illusory when biological systems age and die due to a process that we call entropy. His argument against this is interesting, yet in many ways illogical.

He states that what we see as having progressed to a state of entropy is simply another snapshot in the present moment, and what we observe is change from one present moment to another present moment; it’s only our interpretation that sees a progression or superimposes a pattern or value judgment. In other words, aging is an assumption we make when faced with changes in the human organism. Those changes result from an illusory past in the first place. If time doesn’t happen, then change doesn’t either; therefore, nothing we observe is a result of a change. We don’t, however, live in the eternal present. I would argue that we can’t. Does it make sense that we could possibly understand life as one present moment after another and then death? We can’t think that way, so if that’s the way “things really are,” then what’s the point if we can’t make that conceptual leap? The Theory of Everything makes no sense if we can’t live it or even fully grasp it.

I have to finish the entire book before I get to the implications of Dr. Lanza’s theory. If life creates consciousness and consciousness creates the universe and everything in it, we are certainly all-powerful. Maybe he is about to say that we are eternal, since nothing that is out of time can possibly cease to exist. OK, so I will take that to mean that my consciousness is boundless and not in any way bound by change (an illusion created by time). However, I know that I will age and die, as evidenced by everything around me succumbing to entropy. So I’m back to square one. My death means something to me, as it does to those who love me. Of course, if Dr. Lanza says that Kirsten will ALWAYS exist, the question is HOW will she always exist? All that which limits my consciousness—including my body, my perceptions, and my brain—is what I know as real. One might TELL me that what I know as real actually isn’t, but that doesn’t change anything for me. You can say that my iced-cream is an illusion that I brought into existence, but in any case, it tastes the same whether it is an external reality or a consciousness-created reality.

The following quote is from Sean Carroll’s web site:

“The first mystery of the arrow of time is that it’s nowhere to be found in the fundamental laws of physics. Those laws work perfectly well if we run processes backwards in time. (More rigorously, for every allowed process there exists a time-reversed process that is also allowed, obtained by switching parity and exchanging particles for antiparticles — the CPT Theorem.) Nevertheless, the macroscopic world we observe is full of irreversible processes. The puzzle is to reconcile microscopic reversibility with macroscopic irreversibility.”

Therein lays the issue, the knot: what happens on a microscopic level—including, of course, the quantum level—is apparently NOT occurring on the macroscopic level. Photons can behave in bizarre, contradictory and fantastic ways, but that doesn’t mean anything in our large, material world is doing anything remotely like it. Our ‘big’ world seems to function according to the classical laws of physics. There are two possibilities here: we have a fundamental contradiction which can only be resolved when someone—probably a physicist—finds the missing link (something like the debunked notion of the aether) that explains everything (the GUT: Grand Unifying Theory), OR the world on the macroscopic level DOES contain all of the contradictions of the quantum level upon which its existence rests, and we simply haven’t devised the correct experiments to illustrate this correlate. Again from Sean Carroll’s web site:

“Is there any way the arrow of time can be explained dynamically?

I can think of two ways. One is to impose a boundary condition that enforces one end of time to be low-entropy, whether by fiat or via some higher principle; this is the strategy of Roger Penrose’s Weyl Curvature Hypothesis, and arguably that of most flavors of quantum cosmology. The other is to show that reversibilty is violated spontaneously — even if the laws of physics are time-reversal invariant, the relevant solutions to those laws might not be. However, if there exists a maximal entropy (thermal equilibrium) state, and the universe is eternal, it’s hard to see why we aren’t in such an equilibrium state — and that would be static, not constantly evolving. This is why I personally believe that there is no such equilibrium state, and that the universe evolves because it can always evolve. The trick of course, is to implement such a strategy in a well-founded theoretical framework, one in which the particular way in which the universe evolves is by creating regions of post-Big-Bang space-time such as the one in which we find ourselves.”

 So, if the universe were static and eternal, time would be an illusion that we clearly create from a biocentric position. If, however, the universe is constantly evolving, we certainly do need time to account for that. Of course, Lanza would say that the universe is only evolving because we “evolve” it through our perceptions. I think he goes too far, actually. It’s an interesting idea that he presents, but it makes much more sense that the internal/external worlds are in relationship to each other, not that one precludes the other:

“To say that time is not well understood is one thing, but to assert that time is therefore an illusion seems unfounded to me. When forced to summarize his conclusion, he (page 111) backtracks from the bolder statements and writes only that: “Time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.” I could add that time is real because mind and change are real.” http://darwiniana.com/2010/02/12/biocentrism-review/

I’m inclined to agree with the author of this quote. We perceive changes in the universe and the passage of time through our ‘animal sense perception,’ but that doesn’t mean that time and change are non-existent properties or phenomena. We need the notion of time for classical physics and we don’t, really (from what I am able to glean) for quantum physics, but again—time appears to be a hypothetical concept in every area of cosmology, necessary but not ‘proven’. Time may not exist, but entropy does, and I feel entropy as growing older and facing biological death. My experience of time leads me to believe that I (and all other living things) am in a constant state of evolution and flux. What might stand apart from that? Consciousness. It is entirely possible that what is in the constant evolutionary state is the material world, not the quantum world. If my consciousness arises from a quantum field, if awareness itself functions according to the rules of the sub-atomic realm, then consciousness is not bound by time and would, theoretically, continue on indefinitely.

Critics would accuse me of bringing ‘dualism’ back into the discussion as an excuse to save the notion of a soul. However, I’ve never understood why dualism is such a dirty word for scientists. If we can have a material and a quantum world that function according to different paradigms, then why is it not possible that the ‘human animal’ functions in two entirely different ways as well? Why could we not be both ‘material’ and ‘quantum’? Yes, I realize that no one has proven that consciousness emerges from a quantum field; however, it seems the best explanation that we have right now. Now we can engage in Part Two of this grand discussion, which involves the data that paranormal researchers bring back from their investigations. Yes, I realize that many scientists will stop reading right here and forever turn their backs on soulbank (if they would even look at it to begin with) and everything herein contained, but . . . we DO come back with tantalizing data that is not explained by normal means. I can say that with authority after years of painstakingly sorting through audio, video, ITC sessions and so on. I think that the hypothesis that consciousness occupies the quantum space might explain EVPs and all the other anomalies we bring home and puzzle over.

STAY TUNED.

Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D

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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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My mother didn’t believe in ghosts until she stayed at the Bella Maggiore Inn. Now, she doesn’t even want to talk about what happened to her in the upstairs sitting room. I’ve never seen my mother so shaken, so upset, and so pale. This was not a pleasant encounter with a benign spirit–this was something terrifying and unforgettable.

The Bella Maggiore Inn in Ventura, CA was once a “flop house” and a brothel. This, of course, was during the 1930s and 1940s. Now, it’s a charming Italianate-style inn with the best breakfast I’ve had in a long, long time. I decided to spend one night of my Spring Break here in the hope I could convince someone to join me and perhaps find some evidence of a haunting. A woman named Sylvia, who had worked here as a prostitute decades ago, hung herself in room 17 (some say room 15, where my parents stayed) over a romantic entanglement. Elsewhere I have read that she was murdered and her killer was never brought to justice. After so long, with the distortions of a story passed down in the great oral tradition of ghost tales, it’s very difficult to know what actually happened. I invited investigators to join me, as well as my parents. To my surprise and delight, not only did my parents join me but so did the two founders of the Southern California Society for Paranormal Research and one additional investigator.

The sitting room on the second floor has what can only be described as a creepy ambiance; you feel as if you are surrounded by something or watched by someone as soon as you walk in. My mother sat in one chair, my father on the love seat next to her, and I on the chair next to him. It was quiet and deserted; we had come back from dinner and were looking for a place to chat. My mother called my sister on her cell phone. They were talking about my nephew and all the new things he has learned how to do, when I noticed my mother’s face change. She seemed both surprised and upset. “Is that you? Do you hear that? Is Connor OK?” she asked, appearing more and more shaken as she spoke. My sister was clearly asking her what she was talking about, my mother was trying to explain, but there was a communication gap. She held the phone away from her, frowned, tried to continue the conversation, but finally couldn’t. She hung up, and I saw that she was shaking. “Someone was screaming on the phone, a woman . . .  it was horrible. She screamed over and over again. It wasn’t interference from the cell phone. I’ve never heard anything like this. It was like someone was murdering her. It was horrible.” She repeated those lines again and again, unable to understand what she had heard, and what it might mean. During her phone call, before I knew what was happening, I felt a chill run up my left side, as if someone were standing there and congealing the atmosphere. The lights flickered and everything felt darker. Even my father was glancing around as if someone had entered the room.

Later, after my mother had calmed down, she crawled into bed early and didn’t want to talk about it anymore. My father looked up a few stories about Sylvia, but she didn’t want to hear them, and I decided that it was time to head to my own room. If someone had hanged herself in the place I supposed to sleep, I wanted to at least run some audio. I found that the EMF meter was behaving strangely in the hallway, but I didn’t feel much in the room itself. I was getting

lonely when Frank and Louis showed up and rescued me from the rather gloomy hotel and took me to dessert at the Busy Bee. Before that, they set up their equipment in my room hoping to catch something. I hoped that they would, and I hoped that they wouldn’t. I was tired, and it was going to be a long night. Kimberly from SCSPR joined us later, and the discussion was lively. I had shaken off the strangeness of the Bella Maggiore, but it was not to last.

We returned to my room and listened to the audio. There was a constant, low-level conversation in the background. It was silent in the hallway, and there was no one in the rooms on either side of me. The male voices were obviously engaged in a significant discussion, yet there was no way to decipher the words. It sounded so far away, decades away, from another place and time. Every now and then one of the male voices would say something I could almost understand, but after straining to hear them for so long, we finally gave up.

We gathered our equipment and headed towards the sitting room where my mother had experienced such horror over the cell phone. We walked in and said hello, as is polite when there are spirits waiting for you. We all heard a response; when we played back the audio, the “Hello” was as clear as day. Our second greeting was also returned, and we captured that as well. A few minutes into the EVP session, Louis asks if anyone has anything to say. We heard no response at the time, but when he played back the audio a male voice said:  “He still loves you.” Three EVPs within minutes of each other is quite rare. Although we investigated the rest of the hotel that night, nothing was as active as that room. We are still reviewing evidence from that night, so it’s possible that we captured more fragments of those lost lives.

“He still loves you.” I don’t know what that means. I don’t think I am going to ever know, since that is the nature of paranormal investigations. You can’t figure out the specifics of the story, only experience the vague and tantalizing after-effects of the lingering spirits. Of course, I ask myself what it is that we found. It occurs to me that sometimes, as “ghost hunters,” we find ourselves at intersections of the tragic and the lost. I suppose that most of the voices are all “residual,” meaning that the imprints of those lives and deaths are embedded like a recording in the very walls of the hotel. The responses we received upon entering the sitting room, however, point to an intelligent entity who could and did respond to visitors.

I don’t like what this implies about life after death. But then again, I know nothing more about the specifics of the afterlife than I did before I started this journey, with the huge exception that SOMETHING survives of us. I have more questions than answers, and some better theories, but I want to know who screamed in terror over my mother’s cell phone, who greeted us as we walked in, and who was carrying on the distant conversations in Room 17. I want to know all this, yet I will never know.

And not knowing will compel me back, to the place, to the time, to the desire to learn more. Someone might decide to tell me something substantive, because they want their story told . . . I can do that, but only if–for the dead–communication with the living  weren’t so much like “standing behind a sheet of frosted glass which blurs sight and deadens sound, [attempting to dictate] feebly to a reluctant and somewhat obtuse secretary” (Wilson 1987: 176). That was the message of the late Frederic Myers, one of the pioneers of the Society for Psychical Research in the late 1800s. In this case, us ghost hunters are the reluctant and somewhat obtuse secretaries, trying desperately to interpret the messages.

But we will never quit trying. The mystery is too great, and the need to know too imperious; and of course, we are happy to cast our lot with the world’s greatest enigma. This is why I close with Louis smiling. At the end of the night, the truth is–we are alive. We can eat apple pie and hot fudge sundaes and review our evidence and write our blog posts. I hope the afterlife permits such pleasures . . . but for some, I know it does not.

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