img_6109I was

at work, hiding out in the ladies’ room. I have this strange habit when I really want to be alone in a restroom: I look out from under the stall and make sure that nobody is there. This was a relatively small restroom with only a few stalls, so it was easy to peek out and see that nobody was there. Another odd thing about me is that sometimes I decompress in bathrooms without actually making use of said bathroom. This was one of those times. I sat on top of the toilet seat and enjoyed the silence. Until, that is, I heard the sound of high heels walking across the linoleum floor and heard the adjacent stall door open. Funny, I thought, I never heard the door open. I also didn’t hear the toilet seat open or anything else: total silence after the mystery woman entered the stall next to me. I wondered what she was doing there without making a sound, and I started to worry.

I peeked under the stall to see if she was actually there or not. No feet. I opened the stall door to see if anyone was there–but nobody was. The high heels had clicked their way into the bathroom and into the stall but never left. I realized that I had heard something that had not “happened” in a typical sense. For a moment, I realized yet again how extraordinary life can be, how odd and inexplicable. There are so many mysteries that happen to us daily, but how often do we really make the effort to understand them and study them?

I left the bathroom and decided that I had to tell someone about this. I found my colleague, pulled her aside, and told her what had just happened. “Oh my, this building has its very own ghost!” she laughed. I attempted to impress upon her how odd the incident truly was, and she laughed again before changing the subject. For the umpteenth time, I was shut down and the story forgotten soon after it was told. Why do people do this? Why do we assume that anyone who has a serious, anomalous ‘incident report’ to share is not worth our time or attention?

I have noticed at work that my interest in the paranormal is common knowledge to my colleagues and our administration. People ask me about my most ‘interesting’ or ‘terrifying’ ghost experience, yet completely dismiss my recounting of the incident as soon as they hear it. I have come to believe that there is real fear around the topic of the paranormal. I am not sure why. There are so many fascinating mysteries embedded in reality, yet most people need absolute clarity in their lives to feel comfortable, and the presence of the paranormal destabilizes our world, making it unfamiliar and strange. One either celebrates that oddness and mystery, or one runs from it, preferring the daily certainties.

When we refuse to take these reports (and note, I prefer ‘reports’ to ‘stories,’ because our culture does not accord stories the seriousness of truth) at face value and actually consider the truths they may hold for us, we diminish our collective experience in an essentially incomprehensible world. I do believe that we can make tremendous progress in understanding the realms of spirit and consciousness if only we were able to put aside the notion that it’s somehow laughable or crazy to wander outside the material world of our five senses.

I think we all see ghosts on a regular basis, but decide to code them out of our experience. We reject the strange, we turn our backs on the world of spirit, and we refuse to alter our world view to accommodate parapsychological phenomena. Of course, there are exceptions to this general rule, such as Marsha (pictured above), Erin, Jennifer and Kimberly. We have created this community where it is safe to explore all the implications of paranormal phenomena and what they might mean for our existence, not just in the here and now, but in the past and in the distant future, beyond the horizon of death. We don’t much care if the general public thinks we’re crazy or deluded: we know that we are not. We are, along with others in our field, pioneers of a new reality.

Who in your life believes you, no matter how much your paranormal ‘incident report’ seems to stretch the boundaries of the possible? Who will always listen with an open mind and an unending curiosity? Those people, my dear readers, are your true friends.

Keep filing those reports. You may be unfairly judged by small minded materialists, but one day, your version of reality might change everyone else’s world. We can only hope.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

The White Pickup

Posted: November 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’m walking in a very isolated area in the Susana Susana mountains. It’s not too far from my house, but it’s remote. The dirt road is rutted and steep, surrounded by giant boulders and twisted trees. It’s about a thirty minutes from sunset, and I figure I have enough time to locate the abandoned cabin in the hills that my mother in law tells me never to visit alone. Every time I think I hear a car coming up the road, I tense up like a hunted animal. I get nervous when planes fly overhead or something rustles in the bushes. The hills have eyes. I remember that there are people out here living off the grid. I think that means that they make their own electricity and store water in huge containers.

I run across the white pickup as I round a corner. I stop dead in my tracks and stay very still. I can tell that there is nobody inside, but they could be hiding, crouched down behind the backseat. I immediately rebuke myself for my silliness. Why do I even think this way? I convince myself that this is just an instinctual, reptilian brain thing that makes me behave like the deer that sees tigers around every corner. I walk closer. Nope. There isn’t anybody in the truck. I notice the stickers on the back: “Buck Ofama,” an American flag, a Confederate flag and some pro gun statement that I decide not to read in its entirety.

I feel sick and panicked. The guy who owns this truck probably hates women like me. I’m guessing that he knows that I’m some liberal college professor with a gay kid who works with undocumented immigrants. If he sees me, I think, he might corner me by a boulder and assault me. Maybe he has friends with him, and they’ll gang rape me. Could I yell loud enough for the nearest neighbors to hear me? Is my cell phone fully charged? Should I just call the police now? I have no cell connection up here. I can’t call anyone. I feel that rush of adrenaline that will soon propel me down the hill and back to my house in record time.

At work, I forget about the white pickup truck and start teaching. The boys in the back talk and text. I tell them not to. They do it again. I tell them not to. Next time, I say, you will be asked to leave. Not, “I will ask you to leave and you will comply,” but “you will be asked.” The passive tense allows me to avoid relying on my authority, which they will ignore. One of them smiles at me with half of his face while staring me down. I know what he is doing. I avert my eyes. I lose. I end class and a kid walks up to me and hands me a piece of paper with the name of a male colleague who teaches Political Science. “Call him. You are very emotionally unstable and he can help you, put your mind at ease.” I had committed the indiscretion of tearing up during class when some of my students were sobbing. They were worried about being deported under the new Trump administration.

He and I argue about whether or not I need to learn ‘the facts’ from my colleague who I have never met. I try to explain that sexism is about telling–for example–your female professor that she is too emotional and unstable to present the facts to her class, and that she must confer with a male colleague in order to get herself under control and educated. He never understands my point of view. He comes back to class the next day, but now he gives me the sardonic half smile and waits a few moments before answering questions; just long enough so that I understand that he is choosing to answer me, not in any way bowing to my authority. I wonder when he is going to report me to the administration for liberal bias.

Danny waits for me because he wants me to understand the following: “You’re ridiculous,” he yells, “Nothing is going to change under Trump.” I explain that I have no reason to believe that he won’t attempt to deport my undocumented students or repeal vital climate change policies. I try to defend myself as he moves closer and closer to me. I back up to the wall. He still moves closer. “Are you going to cry just like my daughter? You don’t like Trump? Then DO something about it, don’t whine about it.” I can smell his stale coffee breath. He’s close to 70, but strong and burly, like a lumberjack. I am about to respond when a female student from my morning class rescues me with an urgent question. He moves off, and she cocks her head and says, “I saved you!” Yes, she did.

I check Facebook, always a mistake. I had decided, finally, to abandon the cat photos and  state my true feelings about the future Trump presidency. I worry for my daughter, my students, all the vulnerable communities that surround me at work. Someone who I have never met responds to my fears by telling me that I should get my liberal ass of the sofa and get a job and thank God I have Trump to pay my bills now. I’m not sure what any of that means, but I figure I have done something wrong by expressing my concerns. “It’s all going to be OK,” my colleague says the next day. “Let’s all get along,” says another.
“It’s better not to discuss this in class.” Five minutes later, Patricia is crying on the bench and says, “Profesora, I’m not a criminal, I haven’t done anything wrong, and now I might have to go back to Mexico and I haven’t lived there since I was two. I feel like . . . I feel like all that progress I though we had made didn’t really happen, like it’s still the 1950s and I thought, I mean, it’s like we’re back to zero again.”

Home again. The television is back to cute stories about kittens and dogs sharing the same bed and the latest way to smooth out your wrinkles for a fraction of the cost of a facelift. My gaze drifts over to the angel on my shrine. She has a lovely face. Someone told me that angels have no gender. So I’m not sure how to refer to my angel. She seems female to me. Something about those eyes. They are kind and beautiful, but if you look closely, there’s a tinge of fear in them, too.

My angel is definitely a woman.

img_0971

PHW OPEN AUDIO REVIEW

Posted: June 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

Listening to audio can be tedious. We might miss something important because our ears get tired! That’s why we’re asking for your help. The PHW recently investigated an abandoned jail, and we captured a great deal of anomalous audio. Do we have something interesting here? I don’t want to give detailed interpretations of what we THINK we hear; the titles of the audio clips will orient you in general in terms of what to listen for, but I stop short of providing any interpretation of what I am hearing.

Please leave your comments in the “comments” section (where else?) or feel free to leave comments on individual clips on our Facebook page. Thank you in advance for listening, and remember to listen with headphones and turn up the volume as much as you can! Also, be prepared to listen to each clip multiple times, especially if there are sentences or conversations going on that involve non-living members of the team. Of course, feel free to provide alternate, natural explanations for what we think we’ve captured here.

Enjoy!!

27848105162_bcd7f126f5_o

Imprisoned

Posted: January 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

The oldest jail in Los Angeles is home to some seriously deranged energy. In the audio clip above, you can hear a male voice in the background saying, “Hey baby”. Seems appropriate, since there were several women attending this investigation, including many officers in the LAPD. One of them was accosted by someone who apparently didn’t appreciate her presence in the jail, for obvious reasons. I won’t go into detail about her experience; it was upsetting to her and unnerving for those of us listening to her story.

The “Goodbye” is fairly clear in this clip. Maybe whoever was still there wanted us to leave; but we didn’t oblige them.

At the very beginning of this audio clip, you can hear scurrying footsteps. I like this one, since we all heard these footsteps at the time, as well. The idea that someone unseen was running through the dark and empty rooms behind us was unsettling, to say the least. This was not an investigation for the faint of heart.

People have broken in many times to cover the walls with graffiti and litter the floors with garbage. The first floor is a monument to neglect and sadness.

24347413545_d7110e3a8e_n

The experience that evening was odd for me. I had that familiar feeling of “oppression,” that unique feeling that you had better watch yourself carefully, because there were forces attempting to invade your psyche. The spirits there went on the attack a couple of times, leaving some of us emotionally drained. I was very careful this time. I know what bad people can do to you, whether alive or dead.

Marsha told me later that the area we all thought was only an old cafeteria also housed the morgue. That makes sense. It felt far, far too dark and depressing to simply be a cafeteria. At the point we were investigating that area, I kept my head down while others asked all the questions. This has become my usual modus operandi when investigating traumatized sites: I stay silent. The reason for this is simple: I don’t want to talk to those souls who might not welcome my presence, or might have some interest in harming me psychologically.

It was fascinating to watch the newer investigators. I think they started the evening as a fun adventure, something interesting and novel to do on a cold night. However, about halfway into the investigation, they were very subdued. At least a couple of people were genuinely scared, but not in the “scream and run” way, but that other scared: when you know you’ve walked into a situation utterly beyond your control and you can’t identify the aggressor. You can’t see him or touch him, only perceive him as a threatening presence. Is there anything worse for those in law enforcement, used to at least some measure of control when faced with a hostile person? You can hear voices in the distant rooms, you can feel the looming nastiness pushing into you, you can even hear them walking around, but you can’t do anything at all to protect yourself physically. You are utterly vulnerable.

Some people refuse to investigate this place, and I completely understand their point of view. Why surround yourself with such evil? Why indeed . . . while I can’t fully answer that question, I can say that when something is so mysterious, the curious have to keep trying to figure out how such a thing could happen, how someone could survive their deaths in this manner.

Dangerous? Yes. Will I go back if invited? Absolutely.

24347305445_0bd2958fdf_o

23979676209_83c82fddc4_o.jpg

24264967221_c8dc21b2cb_o

24051864910_24f581eb4b_o

24321237046_8e825ef300_z

23979644759_092513a793_b

The Cursed House

Posted: January 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

I don’t usually start a blog post with an audio clip. This one, however, is pretty impressive. My husband and I were in the back bedroom of a house that will not sell. The door was closed. We did not leave during the time we recorded this, and we neither opened nor closed any doors. I know this because we are talking about a cord under a lamp; we were both examining it and commenting on the ugly, utilitarian nature of it and how it was off balance due the cord wrapped underneath it. That was all we were doing. There is no explanation for the closing door and the squeaking door you hear in the audio.

Let me back up. The agent for this house has asked me to keep this post general and neutral regarding its location. She contacted the PHW for help with a home that has sat on the market for several months now, something almost unheard of in a very tight, competitive real estate market. This house is located in an area where homes sell quickly and often for over asking price. She was fairly desperate to sell, since the son of the owner needed to move his mother out of there ASAP. As of this writing, there were multiple accepted offers that fell out of escrow because the buyer changed his/her mind at the last minute.

This can happen occasionally, but never have I heard of it happening repeatedly. When a buyer pays for an inspection and appraisal and removes the contingencies, 99% of the time the sale goes through. And yet, in this crazy hot market, this had happened more than once to this home that–from the outside–was innocuous and pretty in a standard, West Valley way. Since I was only able to set up a walk through and investigation during an open house, my husband and I were the only ones in the group who could make it. We were determined to figure out this mystery, and we might have done so.

I did my research. The owner’s father had passed away about a year ago, and spent his last weeks in bed in the back bedroom. The bed where he lost his battle to cancer occupies a far corner of the master bedroom. The owner’s mother doesn’t want to sell, but realizes she has no choice. Right away, you have a potent mix of grief, attachment to the house and fear of the future that combine to drown the house in emotion. But there was more. As we drove up to the house, I noticed the window next to the garage. Something was wrong with that area of the house. As we walked in and dispensed with the pleasantries with four real estate agents who were all there to see what we would do, my husband took some EMF readings.

The entryway EMF levels were off the charts. They were even higher in the room by the garage, the one I didn’t like on an instinctual level. The high levels in the entryway could be explained by the alarm system, whose central hub was by the front closet; however, this did not explain the crazy readings in other areas of the house. An electrician had checked all the wiring and electrical systems as part of the routine house inspection, and he had found nothing out of the ordinary. Almost immediately, the back of my head started throbbing. Oddly enough, when I first heard about this house and was on my way to drive past it, the same headache seized me in the car. Listing to the audio in my office provoked the same, physical response of intense pain in the back of my neck and head.

While in the house, the head pain might be explained by the high EMF readings; however, I don’t understand the other incidents. In any case, the house had other issues, as well. It was largely empty, since the sparse furniture had been pushed back to the walls. The windows were without decoration of any kind; no moldings, no frames, no decorative flourishes anywhere. The tile floor gave the house an institutional feeling. Outside in the back yard, the ornate, white lampposts were all leaning to one side, as if some mischievous child had pushed them. The outside, enclosed patio was marred by oddly shaped cut-outs that were supposed to be windows, I think. Everything seemed slightly off balance or strangely constructed, like someone’s home projects had all gone slightly awry.

It was the back bedroom that took my breath away. It felt heavy and strange. The sick bed in the corner oozed misery. My head felt as if it were going to explode, and my dizziness almost knocked me off my feet. My whole body responded and reacted to the emotional energy in the room. I ran audio and a couple ‘ghost apps’ while taking pictures to document the physical issues in the home. Then, I simply meditated on the situation.

I came to the conclusion that the mother’s grief was the core issue, more than a conventional haunting. She was holding on to her husband’s memory and spirit, and the home had absorbed the sadness of his passing. She didn’t want to leave, I believe, because she felt that he was still in the house. The interplay of her mourning and her need to hold on to her husband might have trapped part of his consciousness in the house. His presence, however, was not as strong as her pain. I don’t think he can move on nor can that house ever sell as long as the mother of the owner refuses to let her husband transition to his new reality. I think she still feels him in the house and believes that if she moves, she has lost him completely and forever, even though all she has now is a faint experience of his spirit and her memories.

So what explains the fact that people walk into the house, stay less than two minutes, and leave? What explains why someone would attempt to purchase the home, spend money on inspections and appraisals, and change their minds in the eleventh hour? I understand why people come in and walk out of that house; the combination of the high EMF, the ‘off balance’ visuals, the lack of decor, the strange positioning of the furniture, are enough to drive potential buyers away. It’s harder to explain the buyers’ last ditch cold feet. As investigators, many of us pick up on a home’s emotions, ‘vibes’ and energies very quickly, because we’ve trained ourselves to do that, and it’s our intention to divine the spirit of a place. However, for someone not looking to connect to those energies and simply buy a house, the spiritual and emotional issues in a house do not present themselves right away. Over time, on the third, fourth or fifth visit to the house, the buyer feels progressively more uncomfortable. Something ‘works’ on her, creating a feeling of unease that won’t go away and increases with every hour she spends there. This produces an anxiety that ramps up and resists a buyer’s ability to deny the obvious: the house is haunted.

The living can haunt their own homes with equal or greater force than the ontologically challenged (the dead). Sooner or later, everyone figures out that a house does not want to be sold. As of this writing, this home is still available. But I won’t give out the address; you would never buy it anyway.

EVP #2: For those with good ears and headphones, you will hear a faint “no” after my question.

EVP #3: Odd thumps and bangs occurring during the EVP session. Please note that the agents are constantly talking in the background and form ‘white noise’. Any anomalies you hear are close to the microphone and not coming from distant rooms where people are talking.

EVP #4: Here I am speaking with one of the agents about the house and the bedroom. There is a very sad sigh under our conversation and perhaps some words. This is not coming from any of us.

HAUNTED BATHROOM

Posted: December 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

There is a haunted bathroom at Serrania Park in Woodland Hills. Every time I walk in there, I feel the strange and disturbing energy, so I quickly pee and run. Sure, it sounds silly and funny, but if you’re an investigator, you know that there is something about bathrooms that seems to hang onto trauma or negative emotion. We all have our theories about this. Mine is simply this: bad things happen in bathrooms. People are vulnerable. They have their pants down. Predators and unbalanced individuals lie in wait in bathrooms. There are too many opportunities for the unhinged and the violent to attack people who are half naked and trapped in a stall.

I don’t like using the restrooms in public places. I always feel like a trapped animal, always on alert for someone about to lock the main door and drag me out of my hiding place. Horror movies play on this fear all of the time. The hapless victim (usually a pretty girl) thinks she’s alone in the stall, her pants around her ankles, when a horrid hand grabs her leg and drags her out kicking and screaming. In the next scene, all you see is blood pooling on the floor and dripping from the walls.

If you have investigated any state hospitals, then you know that the bathrooms carry the heaviest and most traumatized feelings. I suspect many rapes happen in bathrooms, along with other forms of abuse and molestation. That is why I limit my time in those areas of buildings, especially buildings with a sad, violent and painful history. However, this does not explain what is going on the women’s restroom at Serrania Park.

I have learned not to speculate too wildly on what I think happened in a place, so I won’t pretend that I know anything about this particular restroom. But I will say this: I have become very good at picking up stories and feelings emanating from places, rooms, buildings, sites and areas. My entire being is like one, giant antennae for distressed feelings. Marsha, Erin and Jennifer are exactly the same. Those ladies are like psychic sponges. I haven’t yet dragged them to investigate the restroom. It’s too small, for one.

So, investigators, if you find yourself in Woodland Hills, go check out this place and maybe let me know what you pick up. I have some ideas, but I’m keeping them to myself. Please write to us if you do manage to find yourself there with some equipment, because I would like to know if there is a story we can all put together.

Thank you for reading and happy hunting.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

Haunted bathroomHaunted bathroom 2

Illness and the Paranormal

Posted: December 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

Kitty with headache

It’s a common complaint. After an intense investigation, many of us feel sick. In my case, a haunted location will manifest itself first as an intense headache, usually starting in the back of my neck and working itself up to the top of my head. If the spiritual energy is heavy enough, I’ll find myself dizzy and nauseated, and the floor will feel like it’s rising and sinking.

There is a long history of mediums dying young, fraught with various illnesses and diseases. To those who protest that they are investigators and not mediums, let’s look at the word “medium”: in this context, it means the conduit between one reality and another. That is what we all become, with enough experience and hours dedicated to turning ourselves into human antennae. We don’t need to fit the stereotypical image in the medium to actually function as one. We do not engage in dramatic displays of clairvoyance or dress like a member of Fleetwood Mac, nor do we gaze into crystals or pretend that Uncle Joe is talking into our ear with special messages for a paying customer; no, instead we devote hundreds of hours fine tuning our ability to connect with spiritual energies that pick up and respond to our willingness to make our conscious and unconscious minds available to them to use any way they see fit.

This meditative state we fall into on a ‘ghost hunt’ takes a toll on our health, both emotional and physical. The more negative the energy, the worse we feel. The only times I have felt invigorated by an investigation and not sick happened after spending many hours at spiritually active churches or ancient adobes. After investigating defunct state hospitals or prisons, I usually develop a blinding migraine, suffer from terrible nightmares or can’t get out of bed for a couple of days. That is why I limit those kinds of investigations now; what used to be exhilarating and sheer awesome excitement is now draining and overwhelming.

Some might object that it’s the physical environment that creates the illnesses, such as mold, dust and various toxic residues from the building’s past. While I don’t discount the dangers of old buildings, there is a difference between engaging in urban exploring and engaging the residual energies of a psychopath or mentally ill and angry spirit. When I wander through destroyed and abandoned sites without turning myself into a medium for distressed energies, I am fine afterwards. When I limit myself to taking photos or picking through debris looking for odd bits and pieces of someone’s life, nothing happens afterwards. However, as soon as I turn on my recorder and start asking questions, the headaches, nausea, dizziness and unsteadiness hit me like a wave.

It seems that the more ‘sensitive’ I am, the more my body falls apart. That, for the most part, explains why I’ve become so selective about where I investigate and who is with me. My protection rituals help, but they do not completely keep me from physical and emotional drainage. This all reminds me of a student I had years ago who confessed to having investigated New Orleans haunted buildings (of which there are many) years and years ago. At that time, I was a relatively new investigator, and I wanted to hear all about it. After class, she pulled me aside and told me that she doesn’t ever conduct investigations anymore. I couldn’t imagine why not. It made no sense!

“Because,” she said, “it became scarier and darker. And . . . because I started to get sick.” After that, she refused to discuss it. I didn’t understand what she was talking about then. I do now.

What truly scares me are the number of investigators I know who have developed serious illnesses during the few years I have known them. What’s happened to them seems far beyond the realm of coincidence. I can’t definitely connect investigations with the resultant illnesses, and I can’t say for sure if these diseases would have popped up regardless of their paranormal pursuits, but there is enough evidence for a connection that I have scaled back my outings, and when I do go out on an investigation, I tend to keep quiet.

It’s almost as if, after years of calling attention to myself in the spirit world, I don’t want them to notice me anymore.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PHW/PhD