mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS

Road Trip to Beyond

We decided to embark on a mini-vacation this week -- a Friday overnight in beautiful Fredonia NY. Our primary destination is Lily Dale, but the hotels there have been long sold out.

Lily Dale is a spiritualist mecca. From their website:

Welcome To Lily Dale. . . We invite you to explore and experience the many opportunities to expand your knowledge and intuition.  We hope you will find here a deep sense of peace and a renewed sense of the divinity within you. Since it was established in 1879, Lily Dale has been the world’s largest center for spiritual development and the practice of the Spiritualist religion. For nearly 130 years, Lily Dale has offered a world-renowned summer program of lectures, workshops and other activities featuring best-selling authors, leaders in academic and scientific research into psychic phenomena, as well as the world’s most powerful mediums, teachers and healers. Lily Dale is widely known as a place where knowledge and enlightenment converge in ways that deepen faith and heighten awareness. The energy of the universal life force can be felt, experienced and developed here in this serene 19th century lakeside community surrounded by towering, old-growth forest.

I put Lily Dale on our calendar of summer activities because this is Victorian Weekend there -- we have a "Victorian" (late 19th c. to 1910) photo collection from the area and I have been reading about the history of various metaphysical religious movements in upstate New York. So, what the heck...

My layperson's knowledge of spiritualism is that they are all about talking to the dead -- mediums, psychic readings, seances, strange rapping sounds. Lily Dale is home to about 50 mediums. My first reaction is that it's a lot of hooey -- a movement laced with fraud, self-delusion and opportunism. But then... what movement isn't?

Spiritualism in our region is closely entwined with 19th century Abolitionist and Women's Rights movements. And it's one of those strange religions where women have equal leadership opportunities.

Part of me is creeped out by the idea of getting messages from the dead. On the other hand, I want to be open to new experiences and alternate ways of perceiving the universe. I'm skeptical, but it's sort of narrow-minded to write something off without checking it out.

My original thought was to check out the same question with three different mediums and compare answers. But at $40-$60 per reading my curiosity stalls out. I might be happy to live with my own untested conclusions. Stay tuned...

7.10.2008

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