Lily Dale is an old-timey spiritualist community in western New York state on Cassadaga Lake, just a couple hours from my hometown of Rochester, NY. I came to my interest in New Age well after I’d left Rochester, so I’d never been. But the idea of visiting a community of spiritualists, healers, mediums was irresistible, so while I was in Rochester, the sisters of my heart and I decided to take a ride.
The community was founded in 1879 by Spiritualists and FreeThinkers. Spiritualists believe that spirits of the dead can communicate with the living–and want to– so I suppose that makes me one.
I’m not much for organized spirituality, but I love the idea of a community that shares many of my beliefs.
Energy healing is another big part of Lily Dale and we got there in time for the noon healing in the Healing Temple.
Some half a dozen energy healers worked their magic on people one on one. We each had a healing. No cost, just an offering if you’d like to leave one. Outside the temple was a bowl of pastel-colored ribbons. Visitors could write their intentions on the ribbon and tie it to the prayer tree, which was gorgeous. (see photo above)
Two of us had made appointments with mediums. And therein lies the real story.
Expecting Medium, got lukewarm
I had something I wanted to discuss with my father in spirit, so I was looking forward to seeing the medium I’d chosen at random a few weeks earlier and had scheduled an hour with. When I got to his beautiful, flower-covered bungalow it was about 2pm. Our scheduled session was at 2:15. He was in the doorway, ushering in a woman for a reading.
“Are you Carol?” he asked. When I said I was, he responded, “You’re now at 2:30” and went in his house with this other client, a walk-in. Immediately, my stomach clenched. If this medium wasn’t willing to honor the appointment we’d made in advance, should I really see him? Was he ethical? Troubled by my visceral reaction to his casual and rather rude rescheduling, I sat on the bungalow’s comfortable porch. The man seated next to me began a conversation about ayahuasca, Rainbow People and all things new age. I watched the clock, all the while thinking “I don’t have a good feeling about this medium.”
At 2:30pm there was no sign of him. At 2:35, some 20 minutes past our original time, I stood up. The man on the porch said, “Why don’t you give him 5 minutes?”
“I gave him five minutes,” I said, “and he’s actually 20 past the appointment we made two weeks ago.”
“Oh,” the man said. Oh, indeed.
At 2:40 I left without regrets. I didn’t feel I needed to leave a note of explanation or to call. I was pretty sure he’d picked up my vibe about the last minute reschedule. Sure, I’d wanted a reading, but only with someone I thought could connect. This guy? Not so sure.
I know that there are requirements to be a “registered medium” at Lily Dale that include rigorous testing by giving readings to the board of directors. Still, this guy’s attitude was at odds with how I would guess spirit would want someone to treat people. And there was something else: The reading one of my companions got from another medium wasn’t all that on target for her. It was, however, on target for her sister, who was elsewhere in the community looking around. So I’m a little on the fence about mediumship at Lily Dale and will stick to the mediums I know, who are specific, sharp and on target when they read–and who are there at our appointment time.
Workshops might be another matter. I saw intriguingones on the schedule for this summer. I’ll keep on eye on future events and perhaps one day will take a workshop.
Overall, it’s a charming community and there are worse things than spending a summer afternoon in a flower-filled community of spirit-driven people.
So: have you ever been disappointed by a New Age practitioner?