Yes, it’s true. I just returned from an overnight stay at Lily Dale Assembly, “the world’s largest center for spiritual development and the practice of the Spiritualist religion. For 131 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.”
Now I am not a Spiritualist, but I know this is a very popular destination in Chautauqua county for people from all over the country and the world. My beloved aunt has been coming here for decades – the same aunt that taught me how to use a Ouji board at age 8 and showed me how to levitate the neighbor kids using only our fingertips. So I knew a bit about what I was getting into but I thought ‘what the heck’ and went with her and my mother.
It’s a small self-contained village on the shores of a small lake. There is an admission fee to enter the village and once you are inside, you don’t need to leave. We stayed in the Maplewood, a small, three-story wooden building that could be part of a movie set. My aunt assured me that the room she reserved for me was not haunted like many of the rooms were. They were very basic rooms and most of the guests congregated on the rocking chairs on the front porch and chatted. The village also had many small cottages, most of which are homes to registered mediums, or people who connect with spirits. The mediums have little appointment books on their front porches and you can sign up for a reading. Many of the guests seem to come back every year to meet with their favorite mediums and there were stories galore on the porch about messages that were shared from beyond and things that had come to pass just like they were told.
There are services and meetings open to everyone where mediums will speak to people out in the audience- just like a John Edwards show. A medium called me from the crowd and told me that I would be creating things and that I act as a role model for many. Well, I could buy that. There are no fancy restaurants in the village- just a cafeteria, an ice cream stand and a coffee shop. There are several gift shops that sell crystals, books, and all kinds of psychic materials.
There are special events throughout the summer and Saturday night was a presentation by the stars of the TV show “Ghost Hunters”. Apparently Jason and Grant are both from upstate NY and so Lily Dale is a natural fit for their involvement with the paranormal experiences they cover. The crowd at that show was diverse- elderly guests along with young people sporting all types of tattoos and piercings.
Maybe it was the fact that there were no phones or TVs, or the fact that it was so peaceful by the lake. But I felt rejuvenated by my trip and I realized that there are so many reasons that people travel that we aren’t even aware of. It was neat to step into another world for a day.