Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Town that Talks to the Dead

As promised, time to talk about my weekend in Lily Dale, NY. My college roommate and dear friend, Rachida, met me there, and we had some interesting experiences that made us believers. More on that soon.

Lily Dale is a spiritualist community, boasting to be the oldest and largest in the country. It's a little gated village that charges $10 per person to enter and then allows you to attend healing and message services, ghost walks, town tours, and thought exchanges for free. There are other special events throughout the summer as well.

Rachida and I attended a healing service at the Healing Temple Friday night. Here's a look at the Healing Temple:

From what I've read about psychics and spiritual healers in my research for THE DINER ON THIRD, the mediums who were performing the healing that night may have been calling on healing spirits to help them. With my limited five senses, I'd describe the session as prayer. I sat in a chair, and the healer asked if she could touch me and if there were any health concerns she should focus on. I answered her, and she went to work.

She rested her hands on my shoulders, then my neck, then my head and back and arms before saying a prayer out loud asking for my protection and health. It was peaceful and relaxing.

Let me step back for a moment and describe Lily Dale a bit to you. I don't think I could do it better than Christine Wicker, who published a National Bestseller about Lily Dale in 2003:

"Lily Dale is sixty miles south of Buffalo, tucked off the side road of a side road to Interstate 90. It's easy to miss. Little Victorian houses sitting at the edge of a lake. A settlement of a few hundred people clinging to a religion that once had millions of believers and now has only a remnant. American flags flapping from screened porches. Fountains splashing in shady little pocket parks. Big-bellied cats strolling across streets as though they own them.

"Women set the tone in this lakeside community where houses are painted in pastels. During the height of the summer season, when twenty thousand visitors come to consult the town's mediums, it resembes nothing so much as a sorority sleepover for aging sisters...Tinsel stars and crystals hang in windows. Christmas lights twinkle from porches all year long. Stone angels stand sentry on walkways, and plaster elves march across lawns."

Among these streets of cats, crystals and Christmas lights are houses with the name of their residents written on the outside. "Janice Dreshman, Medium." The 38 registered mediums of Lily Dale (if they are registered, it means they have been tested and approved by the Lily Dale Assembly) hang signs revealing whether they are open or closed, in or out, taking appointments for the day or full. If they are taking appointments, many have a clipboard on the porch. You sign your name next to the slot you want and come back at that time. Many of the readings are 30 minutes long, although longer is acceptable.

Rachida and I both did an individual reading. Since so many people are incredibly skeptical and the readings are very personal, I won't go into details. I'll only say this. There were some points my medium made that I didn't understand. She gave names of spirits who were coming through that I could not place. She offered familiar information that led me to certain conclusions, and I realize I may have been coming to those conclusions on error. But there were three things that she said that were undeniably true and so specific there was no way I could misinterpret them.

The same was true for Rachida.

Another popular attraction for the day was the message service. If you've ever seen John Edward's TV show Crossing Over, then you have an idea of what I'm talking about. One medium would lead the service and invite other registered mediums from Lily Dale as well as visiting mediums to give two or three readings each.

The mediums all had different styles. Some would say, "I'm getting someone named Charlie coming through..." And from there other details would be given to determine whom the message was for.

Other mediums would say, "I'd like to come to the woman in the third row with the green sweater."

They asked for the person receiving the message to speak up, so they could hear their voices and then they began the message. The messages were diverse. Sometimes they were from one spirit. Sometimes there were three or four spirits around someone all coming through.

Sometimes, I believed the medium was right on, by their confidence and the expression on the face of the person receiving the message. Other times, and mostly this was with visiting mediums, I thought the medium wasn't a medium at all.

I was chosen from the crowd at one of the message services at the Forest Temple (below). Again some things made a lot of sense, and others did not. In all, though it was a really interesting experience and worth it for anyone interested in checking it out or connecting with someone on the other side.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tamara - Something prompted me to check in on your blog today and, lo and behold, how interesting it is! Was this visit to Lily Dale (which I'd never heard of, by the way) research for your next novel or just something you wanted to do? Although I've never consulted a medium, I've had several experiences where I've felt that deceased loved ones were trying to communicate - often through music.

    Hope everything is going well for you. In case you haven't seen it, I recently did an interview with Jonathan Maberry for his blog: