Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Spirits In the Material World

Taking a break from fiction, I picked up a nonfiction book in my local library. Written by Christine Wicker, a report for the Dallas Morning News, the book is titled Lily Dale: the true story of the town that talks to the dead. It is the account of her experiences in Lily Dale, NY, as well as those of others she met there.

Lily Dale is one of the oldest and largest Spritualist communities. It is the home for many mediums and healers, and the tourist destination of thousands every summer. The book is an open, honest account from a person who went into the experience as a total skeptic and came out of it knowing a bit more about herself.

I grew up in Dunkirk, NY, just shy of a dozen miles from this community on the Cassadaga Lake. Ironically, I never have been there though I've known about it most of my life. My brother and my cousins worked one summer up at the cafeteria in the area back in the early 80's while I was still in high school.

I must admit that I've always been fascinated by the prospect of mediums and those spirits who communicate through them. I do believe that there is something beyond our mortal time on this world, and I am open to the prospect that those that move beyond their physical forms might be able to channel their energies back to those on this plane of existence.

I know there have been occasions where I've felt the presence of spirits around me. I already mentioned in this blog the Ouija board experience we had one summer. And a year or so ago when my wife converted to Catholicism we were at the Easter vigil where the new members joined - as I stood behind my wife as her sponser, I felt the presence of my grandparents, feeling their pride over the occasion. I've even had visions of departed family members in my dreams, providing information or guidance on things or assistance in finding things that are missplaced.

I think perhaps next time we return to western NY, we just might take a little trip up route 60 and pay the Dale a visit.


KC Ryan said...

The Dale is... interesting.

Although I suppose I do have some beliefs in this area.... such as my relatives looking over me or somesuch... I tend to think that communities like this arise out of people willing themselves to believe in the fantastic so hard that things seem to be true.

While I suppose it's a great place to get your fortunes told - many of my Buffalo friends did this with the same seriousness as one of those Zoltar booths at the county fair - I think the people are knowingly or unknowingly convincing themselves something is going on when there actually isn't - sort of like watching David Copperfield.

None of them have been able to perform their mind-reading or fortune telling stunts in a controlled environment, for instance.

That being said, I know a few people who evidently did believe in that sort of thing. I never said a word to discourage them - after all, people find belief in all sorts of places.

It's an interesting place, all right.

Martin Maenza said...

KC, from what I got from the book, most of the serious spiritualists don't fall into the category of mind-readers and fortune tellers. They simply act as conduits for the spirits to speak to others.

And, I don't know so much about them being unable to "perform" outside the controlled environment. The book mentions that the town tends to have an abundance of energy, hot-spots if you will, that make the communication more easy to establish. Sure, that can be hype too - but who knows if there is any truth in any of that, eh?

I also agree that those who want to truly believe might be able to readily convince themselves of something greater going on than there is. It did appear from the book that people who are more receptive and open to the messages might get more out of them than those who are not.