I recently stumbled across an article about the spiritual community of Lily Dale in upstate New York. It brought back a bunch of memories about a trip that I took there a few years back, which I feel like revisiting.

If you’re not familiar, here’s a quick refresher: Lily Dale was established well over a century ago as a community of spiritualist mediums. The area itself (north of Buffalo – and a long-ass drive from my home in New Jersey) has a long association with Native Americans and has great energy. This is one reason why it was chosen. It’s a favorite destination of anyone seeking spiritual growth.

Pretty, isn’t it? Yes. Yes, it is.

The community is tiny. You need to park your car outside of the neighborhood and walk in. While there, you can take classes, attend lectures or daily public “message services” where the mediums deliver words from loved ones on the Other Side.

More importantly, you can avail yourself of any of the dozens of mediums who live and work inside Lily Dale. In order to nab one of the cute little Victorian homes dotting the streets, mediums must go through some rigorous vetting. It’s reportedly like the world’s toughest hazing ceremony. So customers have pretty high hopes for the quality of the readings. Especially after said “long-ass drive.”

When my friend Janet and I finally got there, we felt the “energy” of the place immediately. We checked into their ancient hotel, then started poking around up and down the tiny streets

The resident mediums hang out a shingle, letting you know they’re available for a walk-in appointment (some of the more popular ones require advance bookings). Janet and I had agreed beforehand that if one of us went in first for a reading, we’d give a discreet “thumbs up” or “down” to let the other know if it was worth following on.

Over the weekend, we each did a few readings, some together, others independently. Most were perfectly fine – nothing mind-blowing, but nothing that especially sucked, either.

But there was one reading that DID stand out – and not in a good way. Janet went in to a young woman’s parlor while I waited on the porch. When she emerged 30 minutes later, her eyes were wild and she was subtly shaking her head in my direction. The medium had a smile on her face, like “Next?” – but I was up from the lawn chair and off the porch before she knew it.

Turns out, this reader did something I am vehemently against, as are most readers that I know of: she had told Janet that she was dying. Of cancer. I’m still mad, just writing that. SO irresponsible, and you know what? Not for her to put that in someone’s head. I spent the rest of our time talking my friend off the ledge – and came very close to writing a letter to whomever chooses the Lily Dale readers.

A psychic reading is very intimate, and the client is especially vulnerable at the time– they open themselves to the reader. Health issues are especially dodgy; when people ask me for that kind of information, I’ll do an energy scan, but I always, ALWAYS tell them that if they have specific concerns, go see a doctor, not a psychic. ‘Cause we are far from perfect.

And I’m always aware that you don’t want to put anything negative in their psyche.   Because we can easily create some bad “juju” if someone else tells us that’s what’s on the menu. This is essentially how voodoo works – or any other “mind control” method, for that matter.

Now, while I personally wasn’t overly impressed by Lily Dale’s readers (and hey, they’re entitled to having an ‘off’ day), I also feel for them: the history and standards about the place set up some insane expectations.

To balance it out, there were some positive things about my visit to Lily Dale: several “otherworldly” moments where I connected with spirits on the Other Side; many ghostly experiences in the woods around the place, learning about the earliest days of the spiritualist movement – and evidence of the interactions from those times (check out the onsite museum).  Plus, when I got home, I was “inspired” to adopt my kitty, Pyewacket (long story –but Lily Dale def had a hand in the decision).

My kittyboy lounging in the sun.

I think my main takeaway from my visit to Lily Dale is that one needs to maintain their own power; psychic-mediums can provide powerful insights, and that’s what most of us strive to do. For clients, it’s tempting to hand things over to an “expert.” But in the end, all of us are responsible for our own life. This is why each of us is here: to make the best of the lessons handed to us. Psychics can provide guidance, but you need to pull the trigger. Or not.

So my message to you is this: don’t be too dazzled by the reputation of any psychic, psychic place or spiritual summer camp. Keep it in perspective. Psychics are not magicians; we are human. So take what you get in a reading and use what rings true to move you forward – not freeze you in a place of fear and powerlessness. You should NEVER leave a reading feeling hopeless or scared. You should come away feeling ready to kick some ass.

How I want you to feel when you leave my office. “Rawr!!!!!”

 

PS — I just finished an interesting book about Lily Dale.  Find it here.

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