A Visit to Lily Dale

Olean (N. Y.) Democrat, August 9, 1892.

The Spirit Land.
Interesting Account of Doings at Cassadaga Camp.

     A correspondent writes from the spiritualistic camp grounds at Lily Dale, Cassadaga Lake, to the Bradford Era as follows:

    The novice in spiritualistic phenomena who for the first time visits this temporary home of the Spiritists, Theosophists, Faith-healers, Christian Scientists, Clairvoyants, Astrologists, and all phases of mediumistic communication with the inhabitants of the spirit world, witnesses a unique condition of social life.

    The sign over the archway of the entrance gate is “Cassadaga Lake Free Association.”  This is a correct description of the doings of the association.  Everything goes.  There is absolute freedom in belief, expression, appearance and action.  The materialist, atheist, spiritualist and theosophist promulgate their theories without interference from any one.  The present social conditions of life are berated with a freedom of expression actually startling to an orthodox pilgrim who hears such theories for the first time.  With all these differences in belief there is a uniform friendliness and courtesy between the dwellers in the camp and the crowds of sight-seers and curious people attracted here by the stories of wonderful spiritual manifestations.

    In appearance there is the same diversity apparent.  Intellectual looking people and the reverse throng into the auditorium to hear the lectures and enjoy the concerts.  Long-haired men and short-haired women congregate in these beautiful woods.  Along the shores of the trio of lakes women of the world with brilliant drug store complexions and flashy men stroll beside sweet-faced Quakeresses in robes of gray.  The old fashioned country maiden and her escort covered with dust, who have driven many miles, dance in the same set with the exquisitely robed summer girl and her dudish partner.  Ascetic looking old men with patriarchal beards and melancholy looking females flit from medium to medium.

    These are called investigators and they are subdivided into earnest investigators after truth, curiosity seekers and malicious meddlers, according to their credulity.  The truth seeker is a believer in all he sees and is told.  The curious persons are those who merely wish to see what is going on and the malicious meddlers are so called because they insist upon examining and finding out for themselves whether the phenomena produced is not done by natural agencies.  Unfortunately before many days your correspondent was listed among the latter class.  The result was the spirits boycotted me.  No communication could be obtained by any medium in my presence.  The most occult and electrical medium became impotent at my appearance.  They were willing and even anxious to communicate with the spirits on my behalf but all in vain.  They squirmed and sweat and remonstrated with their “control” but all in vain.  These mediums have a very peculiar method of addressing the spirit which they raise from the “vasty deep.”  They usually address them in the same manner that an older person attempts to talk to a young child in a sort of half coaxing, half reproving manner.

    All the psychic entertainments and phenomena of modern spiritualism is now in full blast and the mediums are reaping a rich harvest.  Some times they come to grief but their embarrassment is but temporary.

    A materialization séance came to an abrupt termination one evening during the present week at the Keelor, a fleshy earthly looking individual.  One of the “ghosts” raised by this medium in the semi-darkness came out of the cabinet where the medium and her husband had been tied with ropes in the early part of the evening.  One of the Buffalo parties, Dr. Wilson, who was very alert, seized the apparition.  Some of his friends quickly lighted a match and there struggling in the arms of the unterrified Buffalo man was the medium; “only that and nothing more.”  After some very bad language by the medium ghost and some ugly threats from the friends of the medium, the show broke up.

    “But surely,” said the novice to the board of directors of the association, “you do not permit such palpable frauds to stay within your encampment.” The reply was astonishing.  “There are frauds in every organization under the sun, and we cannot undertake to weed out the fraudulent medium.  One may be a genuine medium in slate-writing and a fraud in materialization séances.  We endorse none of them.  The investigator pays his money and takes his choice.”


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