Haunted Lighthouses

What it Takes to be a Medium in Lily Dale









Sarah Durn writes all about Lily Dale for Altas Obscura:

From the outside, this small, rural community in upstate New York looks like many others in the state. Victorian cottages cozy up to one another in various shades of green, white, and yellow. Large red oaks dot sidewalks, stretching their long limbs into a vibrant canopy. But look a bit closer and you’ll start to see the “Medium Open” signs or stumble upon the Healing Temple or the community’s pet cemetery. Welcome to Lily Dale, America’s oldest Spiritualist community.

Lily Dale was founded in 1879 basically as an adult Spiritualism summer camp. People would come, set up tents, and then wait for the dead to arrive. Seances, message services, and classes followed. Back in the late 19th century, Spiritualism was flourishing, with more than a million followers. Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, actress Mae West, even Thomas Edison (maybe) all joined in. The basic tenet of the religion is that “life is continuous—in other words, we never die, we just change states of being. As a science, Spiritualism is committed to proving the continuity of life by communicating with spirits who have passed on,” writes Lily Dale medium Janice Dreshman.

What began as that tented summer commune now is a small hamlet, with about 250 permanent and semipermanent residents, many of whom are registered mediums. For about $80 to $100, you can sit down with a Lily Dale medium as he or she relays messages from family members and friends who’ve passed on, at least until your half-hour is up.

All Lily Dale mediums are members of what’s called the Lily Dale Assembly, made up of members from around the world. And while all members are Spiritualists, not all members are mediums. Some members live and work in Lily Dale. Others don’t. All members can vote on Lily Dale building decisions, community matters, and who is elected to the Assembly’s Board of Directors.

The Board doesn’t allow just anyone to waltz in and start giving readings, though. Lily Dale requires all mediums to go through a rigorous testing process to be registered and allowed to set up shop. Today, there are 36 registered mediums at Lily Dale. Some, such as Gretchen Clark, have grown up in the community. Most, though, have bought homes and moved in. Regardless, all the mediums at Lily Dale had to hone their skills and pass numerous tests before they were allowed to charge visitors for readings.

In the early days of Lily Dale in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, becoming a registered medium “was based totally on competency,” says Elaine Thomas, a registered Lily Dale medium for 37 years. If you could talk to dead people, you were in. To become a medium today though, “there’s a lot of volunteerism,” says Dreshman, who’s been a registered medium since 2005. Many of the programs on offer at Lily Dale are only possible because community members donate their time.

Read more here.

Maybe this is the year to try it yourself --The Spiritualists' Handbook: A concise and extensive guide to Spiritualism and all its practices

Norway's Demon Wall

Atlas Obscura reveals the existence of a strange wall in Norway called The Demon Wall. Read this to understand its history:

The demons are tiny, and legion. Scowling, tongue-flicking devils, no bigger than a thumbnail, and strange animals pile together in a tangle of dog legs and rabbit ears, each smaller than the next. The lines of the painting are so fine that the tiniest figures seem to pull the viewer into an infinite Satanic menagerie.

The story of how the demonveggen, or demon wall, came to be is as strange and disturbing as the mural itself. It’s a tale of scandal, fraud, and possible madness that begins with Gerhard Gotaas, one of Norway’s leading conservators of the mid-20th century. His work preserving and restoring medieval church art was wide-ranging and respected. But in 1940, when he entered a small village church in Sauherad to restore centuries-old artwork, he saw demons. Researchers determined earlier this year that, instead of reviving a 17th-century painting, Gotaas actually spent two years creating a monstrous mural from his own imagination. That revelation is just part of the story, however. Scant and contradictory clues only deepen the mystery of what might have possessed him to create the hellish image.

“We couldn’t believe it. We were shocked by how much he really did,” says Susanne Kaun, a conservator at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage (NIKU). Kaun undertook the demon wall investigation with her colleague, art historian Elisabeth Andersen. Through archival research and scientific analysis of the mural itself, the team discovered not only that Gotaas invented the demons, but also that he destroyed all remnants of the original art, painted more than 300 years earlier. “That’s really the most shocking thing, from a conservator point of view,” says Kaun. “He found something there that was old, and he painted over that. He changed what he found. He has to have known what he did.”

Obsidian ‘Spirit Mirror’ Used by Elizabeth I’s Court Astrologer Has Aztec Origins

This from the Smithsonian Magazine -

An obsidian “spirit mirror” used by John Dee, an advisor to England’s Elizabeth I, traces its origins to Aztec culture, a new study published in the journal Antiquity suggests.

A Renaissance polymath whose interests ranged from astronomy to astrology, alchemy and math, Dee advised the queen from the start of her reign in 1558 to the 1570s. As court astrologer and scientific advisor, he advocated for overseas exploration and the establishment of colonies.

“Later he became involved in divination and the occult, seeking to talk to angels through the use of scryers (those who divine the future), who used artifacts—like mirrors and crystals,” the study’s lead author, University of Manchester archaeologist Stuart Campbell, tells Ashley Strickland of CNN.

Today, the British Museum owns the mirror, which is on display in London alongside two similar circular obsidian mirrors and a rectangular obsidian slab that may be a portable altar, reports Tom Metcalfe for National Geographic. Researchers had previously suspected that the artifacts originated with the Aztecs, and the new study confirms this chemically.

Read the full article here.

Great Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

Happy holiday





Are you stumped for a great gift idea this year? Here is my list for a range on interesting and illuminating experiences for a very special person in your life ... including yourself.

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Learn about Aromatherapy with

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Enter the world of Astrology with

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Get into Numerology

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Learn the Tarot

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Treat Yourself (Or Others) to a Reading

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