Cassadaga, at first glimpse, looks like a quaint town steeped in nature, but within its confines, it accommodates brilliant mediums with amazing powers.
The spirit world has always held a huge attraction for believers across the world. For such people, Cassadaga, a town in Florida, is an incredible place that will surely answer all their queries. This town is the home to a large community of spiritualists and mediums that help people connect with their loved ones on the opposite side. But Cassadaga is much more than a haunt of spirits. It has its own culture of more than a century, per CNN. The quaint town has spiritualism deep in its roots.
Apart from the mediums, the most eye-catching thing about the town is its closeness with nature. It is surrounded by oak trees draped in Spanish moss and filled with Victorian-style homes popping out because of their bright colors. Most of the civilians in this town work as mediums, helping people to connect with the dead. Moreover, it is home to the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp. This community follows the religion of spiritualism.
The camp's press kit describes spiritualism based on the "principle of continuous life," which is revealed via Mediumship. The members believe that life is continuous and even after death, mediums can connect with the spirit because of this "continuity." They believe in the strength of God, Jesus and the Bible but do not promote principles like a "Savior-God philosophy” that involves the devil or “falling from grace."
The town did not wake up one day and found itself knee-deep in mediums. There is a proper history associated with this movement and its establishment in this place, which dates back to the 1840s. The tales suggest that the first mediums were a pair of sisters who began knocking on people's doors to show them their power. As the numbers grew, the mediums began to face opposition from the church, which accused them of witchcraft. Amidst these attacks, Florida's Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp in 1894 started to grow.
It was founded by a New York Spiritualist named George Colby, who shared that he had been led to the place by a spirit guide, "Seneca." He was previously a member of Lily Dale Assemble, which exists even today. The spiritualists in the town approach the phenomenon as both religion and science. The camp believes that spiritualism "investigates, analyzes, and classifies facts and manifestations of Spirit." The manifestations can happen with a medium or in a group setting where individuals seek a connection with the spirit world.
For the tourists in town, three essential places to visit are the 10-room Ann Stevens House, the Hotel Cassadaga, and the Andrew Jackson Davis Educational Building/Bookstore. These places will give people a glimpse into what is the real Cassadaga. People can feel the history of the town, its association with spiritualism, and respect for spirits. The bookstore also has a thick binder containing details about 35 mediums offering their services to the public. Tourists have to go there and choose the one they feel a connection with for their services. "Look at the bios and select the person that you feel as though you're gravitating to," said Deb Jordan, a 66-year-old certified medium and healer who sits on the camp's board of trustees. "We prefer people select a medium based on the person aligning with who you are."
The town raises belief as well as doubt. Lloyd Lightsey was astonished with what he felt at this place. "I went in kind of like, 'Okay, prove to me what you're doing,'" Lightsey said about a Sunday afternoon Grove Service he later attended where mediums connect with people they choose from the crowd for an impromptu reading. "My son and I did the readings and we both had somebody come through," he said, recognizing his deceased father in the medium's detailed description. On the other hand, a county worker of Colby-Alderman Park thinks it is all "horoscopes."
One of the camp's mediums and healers, Richard Russell, swears by the authenticity of the mediums in this place. He shares that to be a practicing medium in the town, one has to train for years. "Most of my business is referrals. If you don't have the gift, people won't come to you," he said. "The camp takes it very seriously to weed out people who do not have any spiritual gifts."