What is spiritualism? Spiritualism is a belief that spirits of the dead have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living. The afterlife, or “spirit world”, is seen by spiritualists, not as a static place, but as one in which spirits continue to evolve.
Where is the best place to study spiritualism? I’m not sure, but I think a good place is Lily Dale. Lily Dale is the oldest operating spiritualist community, dating back to 1879. This picturesque community, which also claims to the largest spiritualism community in the world, is an oddly fascinating tourist attraction.
Lily Dale is located sixty miles south of Buffalo, New York (close to Chautauqua). Back in its glory days, it attracted more than 5,000 visitors a day, who came by train. These days, the numbers are less than 100 a day, and visitation is mostly limited to summertime.
Spiritualism began in the U.S. in the 19th century when the Fox sisters announced they were conduits to the spirit world. Even though their claims were eventually debunked, the door to the spiritual world had been opened forevermore. Credible sources, such as former First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, admitted they believed the dead could–and did–communicate with the living.
The difference between “paranormal” and “spiritualism” is not much more than semantics.
Mary Lincoln believed her deceased husband, Abraham Lincoln, continued to communicate with her in the afterlife. Arthur Conan Doyle was also a believer. Doyle, who lost his son Kingsley during WWI, was one of the earliest members of The Ghost Club. The club’s purpose was the scientific study of alleged paranormal activities to prove or refute the existence of paranormal phenomena. The club had many prominent and credible members, such as Charles Dickens, Sir William F. Barrett, Harry Price, and Marie Curie. The Ghost Club led to the creation of the Society of Psychical Research (SPR), which was founded in 1882. The SPR led to the founding of the Committee on Haunted Houses.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Visitors can learn about the history of spiritualism and the paranormal, and participate in related activities and discussions at Lily Dale, such as drum circles, a sweat lodge, Qigong, the afterlife of Michael Jackson, and ghost walks. Additionally, visitors will find:
*two hotels with one dating back to 1880
*guest homes, campground, and RV Park
*workshops and films (see below)
*tranquility and healing temples
*psychic readings (There are 55 registered mediums in Lily Dale)
*Fairy Trail (Along the Fairy Trail, which is marked by pink fairies on the trees, visitors can keep their eyes open for fairy houses, gnome houses and small villages located along the trail. The Fairy Trail shares part of the hiking trail for Woodland Heritage).
Fairy House is one of many attractions along the Fairy Trail.
There is even a beach that is open from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. during summer months.
The list of workshops and speakers is impressive, such as Tibetan Monks, The Science of Things Spiritual, and the Amazing Kreskin.
There is a fee to enter Lily Dale but the $15 fee includes parking, all daily and most weekly activities, and all attractions unless otherwise noted on their website. Private consultations with mediums are an additional cost for those interested.
There is a sign in the auditorium that reads “We never die. Spiritualism proves that we can talk with people in the spirit world.”
For driving directions and visitor information, visit http://www.lilydaleassembly.com/general-information/lilydaledrivingdirections-map/