Looking for a psychic? Don’t dial one advertised on TV. Visit Cassadaga. The Central Florida community, some 30 miles from Orlando, is the oldest active religious community in the Southeast, home to some 200 Spiritualists and mediums who live, work, and worship their beliefs. Visitors here are welcome.
The town was established in 1894 by George Colby, who, during a séance, was told he would be instrumental in founding a Spiritualist community in the South. Another group of Spiritualists, searching for someplace to spend their winters, joined him, and the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association was born.
Today, Cassadaga offers a quiet retreat from the modern world. Sunday church services are at the 1923 Colby Memorial Temple. Stay overnight at the 1927 Cassadaga Hotel. Arrange a reading or séance with certified mediums at the Cassadaga bookstore. Take a guided tour and see the historic homes where practicing Spiritualists live.
“People come for the weekend. People come for the day. They come to have readings with or consultations with mediums,” says the Rev. Ben Cox, an associate pastor at the Colby Memorial Temple. Cox also is a historian and tour guide. “A lot of people come for the peace and quiet. The community is a very peaceful place.”
Spiritualists believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible, but the religion is based not on a savior but on the belief that we are responsible for our actions and relationship with God. Spiritualists believe there is no death but a transformation to another state of being. They believe everyone is psychic, but not all psychics are mediums who can obtain information from God through a spirit, rather than through the mind or mental energy, as with a psychic.
Readings by certified mediums are not about revealing the future but God’s guidance through a spirit on matters of love, business, and family. During séances, groups of mediums gather around a table to contact the spirits, which communicate by shaking the table, drawing pictures, and sometimes revealing themselves physically, Cox says.
“It’s one of the most interesting and most enjoyable things because in a séance, people make actual contact where they are able to talk with their deceased relatives. You can actually go to a séance and have a conversation with your grandmother, and she is there and she is talking to you, and it’s evidential,” he says. “[In] most, if not all, séances I’ve done, people leave and they’re happy. They’ve been talking to their relatives, and they know their relatives are all right. There’s never any fear.”