three days in lily dale

I’m just back from a road trip to Lily Dale, New York.

I can’t remember when I first heard of the Lily Dale Assembly, but I know that since hearing about it, I’ve wanted to visit.

For now, I’m going to resist the urge to write about the history of Lily Dale and modern Spiritualism (the good and not so good) - there are plenty of resources if you’re interested in the movement and how it’s tied to women’s suffrage, or how what began as a community of Freethinkers became a religion.

I very well may write about my thoughts on all of that later, but for now, I just want to share my experience.

I traveled with my mother (who was perhaps a bit hesitant to visit a Spiritualist community, but like me, had a transformative experience there.)

We stayed at the Amber Tree Inn.

In all of my travels, this goes right up to the top of my list of favorite places I’ve ever stayed. It was so beautiful, so peaceful, and our hostess was a lovely and gracious person.

(Imagine salt lamps in every room and calming music playing in the background and the Sacred Heart of Jesus and stillness.)

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I felt an energy shift immediately upon entering the Lily Dale gates. In fact, it almost knocked me off my feet.

Lily Dale felt crystalline, angelic, high vibe, if you know what I mean, but not in a flighty or insincere way.

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As I made may way up and down the streets, admiring the houses and the gardens, I felt as if a town had been created just for me.

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This is how I like for a place to look, and feel, I thought to myself. This is the feeling I’m always trying to cultivate.

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The residents zip around on golf carts, cats perch on roofs and roam undisturbed in the streets, living their best cat lives.

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There is a beautiful fairy trail in the woods. The Buddha is everywhere.

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During our stay, we sat on the tiny beach by Cassadaga Lake and ate good meals at the Bough House and Monika’s Delights.

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I was awestruck by this row of houses, known as The Three Sisters.

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I found the people of Lily Dale to be grounded, gentle, and joyful.

There was no fear in the air, no pretense.

Just love.

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I began my mornings with breakfast at the Inn, then a latte from Lucy’s - the most perfectly sweet coffee shop you can imagine. (My mom had the coconut cake.)

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Fortunately, on our first afternoon in town, we were able to attend a message service at Inspiration Stump.

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Rain moved the rest of the services during our stay into the auditorium, which was also interesting. How often do you get to sit in a Victorian-era auditorium where Susan B. Anthony spoke at least six times?

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In all, I attended three messages services, a church service, and a healing service in the Healing Temple.

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If you’ve only ever seen mediumship on television (or a gallery at a psychic fair,) or had Reiki in a therapeutic setting - I urge you to reserve judgement.

What happens at Lily Dale is different.

It isn’t a show. It isn’t entertainment. It is worship.

Readings and healings are done with reverence, in service to God. All sessions are opened and closed with prayer.

When people say Love and Light in Lily Dale, it doesn’t sound like affectation. You truly feel love and light.

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When I first arrived and was acclimating to the energy, we went to Inspiration Stump and took our seats. I always feel a sort of pressure around my heart when I am doing intuitive or energy work. As more and more people took their seats and we drew closer to the start time, I began to feel that heart pressure feeling - only with more intensity than I’d ever experienced. It was powerful. There was so much spiritual energy - so many people in the etheric coming in around us - I almost had difficulty breathing.

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Throughout my whole stay, I felt a lot of energy moving around my crown and upper chakras, but I didn’t feel the ear pressure weirdness I’d been experiencing before the trip.

At the same time, I slept quickly and deeply, and woke up refreshed, though I couldn’t remember my dreams.

The message services were validating and moving, but I was perhaps most deeply moved by the healing service.

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We were ushered into the small chapel with abstract stained glass windows and blue walls. There was healing music playing and four healers, dressed in black pants and white shirts, sat in meditation in the front of the room.

After the opening prayer, the healers stood up and the usher guided us, row by row, to go forward for healing.

I received beautiful, loving Reiki - perhaps the most beautiful hands-on healing I’ve ever received, then went back to my seat to meditate until the closing prayer.

It was a humbling experience, in part because the healers were so humble.

I moved through something in that chapel I’ve never known before. I’m not ready to share it just yet, but I’m sure I will soon. Suffice it to say, it was powerful.

There is a phrase often repeated in Lily Dale, after messages and healings have been delivered - Thank you for allowing me to serve Spirit.

Indeed, Spirit is served there.

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You have probably heard the Dalai Lama or Tich Nhat Hanh say that Buddhism is not a religion that precludes other religions. Buddhism doesn’t exist in contradiction to your Christianity, it helps you become a better Christian.

This, is how I came away feeling about Spiritualism.

I heard nothing, experienced nothing, participated in nothing at Lily Dale that was in contradiction to my religion, or what I believe to be true about God.

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I left Lily Dale feeling renewed and slightly rearranged and inspired by the calm, gentle bravery I witnessed.

I left feeling hopeful.

And in some way, healed.

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I realize I’ve presented a rosy, somewhat idealized version of Lily Dale. I’m certain that like any community - spiritual or otherwise - those who live and work there encounter difficult personalities, egos, conflict.

I’m sure there’s darkness, as there is everywhere.

It’s just that I didn’t experience that during my three days there…at all.

Not at all.

I’m grateful for this experience, which I’m still processing, and probably will be for a while.

And I’m already planning my return trip next season.

Love & Light

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