Lilydale: expected Medium, got luke-warm

September 1, 2016

Prayer Tree at Lily Dale.

Lily Dale is an old-timey spiritualist community in western New York state on Cassadaga Lake, just a couple hours from my hometown of Rochester, NY.   I came to my interest in New Age well after I’d left Rochester, so I’d never been. But the idea of visiting a community of spiritualists, healers, mediums was irresistible, so while I was in Rochester, the sisters of my heart and I decided to take a ride.


Flowers and cute little bungalows everywhere.

The community was founded in 1879 by Spiritualists and FreeThinkers. Spiritualists believe that spirits of the dead can communicate with the living–and want to– so I suppose that makes me one.

Lily-DaleI’m not much for organized spirituality, but I love the idea of a community that shares many of my beliefs.

Energy healing is another big part of Lily Dale and we got there in time for the noon healing in the Healing Temple.


Healing Temple at Lily Dale.

Some half a dozen energy healers worked their magic on people one on one. We each had a healing. No cost, just an offering if you’d like to leave one. Outside the temple was a bowl of pastel-colored ribbons. Visitors could write their intentions on the ribbon and tie it to the prayer tree, which was gorgeous. (see photo above)

Two of us had made appointments with mediums. And therein lies the real story.

Expecting Medium, got lukewarm

I had something I wanted to discuss with my father in spirit, so I was looking forward to seeing the medium I’d chosen at random a few weeks earlier and had scheduled an hour with. When I got to his beautiful, flower-covered bungalow it was about 2pm. Our scheduled session was at 2:15.  He was in the doorway, ushering in a woman for a reading.

“Are you Carol?” he asked.  When I said I was, he responded, “You’re now at 2:30” and went in his house with this other client, a walk-in. Immediately, my stomach clenched. If this medium wasn’t willing to honor the appointment we’d made in advance, should I really see him? Was he ethical? Troubled by my visceral reaction to his casual and rather rude rescheduling, I sat on the bungalow’s comfortable porch. The man seated next to me began a conversation about ayahuasca, Rainbow People and all things new age. I watched the clock, all the while thinking “I don’t have a good feeling about this medium.”

At 2:30pm there was no sign of him. At 2:35, some 20 minutes past our original time, I stood up.  The man on the porch said, “Why don’t you give him 5 minutes?”

“I gave him five minutes,” I said, “and he’s actually 20 past the appointment we made two weeks ago.”

“Oh,” the man said. Oh, indeed.

At 2:40 I left without regrets. I didn’t feel I needed to leave a note of explanation or to call. I was pretty sure he’d picked up my vibe about the last minute reschedule. Sure, I’d wanted a reading, but only with someone I thought could connect. This guy? Not so sure.

I know that there are requirements to be a “registered medium” at Lily Dale that include rigorous testing by giving readings to the board of directors. Still, this guy’s attitude was at odds with how I would guess spirit would want someone to treat people. And there was something else: The reading one of my companions got from another medium wasn’t all that on target for her. It was, however, on target for her sister, who was elsewhere in the community looking around. So I’m a little on the fence about mediumship at Lily Dale and will stick to the mediums I know, who are specific, sharp and on target when they read–and who are there at our appointment time.

Workshops might be another matter. I saw intriguingones on the schedule for this summer. I’ll keep on eye on future events and perhaps one day will take a workshop.

Overall, it’s a charming community and there are worse things than spending a summer afternoon in a flower-filled community of spirit-driven people.

So: have you ever been disappointed by a New Age practitioner?













18 comments on “Lilydale: expected Medium, got luke-warm
  1. T.O. Weller says:

    I have never been to Lilydale but have heard a lot about it. So sorry you had a luke-warm experience.

    I’ve had the same sort of thing happen to me in the past … only I didn’t walk away. Good that you did because it likely wouldn’t have gotten any better.

    Like you, it’s the workshops that intrigue me most. Let me know when you’re going and maybe we can meet there! 🙂

  2. I’d never heard of the Cassadaga Lake spiritual community before this past week when I started reading a novel called Rise the Dark by Michael Koryta. And now your post. Hmm…it does sound intriguing, even if your experience was less than stellar. Thanks for the glimpse!

  3. Anna Palmer says:

    I think your expectation for timeliness is warranted. If he had been graceful and explained the reason that the walk in had to push back your appointment I am sure you would have had an entirely different reaction. Once again communication is the key.

  4. Diane says:

    I always feel someone who treats you with courtesy is worth a little courtesy back. Those who don’t . . .? Well, you made the right decision. That community sounds charming. I love a spiritual place. So peaceful. So healing.

  5. sue says:

    I’ve never been to a medium and unfortunately, I think that the medium you were booked to see could be an indication of how some ‘mediums’ view their gift – as a business rather than helping others. We have communities like this in Australia and I’m sure you would love Byron Bay in Northern NSW. Alternative lifestyle and beautiful surroundings.

  6. My sister and I planned to visit Lily Dale the last time I was in NY. I can’t remember why we never went.
    I’ll try to say this without sounding crazy. As someone who talks to spirits on a regular basis, spirits rule. They decide to whom they will speak, what they will say, and when. One spirit will let another spirit ‘cut in line’ so to speak if it’s very important. When spirits are determined to come through, they will. In my opinion, a medium has little, if any, control over that. The spirit who communicated through the medium your companion saw may have believed the information was best passed on via her sister.
    Mediums who think they have the control are fooling themselves. Spirits have free will, too. They aren’t required to say anything at all, but we wouldn’t know that from watching mediums on TV unless they are taking their cue from the spirit rather than someone in the audience.
    Having said all that and from your description, the medium you were scheduled to see should have handled the situation with great care and a much better bedside manner. He showed little concern for you…that’s so wrong, and I’m sorry you were treated in such a fashion. I’ll bet your father was sorry too.

  7. candy says:

    I love visiting historical places and learning about the past. Guess I will enjoy your photos and have to be happy since I won’t be going soon.

  8. Even as a person who used to give readings to the public, I’ve had more disappointing encounters with mediums and diviners than I’ve had positive experiences. Unfortunately, the best readers are usually those who don’t advertise and who are difficult to find.

  9. I’ve never been to Lilydale, but certainly know of it, and it was lovely to see your photos. I’m sorry your appointment experience was a disappointment. On the plus side, your stomach clenching immediately sounds like you got a signal right away that this wasn’t a good fit. Yay for body clue information.

    I had some extraordinarily wonderful experiences with various spiritual practitioners, but only one I’ve been disappointed with.

  10. Sophia says:

    That prayer tree is really pretty and unique.

  11. Cathy lawdanski says:

    Looks like a beautiful place.I have a problem with people who do not respect my time, so would likely have reacted the same way you did.

  12. Marie says:

    How frustrating! I’m so sorry this happened to you. At least you got to enjoy the beautiful grounds.

  13. GiGi Eats says:

    You totally did the right thing and I have done the same thing as you in the past. You should ALWAYS listen to your gut, generally it has your back! And in this instance, I think it really did.

  14. Liz Mays says:

    I would have been rubbed the wrong way with that and walked as well. I’ve never done the New Age thing, but this vibe carries over to everyone.

  15. I haven’t ever done anything like that. I am sorry you didn’t get to have your appointment. Sounds super unprofessional of him.

  16. Valerie says:

    I love this concept and have never been. I’m sorry you didn’t get your appt. That stinks.

  17. I take it as a fortunate sign that you engaged with the medium upon your arrival. Had you not and were forced to sit there without an update on the reason for your appointment running late, you might have stayed. Your reading would have been disappointing and meaningless. Good on you for having the gumption to read the situation correctly and then leave. I would hopefully have done the same.

  18. Maya says:

    This so isn’t my thing, but glad you tried it…sorry the outcome wasn’t so pleasant 🙁

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