Friday, July 27, 2007

Lily Dale, City of Light

by Cathy Anderson Corn

Note: Blog written while still bleary-eyed from whirlwind trip to Michigan to visit ailing parents.

We enjoyed the Festival of Mystery this past May. In our travels from author table to the next, we happened upon Wendy Corsi Staub, an enthusiastic novelist with sixty novels to her credit. Much to my delight, she authored In the Blink of an Eye, a fast paced page turner set in one of my favorite places in the whole world--Lily Dale, New York. Wendy's characters are well-developed, the plot intricate, and her writing spell binding.

Back to Lily Dale, though. It's only a three hour drive from Pittsburgh and a half hour beyond Chatauqua Institute. Chatauqua is much larger and grander than Lily Dale, which sits beside a tranquil little lake. Lily Dale's summer cottages aren't kept up as well, and you can find moss on some of the roofs. It's a Spiritualist camp, started in the 1890's, and those who've studied do hands on healing and operate as mediums.

A medium brings messages through from the other side. They talk with dead people, many times relatives or friends, sometimes pets. They offer no guarantee as to who will come through for you, and you may not hear from the ones you want. The spirits decide who comes forth.

This you can do via a private reading or one of their public sessions. My favorite spot is the Inspiration Stump service, with its benches set back well within a forest of tall, ancient trees. Usually five or six mediums do several readings each, picking people from the crowd.

I've been read several times over the years. A few weeks ago, I received a message from medium Peggy Rogers from my maternal grandmother. She said I'd changed a lot over the past twenty years. I've come from a mild, please-everybody-else person to someone who operates independently and takes on leadership roles. Another medium gave Alan and me a tandem reading, saying our heart energy was especially strong and Alan's father (deceased many years) blessed our union.

Lily Dale offers workshops during the season mostly, teaching everything from Reiki to healing with stones to sweat lodges and ghost walks. And of course, probably the most important place within the gates is the Crystal Cove gift shop. Quite a treat, and you don't want to miss it. And the cafeteria's important, too.

Mostly, I treasure the sense of peace I always enjoy there, the rest and relaxation of this lakeside community from the 1880's.

But of course, I don't think there have been any real murders in Lily Dale, just the fictional ones of Ms. Staub. The killer wouldn't have a chance, for the spirits would certainly tell on him or her.


Anonymous said...

Cathy -

I agree - Lily Dale is a fascinating place, even without a murder mystery. With the little houses and old winding streets, it feels like stepping back in time a hundred years or so. And, although I'm generally scared of ghosts, I spent two nights in the old haunted hotel without any problems.

Anonymous said...

I've never been to Lily Dale, though I've heard a lot about it. Your blog has inspired me to go! I'm planning my training schedule for 2008, which means I have to block out my vacation schedule for next year, and all the places I want to go on vacation next year (Hawaii, California, Florida) I can't afford. But maybe I could go to Lily Dale! What sort of places are there to stay?

Anonymous said...

Gina, was it the Maplewood Hotel you stayed in? I've always stayed at the Leolyn Hotel just outside the gates.

Tory, besides the two old hotels (no heating or air conditioning) there are maybe eight of the cottages that rent rooms on the grounds. We're trying a new place in August. There probably isn't enough to do there for a long period of time unless you're taking workshops, but there's Lake Erie and the Presque Isle bike paths on the way up and back. I have an extra Lily Dale catalog for this year if you want it.

Anonymous said...

This isn't exactly the same topic, but close. How many of you believe in the use of psychics to solve crimes? Are they for real or not? Do they really help?

Anonymous said...

Lee, that's a hard one. I think a lot of people pick up true psychic impressions, but those impressions are like dreams -- multi-faceted, couched in symbols, and very difficult to accurately interpret. And I find it hard to believe that anyone can accurately focus psychic inquiries.

I've had many psychic experiences myself, but none have involved solving crimes, although I did participate in a group attempt shortly after 9/11 to psychically locate Osama bin Laden. As you may have noticed, he is still at large.

Anonymous said...

To follow up on my last comment, one of the best explanations of the focused use of psi I've ever read is River Dreams by Dale Graff (, who was involved in Project STARGATE. That was a Dept. of Defense program that explored the use of psi for military intelligence.

Anonymous said...

We just did Lily Dale last weekend. There were 4 of us, two of us have been there before, and the other two have not. We all paricipated in the Healing Temple, walked down to Inspiration Stump, where two of us felt severly light-headed the closer we came to the stump.
As we were all headed toward the exit of the woods, the light-headedness... discipated. It was a very weird feeling.

We also brought a picnic lunch with us, which we shared down on their little beach.

We each had a reading done by seperate mediums, and we were very impressed by the information that was conveyed to each one of us.

I don't know, but I think there's something special about Lily Dale.

It's a very quiet, calm, peaceful, and relaxed feeling while you're there. Neither one of us could explain it, but we were all very tired when we decided to leave in the late p.m.

We all plan on going back again next year.
Of course, I would definitely NOT recommend going to Lily Dale if you're someone who needs to be constantly entertained.

Anonymous said...

Try staying at Jewel on the Lake it's awesome! We have tried different places but this guest house seems to be the most comfortable.