The Writing Traveler: Come Speak to the Dead

The county sheriff is hardly ever needed unless some outsider comes to harass the meek who meditate in the pines and talk to the dead.

THERE IS AN unusual feeling of tranquility in the unusual town of Cassadaga, located on the side of the road between Orlando and Daytona Beach. The houses with high-pitched roofs and the buildings – simple and austere – all seem to have come from another time.

There is a distinctive feel of New England among the Spanish moss of Florida.

The business signs, attached or swinging, advertise mediums and psychics and spiritual counseling within the thirty-five-acre camp of Cassadaga, where spiritualists call home.

Cassadaga itself has no police department, no doctor, no hospital, no school, no fire department, and not really enough water to put out a fire if there was one.

Caleb Pirtle III

When there is any trouble, if there is any trouble, the county sheriff drops by, but he’s hardly ever needed unless some outsider comes to harass the meek who meditate in the pines and talk to the dead.

George Colby was led to the land of the seven hills in 1875 when bad health ran him out of New York. He journeyed by train and by boat to the blue springs of Florida and found shelter with a few other stranded travelers inside an old palmetto shed.

Seneca appeared without warning in the dull glow of a kerosene lantern and told George Colby that one day Spiritualism would be recognized as a religion. One day Spiritualists would have their own community within the land of the seven hills.

Colby had been a medium since the age of twelve and wasn’t particularly surprised to see Seneca. It almost scared the rest of the travelers to death.

Seneca had been dead for a long time.

Nonetheless, they all followed the old Indian in a mule wagon to Jenk’s Place and reverently established the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association.

It was a lonely, out-of-the-way place that allowed them to hide away, find peace, and have their daily conversations with those who has already made their journey beyond the grave and to the summer land, to the other side of life.

The troubled, the worried, the grieving, the tormented, the frightened, the lonely, the confused, and the haunted can always find their way to Cassadaga’s humble doorstep.

Sometimes they come under assumed names just so no one beyond the boundaries of the quiet little town will ever know they’ve sought the advice of a psychic or perhaps let a perfect stranger carry on a personal conversation with a loved one adrift somewhere out there in the spirit world, if a spirit world does exist, and it must exist, or they wouldn’t all be coming to Cassadaga in the first place.

That’s the belief, and usually the prayer, and sometimes the last hope they have.

You can read the full story of Cassadaga in my travel book, Confessions from the Road. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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