I admit it, I’m a horror writer.
Ah, yes, so nice to come out of the horror closet. I ride Haunted Mansion repeatedly when the creative juices seem to be stemmed; Tower of Terror to celebrate a decent novel completed by some famous writer that hit this reader’s spot.
But sometimes, well, that writer’s block is something of a bear. Sometimes, when you see smiling faces, all you see is, yes, smiling faces.
Ugh. Those faces should be screaming! It’s a scary story!
And when you look to the ocean, you see beaches, not the lurking monsters underneath the rolling waves!
When those moments grace my portal, I find that Florida has just the ticket.
It helps, immensely, that the first caucasian settlers to this hemisphere pretty much anchored their futures right here on the peninsula that is Florida. You have heard of St. Augustine, correct? Which is great if you love history.
And terrific if you want to find old places where the hinges creak and the floors groan.
Now, I know my audience here. I’m not going to try to spook you or give you the heebie jeebies. Nor am I going to grace your own doorways about philosophies or which ghost hunting program you should watch.
Just giving you another option for something that’s a bit far off the beaten path.
I came to the hamlet of Cassadaga wholly by accident. I had not heard about it until moving here and I found myself in need of purchasing incense. I then realized that many of the books about self-actualization and New Age-y stuff was lacking (heck, books…in general here in the Deep South). I suppose that was a given. I had just moved from Colorado where such things tend to proliferate in the hills and dales of the Rockies. Here? Nothing. A friend of a friend mentioned the locale and a few google searches I stumbled upon the mystery that is Cassadaga.
Dare I call it a suburb? A development? It’s formal name is the Cassadaga Spiritualist camp and it was established by George P. Colby, a spiritualist seer, and was established between 1875 through its current acreage in 1895. And it shows, should you visit during the daylight hours. There’s no parking lot, per se, just gravel before the hotel, the largest of the buildings in the area. In fact, there’s also a central auditorium, a Temple, a healing center, and a welcome center.
I have to admit, it’s tiny, but it’s so unique that it is attractive.’
If you’re into those kinds of things. What brought myself and my colleagues was that inspiration that comes with the campfire ghost story. This is the place where visitors attend to get their fortunes told, visit a seance, or, in our case-the spirit photography tour.
Is there something to this? I dunno, maybe. They even have a warning on their website that even GPS don’t always find the teeny, tiny hamlet.
When you go, you will notice the homes on the edge of the town are normal, average, sprawl. But as the groves of pine increase, the homes become more and more original, their structures independent to the known sites you’ve experienced. As mentioned, the grid and lines of our everyday life are castaway and the results are picked up in our collective subconscious.
Read: It’s a bit eerie.
Some of the house even have spirit doors. Doors located on the second floor so they may enter the home at will. The particular night we went, the cold had set in (well, cold for Florida) and visitors were scarce. The bar at the hotel seems to have a fairly devoted clientele, as the usual drunken yelps echoed down onto the few parked cars. We found our tour guide startled about our arrival, but she was completely committed. You have to pay in cash and upfront, but as a frequent visitor to so many tourist hotspots, there was a comfort knowing we were actually giving cash to a volunteer.
They have a separate history tour, given during the daylight, which one may opt for, but the highlights of that tour was incorporated here. She even put out flashlights for us behind her, with the bulbs ill-fitting, to see if ghosts were about.
See, ghosts affect energy fields. If they are close, the flashlights will get surge of energy, supposedly.
She began to show us photos from previous tours.
Orbs, my dear readers, orbs. Now I know from my own research about this specific phenomena. Around numerous paranormal hot spots, people using cameras tend to pick up images of orbs-small balls of light. What I didn’t know and our guide explained, is that there’s different meanings and structures to different ones.
But the pictures moved towards the spookier side.
Small shadows of impish silhouettes; body shapes that may have just been a trick of the light were also sometimes picked up. One, right there in front door window, an outline of a woman, possibly in Victorian dress.
BOOM, I’m interested.
This is where the inspiration starts. Do I agree? Does one believe?
Does it matter?
The tour begins and we head out. Cats abound (something to keep in mind), but, like their ancestors, they add to the overall feeling. And since the town is it’s own relic, statues and stoneworks edge and eek out all over the terrain. The tour guide points the way and encourages you to take as many pictures as possible.
She even takes you to Lake Helen’s shore where two perfectly placed palm tree, she mentions, possibly form a portal.
To the other side.
Yeah, you bet I stood there.
But that? That’s the place for another story. But, yes, there is a thrill there that you won’t find on the embankments of any upside down roller coaster.
She even took us to one room of a previous medium where seances are still being held by the professional community of psychics.
Now, pause for a second as you are reading this. Did you grin from ear to ear? Or did you just say, “no way, not that!”
That should be your deciding factor if a visitor to the Spiritualist Camp is for you. I also recommend a decent dose of open mindedness. They’re used to vocal skeptics and disapproval, that much is evident and they did seem to jump to the defense quickly. And they should not have to. They are just giving a tour. Sure, it’s creepy, but they aren’t going for a Halloween Horror Nights situation. They’re just illustrating a philosophy. And your enjoyment will be greatly increased if you are willing, for even short while, to open your mind.
And no, a ghost won’t follow you home.
What was that noise? Is that an orb behind me and my awesome hat?
PS: If you think you’d like to try, I’d actually like to go again. I don’t recommend it for kiddies, either, it’s in the dark, outside, looking for ghosts. Think about it.
The website: http://www.cassadaga.org/default.htm
Contributor: Joe Triggs-Smith