Consecutive Days Riding: 138 Consecutive Days Blogging: 120
Today’s Mileage: 10 Total Trip Mileage: 968
When I started this pilgrimage journey I expected that I would experience a fair degree of diversity as part of my journey. Yesterday we celebrated an important holiday for most Muslims commemorating the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. Tomorrow we will talk about a significant holiday for the Hindu faith but sandwiched between these holidays we are going to visit a pilgrimage site representing a spiritual movement which four a time had gained prominence and notoriety in Western societies.
We are visiting the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, located 30 miles Northeast of Orlando. The camp makes up a small town by the same name. The history of the camp highlights many of the most important features of Spiritualist beliefs. It was the brainchild of George Colby a young man from New York who was told during a séance that he would someday be instrumental in founding a spiritualist community in South. Reported in 1875 Colby was led through the wilderness of Central Florida by his “spirit guide” Seneca to an area with a lake and surround hills. He homesteaded the land and in 1890 deeded it to the newly incorporated Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association. Colby was reported to have TB; however, a small spring located on his homestead provided the elixir that healed him. Years later the county purchased additional acreage of the adjoining property with the goal of preserving sensitive environmental species and the historical significance of the area.
The Cassadaga spiritualist community was formally established in 1894 as a community of residents who “have chosen to share the community with like-minded people.” A significant number of the camp’s residents are mediums who offer counseling from their homes. The camp includes a temple, a healing center, a museum and various stores. The town was added to the National Registry of Historical Places in 1991, and the camp meeting Association is the oldest active Spiritualist religious community in southeastern United States. The camps webpage notes: “Spiritualism has experienced a resent resurgence of interest with the recent new age movement and has attracted many people who are searching for better way of life and wish to empower themselves and take responsibility for their life. Spiritualism holds something for everyone no matter what their religion or where they are on their spiritual path, the camp welcomes not only believers but the curious and the skeptical as well.”
Prior to riding today I spent some time reading up on spiritualism. It appears that the movement began in the middle 1800s when the Fox sisters reported being in contact with an entity that explained mysterious night time noises. This spurred an interest in the idea of “mediumship” or contact with spirits. The movement saw considerable growth in the late 1800s but spawned a great deal of skepticism within the scientific community. Spiritualism was describes as having a main focus on promoting an individual’s personal experience with God, it recognizes all prophets that come to mankind throughout the ages, it is based upon the idea that we are all to form our own relationship with God to obtain guidance, also individual must accept responsibility for our actions. Spiritualism believes in the survival of our personality after death in a spiritual form this provides the basis for mediumship. Spiritualism believes that the nature of humankind is to be good not evil, they do not believe in sin and repentance only spiritual progression by natural law.
Spiritualists believe that our purpose for being here is to evolve spiritually and then use that to be of service to others as we continue to evolve. Spiritualist also believe in what they call the expression of spirit which represents different ways in which people connect with the spiritual realm like different abilities that people have, these include: the ideas of automatic writing, card reading (such as tarot cards) healing, séances (connection with a spirits and perhaps ancestors), spirit art (artwork either created by a spirit or with directions provided by the spirit) prosthetic dreams, and trance-mediumship (where a spirit takes over the person such as in channeling).
Spiritualism seemed to have waned with the advent of science and the apparent fraudulent practices of some charlatans who wrap themselves in spiritualist clothing. However recently there’s been a renewed interest in spiritualist practices and ideas in what is now called “New Age” spirituality. I have several friends who follow many of the tenets of Spiritualism, they are happy adjusted loving parents, friends and citizens. I will leave you with a Spiritualist prayer for healing:
I ask the Great Unseen Healing Force
To help both present and absent ones
Who are in need of help
And to restore them to perfect health.
I put my trust
In the love and power of God.
Tomorrow we celebrate a joyful and colorful Hindu holiday… see you then!
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