I heard about Lily Dale, NY many years ago and was immediately drawn to going there. But when I looked at the map, I found it was hours and hours away from New York City. Still, the place stayed in my mind and last weekend, I finally made the trek there.

Now I wished I had visited sooner.

Lily Dale is a community of around 300 spiritualists living in a gated village by the Upper Cassadaga Lake. The site was founded in 1879 as meeting place for Spiritualists and Freethinkers and slowly grew into a beautiful hamlet of Victorian houses, bourgeoning gardens, assembly halls, and churches. Picture a place of picket fences, hydrangeas and lilies, manicured lawns, and a tremendous sense of peace. I don’t believe there is any place quite like it anywhere else in the world.

Lily Dale is truly a village: four main streets and nine cross streets lined by the most gorgeous houses. Every other house has a sign that says “Medium, so-and-so name,” and you are welcome to knock on the door and find out if there are any availabilities for readings. But you’d better book ahead if you want to have a chat with your loved ones on the other side, because when we visited the mediums were all fully booked. Many of them are fourth or fifth generation mediums. Not anyone can just come to Lily Dale, put up a sign and start giving readings. In Lily Dale, the mediums have to pass several rigorous tests before they are accredited and given the right to serve the community and its guests. However, if you are not satisfied with your reading, apparently the Lily Dale Assembly will reimburse your cost.

What makes Lily Dale different from other spiritual centers I’ve been to is that everyone is friendly and welcoming, and so many of the activities are free. There’s a Healing Temple for free hands-on healing. There’s an Inspiration Stump and a Forest Temple for free messages from beyond. And you can attend the daily Thought Exchange where the public may ask questions about the mediums and the assembly. Of course you can also spend time in the meditation garden or the library. These are just a few of the many free activities. Although you can also pay for specific all-day or half-day courses, Lily Dale is not a money pot or a scam. The place doesn’t exist only to rip you off, it’s founded as a free state for spiritual people.

Lily Dale a perfect place to spend a summer weekend and recharge. I’d recommend it to anyone who is open to their faith. But don’t just go there for a reading, stay a couple of days and get to know the lovely locals. You won’t regret it.

We stayed at the lovely guesthouse Wishes Fulfilled.

The Transmigrant is for sale at the Lily Dale Bookshop.

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