Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp: A Community with Spirit

By Selene Green, Bookstore Manager

How many of you have heard of the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp in Central Florida, halfway between Orlando and Daytona? Even though we are only five minutes off I-4, and have been internationally billed as “The Psychic Capital of the World,” there are many even in our own vicinity who don’t realize that there is a 3×6 block village founded in 1894 that is totally occupied by mediums, healers and Spiritualists!

How did this come to pass? Our story started with a Spiritualist medium named George Colby from New York who was directed by his spirit guide, Seneca, to travel to a specific spot in the few rolling hills of Central Florida (almost everywhere else around us is flat) and establish a southern Spiritualist community similar to the one in Lily Dale, NY. He came by train, steamer and horse, and in 1875 began building. He soon had help, mostly from residents of Lily Dale, and in 1894 they were able to incorporate as the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association (SCSCMA), naming it after Lake Cassadaga, the lake which Lily Dale bordered.

Here we are, 130 years later, still going strong as a Spiritualist community with over 30 resident mediums and healers who not only provide readings and spiritual healing, but a multitude of classes, workshops, tours and other events to spread the word about the continuity of life after death.

The SCSCMA is a 501c3 religious organization because Spiritualism is a religion. It is also a philosophy and a science based on the belief that Life continues after the transition we call Death and that it is possible to communicate with those on The Other Side. In Cassadaga we have the beautiful Colby Temple where we hold church services that include sermons, hymnals, fellowship and even Lyceum (an adult Sunday School) like all churches but our services also include meditations and short message services. Colby Temple also holds separate longer Message Services where all attendees receive short spirit greetings from our Certified Mediums. All services include spirit healing sessions from our Certified Healers.

Certified, you ask? What does that mean? Well, you can’t just show up in Cassadaga and say you are a medium or healer and get to put out a shingle. We are known and respected for our Certification Program that is very comprehensive and can take 4-6 years to complete depending on one’s other demands for their time. A student in either program must be background-checked, peer-reviewed, do free demonstrations with feedback for the duration of the program, and take classes and workshops during those years, including mandatory Platform and Ethics classes. That is a big reason we get visitors from all over the world and are solicited for films, podcasts, articles and student projects on an almost weekly basis!

Back in the ‘80’s, the Spiritualist Camp started a Lending Library, lending out Spiritualist books to its members. That became popular enough that in 1987 a retail bookstore was created. The Bookstore prospered and grew, eventually doubling in size and then doubling again to the current 1700 square feet and expanding to include all aspects of Spirituality, not just Spiritualism. We consider ourselves a mecca for Seekers of all kinds and have the largest Spiritual Bookstore in the Southeast.

My background was always in bookstores. Although I have a B.A. in Sociology from the University of South Florida, I worked at B. Dalton Bookstore and got convinced by my first District Manager to become a manager at a failing store in the chain. I ended up being good at it and loved it so much I stayed and got promoted to larger and larger stores. When B. Dalton went out of business, I was lucky enough to be able to immediately transition to Borders and I again got promoted to larger and larger stores. Unfortunately, Borders went out of business in 2011, but once again luck was with me as that same month the Cassadaga Bookstore lost its manager and needed a new one. I had been visiting there since the ‘80’s so I was very familiar with it. I applied and was immediately hired and it has been the perfect job for me these last 13 years. I grew it from a $300,000 store to a million dollars in 2021. These past two years haven’t been as fruitful due to the national economy, but we are still going strong.

Although books are our mainstay, our top sellers in other categories include crystals (both raw and tumbled and separately or in sterling silver jewelry), incense, sage, candles, Native American items, Eastern statues and products, angels, fairies, mermaids, dragons, tarot and oracle cards, greeting cards, chimes, suncatchers, apparel, and artwork from local artists. One of our best-selling items is our T-shirt that proclaims “Cassadaga, where Mayberry meets the Twilight Zone!”

So now that you know all about us, we hope you will come visit us, both in person and at our website, www.cassadaga.org or on Facebook, Instagram or Tiktok. As fellow Spiritual Retailers, we know you will feel right at home here!

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