Archive for April, 2014


Arriving in Lily Dale

   Posted by: David    in Uncategorized

Arriving in Lily Dale

Without a GPS I don’t think I could have found the very small in the middle of nowhere town of Lily Dale. As it was the GPS took me down some barely paved roads, through some towns that defined “Americana,” and into a part of my country I had never wandered.

I was astonished by how remote Lily Dale actually is.
I suppose I assumed that if the town is “famous” to me then it must be famous for everyone.
I half expected the Las Vegas of spirituality but the fact is Lily Dale is a quiet little town tucked away in the middle of nowhere.

One plus for me was that, in that part of the country, it is cooler and less humid than my home in Baltimore.
Remember this was July and it could well have been hot and sticky but instead the air was cool and fresh and the sky was clear and beautifully blue.

I remember vividly seeing my GPS read ten miles to Lily Dale.
Tall trees were everywhere.
I drove slow expecting that any moment that famous gate was going to appear.
I felt maybe like Dorothy approaching the Emerald City and I may as well have been Dorothy because when that famous gate came into view I experienced a rush of emotion.

The Main Gate at Lily Dale:


A map of the town as seen under the main gate:


Okay that’s me in the picture looking like the nerdy tourist that I was on this my first few moments in Lily Dale:


It was before eleven on Saturday morning.
I had the whole day ahead of me.
I pulled up to the gate and I was greeted by a friendly gatekeeper.
I bought a pass and drove in.

The streets are narrow.
I was driving a Toyota Corolla, not a large or even a mid-size car and yet the streets were narrow for me.

The streets of Lily Dale are not meant to be driven but walked.
There is plenty of parking but I didn’t know where the parking lots were.
I felt blessed to find the only available spot on the main lot by the town park.

I walked through the town.
I saw shingles hung from posts with the name of the resident of the small quaint Victorian home and under each name was the word “Medium.”

A few of the “shingles” I saw:




By the way, Anne Gehman is one of the finest mediums of our age.
If you have not already done so, please go out today and get a copy of he life story:
The Priest and The Medium by Suzanne Giesemann.
Yes, Anne really did marry a Jesuit Priest and the story of their love and life is amazing

I visited Lily Dale on-line before my trip.
I visited the home pages of every medium that appealed to me and I selected a few that I was interested in.

Those few I contacted well in advance of my trip and made an appointment but for most of the mediums in town an appointment was not necessary.

Each medium had a sign-up sheet siting on or near her/his porch.
All you really had to do was sign up.
But I had appointments and I had time before my first.
So I wandered the streets of Lily Dale.

I made my way to the town library.
I just happened to arrive when a film was about to be shown.
The film was “Village of Spirits,” a touching documentary of one woman’s journey in Lily Dale.

The library in Lily Dale:




For those of you that love books and libraries as much as I do – yes I was in heaven.

I was beginning to feel a bond.
I was beginning to feel at home.

Much love,

What does the Tarot have to do with the study of the paranormal in the Victorian age?

Another way of asking this question is:
Why devote one out of every five posts on a blog about the paranormal of the Victorians to the tarot?

The simple answer is that the tarot as we know it today was developed in the Victorian age. I have said it before and will say it again, if you have an interest in the occult or in the paranormal much of what you believe or think you know about these subjects is traceable to the Victorian period.

Before the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot the minor arcana were not illustrated.
Some “purists” even today prefer tarot decks the way they were before Rider-Waite-Smith but I personally gaze into the images and let the images speak to me about my sitter – that is my technique and it would not be possible without the Victorian innovation of Rider-Waite-Smith.

The flowing quotes are from Wikipedia accessed Wednesday, April 02, 2014.

‘The cards were drawn by illustrator Pamela Colman Smith from the instructions of academic and mystic A. E. Waite, and published by the Rider Company.”


Pamela Colman Smith

Many tarot historians believe that Pamela Colman Smith contributed more to the deck than she is given credit for. In any case, it is her art that has inspired tarot interpretations for the last 104 years.

“While the images are deceptively simple, almost childlike, the details and backgrounds hold a wealth of symbolism. Some imagery remains close to that found in earlier decks, but overall the Waite-Smith card designs represent a substantial departure from their predecessors. Among other changes, Waite had the Christian imagery of most older tarot decks’ cards toned down—the “Pope” card became the “Hierophant”, the “Papess” became the “High Priestess”.

“The Minor Arcana are illustrated with detailed scenes and images by Smith, again a departure from many earlier decks with much simpler designs for the Minor Arcana but aligning this deck with, for example, the Sola Busca Tarot. The symbols used were influenced by the 19th century magician and occultist Eliphas Levi.

“The cards were originally published in 1910 by the publisher William Rider & Son of London. The following year, a small guide by A.E. Waite entitled The Key to the Tarot was bundled with the cards, providing an overview of the traditions and history behind the cards, criticism of various interpretations, and extensive descriptions of their symbols. The year after that, a revised version, Pictorial Key to the Tarot, was issued that featured black-and-white plates of all seventy-eight of Smith’s cards.”

The deck went into the public domain in 2012 which is why I use the images of the Rider-Waite-Smith on this blog. My favorite deck and the one I most use in the Hanson-Roberts. The Hanson-Roberts remains faithful to the Rider-Waite-Smith but the colors and art appeals to me more than any other deck I have used or seen.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot was a major turning point in the history if the tarot and of the occult. The deck was born in the Victorian age and it continues to influence the way the cards are read and interpreted to this day.

I hope this short piece explains why I felt the tarot should be included in the subject matter or Vintage Paranormal.

Much love,