Lily Dale, A Town Where the Spirit World Rules

July 8, 2005

A Town Where the Spirit World Rules


AS the rays of afternoon light filtered into her comfortable reading room, Sherry Lee Calkins swept a piece of brownish chalk over a large piece of drawing paper, a dreamy look in her eye. “There’s a short man in the room, wearing a cap with a tassel on it,” she said. “He’s a Scotsman. A grandparent or great-grandparent.”

She turned her attention toward what appeared to be an empty spot on her powder-blue carpet. “What?” she asked. “Use the orange? O.K.” She put down the piece of brown chalk, picked up an orange one and began drawing again. Amorphous shapes formed on the paper as she switched to the aqua and then the green, occasionally looking off to one side to share a laugh with the invisible Scotsman.

He was the one, she told me, who was doing the drawing – he had taken over her hands.

This time I was the client, but allowing spirits to direct her artwork is something Ms. Calkins said she had done about 10,000 times in the past 18 years. And studying these drawings for clues into her clients’ pasts – and futures – has become her occupation. She’s a spiritual medium, practicing in America’s epicenter of spiritual mediumship: Lily Dale, N.Y. Spirits guide just about everything in Lily Dale, a village of colorful Victorian gingerbread houses on small, placid Cassadaga Lake, near the Village of Cassadaga in a rural corner of New York State closer to Cleveland than to New York City. Since it was founded 126 years ago, Lily Dale has been populated and run by Spiritualists, members of a religious group that combines a reverence for “the God of your own understanding” with the belief that the living can communicate with the dead.
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Spiritist Magazine Features Precipitated Paintings

Precipitated Spirit Painting Article by Ron Nagy
Precipitated Spirit Painting Article by Ron Nagy

Precipitated Spirit Paintings are works of art produced through the mediumship of the Bangs sisters or Campbell brothers in the years from 1894 to about 1911 during séances in the light. No human hand was used—the entire process was by spirit communication. An iridologist examined the eyes of several of these, one of which was a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln.

The method of reception was much the same as the Bangs sisters’, except that the canvas was placed on a table, the paints placed in a receptacle beneath the table, then the table was covered with black cloth to eliminate the light, leaving the frame and canvas alone exposed.

The Campbell brothers sat with the sitters around the table with hands on the table to produce a concentrated battery. The picture was then precipitated in full view of the sitters.

The picture of Lincoln has been often copied and is considered a remarkable likeness of the great emancipator whose Spiritual development is a marked feature in this picture.

Facial Diagnosis:

Lines on forehead might indicate a circulatory system problem. This man has many vertical lines at the bridge of his nose. This is considered a liver sign, could indicate an angry person. The liver holds the emotion of anger. The horizontal lines at the bridge of the nose indicate an insufficiency with the pancreas, sugar metabolism. Dark coloring in the corner of the eye indicates spleen insufficiency (possibly anemic).
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