Visions of the Afterlife: article on the Lily Dale mediums

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Visions of the Afterlife
Photographs by Ahndraya Parlato
Words by Mira Ptacin

For the mediums of the Lily Dale spiritualist community, the frontier between the living and the dead is easily entered. The only difference is how they open the door.

Quote:“The most important thing is that the afterlife is around us all of the time,” says Colleen Vanderzyden, a medium and year-round resident of the Lily Dale Spiritualist Assembly. Established in 1879 and located in Lily Dale, a small hamlet of 300 people in southwest New York, the Assembly is the epicenter for the study, practice, and advancement of the religion, science, and philosophy of Spiritualism in America. Spiritualists believe in a higher power and life after death, and they believe a person shouldn’t have to go through a priest or minister or religious leader to speak with that higher power—it’s something they can do themselves. “We have this feeling or this belief, probably from older religions, that the afterlife is some far-away place,” Vanderzyden says. “Like heaven is above us...when it’s literally right next to us.”
(This post was last modified: 2019-01-08, 03:49 AM by Ninshub.)
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Book by Mira Ptacin
The In-Betweens: The Spiritualists, Mediums, and Legends of Camp Etna

Quote:They believed they would live forever. So begins Mira Ptacin’s haunting account of the women of Camp Etna—an otherworldly community in the woods of Maine that has, since 1876, played host to generations of Spiritualists and mediums dedicated to preserving the links between the mortal realm and the afterlife. Beginning her narrative in 1848 with two sisters who claimed they could speak to the dead, Ptacin reveals how Spiritualism first blossomed into a national practice during the Civil War, yet continues—even thrives—to this very day. Immersing herself in this community and its practices—from ghost hunting to releasing trapped spirits to water witching— Ptacin sheds new light on our ongoing struggle with faith, uncertainty, and mortality. Blending memoir, ethnography, and investigative reportage, The In-Betweens offers a vital portrait of Camp Etna and its enduring hold on a modern culture that remains as starved for a deeper sense of connection and otherworldliness as ever.

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