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Amelia Islander

Cassadaga – The South’s Largest Spiritualist Community

Apr 08, 2015 02:00AM
Just two hours southwest of Amelia Island as the crows fly, is Cassadaga, another island of sorts where truth seekers, psychics and mediums have flocked for over 120 years to communicate with spirits of the dead. Author and photographer, Gary Monroe, will tell you all about this unique community on April 23 in a program sponsored by Friends of the Fernandina Beach Library with support from the Florida Humanities Council. His program will provide a humanistic and scholarly look at this fascinating but often sensationalized religion and community.

Cassadaga which borders the town of Deland, was established as a spiritualist community in 1894. According to its website, Cassadaga today consists of approximately 57 acres with 55 residences. “Those who reside here have chosen to share in a community of like-minded people where they can live, worship and work in harmony with their beliefs. About 25 of the Camp’s residents are mediums who offer counseling from their homes.” There is also a meditation garden, healing park, spirit pond and a bookstore/information center where you can purchase tickets for tours including Nighttime Encounter Spirits (ORBS) Tours where you’re encouraged to bring your camera to take pictures to reveal energy orbs.

Monroe is the author of several books including Cassadaga: The South’s Largest Spiritualist Community, published in 2000 by University Press of Florida. A popular lecturer with the Florida Humanities Council’s Speakers Bureau, Monroe documents socially unique aspects of Florida through photography and writing. His work has earned grants from the Fulbright Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. His 2001 book, The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters, is often credited for the rise in popularity for these overlooked artists and their artwork.

The event is Thursday, April 23. The evening includes a reception with the author from 5:30 pm to 7 pm, and the program which starts at 7pm. Both will be at Café Karibo, 27 N. 3rd Street, Fernandina Beach. Tickets are available at the Fernandina Beach Library, 10 N. 4th Street, Fernandina Beach. Tickets for the entire event are $25 each: a limited number of free tickets are available for the program only. For more information, visit http://fernandinafol.org/category/events/.

Photo courtesy of Gary Monroe.