click to enlarge img_7238.jpg

Photo by Moriah Russo

Spiritualist community Cassadaga is one of the overlooked treasures of old Florida 

If you're heading up I-4 East on a lazy summer weekend and suddenly the thought of jostling for your two square feet of space on a crowded Daytona or New Smyrna Beach gives you premonitions of disaster, then friend, you need to reward those budding divination skills and get off on the Deltona/DeLand exit to take the road less traveled to Cassadaga.

Cassadaga – the oldest and most active community of psychics and mediums in the United States – was founded in 1875 by George Colby, himself a medium, and has endured and thrived in the years since. Dubbed the "Psychic Capital of the World," Cassadaga circa 2017 is still a can't-miss destination for the psychically sensitive or curious traveler who wants to see a very different side of Central Florida's living history.

Cassadaga is not a tourist destination, per se. The community is quiet and compact – light-years away from the sprawl of, say, International Drive – and the residents, though eager to ply their psychic trades, do not make spectacles of themselves. But there's no shortage of interesting shopping, scenic walks or opportunities for varying types of readings and predictions – including tarot and oracle card readings, aura readings, astrological readings and psychic healers – that are a great way to while away a summer's day ... or change the very course of your life, perhaps?

Start your journey into the unknown at the Cassadaga Bookstore & Information Center (1112 Stevens St.). It's your one-stop shop for crystals, candles, new age music, esoteric tomes, jewelry and, crucially, a good amount of self-published pamphlets, tracts and books that go into the history and philosophies that underlie this town. You can also pick up a house phone in the building and reserve appointments with nearby psychics, and check out bulletin-board postings from local mediums.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MORIAH RUSSO
  • Photo by Moriah Russo

As you're exiting the bookstore, we recommend you take a free map and go for a wander; it's going to yield unexpected delights. On our perambulations we encountered the Fairy Garden – a fascinating mix of folk-art assemblages and sincere tokens to sprites all orbiting around the Fairy Throne, a charming and very oversized chair perfect for reclining and surveying your kingdom – the Eloise Page Meditation Garden, and local landmarks like Harmony Hall and the Colby Memorial Temple. Since most mediums and psychics in the area operate out of their homes, the lawn decor and paint jobs of many of the buildings are pretty quirky and amazing. So there's really no such thing as a wrong turn.

Your trip's not complete until you perch in the Devil's Chair, so take a leisurely stroll over to the Lake Helen Cemetery – also the final resting place of many of the original residents – and sit a spell in the frankly sinister stone throne. If you're in the mood for something a little more bucolic, Colby-Alderman Park (1099 Massachusetts St.) offers some meditative natural quiet. Note that guided historical walking tours – or "Spirit Encounter Night Tours," if you're made of braver stuff – also happen daily for those interested in more context and colorful yarns.

Aside from the bookstore, another recommended shopping spot is the Cassadaga Psychic Shop (460 Cassadaga Road), which, in addition to a large selection of crystals, herbs, smudges and charms, also offers in-house psychic readings and aura photography.

If, at the end of a long day of discovering truths about your inner essence and receiving messages from deceased loved ones, you're hungry (or you decide that one day in Cassadaga just isn't enough), hie thee to the Cassadaga Hotel (355 Cassadaga Road). A beautiful old lodge-style building that merges Twin Peaks with the old South, the building is notable for elegant decor, a small cadre of psychics and tarot readers on call, and the one restaurant – and piano bar – in the area, Sinatra's. (Oh, and it's apparently haunted ... of course.) Somewhat at odds with the usually ethereal thematics of Cassadaga, the restaurant has a certain charm – augmented by a full bar and a surprisingly large menu.

As you either head back home or press on to DeLand in search of further amusement, it doesn't take a psychic to see that this won't be your last trip to Cassadaga.

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