Seance Over Bloomfield Avenue


If you suspend your disbelief, it appears that the dead have lots of things to say to the living and they’re saying it on Tuesday nights in an office above CVS on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair.

That’s when the Montclair Metaphysical & Healing Center holds its weekly seance nights, attended by psychics, psychics-in-training and members of the public who come either out of curiosity or in hope of reuniting with the dearly departed.

I went last night and appear to have been visited by my maternal grandmother who, according to Lee Ann LaRocca, a co-founder of the center, apologized for some of the things she blurted at the end of her life when she suffered from dementia, and asked me to thank my mother for the excellent care she had given her.

An old friend of mine also appeared to one of the psychics with a message for her daughter. There is a lot of message taking at seances.

Here’s how it works. A number of folding chairs are arranged around a table with a black cloth, a candle and a goblet of water. The lights are dimmed. Lee Van Zyl, the other co-founder of the center, asks people to turn off their cell phones and uncross their arms and legs (limb crossing blocks the energy), then leads the group in a meditation. We are asked to imagine light pouring down our bodies and to imagine lotus flowers opening up in our various chakra centers. There are a number of psychics in the room, she tells us.

There is no hand-holding like in the movies. No loud crashes.  “We’re relatively boring compared to that,” says Van Zyl. “We don’t do the whole drama thing.”

What happens next reminds me a little of cards. The psychics begin to feel or see or hear the departed and announce little details. Sometimes they see someone standing behind a seated participant. They describe what they are seeing or hearing and then ask, “Can someone take that?”

I’m seeing an older man, named John maybe, who lived out in the country. I see a picket fence. He’s kind of spry, lots of energy. Maybe his name was Peppy, he was called Peppy at some point. Can anybody take that?

In this case, nobody recognized Peppy. Although his message, to somebody who had stomach problems, did sound like it was meant for me.

There’s an older woman, Catholic, very religious, named Margaret. A young boy with sandy hair. Someone who died falling backward on his head. Someone named George who wore a hat and liked to fish.

Some departed pets showed up too.

Even the most skeptical person in the room (me, last night) has to admit that the seance makes you acutely aware of the dead in your own life. Even people you didn’t expect to hear from.

“The whole point of mediumship is that we’re alive,” says Van Zyl.

Van Zyl mentions that the center does “spirit rescue work,” holding “crossover” nights to help people who’ve died but haven’t been able to cross over to the other side.

“They’re stuck,” says LaRocca.

She says she feels “very dedicated” to her psychic work and is happy to provide just “one drop of comfort” to the bereaved. “I couldn’t imagine losing somebody and never seeing them again.”

Even so, the psychics enjoy some of the more mundane concerns, and six of them went in on a Mega Millions lottery ticket last night. Alas, they could contact the departed, but not divine the correct six numbers to win the $355 million. Last night’s winning Mega Millions tickets were sold in Idaho and Washington state.

Montclair Metaphysical & Healing Center is located at 516 Bloomfield Ave. in Montclair, suites 2 and 3. In addition to seance nights, they hold many different workshops and teach people to become psychics. 973.866.0192

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  1. Belief in all that’s mystic requires a suspension of reason, imo. I have a few friends who swear that they’ve contacted the dead. One in fact who carries a tape of his seance where he met his wife who departed this world last July. It makes him happy but it creeped me out when he suggested I might like to listen to the tape. She’s given him permission to go on with his life which includes finding a new lady love. Just dandy!

  2. Love this – didn’t know there was such a word as “mediumship.” There’s a storefront psychic in Maplewood Village I’ve always been intrigued by…perhaps there’s a story there too. Debbie, I have to ask – was she right about your grandmother (or anything)?

  3. “They describe what they are seeing or hearing and then ask, “Can someone take that?”

    Oldest trick in the book. Get a group (the larger the better) speak in generalities and someone can usually “take it”.

    “I’m seeing someone old, who had dementia, she was short with grey hair. She loved her family but wants to apologize for things she said….”

  4. I had a good experience there a year ago with really good proof from my brother who died two years ago. I was (am?) a skeptic. They named him by name & nickname, said the way he died (throat cancer), and referred to a private joke between him and me. They gave me a message from him that helped me to heal, to find peace, and make some sense of his death.

    Everyone has their own ways of dealing with grief. They seemed cool and made me feel better. They didn’t charge a lot and they didn’t try to hook me into anything else like what I’ve heard my other friends say about some others out there.

    Thanks for the article.

  5. I am a believer in the paranormal and believe that some people are gifted with a sixth sense. I would very much be interested in attending one of these seances.

  6. >RoC…Dig a little deeper into your psyche. It’s quite a bit below your political everyday level but it’s there in the deep downs.

  7. A long time ago I did some writing about seances and mediums (and no, I wasn’t trying to contact the shade of Millard Fillmore, or even of Spiro T. Quayle). And I quickly learned one very important lesson: give away NOTHING of yourself, not even in the mere act of nodding. Leave all ID at home too, and be prepared to lie if necessary.

    This is not to automatically dismiss all alleged psychics and their, uh, “revelations” from beyond. But it is to caution that almost all of us seriously underestimate just how rotten, how sneaky, how outright abusive and intrusive “mediums” can be when given just half the chance. It does come with the territory, whether it’s at Lily Dale, Cassadaga or even Montclair.

    So much of this business is mere simple psychology and parlor tricks. (One could have become a passable medium a few decades ago just by ordering a few choice books from the old Johnsom Snith catalogue, then practicing.) And owes much even to guesses about the randomness of, say, first names of both humans and pets and of religious affiliations. While there may indeed be folks who can genuinely contact the dead out there (Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Deborah Blum’s book of a few years ago does in fact get into this), they are surely few and far between. Likely not atop a CVS on Bloomfield Avenue.

  8. We can all access our esp, quite easily in fact. Have always believed in the paranormal, I never had the desire to have a reading of any kind. Almost a year ago I accompanied a friend to Lee Van Zyl’s Medium Development class at the center figuring I would learn something. In two hours I gave a full and acurate psychic reading and shortly after that we were all bringing through spirit for each other- with proof. I am still amazed-Who Me? MMHC offers many services, but it is a school for those who want to develop their natural abilities. Space is then provided to practice and use what you learn. Seance night is one of those spaces. An interesting and often spectacular evening at a minimal cost for the public and practice with the public for mediums/psychics in development, along with professional mediums Lee and LeeAnn. No this is not the movies. Sometimes the messages are more specific than others, sometimes the message is not understood for several hours or days. Sometimes the information is so clear and direct it is truly thrilling. I am still in awe that I can communicate with loved ones and help others do the same. The experiences at MMHC have expanded awareness in all aspect of my life and I could not imagine my world today without access to these abilities.

  9. That’d be a fun thing to attend around Halloween with friends. But why’d they have to split a dollar lottery ticket 6 ways? I don’t have a crystal ball, but it seems like they should maybe charge $20. instead of $15. if they intend to ever buy another mega million ticket.

  10. @Tudlow….Wow! Your harshing our mellows. There’s no ESP? There’s no afterlife? Kabbalah? Blessed trinity? Man, am I bummed out. Seems like life is just one big 3 card monte to you. Your shell game’s empty…Everyone, just move on, nothing to see here.

  11. PAZ, may I suggest you just buy a telescope and gaze at the distant stars, planets and moons. They are real–yes, real! And although they have nothing to do with yours or anybody else’s personality, they sure can instill a sense of wonder and magic. (And I can tell you like the moon just by your super cool gravatar.)

    Or, if you really want an exercise in the suspension of disbelief, read up on quantum mechanics. (Also real.)

    But this stuff, blah, it’s garbage. Whatever gets you thought the night, though, I s’pose.

  12. THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL BULLETIN published in the early nineties the results of experiments around ESP done in the 70s. This particular experiment argued strongly in favor of the existence of ESP. I am unconvinced. I do think that certain persons can and do show an enhanced ability to anticipate actions or outcomes, and that many people can even be “trained” to develop this enhanced ability. But sitting around in groups “chatting” with dead folks? I don’t buy it.

    Though I do at times feel like I’m doing exactly that whilst reading some posters here.

  13. Until a few years ago, New Jersey’s own Princeton University had a department for studies of the paranormal, where they actually spent their days trying to bend spoons and read the backs of playing cards. I don’t believe these scientists ever detected in their reams of data a signal that rose in any statistically significant way above the level of noise, but they tried mightily for years, until the center closed, I believe, for lack of funds. But it was possible quite recently to be a professor of the paranormal at Princeton. We’re not talking Kansas, people, but the Ivy League!

  14. Aw shucks, Dag, thanks! HNY to you, too. 2011 is the year of the rabbit and I’m picking up from the rabbits and stars that it’s going to be a good one for you! (It’s just my sixth sense talking here.)

  15. Perhaps Humphrey you are referring to Dr. Jahn’s work with the PEAR project at Princeton. This is hardly a case of a “professor of the paranormal”. Dr. Jahn’s background was in aerospace engineering, and while PEAR looked at the role played by various aspects of human consciousness, in no way can it be said that there were “professors of the paranormal” at Princeton nor, for that matter, at ANY accredited American institution of higher learning that I’m aware of.

  16. Why just this very morning, on the front page of the venerable New York Times, I see news of a peer-reviewed paper coming out in a well-respected scientific journal showing proof–experimental proof, akin to the discovery of a new elementary particle or quasar or infectious agent–of ESP. I suppose that’s a step removed from communing with the dead, but only a step.

    Thank you for digging up the acronym, croiagusanam. Princeton never quite elevated the paranormal to the level of an academic field in its own right, it’s true. But scientists labored under its good name studying it, even though they sanitized the name somewhat with language about “human consciousness.”

  17. Again, scientists at Princeton considered elements of ESP along with various and sundry other areas of human consciousness. That, in fact, was only one part of the inquiry. In the same way, I might add, do scientists investigate and discuss dozens of theories and possibilities in virtually ANY field but do not necessarily endorse those theories. That is good scholarship. It remains a fact, however, that “professors of the paranormal” exist perhaps at Hogwarts, but nowhere else worth mentioning.

  18. Just because we can’t “see” something in a traditional fashion doesn’t mean it does not exist. This goes for those who believe in a supreme being as well. You have your faith and you don’t need any physical evidence to believe.

    I have visited psychics in the past, some good, some not so good. There was one woman in particular who lived near Keansburg, NJ, who was spot on. Very difficult to get an appointment with her but it was worth the wait. She would “read” you for an hour and somethimes ask you to bring photos of key people in your life. This woman didn’t know me from Adam. I didn’t share with her any details of my life, didn’t reveal the names of the people in the photos or who they were, but she was spot on, giving me initials of first names and facts about them that only I would know.

    Some readers use Tarot cards, some look at your palms (I am not a big fan of that), some will hold your hands.

    So yeah, it’s not all bunk. Are there charlatans out there? Of course, as there are in any practice or profession. So you have to do your homework, read up on it, talk to people who have received good readings. If someone charges an exorbitant amount of money, beware.

    Communicating with the deceased goes deeper than just “chatting with dead people.” Usually, the deceased will communicate with you through a medium unless you yourself are psychically gifted.

    For me, I would like to know if my late mother is in a good place, if she’s OK, if she knows how much I love and miss her, that’s all that matters to me.

  19. You may believe whatever you like. You can believe in ET or trickledown economics or any other questionable theory you like. But as far as “communicating” with the dead? Sorry, I don’t buy it. What you are “communicating” with resides in your own psyche. The dead are dead, and have nothing to say on the subject.

    The analogy with faith is a fair one, though some might argue that the very existence of the universe and particularly of life on this planet is a sort of “proof” of a creator or originator. That view certainly holds more water for me than tales of mediums channeling Aunt Sally in a room off Route 22.

    But if anyone IS going to talk to the dead in the near future, please try to find out where my uncle John left the keys to the shed. We’ve been looking for 21 years now.

  20. Mrs Marta one must first believe in the concept of a soul to accept your premise of it’s continance after death.

  21. Well, I’m not sure how I feel about all this, but I did visit an Animal Psychic last year (through an invitation from a friend who who running a fundraiser through a Bergen County rescue group). I didn’t expect much, but the woman gave me some very accurate details about one of my cats who had passed away…

    Am I convinced? Well, not completely, but at the very leaat, I’m keeping an open mind.

  22. MM, a belief in the soul does not imply an acceptance of seances, etc. In the same way, a person with s strong religious view does not necessarily have to accept — indeed, I’d argue that most do not — the “gifts” these sorts of people claim for themselves.

    I’ll stick with the wisdom of Shakespeare’s Ophelia –“We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.”

  23. Yes, I would guess that any belief in a life hereafter and connecting to them must employ the concept of a soul. I don’t believe in either. Along with the disintegration of the physical being after death, thoughts, spirit, the mind or what some call soul goes too.

  24. Me thinks the skeptics “doth seem to protest too much” and I wonder what kind of challenge or deep inner fear the mention of spirits and the continuation of life elicits for them. If something is not for you, then it’s not for you. Don’t get me wrong, you have to give skeptics their due, they serve a purpose in keeping things honest or we may still be living on a flat earth. There was a time when the mention of a giant metal machine flying through the clouds would have seemed like total paranormal hokum as well. The linking of spirit and science has just not been fully bridged yet, but it is well on it’s way. If any of the nay sayers dared to do some research they would find a multitude of doctors and scientists who are fully on board in bridging that gap. Dr. Gary Schwartz, a Harvard grad and professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale has been one of those pioneers. I have met him personally. His experiments with mediums held in his Arizona lab have been conducted under the most stringent of testing criteria and provide much evidence to irrefutably support the existence of mediumship. Read some of his books if you desire to challenge some of your parameters. And Cathar…..where WOULD one find the legit mediums if not on Bloomfield Avenue? Hollywood, a huge ashram somewhere, on Montel Williams perhaps? If you knew anything about the work, then you would know that those who work quietly, under the radar for little or moderate fee, usually have the most to offer.

    ‎”Skepticism rants and raves or raises a chilly eyebrow while reality patiently stands there, waiting for all the fuss to die down”.

  25. “Why not? They are providing a service.”

    So does the Snake Oil salesman.


    it’s all fine an good as entertainment or religion. But when you start taking payment and promising contact with the spirits, you’re ripping people off.

  26. The Great Oracle of Wiki tells me that Schwartz left Yale in 1988 long before his, uh, current scientific studies. (I’m sure they’d have thrown him out).

    Also the Oracle seems to indicate the guy uses less than acceptable methods and won’t open up his data to challenge.

  27. That’s your opinion ROC, just like it may be my opinion you were ripped off for the over priced sneakers you bought recently or the high priced meal you had that wasn’t worth a fraction of its cost. Opinions are like A**H***s, everybody’s got one. In the end, they don’t add up to much. We are all the navigators of our own ships and thus we go with what resonates or speaks truth to us.

  28. PS – Schwartz left Yale in quite good standing because he obviously had more important things to do. 🙂 You may want to refer to a more reliable source than wiki for your info.

  29. “That’s your opinion ROC, just like it may be my opinion you were ripped off for the over priced sneakers you bought recently or the high priced meal you had that wasn’t worth a fraction of its cost.”

    It’s actually quite easy.

    If they give me sneakers in exchange for money we could discuss the value and quality.

    If they took my money and then told me the ghostly sneakers were already on my feet but only a “medium” could see them, then I’ve been ripped off.

  30. Your pomposity, aurora, is the equal of your ignorance.

    Of course people can believe what they like. Attempting to link science to this sort of thing is a parlor game, nothing more. I’d venture to say that I’ve read much more research in this area than you have, and so have virtually all of the others who are “skeptics”. Believe what you want to believe, but shelve the nonsense about skeptics.
    As far as flight is concerned, your “research” should give indication that efforts to create machines that can fly have long been a part of the human story. But machines, you see. That we can build. Hardly the same thing.
    But thanks for an entertaining if ultimately useless scold.

  31. Maybe aurora is on to something. How many of you have seen a string that vibrates in 11 dimensions? Or an atom, for God’s sake? Yet we believe in those things. Why not believe in ghosts? I’ve had several objects go missing in recent years that I have always attributed to my dear mother, may she find her way one day to heaven.

    I have to say, given the choice, I’d take ghosts any day over DagT’s nihilism. I love ya, Dag, but you ain’t inspiring me.

  32. Good Lord, Humphrey, are you really comparing seances and ESP to atomic theory? We believe in these things because there is a mountain of evidence that supports their existence. And here we have a single paper that concludes that ESP is real (a close reading of the NYT article would have informed you that scientists have not been able to replicate the study and that the statistical analysis is likely flawed) and some people on Bloomfield Ave that throw out generalities and hope they resonate for some eager souls that miss their loved ones.

  33. One of the greatest things “psychics” have on their side when dealing with the gullible public is the public’s foolish imaginings that nobody could in fact be that rotten and deceptive. But they can be and usually are. Even some of the greatest mediums, whose “hits” often seem truly upsetting and unreproducible via conventional wisdom and stagecraft, have been caught out in such instances.

    The spiritualist medium, and the spiritualist industry (leaving aside the upper case “S” version, which is an organized religion, in the main a theological product of the almost incomprehensible losses of life during WWI), most desires “regular customers,” people who come back time and again. This brings to mind, it pains me somewhat to mention, the post of “Carol” above, who certainly sounds like a satisfied return customer. The decision one usually has to make, however, is whether the medium him/herself is consciously deluded or just fraudulent. Generally, I bet on the latter, but there have been a few exceptions. (I can never quite make up my mind about Nutley’s well-known Dorothy Allison, but in any case she is no more in contact with the spirits than I am a direct lineal descendant of Genghis Khan, as a medium once “proved” after taking a photograph of the “spirits” in my aura.)

    If anyone has the interest, dig up a book from some time ago called “The Psychic Mafia” by former medium Lamar Keene, who moved in the arena of truly big bucks mediumship (Montclair’s practitioners profiled above are third or fourth stringers) as a Canp Chesterfield, Indiana medium. And simply google “Camp Chesterfield” to get an idea of how much mney may be at play here, it makes that $15 charge on Montclair sound like a very cheap date indeed.

    There are loads of interesting observations in Keene’s book about fakery and the use of simple psychology. (Some of which will make clear much of the Amazing Kreskin’s act.) The one I found most curious, and I in fact met Keene many years ago when he was pushing his book, is that most female mediums are hetero women with extremely strong and aggressive sex drives, while most male mediums are gay.

    The best summing up of psychical research in America I’ve ever come across is a book by, of all things, a Cornell English prof, titled “In Search of White Crows” (after William James’ famous observation about relative probability and scientific proof). It’s detailed and basically rather sympathetic, and full of interesting side trips into psychical history (including that the old academic center of such work was post-WII Columbia). But the author’s sad conclusion seems both accurate and thuddingly final: psychical research into medumship, ESP and related matters will always, he feels, remain at best an under-funded backwater run by a few academic cranks. (Think of the relative lack of sophistication of some of J.B. Rhine or Puthoff and Targ’s best-known experiments.) Because, simply put, the research tools and processes available will always, for obvious reasons, be inadequate for the potentially earth and belief-shaking results. I hope croiagusanam and ROC an agree with me on thisn one, too.

  34. Oh, and “aurora,” the “real” mediums, at least the mediums who seem to genuinely come up with chilling hits every now and then, are traditionally quite shy and very uncomfortable with their gifts. They have to be sought out, cajoled, watched. They are often in perilous emotional health (mediumship being an obvious psychological burden). The history of (the relative few) mediums whose talents have truly impressed skeptical scientists always make this very clear.

    They are perforce not generally found working the crowd for $15 a pop on Bloomfield Avenue. Which, interestingly, is around the cost of your basic ticket to the circus these days.

  35. “Oh, and “aurora,” the “real” mediums, at least the mediums who seem to genuinely come up with chilling hits every now and then, are traditionally quite shy and very uncomfortable with their gifts. They have to be sought out, cajoled, watched. They are often in perilous emotional health (mediumship being an obvious psychological burden).”

    And you know all of this how Cathar, from the great oracle Wiki or is it the many years you’ve spent among these fragile seers?
    I have spent many years around all kinds of mediums, the show people, the fraudulent and the exceptionally gifted. In all that time, I’ve yet to come across these uncomfortable, neurotic, emotionally fragile shut-ins you speak of. (maybe you’re confusing your research with the Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report?) I’ve found the very gifted in little corners all over this country and others, under the radar or actually working quite openly on main roads like Bloomfield Ave if you can imagine that. Bottom line is, I wouldn’t fall for obscurities either, and I have witnessed the tricks of the trade many times. But I don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. If someone I have never met before can give me the NAME of my loved one and details only I could know, it’s going to make me stop and take notice. If it doesn’t, well then that mind was made up way beforehand anyway.

    This subject could be debated into oblivion, and it’s an exercise in futility as we are all going to be drawn to what resonates within us, to what speaks truth to us individually. Enjoy the circus. Although it’ll cost you quite a bit more than $15 bucks a pop these days.

  36. It seems to me that aurora has actually experienced firsthand communion with the souls of the dead. She’s never seen an atom. None of you would know an atom if it bit you in the ass.

    So who exactly has evidence here? And who is simply following the experts?

    You go, aurora.

  37. This has been a rather interesting thread, especially for a Spiritualist medium here in Lily Dale, NY. I won’t even attempt to dispel, deny, or declare as true the things I have read here. People’s opinions are theirs to express as they wish. What I can tell you is that mediumship is reputable if the medium is reputable. (My mother owned the Psychic Observer and covered the Camp Chesterfield story. The place was as fraudulent as they come. Fortunately, Lily Dale isn’t Chesterfield.) There is no magic wand involved in communicating with other living beings, just basic science. And no one should ever accept any message from any one – medium, psychic, newscaster, politician, sage or seer – if it doesn’t ring true in the heart and the mind. I grew up here and my children are growing up here. Whether they become mediums or even Spiritualists is up to them. But they at least understand the philosophy and science of Spiritualism, as well as the religion.

  38. @ Humphrey Conures I am not a nihilist

    In contrast to the philosophy of nihilism, I value life and find meaning and knowledge in all that is human. I have little difficulty in justifying mankind’s purpose, moral codes, norms and/or laws that govern human existence. I simply do not ascribe my moral code to a “prime mover unmoved” (a god).

    I actually enjoy reading about the paranormal and think that if this belief helps people then good for them. There are, as I’m sure you know many mystical beliefs in this world. I understand the community, security and hope it provides people. It’s just not for me.

  39. How absurd to suggest that a refusal to accept this sort of nonsense equates with a denial of flight or an inability to acknowledge spirituality. What arrogance.

    One can be a practicing, or struggling or recovering, Roman Catholic and find the concept of the Virgin quite plausible. However, this belief does not go so far as to believe that she reveals herself in a piece of French toast or a seeping portrait in a Serbian nunnery. I believe in souls, and in the holy presence they inhabit. It would be difficult to grow up in a blood soaked island as I did and not feel the energy of those who suffered and died in years past. But that is a long way from buying (literally) into some charlatan acting out of a basement and using cards and other nonsense to demonstrate some sort of “gift”.

    Atoms? No I haven’t seen one. But their existence has been proved. I haven’t seen Shakespeare either but I know he existed. This line of “inquiry” is sophomoric.

    Ghosts? Sure, I’ll accept the possibility. But that they would “communicate” with you, through some “other”? Nonsense. By what regulation are they bound? Can they not just drop in on you? Must they be conducted by a “gifted” one, for a fee? Shite, says I.

    The NY TIMES article says at the end of the day that the paper (the ONE paper) is flawed. I’ve worked in the field of mental health for more than 30 years and I can tell you I’ve met plenty of people who are intrigued, more (including myself) who are open to persuasion, but few who aren’t outright frauds who accept this nonsense as presented above.

    So, God help me, ( yes, GOD), cathar and ROC are absolutely correct. I hope that I’ll never have to say that again.

  40. cro I suppose I’d be classified as a “fallen away” and as one who was schooled by the good sisters for twelve years I have a fair understanding of religion. Clearly my conclusions regarding mystical thinking differ from yours. With respect, may I ask you why can you justify your own belief in souls and your ability to feel “the energy of those who suffered and died in years past” but not the ability of some to feel the energy of the dead on Bloomfield Avenue?

  41. Dag, I feel that its quite possible to stand in a place like Gettysburg, for example, and feel the energy for lack of a better term of all that happened on that spot. I don’t however believe that one of those long-dead soldiers is going to start “talking” to me. Especially not through another living person. If the dead really wanted to communicate with us, they’d do so, I feel, directly. And they’d do so often. I see these medium types as frauds, by and large, and those who go to them as naive. That’s a personal opinion — I have no proof either way, of course.

  42. To “breuther,” who claims to be a medium at Lily Dale, well, you have your beliefs (as an upper case “S” Spiritualist especially) and I have mine. But The Psychic Observer came very, very late to the Camp Chesterfield story in my recollection. Not least, I’m sure, because any such revelations wouldd hurt the psychic business overall. What creeps me out about Lily Dale (and also Cassadaga) is the general aura of genteel rot which hangs over the place, as if it’s caught in emotional crape myrtle. Just the decor and pace of life represent an America of 80 or so years ago. This especially for me confirms the verdict of the author of “In Search Of White Crows,” that the entire psychical scene is fated to remain a sort of backwater. Still, I wish you well enough, whatever “wonders” may still occur up there in upstate NY.

    But communication with the dead hardly qualifies as “basic science.” Oh well, perhaps it does in your particular corner of the world. Nont in mine.

    But aurora, you merely sound smug. And you have no evidence. The claims of psychics and mediums, however alternately grand and modest for contact with the “other side,” remain wispy and unverified. When you pass over, however, please do give me regards to Mrs. Leonora Piper and Margery Crandon

    One reason many reject the extravagant claims of aurora’s apparent pals, by the way, is because spiritualism, with or without the caoital “S,” is so bloody simpleminded. It posits that we all become a sort of simpering cosmic porridge. (“Spirit messages,” for example, are rarely more complex than something like “John, you always used to leave the kitchen light on.” And the ones reputed to come from pets are of course much, much worse.) People are always forgiven by those now in the Great Beyond, are reassured; there is surely an element of intended commercialism there. That spiritualism to some extent is a specific refutation of conventional Christian doctine also doesn’t help much. There’s nothing wrong with exploration into psychic matters per se, but the seeming results are often of the utmost banality. I suppose aurora lives quite nicely with this realization?

  43. “People are always forgiven by those now in the Great Beyond, are reassured;”

    Not so. If you beleive in this stuff (and I know you do not, Cathar, and I respect that), you know there are evil spirits/souls who have not “gone to the other side” peacefully due to unresolved issues in life on earth and remain in a sort of limbo existence, causing havoc to the living (i.e., Amityville horror).

  44. At any rate, my curiosity has gotten the better of me and I expect to check out seance night on Bloomfield Avenue. (My husband will not, he’s informed me). I might even write about my experiences–if the spirit moves me. 🙂

  45. If I ever do depart from this earthly strata, including the Baristanet community of mortals, I will miss many good souls, but, I am sure that I will also miss cathar smugly calling people “smug”
    ( see above )
    and wuwttp2 keyboarding “d-bag” in a drunken stupor on an irregular basis.

  46. Cro perhaps the energy you feel might better be labelled as memory combined with imagination. Well, at least that how I describe my thought process when visiting places like Belfast, Derry and Gettysburg. The horrors of human existence portrayed on the “peace walls” and war monuments prompted in me private contemplation not a wish to connect the dead. The energy is my own. Because I expect that the snow will enhance some spots in Morristown and provide interesting photo opportunities I’ll be there Sunday with my historic memories. But my engery will be directed toward my gentleman friend.

  47. While my personal beliefs are in line with those of Tudlow and DagT, I don’t believe, as ROC does, that this group is conning anyone. People pay others for intangibles all the time. A psychotherapist (or at least most of them) is not a con. Neither, in my opinion is a Feng Shui expert a con. If someone finds solace in this, then it’s worth it to them to pay for it.
    I once had a NY apartment renovation in which the client hired a “lifestyle
    coach” to advise on various aspects. The suggestions were incredibly stupid, but I thought that if the clients believed in it, then they deserved to hemorrhage money.

  48. Kit,

    It all gets back to those invisible shoes again. If some sells you invisible shoes as an entertainment, as pretend, as theater, no problem. If they sell you invisible shoes as real and honest to goodness “ghostly shoes from beyond” its a con.

    It’s the difference between selling coca-cola as a “refreshing tonic” or as a cure for cancer.

    One is ok, the other is a con.

  49. He’s a lucky man, Dag!

    I’m sure that memory and imagination play a role, but there are spots I’ve been to in my life which are particularly rich in terms of this energy. Macchu Pichu, for example. Or Glendalough. Or Gettysburg or The Plains of Abraham. In many cases, these sites were likely chosen by those alive at the time for spiritual reasons. So I have no problem recognizing these forces, this mysticism if you prefer. Where I get off is when folks start claiming to be able to channel dead folks to others (for a fee, of course). I just don’t believe that souls go in for such parlor tricks.

  50. ROC, by your definition, promoting tax breaks for the rich as a “refreshing tonic” would be okay, but as a “cure” for the economy, well, that would be a con.

  51. The mediums (media?) likely believe that what they are selling is a service, whether or not they’re 100% certain of the factual truths behind their ‘visions’. So if a customer chooses to pay for these spectral speculations, it’s not a con. They do not claim to offer anything tangible, and those who buy it are aware of that. Based on their beliefs, it’s worth the money to communicate to the dead. I’m not sure this differs much from tithing to a church, or paying for seats in a temple.

  52. RoC with no intention of stepping on anyone’s toes and with a respect for the community, architecture, music, and forth that’s how I see religion. I’m tolerant of all mystical thinking and recognize the big business which motivates some and could care less if anyone is willing to pay for a Bloomfield visit or make an offering in St. Pat’s on 5th Ave. It all adds to the richness of the human experience. I find it especially interesting that many believers are less tolerant of those that do not follow their own Creed.

  53. “he mediums (media?) likely believe that what they are selling is a service, whether or not they’re 100% certain of the factual truths behind their ‘visions’. So if a customer chooses to pay for these spectral speculations, it’s not a con. ”

    That’s quite a contortion kit.

    By that logic Madoff isn’t a crook because be “believed” he could “make back” the losses and pay everyone a nice return.

    Misrepresentation is a con, Kit. Plain and simple.

  54. Ony if you could climb inside their heads, ROC, and determine that they actually didn’t believe in what they were selling, would it be a con. Madoff knew he was a con, and was claiming to sell sound and legitimate investments — even dummied up statements to cover his tracks. Not a good analogy.

  55. As if belief in what one is selling is the relevant measurement. If you believe Coca Cola cures cancer and you sell it as a cure, you are a con artist. Even if you believe it in your head or a spirit has told you such.

  56. By your definition, therapists, clergymen, homeopathic doctors, etc. are con
    artists since their ‘products’ or services cannot be empirically proven to work — the results that are achieved by them can be attributed to faith.

  57. I have been to MMHC many times and not only do I find Lee and Lee Ann to be honest and caring people, they are only interested in giving messages they get to people who want to hear them. Its easy to be the “critic” and its always the people who have never experienced it first hand, but to many, hearing these messages bring comfort and healing. The gang mentality in some of these posts only prove that its easier to knock something than to be open to new things. I have personally received many messages by these two professional ladies that were profoundly healing and right on. I have also watched other people experience the same thing. So unless you have been there or are willing to check it out, your opinion is just that and not relevent. And ps…its also appreciated that they only charge $15 because they are there to give people a meaningful experience, not cash in. From someone who has been there, try it and see if it doesn’t touch your heart. Thanks Lee and Lee Ann, what you do has helped me many times.

  58. “By your definition, therapists, clergymen, homeopathic doctors, etc. are con
    artists since their ‘products’ or services cannot be empirically proven to work — the results that are achieved by them can be attributed to faith.”

    If a clergyman says God will speak to you for a price, on command, he’s absolutely a con man. If a homeopathic “doctor” offers you a cure for cancer via crystals placed on your forehead they most certainly are a con man/woman.

    I generally think a lot of “therapy” is close to con artist activity, but in general certified therapists are accepted because of clinical and experimental proof and acceptance.

  59. Therapy, homeopathy, astrology, mood rings, seances, contacting the dead, and so forth, are no more of a con than writing for the Weekly Standard, performing talking-head work or Fox News, or working for organized religions, ROC.
    Anyway, it’s all free market stuff, no government intervention, so you should be fine with it all. (except for the organized religion stuff- they get to enjoy the use of buildings with no real estate taxes charged thereon)

  60. Spiro T., what I suspect you most dislike about me is that I often simply point out how defiantly unwitty your comments always are. And yet you continue to post in hopes someone else will find you at least one-quarter as funny as you apparently find yourself. This fruitless doggedness alone suggests to me that you reside in a household where no one else listens to you. Have you considered an African gray parrot? You will have to converse with him back and forth, but even I think you should be able to rise quite nicely every now and then to the parrot’s avian level of intelligence.

    Mrs. Martta, you have no real idea what I do or do not believe with regard to the “invisible world.” As it happens, I am quite sympathetic to the probing into matters psychical, and am especially fascinated by instances of poltergeists. (Saw one myself once, have always wondered why poltergeists seem so often to pop up in Catholic households, which sorta ties in, I think, with the clear paucity of Jewish vampires.) But nothing in the seeming testimony from satisfied clients of the Montclair mediums or in Debbie’s story makes me think these Saturday night “seances” are anything more than pathetic money-grubbing delusion at best. And at worst a far more distressing kind of situation. The world of mediumship in general is often a realm of simplistic bathos, and the afterlife posited by mediums seems quite akin to Candyland. Sort of like Gerard Manley Hopkins once explained about his particular form of spiritual faith, I expect more complexity from (and via) the demands of belief.

    One of the very best commentators ever on psychical matters in fact lived and practiced in Montclair until about 20 years ago, the psychiatrist Dr. Berthold Schwartz. His “Parent-Child Telepathy” is an amazing book, and there’s something refreshing about a shrink whose interests (not necessarily beliefs) were so “out there” that the American Psychiatric Association actually tried to drum him out of their otherwise serried and politically correct ranks.

  61. “Saw one myself once, have always wondered why poltergeists seem so often to pop up in Catholic households, which sorta ties in, I think, with the clear paucity of Jewish vampires.”
    The answer to that question could be that in the traditional Catholic Church the use of exorcists was not unheard of. I believe that the use of prayers, ritual and incantations approved by the church and performed by a priest feeds into the minds of more than a few Catholics.

    But what I wonder does this mean? “I expect more complexity from (and via) the demands of belief.”

  62. This is just silliness. No living thing can come back from the dead. Once dead, a being stays dead. Dead! That goes for humans and marsupials.

  63. But yet you yourself, walleroo, have returned from the dead!

    For as we know, life outside of baristanet is no life at all.

  64. A tantalizing glimpse into the beyond!

    Tell me this, walleroo — does Marilyn Monroe ask about me?

  65. I’m afraid not, cro. But Susan B. Anthony once made a favorable remark about your taste in cable sweaters.

    I feel myself slipping once again from your earthly world. Already, my left leg is transparent… now my waist… must hurry! Before I am gone, there is something terribly important I must tell you. About the future. Crap, what was it? I can’t remember….

  66. Walldude, I wish you’d hurry up your transition, it’s disconcerting sitting here looking at your left leg & waist & nothing else.

  67. There’s no other way to say it, walleroo. Susan was a bitch. She never forgave me for my interlude with Maud Gonne (neither did Yeats, but that’s another story. Talk about seances!).

    If you must go, Godspeed. I’ll stop by CVS next week with $15 and some frieten to see if you might be lured out once again.

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