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The secret séance rituals of America’s largest Spiritualist community

Eric Spitznagel
NY Post

Medium Annette Rodgers leads a séance, allegedly with the help of her deceased daughter, Lauren.

Shannon Taggart was never a big believer in ghosts. But that changed in 2001, during one of her first visits to Lily Dale — a hamlet in southwestern New York state that’s home to the world’s largest spiritualist community.

The Brooklyn photojournalist was taken by surprise while watching a private reading with Gretchen Clark, a fifth-generation medium.

“All of a sudden, she started laughing at nothing,” Taggart tells The Post. “Apparently the spirit of her brother was in the room and told her a joke.”

“I told him not to interrupt me while I’m working,” Clark explained to her client and then turned to an empty spot and yelled, “Chapman, we’ve talked about this!”

She composed herself and returned to the reading and then just as quickly turned back to Taggart.

“Margaret’s here,” Clark announced.

“Margaret? I don’t know any Margaret,” Taggart insisted.

Clark closed her eyes and listened. “She says ‘Texas.’ What does ‘Texas’ mean?”

Taggart instantly knew. “My great aunt Margaret lived in Texas and she’d died a few months earlier,” Taggart says. “I’d totally forgotten. My whole body just tensed up. It was truly spooky.”

That encounter was just the beginning of a spiritual awakening for Taggart, who would spend the next 18 years documenting mediums in New York as well as Essex, England, and Antequera, Spain. More than 150 of her photographs, many never before seen, are published in her new book Séance (Fulgur Press).

Taggart didn’t set out to prove or disprove spiritualism. Rather, she says, she was driven by “a sinking feeling that these mediums knew something about life that I didn’t.”

When she first traveled to Lily Dale, it was out of curiosity.

Years earlier, her cousin had learned from a medium that their grandfather hadn’t died from heart disease — as Taggart had always believed — but by asphyxiation. She laughed off the story, until her parents confirmed it.

“Someone at the hospital put food into his mouth and left him alone,” her father had said, “and he choked.”

This story stayed with Taggart over the years, and she became consumed with “how a total stranger could have known the details of this tragedy.”

In 2001, at age 26, she decided to visit Lily Dale despite knowing nothing about the place except that it was a short drive from Buffalo, where she grew up, and the medium who revealed her grandfather’s secret had lived there.

The town was founded as a gated spiritualist summer retreat in 1879, and not much has changed since then. With a population of some 275 residents — many of whom are practicing mediums — it looks like a town frozen in the mid-19th century. Narrow roads are lined with old-fashioned houses, many adorned with signs announcing “the medium is in.” A rickety wooden auditorium in the center of town is typically “papered with flyers advertising trumpet séances, past-life regressions, astral-travel workshops, spoon-bending classes and circles to develop mediumship,” Taggart writes.

She arrived with no plan and was initially too nervous to do anything but drive around.

But Taggart eventually wrote a letter to the Lily Dale Assembly’s board of directors asking permission to take photos during what she first thought would be “one summer making a photo essay about this quirky little town.”

“I would just wander around and literally knock on people’s doors and say, ‘Would you talk to me? Would you teach me about spiritualism?’ ” she recalled. “And they very graciously did.”

medium letters

A medium claims to have received letters under her pillow from a man who lived in the 1800s after meeting him through a Ouija board.

What she learned from them wasn’t necessarily how to communicate with ghosts. It was a peek into a shadowy subculture that “was once a seminal force in Western culture,” Taggart writes. “A legacy that was absent from every textbook I had ever studied, including my histories of photography.”

Spiritualism — a belief system based not just on the existence of spirits, but the idea that they want to stay in contact with the living — was once part of the mainstream. It was embraced by public figures like psychoanalyst Carl Jung, evolutionary biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, poet William Butler Yeats and even Abraham Lincoln. But today, it’s almost entirely hidden.

“It flourishes in fiction and entertainment but is marginalized by academia and the media,” Taggart writes. The contemporary Western worldview is that spiritualism is the stuff of fiction. But after what Taggart witnessed, and photographed, she wasn’t so sure.

As her exploration took her overseas, she learned that not all mediums started out wanting to be mediums.

Reverend Jane from Erie, Pa., found the calling at age 6, when “she saw a spirit standing inside her grandmother’s closet,” Taggart writes, and discovered she could make supermarket cans fly across shelves and candles do somersaults in the air.

Others came to it after being triggered by the grief of losing a loved one.

British medium Simone Key, a lifelong atheist, was drawn to spiritualism after her mother passed and she began getting messages, on her long-broken word processor, that read: “We must communicate.”

Annette Rodgers of Essex, England, felt the calling after her 16-year-old daughter, Lauren, died from a heroin overdose. Two years later, still deep in depression, Rodgers attended a spiritualist church “on a whim and immediately felt ‘Yes, this is what I need,’ ” she told Taggart.

She now runs a spiritualist center in Spain and says her dead daughter visits regularly.

Lily dale museum

Dorothy Pries works at the Lily Dale Museum

“I once saw Lauren turn Annette’s iPhone around on a table,” a fellow medium recounted to Taggart. “Her connection to her mother is that strong.”

But mediumship isn’t limited to communication with dead loved ones. Sometimes things get awkward.

Lily Dale medium Betty Schultz recalled a reading she had with a Catholic priest who was a regular client. “The spirits showed Betty a baby who had died and told her the priest was its father,” Taggart writes. Betty silently insisted to the spirits that there was no way she’d be sharing this information.

Without explaining why, she sent him to another medium — who later scolded Schultz: “Why didn’t you give that man the message from his baby?”

Taggart developed close friendships with some of her photo subjects, like Lauren Thibodeau, a longtime Lily Dale resident who found her way to spiritualism without any warning. She explained how she first went into a trance on New Year’s Eve 1989 in front of her husband and his friend, the best man from their wedding, “who never came to their home again,” writes Taggart.

Thibodeau shared one of the biggest headaches of spiritualism: uninvited famous people. Most mediums want nothing to do with celebrity ghosts — there’s no faster way to drive away an on-the-fence skeptic than “I have a message from Albert Einstein” — but Thibodeau says it’s sometimes unavoidable.

She remembers a session in which Elvis Presley’s ghost showed up unannounced.

“No!” Thibodeau shouted at the ghost. “I’m not doing this, get out of here!”

When the spirit refused to leave, Thibodeau apologized to her clients. “I’m sorry, I have Elvis here and I don’t know why,” she said. She then learned that the mother of the woman she was doing a reading for had been a housekeeper at Graceland.

For Thibodeau, it was a lesson in not being too quick to cast judgment. “Now, any time a spirit comes, regardless of who they are, I’ll give a message,” she told Taggart. “I don’t shoo them away. We communicate with dead people, and a dead celebrity is still dead.”

Even after almost two decades following mediums, Taggart isn’t sure she’d call herself a believer just yet. “I no longer subscribe to the popular belief that spiritualists are charlatans just trying to make money off of people,” Taggart says. “For the most part, I found them to be very sincere.”

But as for whether she believes in ghosts and life after death, the now 44-year-old is still on the fence. The closest she comes to sounding like a convert is when discussing an unsettling experience from 2013. It happened while she was visiting Sylvia and Chris Howarth, a married medium couple in England.

The morning after watching Sylvia do a séance in the dark — something the experienced spiritualist rarely did because “sometimes the phenomena continued into the next day” — Taggart was making tea in their kitchen and reached to open a cupboard.

“The ceramic knob exploded in my hands,” Taggart remembers. “Half of it shot into the air and crashed to the floor. The other half became razor-sharp and cut into my hand, and it started gushing blood.” Chris ran into the room, reached for the broken knob, and soon he was bleeding too.

“Just telling that story again, it gives me chills,” Taggart says.

So was it a paranormal encounter? She isn’t sure.

“All I know is, I still have a scar because of what happened that day,” she says. “And I still think about it all the time. So who knows?”

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Spirituality

A cosmic network aware of everything

The Akashic Records are a universal memory of existence, similar to a Cosmic Internet.

They represent a multidimensional space where all the experiences of the soul are archived including all the knowledge and experiences of past lives, present life and future potentialities.

The word Akasha goes back to its Sumerian origin, where it was used to refer to the ether, both in its elementary and metaphysical sense.

Perhaps the person we should go to when we talk about Akasha or the ether is a man whose importance has not been truly appreciated: Nikola Tesla.

In an interview called ‘The greatest achievement of man’, Nikola Tesla said:

“Every perceivable matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, that fills the entire space, the Akasha or light ether, on which the Prana or creative force acts, summoning existence, in endless cycles of all things and phenomena. “

However, even before Nikola Tesla, ancient philosophers and scholars wondered if the so-called ether existed.

If we take a look at the “Travels of the Indians of Apollonius of Tiana”, we will find more mention of the so-called ether. And if we take a look at ancient Hinduism, Akash is the fifth of the “five great elements.”

Akasha is a term for space in traditional Indian cosmology.

In ancient Sanskrit, it is used to describe the “ether”, which is an impalpable, immaterial, subtle and intangible fluid, which the ancient Hindus believed existed through and “within” the entire universe and would be the vehicle of sound. and life

We understand that the ether or Akasha is basically the foundation of everything that exists in our material world.

In numerous ancient teachings, Akasha is considered the invisible force behind the creation of all matter.

Furthermore, in Vedantic Hinduism, Akasha is translated as the basis and essence of all things in the material world; and is considered the first material element created in the astral world.

As EC points out, it is the source of energy for material manifestation. So what are the akashic records?

Alice A. Bailey wrote in her book Light of the Soul about the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Book 3 – Achieved Union and its results (1927):

The Akashic record is like an immense photographic film, which records all the desires and experiences of the earth of our planet.

Those who perceive it will see in it: the life experiences of each human being from the beginning of time, the reactions to the experience of the entire animal kingdom, the aggregation of the mental forms of a karmic nature (based on desire) of Every human unity through time.

Here lies the great deception of the records. Only a trained occultist can distinguish between real experience and those astral images created by imagination and living desire.

The meaning of the Akashic records can be summed up as the “data” that, in theory, exists in one place, in a non-physical way, outside of time and space.

In these, records, we can discover the absolute knowledge and experience of our soul; almost as if it were part of a supercomputer of cosmic information where our past lives reside, the present and future possibilities (which are part of the theory of reincarnation), as well as the meaning of our existence.

The Akashic records (of Akasha, in Sanskrit: heaven, space, ether), can also be summarized as a kind of memory (of everything that has happened since the beginning of time) that has been embedded and recorded in the ether.

There, everything that has happened since the beginning of time and all knowledge of the universe has been safely protected since time immemorial.

The interesting thing is that everything, absolutely everything, including you and me, arises from this matrix, from this space or subtle background.

First is the formless divine source, the origin of creation. From there arises the first crystallization of the spirit, the ether, the Akash or the primordial substance, which are the Registries.

We are made of stardust, of the same matter of creation, and the Archives make us remember.

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Spirituality

Could UFOs help us find the meaning of life?

The site editor of UFO Conjectures, who constantly philosophizes about the UFO phenomenon, suspects that these mysterious objects may help us reveal the meaning of life.

Could UFOs help us find the meaning of life?

I regret, intellectually, not empathetically, griping about this, but I am almost convinced that an explanation of the UFO enigma – from an actual containment, forensically, of a UFO – will provide the answers that philosophers, theologians, science, et al. ask, and have been asking for millennia, about what the purpose of this existence is.

In the periodicals and books I get and which I’ve gotten the past few months, arise questions that many who visit (or once visited) this blog (and others) do not wish to cope with. (Do I need to provide the names of those passive UFOers?)

Just in the recent New Yorker magazine, the TLS (Times Literary Supplement), New York Review of BooksWiredSmithso- nian, and the books I’ve noted here (some recommended by my astute pals), and a few TV shows via the Science ChannelTravelDiscoveryet cetera. questions or debates have arisen or have been resurrected about The Big Bang Theory, what constitutes reality, the nature of the universe – multi or multi dimensional, the singularity (and AI), consciousness, intelligent life in the cosmos, quantum mechanics (and its reality), Einstein’s perhaps errant Relativity, et cetera, et cetera.

Few coming here wish to deal with these philosophical or scientifically oriented issues.

And few are dealing with these and related issues elsewhere, Facebook taking hold of the mind and demeanor of many once curious UFO advocates, who now just ant to be “liked” or noted for what they eat or where their next trip/vacation takes them.

But the die-hards, few as they are nowadays, continue to seek the UFO answer, some with a conspiratorial mindset and addiction to the idea of “Disclosure” and others, the true seekers, wanting to know just what the hell UFOs are (or have been).

Could UFOs help us find the meaning of life?
“… Something not of this world.”
USS Nimitz pilot David Fravor
UFO Discovery in Progress.
Get ready. Inquire. www.jaml.org

Then there’s me, who thinks, madly perhaps, that UFOs hold the answer(s) to the Universe and maybe even its God (or supreme being).

Getting a hold of – as I keep suggesting, doggedly, hoping you’ll forgive my obsession for the thought – a UFO, in a metaphorical sense or, better, in a real, material sense will offer answers to many of those things vibrantly being discussed in some circles.

I can’t seem to get some, who show up here, to pore over books, tomes, and printed materials that deal with weighty matters, most preferring the often slip-shod and iffy presentations on the Inter- net, YouTube a repository for much nonsense being a favorite for the lazy pseudo-intellectuals ufology is awash in.

Even a few brilliant academics I contend with have been usurped by the whimsy of the internet, a few seduced by Facebook, even though their presence there is virtually unnoticed by the billion or so Facebookers on this Earth.

Anyway, let’s hope that UFOs remain in the spotlight a little longer, and that some agency or Flying Saucer manics [sic] come up with a viable UFO, from which we can cull some answers about what we are and who is in charge of this mess we call existence.

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Spirituality

Enochian Language: the mysterious lost language of fallen angels

There are many mythical “languages”, from the language of the witches to the unsuspected symmetries of the Voynich Manuscript. But among all these mythical languages ​​there is one that stands out: the Enochian, the language of the angels.

Enochian Language: the lost language of fallen angels

The Enochian comes from the private journals of the mathematician, astronomer and personal occultist of Elizabeth I, Queen of England, named John Dee; and of his successor, the enigmatic Edward Kelley, one of the most notable figures of the esoteric revival.

Both John Dee and Edward Kelley argued that the Enochian was revealed to them as part of a series of angelic messages, whose purpose was to raise human magic to a whole new level.

Centuries later a similar episode occurred, from the hand of the occultist Aleister Crowley and his contacts with the ominous angel Aiwass.

These communications led to the creation of one of the most scandalous cursed books in history: The book of the law (Liber AL vel Legis).

The Enochian survived in the diaries and notebooks of John Dee and Edward Kelley, along with some short English translations.

Currently, the Enochian continues to be closely studied by several prominent linguists, although with more detractors than followers.

Neither John Dee nor Edward Kelley ever speaks of Angry, but of Angelic, Heavenly Language, Language of the angels, the First Language of God Christ, Sacred Language, Adamic, and other epithets.

The term Enochian comes from Dee and Kelley’s theories that the biblical patriarch Enoch – the same as The Book of Enoch – was the last man to know all the possibilities of that language.

The idea that an antediluvian angelic language existed was quite common in John Dee’s time; and not without some logic.

Enochian Language: the lost language of fallen angels

If angels routinely interacted with humanity, as is clear in many passages of the Bible, then it would be possible for that interaction to occur in a kind of “common language,” a low and degraded language for angels, but remarkably complex for men.

The first mention of the Enochian occurred in 1581. John Dee noted in his diary that God sent him an angel to communicate his intentions directly.

In 1582, John Dee joined Edward Kelley as a medium. Apparently, together they managed to contact that angel, who revealed some rudiments of the Enochian.

John Dee argues that the Enochian is, in short, the language of God, the language that the Creator used to give an objective form to his mind, that is, to create the universe.

The angels are able to speak that language, just like Adam, but not with the nuances and subtleties of the divine palate. And men, even less qualified than angels, must conform to a rough and inaccurate pronunciation.

By comparison, human languages ​​sound like baby babbles in the face of the complexities of the Enochian.

After the embarrassing episode of the Tree of Knowledge (and that apple that never existed), Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise, but they took with them the Enochian, the same one that Adam had used to name all things.

In a way, John Dee argues that, over time, the Enochian gradually degraded, until it became what we know as proto-Hebrew, with few links to that tongue of angels.

The supposed angels who communicated with John Dee and Edward Kelley stated that only Enoch disagreed and that he secretly wrote a forbidden book capable of evoking the most powerful primordial magic: The Loagaeth Book (the book of God’s discourse).

Sadly, the angels commented with discouragement, that the book was lost during the Universal Flood due to a neglect of Noah.

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