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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our sixth calendar year
    PCR #292  (Vol. 6, No. 43)  This edition is for the week of October 24--30, 2005.

Florida's Witch Town?
 by Will Moriaty
"The Legend of Zorro"
 by Mike Smith
Post Industrial Carnival....Mobile Performance Group....Cob: More Than Just Something With Corn On It
 by Vinnie Blesi
Frank Zappa
 by Terence Nuzum
The Sandman, AKA, One of the Best Graphic Novels Ever Written!
 by Dylan Jones
ScreamFest '05
 by John Lewis
Happy Halloween....The Birthday Boy....Masters of Horror Invite
 by Matt Drinnenberg
The Best of Times....This Week's Issue....Happy Birthday....Another Top 10 Challenge....2,000 Americans Killed In Iraq....Like Rap Music....No Wonder I Can't Sit Down....Put It On The Board--Yes!...Passing On....You Never Give Me Your Money....We're Number Three....Jaws: The Story, Part 39
 by Mike Smith
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Florida's Witch Town?

There is no information like misinformation.

Such is the case for the small northeast Central Florida town of Cassadaga.

For years, and probably even today, this congregation of Spiritualists located between Orlando and Daytona Beach were viewed by many Floridians as being witches or Satin worshippers. Much of this thinking was simply attributable to ignorance or religious intolerance. In other instances, unsubstantiated stories of the paranormal occurring at this serene and quiet haven from the hustle and bustle of urban Florida life have added to the urban legend that Cassadaga is a place to be avoided, especially after dark.

Let's take a look at just what Cassadaga is, starting with its origins…  

A Town Borne From a Séance
Cassadaga had its origins in a séance conducted in the nineteenth century that was attended by one George P. Colby. A native of Pike, New York born in 1848, Colby was "told" during this séance that he would establish a Spiritualist community somewhere in the Southern United States. This prophecy came to fruition in 1875 when his spirit guide "Seneca" through the wilderness of Volusia County, Florida led Colby. The Promised Land was named "Cassadaga", a Seneca Indian word meaning "rocks beneath the water." By 1894 Colby established the community, which was comprised of members of the American Spiritualist Association. The Association was part of a movement that began in Chautauqua County New York to encourage people to use their psychic abilities and promote communication with spirits.

Spiritualist members from the South began searching for a site in the Sunshine State where a winter resort for Spiritualists from across the nation to congregate to could be established. Colby deeded 35 acres of the land he had homesteaded to the newly established "Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association" in January 1895. In this instance "camp" did not mean setting up a tent in the wilds for recreation nor was it a definition of the content of a 1966 Batman T.V. episode. Camp simply meant that it was a location for the annual gathering of religious groups.

Cassadaga is one of the few religious communities founded in the Sunshine State during the Nineteenth Century to still persist today. The Shakers and Cyrus Teed's Koreshan Unity communities by comparison are relegated to physical ruins and Florida history books.

When In Cassadaga…
So what exists there today?

The small town's residents are primarily psychics and mediums, as well as others interested in elevating their intuitive powers. Most of its residents worship at the 1923 Colby Memorial Temple where visitors are welcome to attend services. Should you be interested in a "reading", stop by the Camp Bookstore and Information Center, also known as the Andrew Jackson Davis Building, where a list of Camp certified mediums is available.

Should you decide to spend more than a day there, be sure to stay at the 1927 Cassadaga Hotel and Spiritual Center (http://www.cassadagahotel.com/) that has both a cafe and a gift shop.

I have twice been to Cassadaga, once in 1981, and again in 1994. Although I did not have any readings, I enjoyed visiting its many shops with its Spiritualist and metaphysical related items. Due to its small size, it is easily accessible on foot. It is a very picturesque and tranquil town filled with charming old houses and buildings as well as small parks that convey a very meditative and nurturing quality. If anything, I felt very much at peace and harmony during my visits, not on edge or terrified as some errant Cassadaga mythos would lead one to believe.

Definitely when in the Orlando area, take a side trip to visit a true Florida phenomena - - Cassadaga. Where you can experience the tranquility of "rocks beneath the water".

For more information, visit the official Cassadaga web site at: http://www.cassadaga.com/

Will's Recommended Websites

The Paranormal in Florida
Orlando Ghost Tours http://www.hauntedorlando.com/
The Original Key West Ghost Tours http://www.hauntedtours.com/
Ghost Tours of St. Augustine http://www.ghosttoursofstaugustine.com
Ghost Tours of Historic Haunted St. Petersburg http://www.ghosttour.net/
The Florida Jaguarundi http://www.pangeainstitute.us/expeditions/jaguarundi/
The Florida Skunk Ape http://www.floridaskunkape.com/
Florida Paranormal Research Association http://www.floridaparanormal.com/
SpookHunters http://www.spookhunters.com/
New Smyrna Beach Historical Ghost Tours http://www.nsbghosttour.com/
Daytona Beach Ghost walk http://www.hauntsofdaytona.com/
Florida Ghosts Haunted Index http://www.floridaghost.com/hauntedindex.htm
Shadowlands Haunted Places Index: Florida http://theshadowlands.net/places/florida.htm

"La Floridiana" is ©2005 by William Moriaty.  Thanks to Lisa Clardy for filling in!  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.