Town in Florida
Psychic town and ghost hunting workshop
June 30, 2001
by Brandy B. Stark (Published in Bayside News)
Harry Potter is not the only one who attends special classes. During the summer, the S.P.I.R.I.T.S. of St. Petersburg spent one warm afternoon updating our skills at a ghost hunting workshop held in Cassadaga, Florida.
Cassadaga, located just east of Orlando, is a very unusual place. Established in the late 1800's, it was a southern retreat for spiritualists, used to encourage the understanding and teachings of psychic abilities. The town, which appears to encompass approximately 4 city blocks, is still the home of a thriving spiritualist community.
In addition, the area hosts one of the largest geomagnetic vortexes in the southeastern United States. This ambient energy, it is said, attracts ghosts....what better place for a workshop and ghost investigation?
Taught by Jeff Reynolds, this afternoon class offered useful insights. We learned about poltergeist classification, orb manifestation, and we gained several useful new vocabulary words. (Did you know that "plasmaphobia" means "fear of ghosts"?)
There was some "down time" after the workshop and before our next lesson, embodied in the Cassadaga ghost hunt. We took advantage of this break to investigate an old cemetery that was recommended by two S.P.I.R.I.T.S. team members. We experimented with the use of "ghost divining rods", but were unable to attain any definite proof of their accuracy. No images appeared in our photographs, though one conscientious teammate did clean up a few neglected tombstones.
Finally, nightfall set in. The group gathered at the Cassadaga Hotel where we met other ghost enthusiasts interested in doing a hunt. The combined group was first lead to the areas of the town with the highest ghostly activities; then we were split into smaller groups to do investigations.
The S.P.I.R.I.T.S. stayed together and started their ghostly tour at the hotel. Lee and Karen West had prior experiences with this location, and had captured strange spectral images on film during earlier visits to Cassadaga. Happily, the ghosts made an appearance before the entire team. Several unusual shapes were photographed hovering above the staircase. One white orb even appeared on film, dancing across the bar area before vanishing. Perhaps this shows that even the dead still enjoy an occasional indulgence of "spirits"!
The next stop held a surprise for us all. Upon returning to the geomagnetic vortex, one of our team, Sandy Bard, had a most unusual experience. It started with the sensation of someone putting a hand upon her shoulder, and was accompanied with startling cold. Nothing could be detected with the human eye, nor with EMF meters. Yet, the temperature sensitive gauge, a device used to register the temperature of objects at a distance, revealed a 10 degree temperature difference between Sandy's two shoulders. Cold radiated from the area, and could be sensed by others. Slowly, the hand moved from one shoulder to the next, down to Sandy's own hands, and was followed by the sensation of being embraced. After an extended period of time, the episode ended.
"I think I had someone with me. At one point I felt happy and was smiling. I think this might have been a combination of actually having an encounter and maybe some feeling from the spirit or spirits," Sandy said. "I was asked if it was someone I knew and my Dad popped into my head. I am not sure, however, that it was him."
Next on our agenda was Medicine Wheel Park. This area contains a blessed Medicine Wheel, whose stones are attuned with a celestial calendar. The Medicine Wheel itself is a most interesting area, surrounded by trees that almost appear to grow around the sacred space, but not in it. Perhaps due to the lateness of our visit, or the excitement from the vortex, the Medicine Wheel did not produce any results. The team moved on.
Finally, we stopped by Spirit Lake. Our guide had earlier joked that it was now the "Spirit Gulch" due to its low water levels brought on by the drought. Still, it was an area that sometimes produced unusual images on film. The cremated remains of many of Cassadaga's former residents had been scattered across the lake, so perhaps their energies remained near by. However, though beautiful, the area did not offer any substantial proof of spectral activity.
All in all, it was a very revealing night. The S.P.I.R.I.T.S. passed the workshop with flying colors, utilizing our own pre-existing guidelines and procedures. We blended with a group of unusual individuals, and met other ghost enthusiasts desiring to learn more about the unknown world around us.
Yet, the unusual encounter in the vortex served as a reminder. Though we strive to understand the supernatural, and have come far in our studies, there are many lessons left for us to learn.
August 12, 2005
Established in 1894, the camp is approx. 57 acres with 55 residences and was designated as a Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. It is the oldest active religious community in the southeastern U. S. George Colby was told during a séance that he would be instrumental in starting the community and was led by a spirit guide through Central Florida to the current location in 1875. The land was homesteaded and 35 acres deeded over to the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Assoc. in 1895. Volusia County has since purchased 110 acres of the property for environmental protection.
In the early 1900's a fire believed to be caused by the vortex on the property destroyed several houses and the hotel.
Spirit Gulch (Spirit Lake):
Ashes of the deceased where and are spread in the lake. The lake has a history of drying up every 10 years or so and orbs have materialized as well as photographed when asked to do so.
At one time a public swimming pool was located here but filled in due to maintenance/repair cost. It is now used as the corporate offices for the Camp.
Medicine Wheel Park:
Pics of orbs with faces have been taken in this area. The Native American Medicine Wheel was/is used for personal enlightenment.
At one time this park had several fountains but they were removed when 2 children almost drown. The residents are currently trying to get them reinstalled. This park is across from the James Buchanan House, which is notable for the only murder ever committed in Cassadaga. Mr. Buchanan was an older gentleman who served as a medium for the Camp and was killed by a man he had hired to repair the roof. At the time of his death Mr. Buchanan's Cadillac was stolen and it was 3 to 4 days before his body was found. The murdered occurred 8 years ago.
Carriages once parked where the present day front porch is and before the fire it was a 3-story building. A spirit in room 21 is a gentleman who tends not to like women. Female guests who have stayed in the room report being unable to sleep due to the bed linen being pulled from them, folded, and placed neatly in a corner. A former housekeeper at the hotel reported no negative feelings in the room while she made it up. Children have been reported to be heard running/playing in the halls when no children are any where in the hotel. Two female guests in room 1 reported pillows were being taken from them during the night numerous times, smells, and the strong urge to go swimming even though the woman does not know how to swim. A former manager of the hotel is said to be seen/felt standing on the first landing at the turn of the stairs that lead to the second floor watching the employees.
No EMF readings on either meter though we took pics of the stairs and landing. Lee reported he saw orbs in the small cubbyhole under the stairs next to the bathrooms. No EMF or temperature readings but we did take pics and video. Video and pics where taken of the hall that runs behind the hotel rooms though no EMF or temperature readings registered.
We were unable to investigate the second floor due to the rooms being rented out as businesses and they were considered a private area.
No EMF or temperature readings at these locations. At 10:50 p.m. Brandy's digital camera would not work even though she had made sure it was turned on. She asked that the camera please work and it did. Both Brandy and I saw sparkles during the camera flash and Brandy reported feeling cool at the lake.
Caesar Forum Healing Center:
No EMF or temperature readings and no pics taken by me. Jeff related a story of his former wife being healed here when three doctors had failed.
No EMF readings on either meter. Several pics were taken at this area and some may have flash effect in them due to several people taking pics and not calling out flash.
At one point I felt a cool spot on my left arm that stayed with me no matter which way I turned. When this sensation started Mark (?) was recording EVP and I had asked if any one would like to speak because they were among friends. Brandy, Mark (?), Jeff (North Florida Paranormal Research), and several others present felt this cool spot. Brandy and Jeff recorded temperature changes from the right to left side of my body. The cool spot moved along both of my arms (alternately and at the same time). It moved up and down my hands from fingertips to wrists and at this time Mark (?) got a slight compass reading. At one point I felt as if it was holding my right hand that was down by my side. I also felt a warmth on my back between my shoulders and this moved down my body eventually stopping at my knees. I felt a cool spot at my stomach and someone suggested that perhaps I was being given a hug. My head began to shake and feel warm and this also moved down my body stopping at my knees. At this point I a strong urge/need to get away from this spot. Jeff told me to hang in there and after taking several deep breaths to calm myself the feeling passed. While all this was occurring several different people took digital pics that recorded orbs. We had to leave shortly after this due to a resident's concern of past vandalism of her property.
Medicine Wheel Park:
No EMF readings on my part and several pics were taken of the area. I walked up the hill and around the outside of the wheel. When I reached a point about halfway down the right side of the wheel (facing the wheel from the bottom of the hill) I looked to my left into what looked like a smaller clearing. I was hit (like a Mac truck) with the feeling I did not like that spot and practically ran down the hill. I passed Lee who was on my right taking pics of a stone in the wheel and stated I didn't like that spot. He said he had felt something and that's why he was taking pics there. I got to the bottom of the hill and got the strong urge to leave the area. It grew stronger and I stated I was leaving NOW. Brandy reported that at this time she felt as if we had an audience watching us as they stood around the wheel. I had an agitated feeling and was getting annoyed at myself for freaking out when Jeff stopped me, counted, told me it was all gone and to move onto the road. It took me a few minutes to calm down.
I think I had someone with me. At one point I felt happy and was smiling. I think this might have been a combination of actually having an encounter and maybe some feeling from the spirit/spirits. The momentary panic was perhaps me freaking a little and I'm leaning toward more of a feeling of panic than real harm. The separate sensation of warm and cold were two different spirits. Someone asked if it was someone I knew and my Dad popped into my head. But I had been thinking about him and the dreams I've had if him while we were in the vortex before the sensations started. I had a flittering thought of "Wonder/wouldn't it be something if Dad were to show up?" I'm still not sure it was him though. Brandy stated that the spirit who was hugging me and fingering my wedding rings felt as if it were curious and my Dad was still alive when I got married so I kinda ruled him out with that. But then my Uncle popped into
my head and I became very upset. After calming down I got a strong feeling of reassurance that it wasn't him. I still feel that way.
Medicine Wheel Park:
I did get the feeling of not liking the small clearing but I also think some of the later feelings of agitation/flee was more my
freaking out than any thing.
Checking out the sites in Cassadaga: Graveyard.
Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp
Cassadaga Hotel and Other Haunted Sites
Ghost Hunting 101 Workshop
PREVIOUS CASSADAGA EXPERIENCES.
During a previous stay at this hotel we experienced a fitful night of noises and very bad fearful apprehensive feelings. After our stay, when we developed our pictures, we saw a black mass coming out of the wall over the bed where Lee (my husband) was laying.
Another time we stayed at a local B&B on Halloween weekend. The pictures we developed from that trip have a vortex as well as ectoplasm and Orbs.
June 30, 2001
The workshop had several helpful tips.
*Orbs often have tails
*Vortex entities show up in wormhole patterns on film
*A poll shows that 35% of Americans believe in ghosts, while 12% claim to have seen
*Ectoplasmic mists tighten into orbs, and orbs relax into ectoplamic energy (fogs).
*There are two levels of poltergeists. LEvel 1 is able to move things 5 pounds and under,
level 2 is able to move things over 5 pounds, usually indicated by the movement of large
*Phasmphobia is the term meaning Fear of Ghosts
*Digital cameras can reflect light in the lens that produces a diamond effect. 35 mm
cameras can produce octagon effects.
*A great digital camera for ghost hunts is the Sony Maverick, FD70
*Kodac film is better for ghost pictures.
*Spirit contact often has a walking into spider webs feel to it. Jeff referred to this as a
spirit hug, and it is a form of physical contact between ghost and the living.
I was told that I have spirits around me.
I also learned that Cassadaga, itself, is built on a vortex. It shows up on geomagnetic
fields, and is caused by a shift in he earths crust. Ghosts are attracted to vortexes.
Some of the best times to hunt include after thunderstorms and during meteor showers.
After the workshop ended, we had some free time before the Cassadega Ghost Hunt. The
SPIRITS team chose to visit the Cassadega Cemetery.
Cassadaga Cemetery Hunt
With this hunt, we chose to try some ghost divining rods. The rods continued to hold a
great deal of activity, often crossing, and pointing in certain directions. No EMF showed
up with the rods activity. Not enough may be known by the team to conclude what the
rods indicate through the hunt.
Workshop Group Hunt
The vortex area is most unique. I felt dizzy as we approached it, and could notice a
definite temperature drop as we neared its center. I felt more and more dizzy, and a bit
disoriented in the vortex. I have noticed that in areas of high EMF or haunting activity, I
often feel dizzy or get goosebumps.
We had negative readings on the EMF inside the vortex. Others had EMF spikes on their
Temperature read that it was 75 degrees inside the vortex, a considerable drop from the
83 degrees outside.
A fire originated along the vortex in the 1900s, destroying a good deal of Cassadega. The
fire followed nearly a straight path along the vortex, through the hotel and the homes
Tour of Cassadaga:
Healing Area: A fountain surrounded by stone benches. The water is alleged to cure
Myers Park, now closed, used to have fountains, but the park was closed down.
One psychic, a clairvoyant man, was killed in Cassadega. His name was James Buchanan.
Some believe his spirit may still be inside the home where he died. He was killed by his
The hotel has a longer history. It used to have a road for horses and carriages. When the
hotel burnt down it was rebuilt. An architect from Tampa rebuilt the hotel from
The hotel has served as a meeting place, then a nursing home, which produced a lot of
spirits. It was again converted to a hotel after it was a nursing home. Room 21 holds the
ghost of a man who does not like women. He will bother them. Two childrens ghosts,
who often show up as orbs, are reputed to show up on the hotels main staircase.
After an initial tour, a series of smaller tours were initiated as the group was broken down
to more manageable units. The SPIRITS stayed together as a unit.
Our first stop was the hotel. On the old staircase we had an EMF of 2.1, with a
fluctuation on one stair and at the top of the staircase.
Spirit Pond is the lake that is nearly central to Cassadaga. The ashes of Cassadega
residents are thrown into the lake. Currently, the lake is receding, though this is a natural
phenomena according to our guide.
This is where the workshops cofounders where when they saw an orb. We did not
receive any conclusive spiritual activity there. No EMF, nothing on photos.
Forman Healing Center:
This area is used for healing people. Jeff knew of one woman who had been healed of a
very severe skin disease. Her hands and feet were cracked and often bled. After a session
with a psychic in the healing room, she was cured.
Karen, who had grown a bit tired, decided to leave the group and rest at the hotel. (by
this time it was about 10:30 PM!)
On our second trip into the vortex we had a very strange occurrence. Sandy had a very
strange sensation of being touched on her shoulders. Temperature readings showed that
the shoulder she felt she was being touched on was 78 degrees, while the untouched
shoulder was 88 degrees. I reached out to touch her, and I could feel the coldness
radiating from her. I also felt tingles along my hand up to my elbow. Lee saw a sparkle
effect around her, briefly.
Sandy said that the sensation moved along her arms, to her hands, and seemed to focus on
her wedding ring. It moved across her back to the other arm. Sandy was in the presence
of several ghost hunters. No EMF registered. She felt a bit uncomfortable, but Jeff talked
to her and asked her to work through the sensations.
Others tried to do EVP, and shortly before the sensations, Sandy had tried to ask the
spirits if they wanted to be recorded, to speak now. Nothing showed up on recording.
One person got images on digital, but none of the SPIRITS team retrieved images on the
digitalis or 35 mm cameras.
I do regret that since Sandy felt uncomfortable she did not leave the area. I felt that if she was
uncomfortable, she should not have to endure the situation, and expressed such sentiment.
Sandy handled it well, though, and said she was fine after the tour.
Medicine Wheel Park:
This area is a consecrated park, with an aligned Medicine Wheel. Lee, Brandy, and Sandy
all felt very uncomfortable in the Medicine Wheel. We left shortly after touring the wheel.
I do remember feeling a bit warm and dizzy. It is an area where many are supposed to be
able to get pictures of orbs with faces.
It is interesting to note the way the trees grow over the wheel: they seem to grow up and
above the wheel, not into the consecrated space.
We did pick up images at the Cassadaga Hotel, including a dancing orb and several
orb-like images on the stairs. The Wests have also had some experiences with the ghosts
in the hotel.
I believe that Sandy really did have a spiritual encounter within the vortex. Very
interesting one at that, and perhaps one of the most active encounters within the SPIRITS
The ghost hunting seminar was interesting, and at least confirmed that what the SPIRITS
do procedurally is correct. The large ghost hunt was nearly ineffective, other than learning
the layout of Cassadaga. The group was too large to effectively learn anything, and it was
hard to hear. However, the smaller groups seemed to work out a lot better. I was
surprised at the lack of images on our own film. We had some orbs but not as many as I
would have expected for such an active area.
Orb image from Cassadaga Hunt.
Hi there -
My name is Amy R. - and I am a fan of the SPIRITS website - everything is so informative - and interesting. A good friend of mine, Beth, and I enjoy doing a little amateur ghost hunting ourselves and have explored many areas. During a trip to Cassadaga we took many pictures and wandered around the hotel - We stayed during the same weekend as a mother and two boys who brought digital cameras - they were able to pick up orbs - and even witnessed items being picked up off of their room floor and placed on the bed.
In the wee hours of the morning we wandered up stairs to snap photos and I came back with this photo of Beth. See the the "mist" at the top - we believe this to be activity. My hair was pulled back at the time - and there were no other obstructions. It was a disposible camera so there was no strap - we did feel a slight chill while in this part of the building. Beth was posing next to the drawing of the ghost that resides upstairs and we had just politely asked her to
be in the photo - we believe she was. See for yourself.