Saturday, June 16, 2007
In the Land of the Crystal Wavers
We made it to Cassadaga, although we didn't travel the backroads but instead took I-4 East.
I had planned on arriving before 3:00 pm so we could take a historic tour of Cassadaga, but by the time we got going, it was a bit after 2:00 pm, so speed considerations took over asthetic considerations and thus, the trip up I-4. Cassadaga proved to be a bit futher than I expected, about 60 miles away.
We didn't arrive in time for the 3:00 pm historic tour (but more on that in a bit).
But we were in Cassadaga, a place so thick with mediums you can't wave a crystal without hitting one (as I joked to Bunny).
When we enquired about the tour we just missed, we were informed that the Nighttime Orb Photography Tour (which we planned on taking) included the historic tour normally given at 1:00 and 3:00 pm, only at night, and with the opporunity to take pictures of ectoplasmic orbs (or, whatever they are, and I'll be getting to those in a bit). Fortunately, we didn't really miss anything.
Photographing the unseen
Cassadaga is a small town and everything to really see is on the main street. We poked around the few shops there, and while gawking a large display of polished rocks in small side room of the Purple Rose, a medium came in carrying a Polaroid camera and leading a gentleman to a chair in one corner of the room.
He was having his aura photographed.
The man was a bit skeptical of the whole thing and asked how the camera could take a picture of his aura. The medium answered that the it was a specially modifed Polaroid with a computer (mounted on the bottom of the camera) that could detect the aura and modify the picture to reveal it visually. The gentleman then asked how the computer worked, and the medium professed no knowledge of things related to computers. “I can barely turn them on,” she said.
Okay, so now I have to get a photograph of my aura.
Bunny and I wait around for several minutes until the medium is finished with the previous customer. His first photo was deemed unacceptable by the medium, having entirely too much red, which was “residual auric energy from the previous customer.” She then handed the gentleman a large crystal to hold in taking the second photograph, which turned out “better” as far as the medium was concerned. She then spent several minutes interpreting his aura and handing him a small stone from the rack nearby to help him to boost one of his chakra points.
Once she was free I then asked if I can get my aura photographed while taping the procedure (I had borrowed a video camera from Smirk and had it with me in the store). The medium was a bit reluctant. “My mother, who owns the store,” she said, “generally doesn't allow filming.” Okay. Not terribly surprising really. “But let me ask,” she said, wandering off to another part of the store. A few moments later the medium returns and says that it's okay for me to film the procedure.
I'm guessing that $25 is $25 more than they would have had had they said no.
So I set up the video camera in the small room, angled such that I'm the only one in the shot—I was less concerned about getting her picture than I was her answers to my questions recorded. I asked where she got the “computer” attached to the Polaroid camera, and she said it came as a complete unit from a dealer (like this camera for about $3,000.00).
You don't say?
How curiously expensive.
Just prior to the medium snapping my picture, a pure tone filled the store. “Hear that sound?” said the medium.
“That's the Crystal Bowl,” she said. “It's a pure Middle-C tone, filled with red. I hope it doesn't affect your aura.” She sat me down in front of a black cloth, had me hold a quartz crystal I was buying (I happen to like crystals as crystals, and had picked up a nice sized piece of quartz. The medium said the crystal “picked” me, and said I should hold it during the photograph). “Oh dear,” she said as she took the picture. Apparently the pure Middle-C tone of the Crystal Bowl had affected the picture. “I ran out of film,” she said, and scurried off to get some more.
A couple of minutes go by, she returns. We set up again, and my aura is photographed. Apparently the redness of the Middle-C from the Crystal Bowl had waned, because my “aura” had very strong yellow tones (“spontaneous, open, optimistic, friendly, intelligent, healthy”) with white colors over my face (“imagination, insight, higher consciousness”). In fact, of the eight colors of the “chakra,” I was missing blue (“intuitive, peaceful, loyal, calm, tender, good listener”) and I had a very minimal amount of red (“passion, vitality, creativity, energy”). She then rooted around the bins of rocks and handed me a blue stone and a red stone to help make up for the lack of blue and red in my aura.
It's amusing though. I'm looking through the meanings of the various chakra colors and I'm seeing only positive traits like “creative,” “compassionate,” “psychic,” and “charming”—stuff that most people would say could apply to them, or would like to think applies to them. What I don't see are any negative aspects, like “jealousy,” “greediness,” “pettiness,” or “gullible.”
I'm just saying.
These entries are taking long enough to create due to the heavy photography, so screw the commentary on this one and let's just see some pretty pictures of the area around Cassadaga, okay? Okay!
Bill & Frank's Brickhouse Grill—really good food
Little fluffy orbs
Bunny and I arrived back in Cassadaga well in time for the 8:00 pm Historic and Nighttime Orb Photography tour. We walked up to the bookstore and found a few people sitting around waiting. It turned out that one of them, an older gentleman who looked and sounded like Donald “Screetchboy” Sutherland was actually the Reverend Ben Cox, our tour guide for the evening.
He was a wonderful speaker and story teller. He lead us around Cassadaga, telling us the history of the place, along with the various spirits that supposedly live in the various buildings.
He then took us to the main Spiritualist Temple in town and explained how not only the church service works, but how séances are conducted in the small red-lit room at the back of the temple.
Now, about those orbs …
After the tour, he lead us to a small clearing behind the temple and told us that this area was rich with orbs and that we should have no problems with catching one or two, but for the best results, we should use flash photography.
I took a bunch of photos with and without flash.
Here's a pair (the first is the actual photograph, the second photo has been processed with histogram equalization to pull out more detail) taken without the use of flash:
and here's a pair with flash (the “orb” is along the ground just below the tree):
I took twenty photographs, some without flash, most with, and in every one with flash, there were orbs (in most cases, they were only visible when the image was equalized). In this pair, I present the picture with the most visible orb, along with the equalized version, showing even more orbs floating around:
What's going on here are light reflections, either from pollen, dust, bugs or even reflections in the lens from the flash. I seriously doubt they're really any form of “ectoplasm” (which Rev. Ben explained is similar to salt water).
Overall, Bunny and I felt the tour was worth the price. It was entertaining and informative, and everybody enjoyed themselves. It was interesting to see a real séance room and learn how séances “work.” The Reverend Ben is an excellent speaker and story teller.
And overall, Cassadaga was an interesting place to visit. Quite peaceful, and laid back. It might even make a nice place to take a vacation, if one can keep from tripping over all the crystals.