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The Reluctant Servant

Posted on 11 July 2014, 15:18

I’ve been dealing with residents of the Spirit World all of my life. Confronted with orbs of light, receiving premonitions of upcoming physical deaths, along with contact from those who have crossed over to the next realm of existence is a regular happening. Though today I’m more comfortable with these types of encounters, there was a time when I was constantly overwhelmed. Unfortunately, couldn’t tell a physically living soul! Certain family members already believed I was consorting with the devil because I didn’t believe as they did. In my business as a professional mental healthcare worker such discussion were a definite “no-no!” Early in my career I did make the naïve mistake of trying to talk to one of my professional peers. Sharing about my strange dealings with afterlife dwellers living in the next dimension didn’t go over very well. Sadly, the response was, “What? You sound kind of nuts! If your clients find out you believe in ghosts, you will then be putting their welfare at risk. And we will know you’re unbalanced.” Believing, yes, I’d be seen as in need of strong psychotropic medications, and that my reputation as an author and trauma specialist would be destroyed, I zipped my lips, shoved and Spirit aside.

Well, not talking with Spirit or listening to Spirit didn’t make Spirit go away. Spirit World contact would return, or should I say bombarded my consciousness, invaded my sleep, and on a few occasions manifested right in front of me! Not knowing where to turn or what to do I’d just turn it off, and throw up road blocks of denial, minimization, rationalization and justification for what I was experiencing. Over time I must say I got pretty good at this. Aside from focusing on producing one book after another, I had two sons to raise and a husband to tend to, along with a large clinical practice.

But, Spirit has a way of getting our attention. Working with trauma and loss I had clients coming in with tales of grandma sitting up in her deathbed, with arms extended while calling out to a mother, father, grandparents, brothers, sisters, friends and even pets who were visiting from the other world. Then a client would tell me how the spirit of a departed loved one would had visited them at their homes.  Even though I’d had my share of these experiences, I tried to dismiss what my brave clients were trying to tell me.

Then my young son Josh had a visit from an angel or a guide right before his beloved grandfather made his journey to the next life. My three year old baby was told by this guide that his “Da” was going up to the sky. He then pointed up.

This event triggered not only my own experiences, but those my clients had shared with me. Turning my full attention to these encounters I began researching Departing Visions in earnest.

This was safe. I felt as though I serving Spirit by validating my son and clients. I loved researching these incredible visions. In doing this work I was now able to offer experiencers a sense of hope and let them know that they weren’t alone. 

I too received many gifts. Individuals who openly shared their fantastic accounts with me were not only my teachers, but my validators.

While I was putting together three books on Departing Visions, Spirit contact increased and intensified. When it became too much I’d have to shut it down again. Turning it off seemed to be the only way to temporarily control it.

A number of years ago it really came on strong and consumed my world. I’d had a couple of clients in my practice physically pass from prescription drug overdoses. Both women had become very addicted to narcotics and even with inpatient treatment they continued to use. Part of me felt as though I had failed them. It took work and time for me to come full circle and remember their suicides were their decisions.  At this same time I’d gone to a conference to meet up with some spiritually like-minded friends. Sitting in the audience listening to an incredible medium give a lecture on how he worked with his ability, I noticed I was picking up on what was going on with members of the audience.

After the medium gave a demonstration I approached him and shared how I’d found his presentation incredibly interesting. He looked at me and said, “You were sitting in the back of the room. I saw you. You have an incredible strong light coming from you and it’s time you do something about that!” Then he turned to someone else and began a conversation! His straight forward statement took me totally by surprise. After that I did begin to take Spirit seriously.

Aside from finding a well-established Mentor who could assist me with my own spontaneous bursts of Spirit contact, I also started taking classes on Spiritualism. Part of the education I received was connected with a group associated with the Spiritualist community located in the town of Lily Dale, NY.

Located in Chautauqua County, Lily Dale is an original American Spiritualist community associated with the Modern Spiritualist movement. Late 19th century Spiritualists scattered across the United States began gravitating to Lily Dale, also home to the Fox sisters. As the movements’ primary founders, also reported to be the first American mediums to make contact with Spirit in the next dimension, the young Fox sisters started a firestorm with their mediumship claims.

Lawyers, scientists, psychologists, clergy and even Presidents sought out their abilities to connect with the Spirit World. Much debate has continued over the decades about the authenticity of their claims, but one fact can’t be denied. The other worldly experiences the Fox sisters encountered began a spiritual movement which carries on today, with Lily Dale as home base.

Every summer my husband Michael and I make the trek to Lily Dale, NY with two kitties who can’t be trusted alone at home and one mischievous dog.  In spite of the long car drive I must say I’ve found my “kin” within this Spiritualist community. Feeling very at home with Lily Dale’s guidelines for practicing Spiritualism, I quickly learned contact with spirits or Medium-ship was a service to be provided to the grieving, suffering and for those who are fearful of death.

Giving a message was done to show humanity that life does not end with physical death. Contrary to what many religions teach, we don’t sit on a cloud and strum a harp in heaven. Once we make that transition to the next life the journey continues. Most important personal responsibility is a must, in this life and the next.

After my first trip to Lily Dale the relief I felt was enormous. Though sanity had returned I wasn’t about to hang out my “Medium” shingle anytime soon. The men and women who stepped forward to explore the next realm of existence were indeed brave souls. Abolitionists, Women’s Suffrage members, and even psychologists, scientists and philosophers I’d studied as an undergraduate and graduate student, devoted their lives to learning and being of service. And was I ever surprised to discover my psychology heroes were in the thick of the beginnings of the Modern Spiritualist movement.

As I continued to dive into Modern Spiritualism and mediumship I realized Spirit contact was not as some curse especially bestowed upon me. Also, having published a number of books and articles about Departing Visions, I thought I had a fair understanding of the Spiritualist movement. Thankfully I was wrong about this too. I still had, and to this day have a lot to learn.

Once I had returned home and come down to the earth plane, I discovered many in the Modern Survivalist movement; researchers, authors and even educators, had suddenly decided they were now mediums. Everyone was making contact with the afterlife and claiming extraordinary gifts of mediumship and psychic ability, charging as much as $600 or more for forty-five minute to hour long readings. Workshops were being offered for a pretty price while Mediumship Developmental classes exploded everywhere. What did I do? I allowed this to completely turn me off, so I shut down again. I couldn’t participate in an arena where so many were clawing after media, competing and bickering with one another, setting up shop and charging ridiculous fees for readings, all under the guise of spiritual unfoldment. 

Several decades previous to this I’d seen this same thing happen with the Recovery Movement. A number of my first books were on addiction, trauma and recovery. Being a sober alcoholic for thirty years now, I remember how overwhelmed and in awe I was with the authors I was lecturing around the country with. Being sober only a few years I didn’t realize what clay feet these leaders in the field had. When I found out that a number of them drank alcoholically I was crushed, and removed myself from the movement, never to return.

As with the Recovery Movement, I allowed what I was seeing in the Survivalist Movement to overwhelm me and I took off running. Understand many in the Survivalist Movement are honorable individuals, but my personal sense of loss came from watch those few who were more interested in fame and fortune than service and healing.

Of course Spirit followed me, just like it had before. There was no escape now. No matter how loudly I screamed or yelled “No!” those on the other side had found another possible avenue back to their loved ones in this reality, and they weren’t about to let go. Eventually I remembered my primary purpose and said to myself, “This isn’t all about you Carla.” So, it was back to the Victorian homes dating back to the 1880’s and generations of dedicated Spiritualist mediums living side by side in Lily Dale, NY. Once again back in my home away from home, my attitude started to adjust.

With a population of around 275 souls, there are rules to abide by. A potential resident must be active for several years in a NSAC (National Spiritualist Association of Churches) board approved Spiritualist church before they can become a member of the community. Because of the brutal winters, most residents only spend their summer months in Lily Dale. Maintaining homes blasted by strong winds and deep, bitter snows which come roaring off Lake Erie can be a challenge. Knowledge of hammers, saws, ladders, paint and nails is a necessity. Resident Mediums must be registered by the NSAC board. These guys and gals undergo strict examination by the board, but are the only Mediums allowed to give readings and receive a fee in Lily Dale.

Compared to the high profile or “wanna be” conduits to the afterlife not associated with Spiritualism, Lily Dale, Arthur Finlay, the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp in Central Florida or other similar communities, these Mediums tend to keep their fees for readings, workshops and lectures reasonable. Along with this, when messages are given during a Spiritualist service, discussion about the science and philosophy of this religion are just as important as are messages from loved ones in the next realm.

Yes, this was where integrity could be found. I knew these folks would make sure I understood why I was being touched by those souls in the next dimension.  They would also remind me that I had an obligation to work for Spirit, not try to tame or hide from Spirit. In the end I was to discover my initial intuition was right. This is not a “me” experience, but a unity of workers bound in service on this side of existence and in the Spirit World. 
(Next blog I’ll share what a day in Lily Dale is like.)

Carla Wills-Brandon, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is also the author of 13 published books discussing topics ranging from;

• Food disorders
• Addiction
• Holistic Health
• Relationships
• Dealing with teens, children of trauma, addiction
• Healthy intimacy and sexuality
• Sexual healing
• Trauma resolution and PTSD
• Recovery from grief, loss and death,
• Afterlife research and spirituality
• The Departing Visions of the dying

One of her published books, Learning to Say No: Establishing Healthy Boundaries was a “Publishers Weekly Best Seller. The author has lectured across the U.S. and U.K., and has appeared on numerous national radio and television programs, such as Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jesse Raphael, Montel Williams, Coast to Coast Radio Show with Art Bell and George Noory, Uri Geller’s Coast to Coast Radio Show and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. Wills-Brandon has also appeared on several programs with her husband, Licensed Clinical Psychologist Michael Brandon, PhD.

A Glimpse Heaven is published by White Crow Books and is available from Amazon and other online bookstores. Her other books on departing visions, One Last Hug before I Go: The Mystery and Meaning of Deathbed Visions and Heavenly Hugs: Comfort, Support, and Hope from the Afterlife ca


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The Role of Affinities and the Group-Soul by Anabela Cardoso – Affinities seem to play an important role in the next world. We have touched on the subject in a previous chapter and I have discussed it in earlier publications (Cardoso, 2010, 2003). Indeed, the meaning and importance of the Group-Soul described in the mediumistic literature, e.g. the information received purportedly from the deceased Frederic Myers by Geraldine Cummins (Cummins, 2012), have been emphasized in my own contacts. Read here
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