Hi – I’m Joe Loffredo, the webmaster for Alseyon. Welcome!
How I got started with Spiritualism
I’ve been a Spiritualist since 1993. When I was a kid, my mother and a close friend of the family (whom I have always affectionately referred to as my Aunt Jean) used to “go to the psychics” from time to time. I remember listening to my mother with interest about what they had said. Usually, what “the psychics” said was accurate and any predictions came true most of the time.
I have always had an interest in things spiritual. I remember growing up with the Catholic religion – we went to church on a regular basis, but we were not strict Catholics by any means. I missed the opportunity to make my confirmation (we had moved out of town for several months then came back) so I had to get religious instruction on a tutorial basis.
Initially, I dreaded the idea, but Joanne was a good instructor and I learned a lot from her. At one point in our discussions I told her I was comfortable with my ideas about God and didn’t feel the need to be confirmed. Joanne said that it was OK and I didn’t have to get confirmed. She meant it genuinely, and for that I have great respect for her. Bless her wherever she may be today.
We never had a Ouija board in our house, not because it was sacrilege – we just never bought one. My brother, sisters, and myself made one instead by taking a short drinking glass (made of glass) and turning it over, then making small squares of paper with the numbers and letters of the alphabet on them. We would put the squares of paper in a circle, then everyone would put their fingers on the overturned glass in the center of the circle. It worked well. We worked with the board every so-often, and always got positive results. I recall the first time my Grandfather in Spirit came through the Ouija board – he was quite surprised to run into us this way.
I pursued psychology in college, and was exposed to Zen Buddhism through one of my college courses. I became fascinated and read books written by the Zen masters every chance I got. Much of my college time involved developing my belief system, thinking, trying out new ideas, and thinking some more. The opportunity came up to do a paper on meditation, which was helpful as well.
While in college, there was a time when I didn’t believe in God. I remember the shocked faces of the people around me. God was a person on a throne. I believed in the oneness of the universe, which was not a somebody on a throne. Therefore, I didn’t believe in God.
Several years later I found that I had made a major oversight in coming to my conclusion about God. I learned that I had never stopped believing in God, not at all. I misled myself into believing that there was only one way to define God, and either you believed in God or you didn’t. In Zen terms, I had mistaken the finger pointing for the moon.
Some years after college I went to a psychic for a reading, and regarding spiritual development, she told me that you can’t learn it from a book, you need a teacher, and that Spirit “wasn’t done with me yet”. Valuable words.
I went to Lily Dale on Memorial Day the next spring and was impressed by it’s beauty and peace. Walking through the streets and nearby forest I could feel my spirit soak up the sunshine and the light breeze coming off the lake. It is a wonderful place.
I began visiting the Dale every summer. Many of the readings and messages I received over the years indicated that I could likely become a medium as well. At one point I decided to look up the Spiritualist churches in my area and finally went to visit one because I wanted to learn more.
About my first visit to church
It took some courage to actually go to church. Visits to Lily Dale didn’t require any courage. Perhaps going to church meant that I was now taking things more seriously. The first time, I went with my mom and my mother-in-law at the time. They were both interested in Spiritualism as well.
The church was small and very down-to-earth. The service was nice, and except for the message portion, not very different from the services of other religions. There is a dining room area in the basement where everyone goes after the service for coffee. I remember feeling uncomfortable because I didn’t know anyone, but the people seemed pretty harmless – they just hung out. No one came to my table asking intrusive questions, demanding I convert, or anything else that would make a person uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.
Over the next year, I went to the church about once or twice a month, and people seemed to be pretty much the same way as the first time I was there.
On becoming a member of the church
I started to get to know some folks in the church. Since no one had put any demands on me to do anything, and I had been seen around there long enough, I figured that if this was some kind of radical group, they would have tried something by now. So I let go of any reservations I had left and decided to become a member of the church.
I went to the church Pastor at the time, Paul Spencer, and told him I wanted to become a member of the church. He asked “Are you a Spiritualist?” Startled, I replied that I didn’t know as much as I would like to, but, yes, I am a Spiritualist. He said “welcome to the club then, you can join the rest of us!” and explained that everyone is learning, including himself.
This is something I will always remember. Other people would have looked at the same conversation with disdain because they expect their leaders to know everything. But I have always preferred to get the real story instead of an exaggerated, fake version that just doesn’t hold water. I was impressed to hear that the Pastor of the church would admit that he did not have all the answers. And an honest, unabashed admission at that. I knew that I was in the right place and this was the right religion for me.