CHESTERFIELD — In the shade of a tent that kept her from the heat of the afternoon sun, Tiffany Wells lay motionless on her back while Jessica Dunn hovered her hands deliberately over her torso.
Dunn was performing reiki, what she called “a universal energy healing technique” of Japanese origin. The massage is designed, she said, to “calm everything down, and it helps to activate your body’s own ability to heal itself.”
Wells said her session did the trick.
“It helps bring tranquility,” the Elwood resident said. “It’s nice to come out here and walk around and try things like this. This place brings a sort of peace of mind.”
The place to which she was referring is Camp Chesterfield, which hosted the 19th Spirit Fest, an annual gathering of spiritualists, massage therapists, palmistry experts and other vendors.
Saturday was the first of two days of events designed for both longtime believers and newcomers to experience some basic practices of spiritualism, which the camp’s website defines as “the science, philosophy and religion of continuous life based upon the demonstrated fact of communication by means of mediumship with those who live in the spirit world.”
“I really enjoy this kind of atmosphere,” said Phoenix McDonald, an Indianapolis resident who was selling jewelry and offering psychic readings.
“To be around the grounds is absolutely amazing. It’s very peaceful out here, and it’s always a good time and great people to be around and work with.”
McDonald said that although some of her customers had questions and were somewhat skeptical about the tenets of spiritualism, she welcomed the opportunity to explain her outlook.
“Being spiritual is going outside the norm,” McDonald said. “It’s not going with the status quo, you know, and you’ve just got to talk to them and convince them that you’ve got to do what’s right for you, what feels right for you.”
Across a narrow walking path from McDonald’s booth, Lexy Hovis was carefully applying henna to the wrists of customers interested in the craft. Henna, prepared from a dye that comes from the hina tree, wears off through exfoliation after a few days.
“It’s actually just a ground-up blend of herbs that causes the dye,” Hovis said. “It’s basically an all-natural temporary tattoo.”
The weekend included lectures, palm readings, aura photography and other activities. Even though the grounds at Camp Chesterfield were more crowded than usual, local vendors said they relished the chance to spend time on the grounds.
“It feels like home,” said Dunn, who owns a holistic health service in Lapel. “I love coming out here. I’m out here a lot, and my son comes out every year and volunteers with me, so it just feels like home.”