At the age of 10, Debra Jordan began to see the spirits of the dead.
The presence of her deceased uncle at night scared her.
Her experiences did not stop with her uncle. Jordan was about 15 years old when her childhood friend passed away at the age of 13 from an aneurysm.
“For me, that was not even thinkable,” she said. “I can recall that I could feel her presence. At that time, it just frightened me.”
A Kentucky native, Jordan started studying metaphysics in the 1980s. She moved to Florida in 2004 and became a medium, someone who is said to aid in communication between spirits of the dead and living human beings. Jordan became a medium in Jacksonville through a six-month program called Hope for Humanity, which consisted of her taking classes via conference calls.
After visiting the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association in Cassadaga, Florida, in 2006, Jordan decided she wanted to become more involved. She attended spiritualist meetings on Sundays at the Colby Memorial Temple located within the camp as well as workshops that introduced her to the spiritualist community.
In 2010, Jordan began taking classes toward becoming a certified medium in the camp. Working mediums within the camp must be certified by the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association. Once participants complete the program, they are approved for certification and given a working permit that allows them to give readings to clients.
It took Jordan about five years of study to receive her certification. She conducted her first reading as a certified medium on March 19.
The Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp is the oldest spiritualist community in the south, according to the Rev. Janie Owens, pastor of Colby Memorial Temple, a spiritualist church located within the campgrounds.
“Spiritualism is a religion, philosophy and a science,” Owens said. “We believe in the continuity of life. We feel we can prove that scientifically with communication with the spirit world.”
George Colby, a medium from New York, founded the spiritualist camp in 1894. The camp now spans 57 acres and has about 52 houses, Owens said. About 75 people live within the camp.
“I had several people tell me that I should come and visit Cassadaga,” she said. “I basically decided to come down one Saturday and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m home.'”
Jordan was approved for certification in February of 2015 and received her permit a month later, which allowed her to officially work as a medium within the camp for the first time.
Since then, Jordan has divided her time between Jacksonville, where her family resides, and the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp.
“I view it that God basically has blessed me with some very, very beautiful gifts,” she said. “It’s perfectly acceptable for him to work through me to serve other people.”
Jenna Hammer, a 16-year-old high school student from Bradenton, Florida, was Jordan’s first client after she received her permit.
Hammer said she was skeptical of hearing anything interesting about spirits in her family before arriving at the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp.
“I was excited but kind of nervous,” she said. “If they didn’t connect with the people I was hoping they would connect to, I would be disappointed. You go in with a certain mindset.”
Hammer said her experience with Jordan was overwhelming after hearing the medium describe her deceased grandfather, who Hammer considered her best friend.
“You want to know more but you can’t because they’ve told you almost everything they’ve felt from whatever spirit they’re talking to,” she said. “Hearing Debra describe him to me kind of cemented the idea that there is an afterlife, that there is such a thing as spirits. It was very comforting.”
Using her gifts to help others with their healing process is something Jordan enjoys doing.
“I feel very good about what I do in my life,” Jordan said. “I feel very good about being able to use my many, many years of experience to being able to serve others. The most important thing is to be able to help other people.”