Rev. Adele Clemens

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A biography of Adele Clemens was published in 2023

Reverend Adele Myrtle Clemens (1901-1972) was a spirit medium who conducted seances to contact the dead, lectured on New Thought and Spiritualist topics, and gave psychic readings as an astrologer and card reader. She undertook evangelical metaphysical tours across the country and she introduced several forms of candle work to the African-American led Spiritual Church Movement during the early 1940s. Adele’s mother Rosa Clemens held séance circles in the Clemens family home and was herself a skilled tea leaf and card reader, and both mother and daughter attended services at The First Spiritualist Church of Luzerne, under the well-known medium Emma Gean Hendershott. Shortly after 1929, when a mining disaster destroyed the family home and they had to temporarily relocate, Adele Clemens began advertising her readings in local newspapers. She soon developed a large clientele and the Clemens home was rebuilt. Shortly after her father passed away in 1935, Clemens met John Brandon, whom she married in 1938. During this time her reputation as a first-class Spiritualist mediums spread.

In 1942, Clemens met Dr. Hereward Carrington, a famous author, psychic investigator, and manager for touring mediums. Carrington was a member of the American Institute of Psychical Research, which owned the New York property occupied by The Church of Spiritual Revelation, affiliated with Father Major Divine, the African-American leader of the Peace Mission Movement. Clemens became a Pastor in Father Divine's Harlem-based Church of Spiritual Revelation for four months, and there she created her own unique style of candle service and developed Divine Harmony Spiritual Church, a an religiously eclectic and socially multi-ethnic reading parlor, art gallery, and candle service chapel. She met Mikhail Strabo (Sydney J. R. Steiner), who published books on African-American hoodoo through his Guidance House imprint, and together they wrote "How to Conduct a Candle Light Service," a manual for Spiritual Church Movement pastors still in use today. Clemens returned to Wilkes-Barre in 1944 to look after her husband John, who was very ill. He passed away from heart disease, and she didn’t return to New York. In 1948, she and her friend Ilyap Chook opened an art gallery in Hollywood, California, where she also continued to give readings. Her brother John and his domestic partner Max Saxon had a gallery there as well, and specialized in framing antique art. When they relocated to New York, Clemens returned to Wilkes-Barre. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes broke the levees on the Susquehanna River and Clemens' home was severely damaged and many of her artworks and metaphysical mementos were destroyed. She died about a month later of heart failure.

In 2013 "How to Conduct a Candle Light Service" by Clemens and Strabo was brought back to public attention as an included chapter in "The Art of Hoodoo Candle Magic" by Catherine Yronwode. This led to the revival of Divine Harmony Spiritual Church by Rev. D. John Hilford in Florida in 2013. In 2016, Rev. Hilford bestowed the pastorship of Divine Harmony Spiritual Church on Jon Saint Germain, in Knoxville, Tennessee, where is remains to this day. Rev. Saint Germain, with the help of Rev. Clemens' surviving relatives, wrote a biography of Clemens' life, "An Artist Among the Spirits," which was published at the 2023 Hoodoo Heritage Festival under the imprint of Missionary Independent Spiritual Church.


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