Foundation of Light
Spiritual Enlightenment
Ithaca NY

One of the many places of Prayer in Upstate NY.

The Foundation of Light, an ecumenical spiritual and learning center in Ithaca, NY, embodies God’s contemporary message of oneness and the unity of all religions as witnessed in the prophets sent to us in the last 500 years—Sikhism, Bahai, etc. At the same time, the Foundation of Light sits on a very old Native American sacred site with dozens of prayer and ceremonial places. These sites as well as other features are strategically located to take advantage of mother earth. The grammar school on the site adds to the sense of community. It is so “Ithaca,” blending new alternatives with traditional ways of exploring while not loosing grasp of God’s universals message of love and equality of all people.


Kate Payne and Mabel Beggs began the Foundation of Light in the early 1970’s to provide a spiritual alternative to the Ithaca community and to reclaim what they felt was sacred space. In 1979 the main structure was erected. Kate is still alive and lives in one of the buildings on the grounds.

The Foundation of Light is community, or member driven. Anyone is welcome to join the community. Its members are an eclectic group that has included people such as Dorothy Cotton who was the top women in Dr. Martin Luther Kings Southern Leadership conference in the 1960’s.

Experiencing the Foundation of Light

There are no rigid rules or structure at the Foundation of Light. The only formalized program for the whole community is a group meditation on Sunday’s at the Gathering Room. There are programs, lectures and courses offered and study groups affiliated with the Foundation of Light. They also provide other programs and have open meetings for all to attend. Check the home page for a program of events. Or offer your own alternative.

There are a lot of options available at the Foundation of Light: a meditation room, a gathering room, a labyrinth, a stone circle, a peace pole, courses/programs and several acres of land to walk.

There are numerous fields of consciousness and sacred sites throughout the property. The prayer and good intentions of “those that came before” and today’s community members permeate the air, blanketing the area in a strongly positive geographic samskara. Even if you don’t have a strong sense for space there is a good chance that you will feel connected while there.

Here are some suggestions:

Gathering Room--A great space with lots of light. A good place to meditate, particularly when it is cold outside. There are two fields of consciousness that cover more than half of the room in the back.

Meditation Room—Forget the directions follow the vibe it will take you there. Powerful presence of prayer lingers. If you are trying to learn to meditate, or get better at it, spend some time there.

Labyrinth—sits on a stacked (4) field of consciousness. While I was walking the labyrinth a minor insight/epiphany came to me; Interesting since I am generally not drawn to labyrinths.

There are two Spirit Keepers sacred spots about 15-18ft. straight in. Powerful! They are marked with flat stones. Sit down and meditate on the stones if you are looking to feel consciousness or expand it.

Area Southeast of the Labyrinth towards Ellis Hollow Road—There is a stacked (4) field of consciousness with dozens of Spirit Keepers sacred sites. A few spots have been marked with flat stones.

Area North of the Garden—there is a stacked (3) field of consciousness with several Spirit Keepers sacred sites. A few places are marked.

Area East of the Garden—Look for a path going into the woods. Not more than 10 feet in you will come upon a Spirit Keepers ceremonial circle. It is partially etched out in stones and is part of larger formation. Note how several large trees surround the circle indicating something is going on in the center. This is the place to be whether you are trying to enhance your spirituality or make a better world. I believe that praying at Mother Earth’s soul benefits Mother Earth, humanity and us individually.

The grounds—Do a contemplative walk, find a place you connect with and meditate or just be with friends. While the grounds are pretty much an open field, they offer lots of love and insight.

Study Groups—the Finger Lakes dowsers hold their Ithaca meetings here. There is a flower essence group that meets that I would like to learn from. Check out the program.

The more the merrier. Your spiritual experiences are heightened when done with others. When I was walking the ground with Suzanne Cornell I could sense how we enhanced each other’s spiritual experience—synergy, or greater than the sum of the parts. Thank God if someone is meditating next to you while at the Foundation of Light.

Getting There

Directions. The Foundation of Light is located 391 Turkey Hill Road in Ithaca, NY.

If you have never been to Ithaca I strongly suggest a visit. To learn about Ithaca click on Visit Ithaca .com there are a lot state forests nearby that afford excellent hiking. There are numerous gorges and waterfalls in the area. Then there is the city itself.


The Foundation of Light is not the sophisticated and formal retreat center many urban dwellers may be used to. It is informal, unstructured and open to all. It is not a moneymaking institution, rather, they are like your local place of worship, which tries to make ends meet from congregants’ and visitors donations and small fees it collects from groups it is trying to help. Keep that in mind when you visit. They welcome you. Please say thank you in the way you feel called.

Thanks to Suzanne Cornell for informational guidance and Lorraine Mavins for photography.

Madis Senner

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