A witch-themed store opens in eastern Lawrence to serve a growing pagan population
I’ll let you determine what “miracle” the once popular Miracle Video store at 19th and Haskell was promoting. But the new store that has taken its place also is in a business where the topic of miracles comes up. It is a religious supply store, but perhaps not the type of religion you are thinking of.
The store sells supplies for Wicca and other pagan religions. And it is not new at it, either. The store is the Village Witch, which previously was located in North Lawrence in a stone building a couple of doors down from Johnny’s Tavern. Owner Kerry Johnson said the store had been in the North Lawrence location for about 10 years. Pagan religion, it seems, is not a passing fad.
But what type of supplies do you need for it? I know in my religion two of the most important are a pillow to make the pew softer, or, conversely, a clock for the pastor. I’m not sure it is quite the same in the pagan religions. Johnson said the store sells a lot of candles and incense, which can be used in ceremonial rituals, including the casting of spells. Yes, spell casting is part of the religion, and Johnson said it makes sense if you think about it in the proper context.
“A spell is very much like a prayer,” said Johnson, who said she enjoys explaining the religion to people. “It is a petition to the gods to act in your favor. We bump it up a bit by burning incense.”
Other supplies sold at the store include books, tarot cards, statuettes of gods and goddesses, cauldrons and ritual knives. I’m not entirely versed in how the knives are used, but you shouldn’t assume the worst. As a reminder, some religions use staffs and rods as part of their rituals.
Johnson said not everyone who comes into the store is a practicing pagan. She said the store has a large jewelry selection, which brings in many nonpagans, as does its incense inventory. With the move, Johnson has expanded by bringing in daughter-in-law Ashlie Christianson, who operates the Green Goddess. That business sells a variety of herbal products, including homemade soaps, essential oils, bath and body products, herbal teas and other such items.
Johnson said she decided to move the business to 19th and Haskell after the other woman she was sharing the shop with in North Lawrence decided to go in a different direction. Plus, the new location is convenient for her family’s other business. Her family operates the Cosmic Cafe that also is located in the 19th and Haskell shopping center.
Johnson said she is confident her customers will find her in the new location. She said customers come from throughout the region. Although Kansas City has several pagan-based religious stores, she said many Kansas City residents frequently come to Lawrence to check out her shop. Johnson said there are fewer pagan-based stores west of Lawrence, so Lawrence ends up being a shopping destination for those folks.
As for the future, Johnson said the number of pagans in Lawrence seems to be on the rise. In particular, the pagan branch known as Wicca is a fast-growing religion. Johnson has been part of the Wicca religion for many years and now is a high priestess of one of the covens that meet in Lawrence.
Yes, Wicca does involves several pieces of terminology associated with witches, as the store’s name implies. Practitioners are commonly called witches. But Johnson said there are quite a few misunderstandings non-Wiccans have about the religion.
Probably the biggest is an assumption that Wiccans are Satan worshippers. Johnson said the Wiccan religion actually doesn’t believe in a Satan figure.
“If you did something bad, it is on you, not on Satan,” she said.
The religion does believe in Karma. Female figures play a central role in the religion, and practitioners of Wicca generally don’t proselytize, believing that religion is a very personal decision.
Johnson said Lawrence has been a great location for the store because the community is open-minded about ideas outside the mainstream.
“We’ve never had a problem with people being respectful in Lawrence,” Johnson said.
UPDATE: In reporting this story I’ve learned that Johnson’s old business partner has a similar venture operating in North Lawrence. Kacey Carlson is operating Third Eye Sadie’s at 311 N Second Street.
The store also sells supplies for Wicca and pagan religions. But Carlson said the store plans to be a little bit wider in its reach.
“We’re aiming the space a little more toward global spirituality,” she said.
That means the store doesn’t just have jewelry and items from the Nordic or European regions, which are popular in Wicca, but also has some Tibetan and African jewelry too. Carlson thinks the store’s inventory will appeal to a lot of people regardless of whether they are interested in the items for their religious purposes.
“Sometimes I call it a shiny object girl store,” Carlson said. “There is a lot of emphasis on gemstones here.”