Originally published July 11, 2016 on Witch on Fire, click here.
Shopkeeper Sagas: Not All Who Wander are Lost, Part 1
If you are any flavor of pagan, or even P-curious, I bet you began your spiritual odyssey at the local metaphysical shop. These magickal places are where you can find new age and occult books, tarot cards, herbs you’ve only ever heard about in Harry Potter, crystals, arcane tools, candles, statues of the old golds, and shining silver jewelry with sigils that will confound and concern the neighbors. But, the most important thing you find in a shop like this is a sympathetic ear, and the straight answers to the hardest questions you’ve ever asked. These shops are the safe port in the storm for those of us who are dancing to that rhythm most folks can’t even hear. If you had such a shop in your hometown when you needed it most, consider yourself very lucky.
Since 2008, I’ve owned and operated just such a place. Keeping these doors open and accessible is my sacred mission as a witch. I believe that the Powers-that-Be called me to do this work as a means of organizing the Pagan community here in eastern North Carolina specifically. I came here in 1995 for my BS degree, and moved away twice to pursue my career in Interior Design, but inevitably was lured back. There is an inescapable gravity to this place.
[Edit: At first, I wrote that this was a “gods-forsaken place,” but through the writing out of this story, I see that clearly the old gods have taken a very keen interest in this region. Not just through my work, but through many dedicated pagans over the last 20-30 years.]
The Sojourner has a prime location in the hip Uptown area near East Carolina University. We keep open hours 7 days a week right out here in plain view of Jesus and all of his sheep. Boy, oh boy, is that a TRIP! The stories I will tell… Within a few blocks our neighbors include ECU, large churches, the mosque, yoga studios, Minority Voice Radio, African American clothiers for church vestments, hats, wigs and fancy dresses, several art galleries, an organic farm-to-table restaurant, tattoo and piercing parlors, a “gay bar” with the best drag shows, a Headshop for glass smoking paraphernalia, aaaaand a teacher’s educational supply store, just to name a few. FUN TIMES!
Uptown is a bizarre slice of society, and we get along on this street quite well! However, the town of Greenville is dead-center of the country doldrums between the cosmopolitan Research Triangle of Raleigh/Chapel Hill/Durham, and the quaint, bustling tourism of the coast. East Carolina University imports many sophisticated, progressive and intellectual people <ahem<like myself> ahem> who are awesome. However, Greenville is an island surrounded by the conservative, bible-thumping, Trump-supporting, creationism-believing, queer-fearing, Klan-sympathizing bigots who cling to an antebellum view of the world. (1)