Dateline: New York, March 2016
The old, creaky wood floors are covered with accidental glitter, the walls are covered with candles, books, pendants, caldrons and brooms. Two black cats, Medea and Eros, lay across the counter.
I walked towards the back of this store that sells “spells” to a surprising line of waiting customers. The right wall as I enter is stacked with jars of herbs. In front of me is a small counter with candles and ingredients behind it. Under the sign that wryly announces, “The Witch Is In,” are two women making custom spell candles for patrons.
Devil Shoestring, Life Everlasting, Nettle, Lemon grass are a few among those special herbs.
I waited for Stacy Rapp, the owner of the delightful place on a quiet side street in “Gotham City’s” (NYC, for you pale heart readers) East Village. It’s called “Enchantments.”
I asked one of the young candle-makers, “what’s your name?”
“Nettle,” she answered.
“How do you spell that?” I asked.
“However you want to,” she replied with a grin, but still refusing to actually spell it for me.
I watched Nettle (however you spell that) greet her customer. The customer wanted a spell candle for her friend who was getting married that weekend. Apparently, there had been some drama and the candle was to ensure that the wedding went off without a hitch. A tall order for anyone who has planned a wedding, but Nettle was undeterred.
Nettle, started to make a custom candle to help deter wedding day blues. She asked the client to eat some of the honey before she put it in the candle.
“What is the honey for?” I asked.
“It’s an offering to the deities,” she told me. “Honey in you, honey in the candle…connection.”
“An offering of sweetness to the deities.”
Nettle began carving the candle. Her music blared from a speaker. Metal. She danced and rocked her half-shaved head like an 80’s head-banger, pouring her essence into the spell candle.
Every one of Nettle’s replies to my queries was witty and sarcastic. I liked her.
Stacy finished up with her client and we went to the back of the store. We sat at a cozy table where “readings” were usually done. She had purchased the store in 2003 after working there for a while. The owner was ready to sell and it seemed the right fit for her.
Readers, let me paint you a picture. Stacy, is a modern witch. Her hair is vibrant red, her skin covered in tattoos, which she got before ink was “cool.” Her knuckles are banded tastefully with rings and jewelry. She is quiet, centered and intelligent.
More than anything, goodness pours from her. You are immediately at ease around her.
“What’s the goal of your store and your craft?” I asked.
“We want to give people tools to improve their lives,” she tells me. “Magic is working with your own energy to better your life. If you want empowerment, magic is help from the universe.”
Stacy stressed that magic comes from within yourself. So nothing like you see in Disney movies or horror films.
“Magic requires your own energies,” she explained. “It’s a big part of making things happen. We work with elements (earth, fire, water, spirit) deities and universe.”
“How does Satan come into play here?” I asked.
“It doesn’t,” she smiled. “Wicca is a sect of Paganism, recognized as a religion from the United States. We believe in a polytheistic deity. A male/female deity. Which as you can imagine, appeals to a lot of women.”
Stacy continued to explain more about Wicca.
“Women these days are looking for a strong role model. Wicca offers those role models and breaks out of the societal constricts. It empowers people, instead of restraining them.”
“Tell me about the candles,” I said.
“They are our specialty. We just had an article published about our candles and we have a ton of online orders.”
I pointed out the hundreds boxes along the floor of the store, pouring into the back and stacked neck high. There were so many it was hard to navigate.
“Those are all candles to fill the requests. A candle is a complete spell in itself. It burns energy and goes out into the universe. There is incense, magnetic iron, in the candles to attract the deities. We carve symbols and names if needed into the candles and add special ingredients tailored for each spell.”
People come in looking for help and not sure what to do. Most times they are willing to try anything. They also have a steady flow of regular patrons.
The most common candles are for love, money, uncrossing and unhexing.
The craziest candle they have ever been asked to make was a man who wanted “demons in his head to go away.”
The most common spell they are asked to create, but that they refuse to make, is people seeking to break up a couple so they can be with the object of their desire.
“The first rule of Wicca, is ‘do no harm,’” Stacy tells me. “Do what you will, so long as it harms none.”
“What magic is harmful?” I asked
“Black magic is magic that harms someone that has done nothing to you,” she said seriously. “Of course, defending yourself is okay.”
Stacy was lead down the path of Wicca by her grandmother, who was also a witch. She was raised to explore religions and she followed her path.
We walked out to the main area of the store because her reader needed to use the space to read for a client. She sat under the wall of herbs and ate her lunch while we chatted like old friends.
I asked Nettle what the most bizarre experience she had in the store.
“The Time Lord came in,” she said with a wry grin. “He was making a gear to propel us into the future and he believed he was cursed.”
“Well that’s fun,” I said grinning.
“Time travel makes me dizzy, so I like to stay right here,” Nettle interjected sarcastically. I really liked Nettle.
Stacy laughed. “People have the wrong idea about witchcraft. If I could wiggle my nose and clean my apartment that would be great, but it doesn’t work like that.”
I bought myself a Medusa pendant and looked over the penis and vagina candles while one of the store attendants packed my jewelry.
“And these are for?” I asked looking back at Stacy, still eating her lunch.
“Penis stuff,” Stacy answered. Obviously.
I laughed out loud. Of course it was. Silly me.
“Red makes it bigger or brings it to you. Black contains the penis. And white heals.”
“We have vaginas too!” Nettle hollers out. Yes Nettle. Yes we do.
So next time you are in Manhattan and need and little magic in your life, check out Enchantments and the lovely witches who work there.
I can assure you, the witches are definitely in.