I’ve been thinking about Pagan shops for awhile and contemplating a post about them. Since October, really, when I visited a “New Age” shop in Kingston, Ontario. I have this love/hate relationship with Pagan stores. I love when they exist in cities and towns. They can be great meeting places for fellowship and education. Especially in smaller communities, where finding like-minded souls in the flesh can be very difficult, Pagan shops serve an important social role! They are often where newbies get their first tools and books. They can showcase work from local artisans which I am all about!
The downside? Sometimes they become cliquey. Sometimes they think they’re serving the whole Pagan community but only carry Wiccan books or take a very eclectic approach that can make it difficult, even infuriating, for traditional witches, recons, and other paths to make any connections. But the most annoying thing is when they don’t support local artisans. Or, if they do, not to the extent that they support Chinese factories.
Which brings me to this post from nefaeria: “Does Every Goddess Need to be Homogenized?” Her post was inspired by this blog entry from Three Shouts on a Hilltop: “Celtic Statuary for Sale: But Please Leave Your Brain Behind the Counter.” I was reminded why I wanted to write this post in the first place – so many Pagan shops carry things like this and it’s spiritually and intellectually insulting! It’s part of why I started to make my own statuary out of fabric.
Another annoying thing I notice in many New Age stores is that the people running them don’t really know where the herbs or gems are from. So many stones are the same wholesale grab-bag types you find in tourist shops in woodsy locations. I once had a discussion with a local shop owner from New Hartford, NY (Sticks n Stones - now in Waterville, NY). He sold gems, meticulously researched where his merchandize came from, and mined for some specimens himself with the permission of various landowners in the area. (My husband actually bought my engagement stone from him – a Herkimer diamond.) He often lamented the unethical mining of gems. When Pagan shops sell stones but are unable to say where they were from, how they were mined… That’s alarming and seems to undermine the tree hugger facade they are so desperately trying to achieve.
Same thing with herbs. Some shop owners can’t tell you where they’re from. Or they got them from someone else but don’t know if they were wildcrafted, organic, or covered in pesticides. For the love of the Gods – please learn about your merchandise and educate yourself about these important topics that your consumers are likely to wonder!
Thankfully not all Pagan shops are like this! Some people do their homework. Some people lovingly craft their own merchandize. Or they ethically mine, grow, or harvest it. They can answer your questions and even recommend further reading – from the New Age section and beyond! Those are the people I want to laud on my blog. With that, expect some updates about my shopping experiences – online and in person. I already have a few good reviews gestating in my brain.