LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk

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.”


Bob Smith 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Kerry's a good person to do business with!

Daniel Kennamore 6 months, 4 weeks ago

That's kinda cool.

Had no idea there was enough of a Wicca population in Lawrence to support a store. Hope it does well.

Pete Kennamore 6 months, 4 weeks ago

When does Lawrence get a store catering to the pastafarians?

Cait McKnelly 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Wicca isn't the ONLY pagan religion Kerry caters to. I'm sure if you look hard enough at her shop, you will find a colander or two. :P

John Urbik 6 months, 4 weeks ago

And this is a "good thing"? "Wicca is typically duotheistic, worshipping a Goddess and a God. These are traditionally viewed as the Moon Goddess and the Horned God, respectively. These deities may be regarded in a henotheistic way, as having many different divine aspects which can in turn be identified with many diverse pagan deities from different historical pantheons."

This is a sad development... I wonder what Jesus Christ would say? Maybe he'd point your attention to this... The Ten Commandments 20 And God spoke all these words:

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Idols and Altars 22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

Some "spiritual food for thought".... There is only ONE TRUE GOD. Everything else is deception delivered by the devil. JMJ

Brock Masters 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't see it as sad. This is America and people are allowed to worship or not worship as they desire. Having a store that services the need of Wiccans is a good thing. I don't believe what they believe but that is okay.

As for your comment about the devil, the devil is evil but I've not seen evil in any of the Wiccans I've known. Generally good people with a different view on religion.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Wiccans do not believe in the devil. They follow the threefold rule. Whatever you do will come back to you threefold. If you do something evil it's you. You can't blame a deity, which, to me is what Christians have turned the devil into.

Also, they don't worship more than one god or goddess. The gods and goddesses are simply a particular aspect of the God. God is not male or female, like it is in the Christian religion, God is both male and female. I realize you probably only know about Wiccan through writings by Christians who hate all other religions, but please try and get it right.

Wiccans have no problems with people who worship another religion. Why do you? We do have religious freedom in our country. Many Europeans who settled here were fleeing religious persecution. That's why they put it in the constitution. You have no problem proudly wearing a cross around your neck, but many Wiccans can't proudly wear their pentagram, because of people's ignorance of it's symbolism.

Teri Chambers 6 months, 3 weeks ago

While your comment is generally accurate, you do have one error. Pagans do worship more than one god or goddess. Specific Wiccan traditions may only worship the Lord and Lady and see the gods and goddess as aspects of that.

There are parts of the Pagan population that are called hard polytheists. That means we see gods as separate beings, not aspects of one god or one goddess. Athena and the Morrigan are both goddess of war and strife, but they have very different personalities.

All Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Therefore, not all Pagan traditions follow the Wiccan Rede and Threefold Law.

But as we say, ask 2 Pagans a question and get 5 different answers.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

You are right that not all pagans are Wiccans. I was really referring to Wiccans specifically, not speaking for all pagans.

Richard Aronoff 6 months, 3 weeks ago

So if non-Wiccans purchase something from this store will they be accused of cultural appropriation?

Teri Chambers 6 months, 3 weeks ago

No. Wicca is a Western European tradition. Although many Pagans try to be respectful of Native American religious traditions and not steal from them.

David Holroyd 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Is Third Eye Sadie's related to One Eye Wilbur or Two Eyed Juanita?

And does this store have anything related to chicken or tacos?

Newsworthy? short lived unless the rent is cheap.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The Village Witch has been around for 10 years. Did you read the article. The other's might not make it, but I'm sure the Village Witch has a following.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.