So we get a few recurring questions from time to time and thought it might be helpful to put out something for folks to read in case we aren't available at the time of your question.
Question #1 - Do you have tarot readers or Reiki?
Answer: We did at one time, however due to size constraints of our small space we needed to re purpose the area to expand our sales floor. We will take another look at having these services available should we move to a larger location in the near future.
Question #2: Are you Wiccan?
Answer: No we are not Wiccan though we do love and support their community as well as offer a great many Wiccan specific books, tools and other goods in the store.
Paganism owes a great deal to the Wiccan community as they are one of the driving forces in taking Paganism in general; out of the broom closet and more mainstream.
Question #3: Are you Satanists?
Answer: No. Though we do support some of their basic philosophical tenets as well...they're mostly just good common sense put into practice. Also - there is more than one version of Satanist - one the more theatrical LaVey version and the others running the gamut including the ToS whose political activism in the face of fundamentalist tyranny is amazing. We have more of a 'you do you' approach with all of this.
Question #4: OK so what do you guys practice?
Answer: Ours is an initiated tradition of well... traditional witchcraft. At one time we called ourselves Druids but really that's hard to say as there are no written records of Druidic practice other than those written by the victors.
There is a heavily romanticized version that has gone mainstream over the past couple decades but we are not associated with that at all. We don't fault anyone that does subscribe to this version just as we don't have any judgement on anyone's personal belief system. To do so would violate one of our most basic tenets.
Our preferred place to practice is in a consecrated grove in the middle of a very dark woods in MI. This site has been used for working by generations of Witches and is also the location of curiosity seekers associated with the legend of the Witch of Seven Gables (written by the founder of our Coven). Our practice ranges from ceremonial to folk (Pickeyweedz) workings. We have been solitary for quite some time due to the distance from our grove but may look into expanding our circle at some point in this area. Time will tell as our path is not an easy one to tread.
Question #5: Are you guys hiring?
Answer: Not yet. We are still very brand new and still getting underway so we quite frankly can't afford it yet. With an employee, comes an entire new level of insurances and associated legal stuff. We're just not ready for it right now so it's just us. We do plan on bringing on someone part time in the next couple years - but only once we get to the point we can do it right.
Question #6: What does (insert stone name) do for you?
Answer: As stones, crystals and gems were not part of our initiated practice - this is all new for us. We are learning as we go on some items and their respective paths so we may not have all the answers on ALL the products in the store. That doesn't mean we won't join you in the search for the answer - because well.. we want to know too.
We make no claims to be the end-all authority on all things metaphysical but we do promise to never intentionally steer anyone wrong. If we don't know - we'll just tell you we don't know and try to research it with you. That way - we all will know! Some we do know as they are popular in the store and as such we have committed their purposes to memory. So if we are able to answer that question - know that it's coming from actually learning it ourselves first.
We will always be honest above all even if it means losing a sale. We care about our customers and we care about their practice - we could not bear to be the source of bad information in someone's personal belief system - and if we're wrong about something in fact (not opinion) we'll happily add that to our knowledge base.
So many occult stores in our experience only sold the products that were associated with their personal practice or the things that THEY liked or wanted.
From the beginning we made the decision that we would carry as much as we could afford from as many different paths as we could find and that we would expand based upon need and customer requests. The result of that is that we are subject matter experts in many of the things we carry but there are also many items we are still learning ourselves.
Question #7: Why does it feel so good in here?
Answer: Our store is founded in the name of the Gods. The realization of Pickeyweedz is the result of over two decades of thinking, planning and other such fussing about. We wanted a place that would elevate the Gods as well as to provide a one stop location for practitioners or even the curious or seeking that were looking for that special something.
In the old days for a ritual - beyond the planning and fasting and what-not there were the road trips to the herb store for herbs... to the produce store for offerings.. to the occult store for reference material and candles / incense... to the Ren fest once a year for cloaks, staffs etc. you get the idea. We had to go to half a dozen places to get just the basics. While road trips can be fun - how cool would it be to have everything in one place? So there you have Pickeyweedz - do we have it all yet? Nope - but we are working on it. Let us know what we're missing and you're trying to find but can't...
So back to the question - besides the initial founding dedication; the store is re-dedicated daily, cleansed at least daily, and we do our level best to have that welcome to all energy flowing around. We don't care what you practice or even if you don't - we want everyone to feel welcome in our store - period. We honor ALL paths here - Left / Right / Center or none at all... doesn't matter. All are welcome.
Question #8: Are you guys looking for investors or to franchise the store elsewhere?
Answer: Nope. We have done all of this - just the two of us and it will stay that way. All the funding came from us and we're not looking for anyone to buy in and try to change our mission or our dedication to this community.
We don't want to ever become the fast food of occult shops and if we ever do expand to another location it will be as an extension of the original store and will not ever become a corporate experience.
Question #9: Will you guys have gatherings or classes?
Answer: As much as we would love to have both and do plan on having them at some point.. our current lease agreement strictly prohibits such activities at the store.
Primarily it's because of our shared parking with our neighbors and there's just not enough spaces to accommodate classes or gatherings here without infringing on the neighboring businesses.
We wouldn't want to do that regardless and we have also tried to have them after hours when the others were closed but that was still a no-go in negotiations. Their building - their rules and we get it... we do.
However - we are open to hosting at other locations if there is interest or support in doing so. We're confident we could get some speakers and authors to stop by or have a celebration of one or more of the festivals if someone wanted to host.
We are right now especially - looking for a wooded area nearby - preferably on private land where practice could be conducted. Let us know if anyone has ideas on this!
We love our store's location as it's at one of the main crossroads (yes that was intentional) in town & we get a lot of folks stopping in who were just walking by - but at some point we may look to find a larger place to lease or buy so that we can start holding these events in our own space. That is down the road for a couple years at least however.
Question #10: I'm new. Where do I start?
Answer: Well that is entirely up to you and what you are drawn to. There are some books that would be recommended reading to get one's feet wet but there is no one single reference that outlines every path. Only you can determine what is right for you and there's always time to change your mind, switch directions and do something else.
If you are interested in a religious foundation and structure; Wicca may appeal to you. If so - we would recommend the entry level works on Wicca from Scott Cunningham but most of all - pick up a copy of The Witches Bible by Janet & Stewart Farrar. If you can afford only one - pick up this. Even if you are just interested in the basics of magic/k and not necessarily Wicca - this is a great starter reference.
If your interests lie in herbs, herbalism and what some call 'green witchcraft' - there are a number of books available; some better than others. - The Complete Herbal Tutor is one of the better source books out there and is a good starting point.
For examples of mythology and folk magic/k around the world it's hard to beat The Golden Bough. This is one of our Coven's required reading and for good reason. Also - Celtic Mythology by Peter Ellis, The Mabinogian and The Tain are also on our required list. If your pantheon is regionally specific i.e. Celtic, Norse etc. in nature - it's essential to know the lore as well as the pronunciations. The Epic of Gilgamesh is also excellent and required as well. Of note - some pronunciations may differ according to geographical location.
If you are interested in some truly regimented structure then you may take a look at ceremonial magic/k this however, should be something you delve into only after learning the basics of banishment and knowledge of the self. I would recommend anything by Lon Milo Duquette as a great starting point.
The best way to learn for me was to go silent into the woods and just relax into nature. Look for signs, omens - look for a place that feels good to you, sit down and meditate for a while. Recharge, clear your mind. If you're in a Coven or group - they may already have a sacred place. If you're solitary - you will need to make your own.
Remember - tools... are just that tools. Do you need an expensive athame or any athame at all to practice? Nope. Does it help? Yep - sometimes. You don't need a lot of cash - you just need you. Later on as you develop - you will know even as a solitary what tools you would like to acquire. Don't rush - better to take baby steps and continue to learn.
There is nothing wrong with learning solitary or practicing solitary. You don't HAVE to join a coven or have a mentor. It will take longer in most cases and you will make uncorrected errors in many things as that's just the nature of self-teaching. Let's remember that spirituality or belief systems are a highly personal thing and even the highest levels of magic/k rely largely on each practitioner's intuition but there are things that are done a certain way for a reason simply because if done correctly they work... banishing ritual comes to mind. We all practice solitary to some degree even if we do belong to a coven or have a mentor.
There are benefits as well as pitfalls of joining an established coven or having an experienced mentor. If your aim is to continue an established tradition this is the best method of learning. However - (this word is used a lot right?) there are potential pitfalls depending upon the group, their discipline as well as the knowledge and aptitude of its leadership.
There is so much to be said on this subject that this document would turn into a short novel. We will say this much - read everything, then cross reference and cross reference again. This will separate the wheat from the chaff in a much more accurate manner.
Take everything you read or are told with a heavy grain of salt (read: Siberian salt mine) and question everything. There ARE books that are horrible and have little to no value even degrading the practice. There ARE people that are more theatrical than sincere some even predatory just after your cash or self-gratification and the same can be said of some Covens or groups.
This method of analysis - will help to weed them out. The more you research, the easier it will be to discard the unusable or inaccurate and to discern when you're being manipulated or the speaker is just talking out of their arse.
One thing we did when first starting was to read book A. Then look for its bibliography - read all of those cited works independently then read their bibliographies and do the same. Then cross-reference with any other works on the subject. Look into each author's source material; who and what they drew their information from. Talk to other practitioners - regardless of skill level and path. Take part in the community. When / if you are ready or if you want it at all - the right Coven will find you.
Once you are in the right place you will know solitary or member... or a little of both. Some Covens like ours can become family and give you not just other practitioners to be with - but lifelong friendships with deep magical bonds.
Love is the law.
John & Tay