Plainville store mixes spells, stocks pagan supplies

The Herald, New Britain, Connecticut/January 10, 2009

Plainville - Having trouble at the supermarket finding a bit of butcher's broom, a dram of devil's claw or a milliliter of mandrake root to stir into your cast-iron cauldron? Then you need to try shopping at 13 Whiting St., the home of Apples, Brooms & Cauldrons.

Described by owner Samantha Evans as a pagan supply store, the nondescript storefront stocks everything from aromatherapy oils to yarrow, a main ingredient in many long-lasting love charms.

"Most people know the philosophy represented in this store as Wicca," said Evans, who at 56 still has a head of long, straight red hair. "There really is no difference. It's all paganism."

Evans points out that while many people don't understand paganism, it is the oldest recognized religion. With its root in Latin, pagan comes from the word, paganus, or civilian, and pagus, or village.

"In modern terms it means, country-dweller," Evans said, stopping for a moment to point out a pentagram and other assorted tools of her trade. "We may live in cities now, but we still feel we are close to the earth and nature."

Along one wall sits a table which serves as a pagan altar on which Evans builds spell bags.

"This is where I can put together the things needed to help people," she said.

She doesn't charge for putting together the materials for a spell bag or for doing the needed rituals because she feels it is her duty to use her talents to help people, and not just for financial gain.

While many people associate paganism with Satanism and black magic, Evans points out that they are very separate ideas.

"Satanism is a Christian belief, and you have to be a Christian in order to be a Satanist," she said. "Paganism doesn't have the devils, demons and evil that comes with many other religious beliefs."

A pagan for more than 17 years, Evans has studied the philosophy and is considered a third-degree priestess. In paganism, each degree is granted after one year and one day of study. Today, she is a teacher herself and runs classes out of her store, where interested men and women can come together and study. Evans is a trained practitioner in both the Avalonian and Correllian traditions.

"While the different traditions emphasize certain qualities, all pagan traditions hold the earth and nature as sacred," she said.

In her shop, Evans sells a wide assortment of books, incense, crafts and tools used in pagan rituals. In addition to herbs, of which there are dozens, the store sells amulets, pentagrams, willow wands and artistic renderings depicting pagan beliefs.

Although the store is different than most businesses in the area, Evans said she has only been bothered twice by people who mistakenly thought the store espoused black magic or evil practices.

"A major part of paganism is adhering to two truths: Do as you will, but harm no one," she said.

Evans estimated that in a 10-mile radius around her store, about 400 to 500 pagans are active and pursuing their beliefs.

Jessi Belisle, who visited the store Wednesday, said she found paganism after exploring other traditional religions.

"I've been practicing for about three years," she said, admiring several female fertility statues on a shelf. "I've always loved nature, and the whole idea just felt right once I learned more about the traditions."

So if you're shopping for a spell, or any ingredients, Apples, Brooms & Cauldrons is open Wednesday through Sunday for walk-in business, or by broom stick if you're so inclined.

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