The past three months have been a whirlwind of epic proportions. The work that went in to deconstructing 30 years of life lived in the same place was daunting. It was also extremely cathartic, not only getting rid of all of the physical detritus that didn’t serve me. I also shed years of guilt and twisted perceptions of the truth. Many years ago when I was younger, I promised myself that no matter what; I had to leave my hometown before turning thirty. I’ve traveled to quite a few places, but I wanted to experience living elsewhere before it was too late. Thirty seemed like it was far enough away that I had a chance of achieving my goal. Now thirty is right around the corner, and I have accomplished my goal although not in the way I had imagined it. My fear was and still is that I would spend too much of my life living in the same place. I think the deeper fear is that I will waste my life not doing what it is that I really want to do. I feel like it is always a battle to make time for my reading and writing, let alone my own spiritual practice. It seems that each year goes by faster and each year becomes more complicated. I was terrified of missing opportunities in the wider Pagan community and even more terrified of wasting my own potential and allowing my practice to stagnate.
This year can be summed up by the Tower card in the Tarot; 2017 has been a year of breaking down old structures and patterns, simultaneously laying new foundations from the future. I went on this journey with my husband, two dogs and a cat. Our path seemed to open up towards St. Petersburg, Florida; after visiting my sister there on vacation the previous May. My husband and I decided to take this opportunity to go and try life some where completely different from what we were accustomed to. We committed to uprooting our lives and relocating to the Sunshine State, more out of convenience than love for the weather. The plan was to stay with my sister until we got established.
We brought very little with us on our journey to Florida. We stored some important memorabilia and important paperwork and our winter clothes. Most of our belongings that weren’t necessities or important sentimental items, including my books and magical accoutrement, were sold at a yard sale or online. We also donated a lot of clothes and things that we didn’t sell. It felt refreshing to shed a lot of the items that we had accumulated over the years, feeling the weight lift with each box of stuff we got rid of. We wanted to bring as little as possible on the way down, and took only what we could fit on top of our vehicle. My husband and mother-in-law made the 17 hour drive from Indiana to Florida in record time. I flew down a few days prior since I was unable to make the drive down.
The feeling of excitement I had for starting a new life somewhere different was indescribable, I hadn’t felt such a liberating feeling in a very long time. Moving to St. Petersburg, Florida promised and experience completely different from the one in my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ironically, the two cities had more in common than I realized. They are roughly the same size, about the size of the state of Rhode Island. Both Fort Wayne and St. Petersburg have small downtown areas that are undergoing massive renovation and revitalization. Like many coastal cities that started as vacation spots for the affluent and elderly, St. Petersburg had little to offer for the year-round local. Fort Wayne has many of the same drawbacks, but instead of being a vacation spot, it “a great place to raise a family,” as many young parents will tell you when they decide to move here.
Both places have a thriving underground arts community full of diversity; from performance arts, visual arts, and various freelance artisans. These grassroots efforts are maintained by local art markets, which seem to be very popular all over the United States. There are some really interesting people living in St. Petersburg, and some very special one of a kind businesses that I am thankful to have had the opportunity to discover. St. Petersburg, is one of the most dog-friendly places I have been to, especially neighborhoods like Grand Central District and Historic Kenwood. Not only are these neighborhoods home to beautiful historic homes from the early 19th and 20th century, they also provide a beautiful and quiet atmosphere for many of the areas local entrepreneurs and artists which live here.Â Fort Wayne also has some of these same qualities but on a smaller mid-western scale.
One thing that Florida does have that is, in my opinion more established than my hometown, is the pagan/magical community. I moved to Florida on October 2nd and had the entire month to explore all of the events being hosted by various pagan organizations. There was the Florida Pagan Gathering, one of the largest pagan events in the area, as well as numerous other local events, including Samhain Ceremonies and Full Moon Rituals. There are many smaller groups, covens and groves that call the Sunshine State home, and Green Song Grove is one that I reached out to prior to moving. They are an established grove of ADF, and orchestrate many of the large events and festivals happening year round. They individuals that I reached out to were very forthcoming with their helpful information, also inviting me to attend their Samhain Ritual, which regrettably I was unable to attend.
Before moving I went through the same process of research and investigation that I usually go through before going on a vacation somewhere. I like knowing about the local history, events being hosted by the local art community, and of course the pagan/occult community. One of my favorite things to do when I travel anywhere is to check out as many local magic shops and occult bookstores that I can find. There are usually one or two New Age Bookstores and sometimes I will get lucky and find one that is more magically inclined. St. Petersburg has more New Age Bookstores, Psychics, and Energy Workers than I have seen even in New Orleans. However, those stores in New Orleans are not afraid to cater to the Witch. Most of the places I encountered were your run of the mill New Age Stores ran by volunteer retirees and upper-middle class housewives looking for some depth in their lives, and these are the type of customers that they attract. As an occultist and magical researcher I try to veer off of the beaten path of modern New Age metaphysics, and find those places that are truly occult. There are some beautiful stores in the area that provide a much needed service to the new seeker of wisdom through esoteric tradition, but those of us in the magical community must look a little deeper.
The Looking Glass: A New Age Store With a Twist
The Looking Glass was one place that I found to be set apart from the other stores that I had been to. This inconspicuous looking shop is located in the Grand Central District on Central Avenue. Just by their merchandise alone you could tell that they catered to the practitioner of magic as well as those seeking magical aid. They have an amazing selection of condition oils blended in house, also a selection of pre-made oils with colorful folk art on the labels. The shop is stocked full of supplies for spell work including a wide selection of 7-day glass novena candles, charms, and herbs. The owner mentioned having a fully stocked backroom, and said if we needed anything all we had to do was ask and they would likely have it. The shop employs a couple of tarot readers, and energy workers, and has a staff that is extremely knowledgeable. Their expertise ranges from crystal healing to magical consultation for spell work, evident by the handful of regulars returning for supplies. It was refreshing to see a store for the community with such a diverse group of employees, each well learned in a different combination of practices.
To be continued…..