Random Ephemera

6 Great Places to Buy a Gift for Your Favorite Witch

With Halloween nearly upon us, many people are busy figuring out what costume they'll be wearing to a party or to greet trick-or-treaters stopping by their homes. One of the classic costumes is the witch, usually depicted as a withered old crone wearing a distinctive hat and clutching a magical broom. But unlike Frankenstein's monster, witches are real, and a significant percentage of Americans now identify themselves as being one. Some are Wiccans, some follow other Neo-pagan paths, and still others consider themselves to be witches of a different type. Houston has a large population of people drawn toward unconventional lifestyles, and there are lots of great resources for a person gift shopping for his or her favorite witch.

6. Lucia's Garden — 2360 West Alabama, Houston

Founded in 1984, this friendly shop started with the intention of sharing Lucia Bettler and her husband Michael's passions for gardening and herb crafting, but has since grown to encompass much more. While those original interests are still catered to, the shop offers its customers a large selection of books, music, incense, crystals and other items that would warm almost any witch's heart. Lucia's Garden also has plenty of things that would make great gifts for non-witches, and is a great place to find a unique gift for nearly anyone with a whimsical streak. The store also hosts a variety of workshops and cooking classes, covering many different subjects, and is a great place for seekers of many kinds to begin interesting and fulfilling personal journeys.

5. House of Madame Josephine — Etsy Store

Native Houstonian Dana Dark has been a longtime fixture in the local Gothic scene, and recently she began crafting her own line of witchcraft-inspired items. After surviving a near-death experience that pushed her to forget all doubts, Dark forged ahead with House of Madame Josephine, manufacturing unique homemade candles, soaps, crystal stones and jewelry items that will win over any witch's heart. As Dark puts it, "The idea for House of Madame Josephine came from a vision I had of a mysterious old-world store that sold enchantments and curios — bringing magick and perfumed delights from a realm of wonder into this world." She credits a lifelong passion for working with oils and herbs for stoking her desire to share her creations with others. House of Madame Josephine is her creation, and definitely shares Dana Dark's vision in a way that others will love.

4. The Witchery — 2116 Post Office, Galveston

This metaphysical book and curio shop is located in a storefront in Galveston's historic downtown area, and it has plenty of atmosphere to please anyone with an interest in witchcraft or other occult philosophies. The place really breaks from the mold, and isn't modeled from the template of most "New Age" stores. The Witchery is something different altogether, feeling more like someone's inner sanctum or ritual chamber than a typical shop. But with its more than 1,000 book titles on a huge variety of subjects, artwork, gifts and magical supplies to choose from, visitors will find plenty of interesting things to spend their money on. The Witchery is well worth the drive for Houston-area folks seeking unusual items for themselves or a loved one.

3. Stanley Drug Company — 2718 Lyons, Houston

This "Hoodoo Drugstore" located in the heart of Houston's Fifth Ward is the oldest spiritual supply store in the area, and may be one of the oldest still operating in the entire country. Established in 1938, Stanley's has long served the city's occult community, supplying root workers, witches and practitioners of many other spiritual and magical disciplines with the hard-to-find items they need. The store isn't much to look at from the outside, as it's housed in a huge industrial-looking metal building, but it offers friendly and knowledgeable service, with one of the largest selections of specialty candles and magical curios that I've seen in one place. The shop is part botánica, part old-school occult supply store, and at times seems to fit a category unique to itself. Walking into it can be an eye-opening adventure for those more accustomed to New Age stores with mellow whale song music playing in the background. Stanley Drug Company isn't like that at all.

Almost everyone in Houston's magical circles seems to shop at or has shopped at the Stanley Drug Company at one point or another, and it's a must-visit store for those looking for a special gift for a special witch in their lives.

2. Ugly Art Dolls By Ugly Shyla — Etsy Store

Ugly Shyla describes herself thusly: "I'm a doll artist, alt model and squirrel mommy."

Shyla continues, saying, "I make fine art dolls and jewelry, and my work has been described as unorthodox and harrowing. I've been making dolls for 19 years, and it all started after I made one for my mom as a birthday gift. Then I got into sculpted jewelry because it brought me instant satisfaction."

Her Etsy store is loaded with Shyla's creations, balancing many elements, often wedding the sacred to the profane in visually striking ways. Besides her own creations, Ugly Shyla has another creator in her family. She explains, "I'm also a squirrel mommy to Winkleheimer Smith, the world's only painting squirrel. We sell her originals and prints of her work, and all the profits go to charity."

Ugly Shyla makes interesting and beautiful objects that will appeal to those who have tastes in the unusual and strange. Her dolls and jewelry would make any witch's collection shine with dark allure.

1. The Magick Cauldron — 2424 Montrose, Houston

This well-established shop has been a beloved piece of the cultural landscape in Montrose for years, and is one of the go-to places for local occultists of many types. Boasting more than 20,000 products in-house, including more than 3,000 book titles, The Magick Cauldron covers nearly every type of supply or gift that any witch or pagan might need. It offers tarot readings by appointment, will mix up magical oils from a customer's personal recipe, and has plenty of altar supplies, incense, jewelry and other items to fill out any ritual space. The Magick Cauldron also has a huge assortment of swords and other weapons, and sells high-quality robes and accessories, giving the shop an atmosphere that distinguishes it from other local metaphysical stores. Whether someone is stocking up on the ingredients for a specific magical spell or getting his or her wardrobe worked out for an extended visit to a Renaissance faire, The Magick Cauldron will certainly be able to fill his needs. The shop also gets bonus points for running some pretty entertaining local commercials on television.

As surprising as it may be to some, Houston's famously diverse population includes a sizable number of people drawn to less common spiritual and magical practices. While witches may not be as numerous as, say, Methodists just yet, their numbers are growing. Eventually, many people might need to shop for a magically inclined loved one, and these are a few of the many great resources available to those shoppers in the Houston area.

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Chris Lane is a contributing writer who enjoys covering art, music, pop culture, and social issues.