If You Go...
What: Enlightened Circle Witch’s Night
When: 6 p.m. on Saturday
Where: The Biker and the Witch, 918 Grand Ave.
How Much: Free (bring an appetizer to share)
If The Biker and the Witch were just a shop in downtown Glenwood Springs that sells unique clothing and accessories, it would still be pretty special.
But that’s not all it is. The store, from its beginnings in June 2012, has an entirely separate purpose thanks to co-owner and ordained Wiccan minister Kristin West.
Not only does The Biker and the Witch sell metaphysical items like herbs, pre-made spells and charm bags, books, rocks, divination items, ritual tools and more, but it also serves as a gathering space for pagans and anyone interested in learning more about these earth-based religions.
“Wiccans don’t have churches, so there’s really no place for us to get together, whereas a church is there not only to talk about faith but to socialize,” West said. “I wanted to create a place where people could come learn from each other. And it’s not just for Wiccans. I say as long as you have respect, then you’re welcome to attend.”
West hosts a variety of workshops — like Wicca/Witchcraft 101 and 102, Learn to Read Runes, Chakra Cleansing, Potions and more — which anyone can sign up for on the shop’s website, http://www.bikerandwitch.com. But she also uses the shop once a month for Witch’s Night, a free gathering for anyone who wants to learn more about pagan beliefs. The next Witch’s Night is at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Witch’s Night draws anywhere from 10 to 30 people from all over the state. Even the bigger cities on the Front Range don’t host regular gatherings for pagans, West said, so she gets people from as far away as Utah, Colorado Springs, Steamboat Springs and Grand Junction. The only other metaphysical store she knows of on the Western Slope is Heart of the Dragon in Paonia, and that shop does not host any gatherings.
Witch’s Night begins no later than 15 minutes after the scheduled start time. Attendees are to bring their own chairs (or sit on the floor) and an appetizer to share with the group. Everyone sits in a circle and introduces themselves by saying how they got started in their particular faith or what their interest is in pagan religions. Then discussion on a particular topic begins. This month, the group will discuss freedoms they have in the United States in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.
“If we didn’t have freedom of religion, we wouldn’t be here,” West said.
Then at the very end of each meeting, the same three topics are discussed: What have you learned since last Witch’s Night? What spells or other magical work are you working on? Express gratitude for something.
If anyone has requested healing, the group does a kind of meditation and sends positive energy.
“One of our members who’s here all the time is actually sick, and she’s not going to be able to make our next one,” West said. “So this next one, I’m going to have everybody send her healing energies.”
Witch’s Night has been going on since the very beginning of the shop. The first meeting took place in July 2012 and consisted of about six people including West and her husband, whose Native American heritage has him more interested in shamanism than Wicca. West said she started Witch’s Night as a way to meet like-minded people.
“Most Wiccans practice solitary, by ourselves, so we never have a chance to meet other Wiccans or pagans at all,” West said. “Most of us don’t really talk about our faith just because even to this day we still get persecuted. We get that discrimination, unfortunately.”
West said that while most of the community members in Glenwood Springs have been warm and welcoming to her, she has faced some backlash because of her uncommon and oft-misunderstood faith. She said a Catholic priest in town warned his congregation to stay away from The Biker and the Witch because it was a Satanist store.
“That’s not what the store is about,” she said. “We’re not devil worshippers. That actually falls into the Christian faith; it doesn’t have anything to do with us.”
West’s road to Wicca began when she was a teenager. Her parents raised her Christian, but West said there was always something off-putting to her about Christianity. She was fortunate that her parents didn’t push their religion on her, and when she was about 15 she started studying occult interests, like psychic abilities and dreaming.
Then about five years later, West saw “The Craft” for the first time. She said although the movie is very loosely based on witchcraft, it was the first time she realized it didn’t have to be negative. From there, she bought her first book on witchcraft called “Power of the Witch” by Laurie Cabot, and she was hooked.
“It felt like the hole that was in me — it felt like there was a part missing — just got filled,” she said. “It made complete sense, and I knew that it was right for me, whereas every time that I went to church with my mom and dad, I just didn’t understand it, and it didn’t feel right, and I questioned it.”
West hopes her Witch’s Nights, workshops and other projects — like the first Glenwood Metaphysical Fair she’s organizing for this August — help pagans find a place where they belong while getting rid of the stigma against these types of religions.
“I want to do whatever we can to get out into the public eye that we’re not scary,” West said. “Pagans are just everyday people. We don’t look any different than anybody else.”
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