The Witch Shoppe of Staten Island:
TWPT Talks to Mark Eadicicco©2010TWPT
TWPT: What was it that first attracted you to Witchcraft as something more than just the stereotypical images that we are bombarded with from television, Hollywood and the news media?
ME: I have always been drawn to Witchcraft and the paranormal since I was a little child. It wasn't until a family vacation to Boston when we drove to Salem, and stopped into Laurie Cabot's shoppe Crow Haven Corner. It was the first Witch Shoppe in America, and it was really an experience. I had heard about Laurie, and read her books but it wasn't until the initial meeting with her that I knew that this was the path that I was chosen to take. I never took the word witch for granted. I never associated being a witch with the green faced, ugly old hag that is displayed on Halloween decorations, candy and costumes. The word witch comes out of the Celtic Tribes, and it basically means "Wise Person", "Seeker of Knowledge". The idea of witches being portrayed as people who make pacts with the devil in blood, or do harmful magic, or eat children is nothing more than ignorance. Hopefully.
TWPT: When did you know that this would be the path that you could call your own?
ME: After my initial meeting with Laurie Cabot, "The Official Witch of Salem", I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn't until almost ten years later when the timing was right, and everything was in place that I opened my shoppe. Alot of people ask me, if your magick works why did it take you so long to open your own shoppe? If you think about it, who would come to a 19 year old for advice on their love life, or anything in general. I needed to get wet behind my ears with life experiences, and learn the knowledge that I have learned to be in the right capacity to serve the community. I don't like when you go into someone's shoppe, or go to an "expert" about magick, and they read out of a book. Anyone can open a book and find the information that they are looking for - but without having the right training, understanding and respect for Magick, its nonsense. I am proud to say that this summer will mark my fifth year anniversary being open, and its really a remarkable accomplishment!
TWPT: Were there any books that you found to be very helpful in seeking out the true nature of Witchcraft as you began to build your own spiritual foundation in Witchcraft?
ME: Power of the witch by Laurie Cabot, Raymond Buckland and of course Scott Cunningham.
TWPT: Tell me about your decision to seek out training in the Cabot tradition and why was it that you chose that particular tradition to call your own?
ME: After going to Salem numerous times I was growing closer and closer to what I wanted. When I first decided to be trained in the Cabot Tradition of Witchcraft I wanted to teach Witchcraft as an ancient art, science and religion that had documented resources and references that dated back hundreds of years. It is more than a belief system, it is a culture within itself. My teacher Laurie taught her students to be sovereign -
which means to do things with ethics, and know the causes and effects of our actions. Believing that "I will be a better person", "I will not do harmful things" puts the entire concept of Magick into perspective. I am proud to be part of this tradition, and proud to be able to call myself a Cabot. There are many other traditions out there, and I want readers to research and find the one that they feel most comfortable with, or most attracted to. I personally think of the Cabot Tradition as the most prestigious of the traditions. Its almost like the Harvard University of the traditions.
TWPT: For those readers out there who are weighing the benefits of some sort of formal training in the path they have chosen what are the advantages to the seeker in receiving formal training in their particular tradition?
ME: Formal training to me is that you learn the correct way to practice magick.. although there are some teachers especially on Staten Island that claim to be "Witches" but never took a formal class of there own and now charging over $550 a class!!!! How ridiculous.
TWPT: Would you be where you are along your path if you had not decided to study with a teacher but had gone it alone and taught yourself?
ME: I would be EXACTLY where I am today because I took the time to study and learn witchcraft whether I was studying with or without Laurie Cabot
TWPT: When did you start entertaining the idea to open The Practical Magick Shoppe on Staten Island?
ME: I always had a vision of running my own Witch Shoppe, but I first got the idea of opening my shoppe Practical Magick back in 2004. It was frustrating seeing the kinds of stores that were supposedly serving the needs of the Witch, Wiccan and Pagan community on Staten Island. Many stores were selling products that weren't filling the need of the community, and more importantly they were selling wrongful information. Having the knowledge that I have acquired over the course of my lifetime
I knew the do's and don'ts of Witchcraft - and the few stores that we had on Staten Island weren't giving proper information to those looking for it.
TWPT: Did you feel like you could meet the needs of the practitioners on Staten Island that were not currently being met by any other local shops in the area?
ME: I am told this on a daily basis! At least 3-4 times a week someone walks into my shoppe saying that I have everything that they are looking for. Or sometimes I have things that they never knew existed - or that they can do on their own. More than the products that I sell, or the services that I provide - I think that my clients are coming to me because of my vast knowledge of the Craft that I have learned, and my personality. I was born to be a teacher of the magickal arts. Witchcraft stores shouldn't be operated like a chain of supermarkets. Each should be unique and dedicated to the services of the community, and I feel that the needs weren't being met but any of the other stores. Even in my readings and psychic consultations, many of my clients say that other stores or readers that they go to treat the readings as some sort of parlor trick - not putting any emotion or effort into the reading and basically reading it at face value. I am humbly proud to say that I am the only accredited Witch running a shoppe on Staten Island and I think that is another factor that makes the customers feel more connected with me.
TWPT: What was your initial conception of what the shop would be, what it would carry in terms of supplies and what it would provide to the Wiccan/Pagan community in terms of services?
ME: The vision that I had in my mind is exactly how the store looks today. I wanted to carry products that everyone could use and everyone could learn about, whether being someone coming in from off the street looking to do a love spell, or a long time practitioner looking for ritual tools. I wanted my store to have everything for everyone. What makes me most excited is when I put my personal touch on the products that I sell such as spell kits, carved candles, or ritually charged candles (for love, money and overall happiness).
TWPT: How has the non magickal community that surrounds you in Staten Island taken to having your shop as a neighbor?
ME: Has it all been amicable or have there been tensions? Honestly I have had no problems in the community because I show people the real side of witchcraft. I educate the community about what a real witch is all about. Plus I'm an everyday person, and people see that side of me.
TWPT: Do you see yourself as an ambassador for Witchcraft to that non magickal community and if so how is it that you reach out to them and show them that the stereotypes that they have been fed most of their lives are not true?
ME: I reach out by doing local events, charities , local television shows and publications
TWPT: Has The Practical Magick Shoppe become a meeting place for those who are on a variety of nontraditional spiritual paths? Sort of like neutral ground where ideas can be shared? Is this something you encourage?
ME: I encourage everyone to be themselves and to be eclectic... No one has to change their religious views to empower themselves with witchcraft.
TWPT: How did your Toys for Tots campaign this past December work out? Does this help dispel certain images about what Witches are and arenít?
ME: The Toys for Tots campaign started in early November, right after Samhain actually. After seeing how the community turned out for the Samhain Ritual that I performed on Staten Island I felt that it was time for us, as witches, to give back to the community. I have donated to Toys for Tots on a smaller scale over the years but never through my own store. I would buy some toys and drop them off at other stores that were taking part, and I thought - why not just have a collection from my own clients, in my own store? It went over very well with my clients - they were very eager to take part, and overall we collected over 100 toys. When the guys came to pick up the collection box they even commented that they never thought that a boutique shoppe like mine would collect that many toys. I was shocked myself actually. It didn't seem like that many toys until we actually counted each and every one of them. I think it shows the community that yes we are witches, but no we are not harmful. I'm sure that even in 2010 there are still some people out there that think of us as evil-doers, but we didn't do it for the recognition - we did it for the cause. I think it was the first of many charitable events that we are going to be taking part in, and we're excited to be able to give back in any way that we can.
TWPT: Does The Practical Magick Shoppe take on special significance during Samhain and how is it that you use that time period to help the community around you understand what you are all about?
ME: Yes we do public rituals at Snug Harbor to heal and teach Staten Island, New York and the world about true magick.
TWPT: Have you always offered classes in Witchcraft as part of the mission of your store or is this a new development?
ME: I have offered classes in Witchcraft over the years, and it's always an adventure when they start. I just started a Witchcraft 1 class this January and I have quite a number of students. I'm always eager to teach to those who are interested in learning. I teach the class as a certified course. I don't force the students to convert to Witchcraft, nor do I require them to be initiated into my coven. They do not have to give up their current religious beliefs or structures. I always say the different religions out there are like many keys that open the same door. If they choose to be initiated and become witches, then I will offer initiation for them, but it is totally up to them. I do have more students this year than in any other year, and I think that it has allot to do with what is going on in the world today. Instead of sitting in multi-million dollar cathedrals or temples they can have the intimate connection with the God and Goddess in their own homes. Witchcraft always finds people - people don't usually find witchcraft unless they are drawn to it. Upon completion of the first level, there will be a level 2 class, and then I will begin Witchcraft 1 with an entirely new group of students. The new dates will be updated on my website as soon as I figure out when its going to be taking place. [http://www.practicalmagickshoppe.net ]. I think this is a great venue for people who are interested in learning. This is the only class being offered in the area that is being taught by a certified witch.
TWPT: What is it that you are trying to accomplish with these classes and what is it that you are going to be teaching?
ME: I'm trying to open people's minds to another way of life.. to empower there minds, bodies and souls to educate the masses that magick is very real and is a very important aspect of everyone's lives.
TWPT: Do you ever see a time when Witchcraft will be free of the stereotypes that society has placed on it or will there always be a struggle to make sure that our image is a correct one?
ME: Yes through education we will make a difference.. the more someone knows about something the less they need to fear.
TWPT: Tell me about the magickal community of Staten Island and is it indicative of how the magickal community around the country is faring these days?
ME: Like anything there are two parts of the community.. the doers and the sayer ... I'm a doer... Some people manipulate the religion to make a buck .. that is harmful magick
TWPT: Are there any final thoughts you would like to share with the readers of TWPT about The Practical Magick Shoppe or your philosophy of Witchcraft as we close this interview?
ME: I would like to tell everyone how grateful and happy I am to be an openly practicing witch in the Staten Island community. We can never forget the people who came before us because if it wasn't for them we would not be able to practice openly and use the term witch in the correct definition of the word... Never forget our ancestor! Blessed be.
TWPT: Thanks Mark for taking the time to talk with me about your great sounding shop on Staten Island. I'm sure that the next time Boudica and I are through the area we are going to pop in and say hello. Boudica hails from Brooklyn so that is very likely to happen. We wish you much success with the community there.