Rendezvous at the Lily Pads: Meetings along the eclectic path.
Although the paths may differ, practitioners and those who supply services to practitioners contribute talent to make witchcraft a personalized, enriching experience. Rendezvous at the Lily Pads highlights some of these folks and invites you to learn about your comrades-in-witchery.
Interview with Diane Doughman and Ashley Leavy, Ladies of Mimosa
Some girls had a lust for Led Zeppelin, but I got my thrills by visiting metaphysical book stores.
The target of my first interest was The Occult Bookstore in Chicago, a shop that somehow managed to look aged, worn, and somber -- and maybe perfect for a creepy movie -- without actually being aged, worn, and somber (but remaining well-suited for creepiness). This store existed in the days when authors approached witchcraft from a scholarly viewpoint rather than the affable "I'm your everyday, next door witch who donates lavender cookies to the school bake sale" perspective. In later years, I visited metaphysical bookstores in whichever city I landed, but the selection seemed small, and the majority of those books remained penned by outsiders looking in. Fortunately, though, pubs discovered there was a lucrative market for books penned by witches and pagans – probably after librarians complained that witchcraft books went poof off the shelves and disappeared into the satchels of booknappers.
Roughly 30 years have passed since I have seen The Occult Bookstore. Nowadays I indulge in a 20 minute-jaunt to Mimosa, a metaphysical book and gift center at 260 West Gilman Street in downtown Madison, WI. Well-lit and radiating vibes of warmth (hey, I'm not the only customer who has commented on the shop's atmosphere), the place takes an inclusive approach toward serving its clientele. "Inclusive" translates as the shop carries Tibetan singing bowls, Raku pottery, ringongs, statues of Eastern deities, an impressive assortment of tarot decks, and gift items crafted by pagan artists and craftsmen. Upstairs from the gift shop, Mimosa's Activity Room hosts Wiccan classes, gallery readings, and discussions about crystal healing. Visitors are welcomed to ask about presenting events in the activity room.
The above pic shows my favorite spot in Mimosa – the spot with the tarot decks and the books!
If you live in the region, then you may have visited the shop and pleasantly chatted with staff or the gracious owners Ashley Leavy and Diane Doughman. The ladies granted me an interview via email.
Ms. Lilypads: Looking at your lovely merchandise, I gather pagans form a notable percentage of your clientele. In a society which isn't entirely welcoming to witches, at one point did you decide to create an environment where witches felt at home?
Mimosa: When Diane became a co-owner of Mimosa in 2004, she had a major influence on the decision to begin carrying more Pagan items and supplies. Our missions statement - "At Mimosa we are dedicated to embracing the global diversity of wisdom and belief. We hold in respect all integrity based teachings, systems, and spirit based philosophies. Our mission is to support and facilitate every individual’s vision of what is meaningful to them in the spiritual realm. Without judgment of affiliation to one ideology, we embrace everyone’s right to pursue their beliefs in a respectful and loving environment." - is pretty centered around being inclusive of all paths. It is something we strive for and that we take very seriously. A good percentage of our customers follow a Pagan-based spiritual path, and when Diane realized that our merchandise wasn't fulfilling their needs, she made some adjustments. This included introducing ritual supplies, statues of Pagan deities, specialized jewelry, books, and more. She really made the connection that a segment of our customers weren't getting their needs met and that someone needed to step up and fill the niche - and she thought that it should be Mimosa.
Ms. Lilypads: What has been the biggest challenge of shaping Mimosa into a resource center?
Mimosa: One of the biggest challenges that we face is that our store is fairly small. This makes the idea of being a resource center quite difficult. We do have a separate space (upstairs from our store) where we can hold events and workshops, but being downtown in an urban environment makes it challenging to host successful events. If people want to attend, they usually need to find parking (and pay for it) and walk to our store (which doesn't appeal to everyone). The most successful events are those in which the presenters have a core group of people that will attend no matter where they are. Another way in which we act as a resource center is to be a hub for energy workers, massage therapists, spiritual groups, etc. We have an in-store resource guide full of posters and business cards. We also have a small cork board where we post flyers for community events, but again, with a small store, it is difficult to promote these things as much as we would like.
Ms Lilypads: What has operating Mimosa taught you?
Mimosa: Running Mimosa has taught us, above all to show compassion for all people. We treat each of our customers with the same amount of integrity and we provide the same level of service to each person, regardless of if they are buying a small package of incense, or an expensive statue.
Ms. Lilypads: You offer patrons the service of ordering books and videos they may not be able to locate on the shelf. What are your lesser known services?
Mimosa: One of our lesser known services is that we offer DVD rentals. Rentals are $3 each and customers can rent them for one week after joining our rental club. It's a great way to learn new things, or "try it before you buy it," Our selection is not huge, but we are slowly adding more and more titles. We also have 3 great, in-house psychic readers available daily - it always amazes me how many people don't realize it until we greet them and announce any openings our readers may have that day. Our readers are also available for group parties, and two of them are ministers - providing alternative-style services.
Ms. Lilypads: The activity room hosts various classes. What are some activities that Mimosa may see in the future?
Mimosa: We always have an evolving event schedule - we have a good mix of classes on topics like chakras, aromatherapy, tarot, crystals, and more! We would love to have a presenter that offered workshops on astrology, meditation, yoga, etc.
Ms. Lilypads: What advice would you give to someone who wishes to open a metaphysical book shop or center?
Mimosa: Be ready to work! Many people think running a new age shop is a laid-back, chill-out job, but it is pretty demanding. We love what we do and wouldn't trade it for anything, but it is a labor of love. We put in long hours here because this is our baby and we want it to shine! Also, we would encourage people to think back to Q#3 - it's all about compassion and integrity; we can't stress this enough; it is a people-oriented job. Our customers support us, and so, it is our job to offer them the best support and service possible. We are so grateful for them and for our amazing staff. We couldn't do it without them.
Who sez yah can't have your pendulum and wear it, too?
Click the link http://www.mimosaspirit.com/ to visit Mimosa's website.
If readers go to this link: http://mimosabooks.webs.com there is a place to subscribe to Mimosa's newsletter in the upper left hand corner of the page.
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