49 Degrees: Canadian Pagan Perspectives

Canadian Paganism has a style all its own. Have a look at events, issues, celebrations, people, trends and events north of the border from the eyes of a Canadian Wiccan and Witch.

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Pagan Shops of Western Canada: Gypsy Bazaar, Enderby, BC

Recently I had an opportunity to visit all kinds of fascinating Pagan shops throughout Western Canada when I was on a book tour, so I'm writing about them to share them with others.

Enderby is the tiny sort of town that you usually drive through on your way to somewhere else.  It's just on the north side of my home city, Vernon, BC, along Hwy 97; which is already 45 minutes north of the big urban center in the Okanagan Valley, Kelowna.  The first thing you notice when you come into town is a giant building with a Super Save Gas station in front, operated by the Splatsin First Nation, followed immediately by a dedicated site for a huge ongoing Farmer's Market and a large powwow center, also owned by the Splatsin.  Just past that, right along the highway, is a Kingdom Hall, a small cluster of apartments, then an antique shop with an elaborate mural, a community center with giant First Nations' wooden sculptures, a 50's retro diner, and a few quaint little coffee shops and tea rooms.  This should give you an idea of the unique cultural stew that is Enderby.  You would think they would rest together uneasily, but you never hear about any of that, and the town itself feels peaceful and the people are always friendly.

Turning just after the pharmacy takes you to Enderby's main street; a collection of bohemian shops that remind me of the Kootenays and make me wonder if this was what Nelson looked like before it became so busy.  At the end of the short main street is a bridge that takes you over the Shuswap River, which runs right through town; and just before that bridge, you follow a curve around to the left and it takes you past a tiny Masonic Temple to the Gypsy Bazaar.

Inside the StoreIt doesn't look like a store from the outside.  Draped in prayer flags and fronted by huge boxes of home-grown vegetables, it looks more like a hippie commune; and indeed, in many ways it is that, also.  The ancient building, which once was a medical building, has several small apartments on the top floor and in the back, and a communal kitchen and laundry, and the mostly-young neo-hippies who live there exist in a state of cooperative bliss.  Even though this place is bordering a very poor neighbourhood and the units within are priced for the economically-disadvantaged, you see none of the angry urban decay that so many low-income buildings seem to display.  Indeed, the atmosphere is full of love and a collective desire to share resources; whether they are physical, intellectual or spiritual.  The vegetables are available for anyone who needs them.  They really don't mind.

Back RoomAt the helm of this little community is Sarah Bradshaw.  If you read SageWoman Magazine at all (and I do) you want to meet this woman.  A beautiful full-bodied crone in a tie-dyed dress with tresses of radiant silver hair and a hawkish nose to match her sharp, miss-nothing eyes, she bustles cheerily around the building, watering her plants and addressing the people who wander languidly through the shop like she knows them personally.  And I'm sure she does.  Sarah is the picture of the village wise woman; she teaches, shares, guides, and has probably forgotten more about natural healing and herbalism than I ever knew, and I took a course in the subject.  Scattered around her store are copies of a locally produced Goddess magazine, and women's spirituality courses happen at the Gypsy Bazaar monthly.

This cool little eclectic place sells clothing, local honey, homemade soap, handmade rattles, singing bowls, an amazing selection of local art and crafts, and magick things of all kinds.  There are herbal medicines, handmade shaman drums and rattles, mukluks, locally-made greeting cards, mosaics, and more.  You will not find anything here that was made in China; even the crystals are prepared by the local lapidary club.  They operate local vegetable box collectives and a heritage seed exchange, and they offer readings and healing arts.  Children run cheerfully through their eclectic (and comfy) back room with its quilted ceiling where they offer a variety of classes and workshops.  Stop in for tea; it's complementary.  And the conversation is worth your time.

If you'd like to see a gallery of pictures, check out the entry on my personal blog (Book Tour Week 1).

* Personal aside: I am now offering an online course in the Witch's Eight Paths of Power.  Here's the link if you're interested.

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Sable Aradia (Diane Morrison) has been a traditional witch most of her life, and she is a licensed Wiccan minister and a Third Degree initiate in the Star Sapphire and Pagans for Peace traditions. Author of "The Witch's Eight Paths of Power" (Red Wheel/Weiser 2014) and contributor to "Pagan Consent Culture" and "The Pagan Leadership Anthology," she also writes "Between the Shadows" at Patheos' Pagan channel and contributes to Gods & Radicals. Sable is just breaking out as a speculative fiction writer under her legal name, and a new serial, the Wyrd West Chronicles, will be released on the Spring Equinox this year. Like most writers, she does a lot of other things to help pay the bills, including music, Etsy crafts, and working part time at a bookstore. She lives in Vernon, BC, Canada with her two life partners and her furbabies in a cabin on the edge of the woods.


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