In The Rules of Magic, Frances and Jet Owens open their own little witchy herbal shop in downtown Manhattan, New York, with floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with every kind of herb in a mishmash of bottles collected from junk shops, and a workshop in back for concocting love potions and other charms. It’s the kind of place you wish existed in your own town, so that you too could come in and purchase spells for love, for cleansing, for abundance, for fresh starts.
A real-life version of this magical store has existed in New York City since 1982, glittering and glimmering from the East Village. It’s New York’s oldest witchcraft store, but there’s nothing frightening about it. Located on East 9th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A, Enchantments has walls lined with herbs and candles and wisdom-packed books, wood floors coated with glitter, and two black cats—Eros and Medea, who are brother and sister—that doze on the countertops and shelves. And in back, past the sign that says THE WITCH IS IN, customers can speak with a friendly witch and get a candle customized with the spell of their choice, just for them.
It’s by far the store’s most popular item, and people order the candles from all over the world. In fact, yours truly first learned of Enchantments in 1995, when a lovelorn friend got her own glitterized love-spell candle and sat over it for days after, watching it burn. Sadly, she did not get her man. As owner Stacy Rapp explains, “The candles are tools to help manifest your intention—but you have to do the work, too. You can’t create something out of nothing.”
If you show up to get your candle in person, the process is this: First, you pick your spell, and that determines what color candle you’ll get. The candles are seven-day pillar candles of varying colors in glass jars. A white or green crystal healing candle heals past trauma and promotes mental clarity. A bright yellow solar blast candle helps to purge and rejuvenate your entire being. A purple emperor candle builds confidence and helps present opportunities. A blue house blessing candle cleanses and blesses your living space. A pink Catch a New Love candle might attract a new partner into your life, while a red Hypnotique candle is said to make you appear mesmerizing to others. There are dozens and dozens of options, all meant to give you the extra energy and focus to achieve your goals, whatever they may be (unless they involve harming another). “It’s a little boost,” Rapp says. “You’re asking the universe to help you with things you’re already working for.”
And then the witch behind the counter—who may well be Rapp herself, who’s owned Enchantments for the past fourteen years—removes the candle from the jar and carves your name, your astrological sign, and other magical symbols into the wax. She offers you a taste of honey to connect you to the spell and drops an offering of honey and incense into the jar. Next she sprinkles on a pile of glitter (which accounts for the floors), and then rubs the candle with scented oil before returning it to the jar too, gleaming and smelling like it’s about to go out on the town. And afterward? It’s up to you to take your candle home and infuse it with your energy and intentions—and then go out into the world and do the work.
The store sells plenty of other tools as well to give its customers that magical boost: blended oils, powder incenses, spiritual baths, statues, cauldrons, chalices, incense burners, and much more. It also provides a gathering place for practitioners of all levels, a respite in a massive hurtling city where witches and would-be witches might often work alone in their apartments. Every solstice and equinox the store holds rituals in the back yard—which is brimming with plants that Rapp cultivates herself—to celebrate the changing seasons. “Holding these rituals, which are open to anyone over eighteen (and children accompanied by a parent) is a small way of giving back to the community.”
What Rapp and her employees don’t engage in, in any way, are spells intended to cause harm to others. When people approach them with these requests, Rapp and her employees firmly refuse to help—and do their best to talk anyone off of such a path. “We don’t carve negative candles or engage in anything negative,” Rapp says. “We’re about positive energy—healing, emotional healing, cleansing, and empowerment. Plus, black magic will come back to you threefold; it never works the way someone might hope it will. Magic operates on a sympathetic level—the energy you put out into the universe has a powerful influence on what you attract.”
In the spirit of lightness and positivity, Rapp created two candle spells especially for Faerie Magazine readers —one for happiness, the other to attract fairies. “I wanted to create spells for people who might live anywhere in the world,” she says, “and who don’t have a magic shop right around the corner.”
Visit Enchantments online at enchantmentsincnyc.com or in person at 424 E 9th St, New York City.