Communicating with spirits is a common practice in Deborah Voith’s family. As a child, she remembers using the Ouija board with both of her grandmothers, and today, Voith -- as well as her sisters, daughters and granddaughters -- has a knack for contacting the dead.
"I’ve contacted friends and family who have passed on," says Voith. "It’s something I feel very good about."
Spirit communication is one of many services Voith offers at her new occult shop, Bewitchingbee, 2456 N. Murray Ave.
Bewitchingbee is the first occult shop to open on the East Side in a few years. In 2005, Wailing Banchee Boo-tique had a brief spell in a storefront on Humboldt Boulevard. Three Fates was a Brady Street anchor in the '90s, and Hand of Glory operated Downtown around the same time.
Prior to opening the shop, Voith, who is a full-time nurse, ran an online supply shop for Wiccan / Pagan/ New Age items. Last July, she opened the witchy boutique with her husband, and now offers classes, tarot readings, candle dressing, spiritual cleansings, spirit communications and Reiki.
The cozy space sells aroma therapy oils, powders, bath salts, herbs, books, candles, spirit boards, jewelry, incense, pendulums, meditation CDs, poppets (voodoo dolls), cloaks, calendars, tarot cards, crystal balls, vintage collectibles and more.
Voith, who specializes in hoodoo, a folk magic practiced in New Orleans, makes most of the oils and powders herself. She also teaches most of the classes, including basic tarot, palmistry, Reiki workshops (Voith is a Reiki master), psychic development, witchcraft and "hoodoo, rootwork and conjure." The six-week classes cost $75.
"I modeled the shop after an old-time voodoo / occult / rootworker / candle shop," says Voith.
One of her signature services is free "candle dressing." When a customer buys a candle -- most cost $4 -- Voith will "dress it" free of charge. This means she pokes seven holes in the wax and fills with oils and herbs to intensify the candle’s powers.
Bewitchingbee features multiple altars on site -- complete with candles, statues and photos -- to aid with a customer’s requests for health, money, love or more specific desires.
Voith says, overall, the response to her shop is positive. A few representatives from other religions dropped off literature or stopped by to inquire of her intentions and to ensure she was not worshipping the devil.
"That’s certainly not what’s going on here," she says.
Voith, who is in a coven, plans to offer rituals, holiday celebrations and psychic fairs in her space.
"My goal is to provide a safe space for people to learn and explore the magic in their lives," she says.
2009 Bewitchingbee events:
Imbolc / Candlemas fair
Saturday, Jan. 31, 4-10 p.m.
Palm and tarot readers; free workshop at 6 p.m. called "Road Opener Spells;" ritual at 9 p.m.; in-store discounts.
Other scheduled fairs / celebrations: Ostara, Saturday, March 14; Beltane, Saturday, April 25; Litha / Summer Solstice, Saturday, June 20; Lammas, Saturday, Aug. 1; Mabon, Saturday, Sept. 26.
For more information about magical groups and spirit circles, call Bewitchingbee.
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.