The Hollow – Year Two
Remember The Witch of Blackbird Pond? I don’t know about you but I read it in the 6th grade and fell in love with this story of the young girl who, ostracized by her 17th century community, became friends with the Crone who lived on the other side of the pond. My copy had this cover sketch of a lonely girl standing on the edge of a windswept hillside. The one on Google books has an even better image – of Kit heading to what looks to be a Hollow. (Found here: http://bit.ly/y3Xs86)
Here in 21st century Utah, the image of our own Hollow is quite a bit different.
The community built garden of sunflowers and vines cannot hide the warehouse brick of this non-descript building. Located near Bonwood Bowling, and the one-time site of the Fritos building here in Salt Lake, Crone’s Hollow is set apart from its office park and school district neighbors because of how it seems to fade into the background. It’s a building, nothing more.
Yet, inside, the world changes.
Yes, Crone’s Hollow is a store and walking in, the eye catches sepia toned statues and fairy window crystals. The smells of patchouli and nag champa blend with faint hints of sage. A case of tarot and oracle cards covers almost all ranges of interest. Inside the trunk of the tree where stuffed animals and fairies play, there are books that cross the “Pagan” spectrum. Behind the glass counter tops, any of the staff wait with hugs and smiles. Linger long enough and you’ll catch conversations about oils, herbs, stones, and what people’s kids did last weekend. That’s just in the store.
What is unique about Crone’s Hollow is not the store aspect. Yes, it is inviting and friendly, but so are many of the pagan stores in the city. No, what is unique is the community it fosters beyond pushing ritual supplies for the novice and master alike. On any given night, it is possible to pull up a chair and hear Aisling sharing wisdom while one of the many tarot readers connected to the Hollow explains a card to a patron. Over the summer, when Pagan Pride needed a quick landing, Crone’s Hollow was able to host the event in the parking lot. (The annual event will be moved back to Murray Park this year.) There is a ritual space (Roy’s Room) that is large enough to accommodate everyone from the group who comes to participate in dark moon drumming to the Spiral Scouts (the pagan equivalent of the Boy and Girl Scouts) to large rituals that are often open to the community.
Says Aisling, “The place reaches out and grabs you the minute you walk in the door, and there is an aura of acceptance, a real commitment to inclusiveness and diversity, lots of amazing things to learn and do, but most of all a feeling of coming home, of community, of “this is MY place–I belong here. I am welcome.”
Her sentiments are echoed over and over again by patrons and the owners of the store, all of whom talk about how important it is to not only have a place where it is safe for the Pagan Community to gather, but a place where community can be built as well.
For Big Dog, one of the co-owners of the store, his thoughts drift to the people who walk in the door. “Every day, somebody new walks through the threshold of Crone’s Hollow. They may be fresh on their new path or they may be wizened in their ways. However, each and every one has a child-like wonder. They are discovering something new that they have never experienced before. It isn’t just the merchandise, it is a positive energy. They feel good. In turn, they lend some of their own positive energy. Everyone leaves a bit of themselves in the store and other facilities and it continues to grow and infect others that they may come in contact with.”
In a world that is spinning itself upside down as the presidential race devolves into religious rhetoric rather than honest discussion, Crone’s Hollow keeps proving that it is a place where anyone can come together regardless of faith path, sexuality, gender identity, or age. It is common to see teenage witches, iphones in hand, laughing over some random facebook page while adult writers take over a table on the other side of the lounge; in the middle of the room on couches and chairs, conversation spirals into the air while babies are passed from open arm to open arm.
As Crone’s Hollow celebrates its first year by expanding the classroom area, adding the Blue Sage Bodyworks massage therapy studio, and incorporating SteamHead Coffee into the space, it will be interesting to see how this community continues to come together and develop. But if the past year is any indication at all as to what it means to be a member of a community, Crones Hollow is in great shape. Lissa perhaps puts it best, “What I love most about Crones Hollow, is the life time friendships being made and the community oneness… You can’t purchase those things, but they’re there and you take home a tiny piece of it with every visit, and you contribute to that awesome oneness.”
Here’s to year two.