Modern Magic on N. Front Street: Ritualist Opens Shop

Ritualist strives to incorporate inclusivity, sustainability and equity into all elements of the store.

There’s a chill to the air; red, yellow and orange leaves are littering the ground and with tonight, Oct. 20, being a full moon, all signs seem to say that it must be the season of the witch. 

But according to Dana Cooper, owner of modern witch shop Ritualist, located at 19 N. Front St., spiritual and magic-making practices can be used in our lives all year round.

Especially when it comes to using these tools for healing.

Cooper believes healing rituals take place every day. She emphasizes that simple practices that you might not consider to be rituals such as tending to a garden or taking a walk are rituals just as much as pulling a tarot card is. 

“I think some of the perspective shifts that those practices can bring really can change everything,” Cooper said. “Anything you do with intention and presence can be a ritual. It can remind you to get centered, come back into your body and brush away all of the stress for a moment.”

There is no expectation in Ritualist that customers are experts on these tools, there is no expectation that those who visit the shop know anything about spirituality at all. 

Cooper hopes this space can welcome anyone to learn about these tools when they need it, just as she did herself.

“I fell into this world of spirituality, witchcraft and healing when I needed it the most,” Cooper explained, “which is kind of how that often happens I think.”

Cooper discovered the world of spirituality in 2016 while living in Brooklyn. 

At a time where she felt stressed, burnt out and at a loss for community, she stumbled upon Maha Rose, an inclusive center for healing in which Cooper attended a workshop.

“That was really the first time I ever sat in a circle with people and discussed anything [of the] spiritual world,” Cooper explained. “I remember leaving the workshop feeling so empowered.”

This launched Cooper’s fascination and learning of astrology, tarot and anything to do with spirituality. This all eventually culminated in Cooper moving back to her hometown in New Paltz, and opening a space for it here in May of 2020.

She hopes the shop can bring a sense of community and allow a space for anyone to feel safe, supported and welcome.

Ritualist stands out as a modern witch shop. For Cooper, this means incorporating inclusivity in every piece of the store.

It means understanding how to bring these practices into the future, envisioning a better future and understanding the existence of metaphysical stores in our present.

It’s difficult to discuss practices of spirituality, without noting how it can often include cultural appropriation. For instance, many metaphysical stores sell white sage, yet the burning of this plant is a sacred Indigenous practice.

Cooper strives to ensure that the products she carries are never appropriative of other cultures. Rather than sage, Cooper sells flowers and herbs for burning. She only sells products made from small, independent brands that she knows well.

It’s important to Cooper that the brands she carries are sourced from BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ creators.

One of Ritualist’s core values is inclusivity, Cooper strives to uplift marginalized voices in the running of her shop. 

Every month, Ritualist donates 10% of its profit to an organization committed to anti-racism. For October, profits will be donated to Seeding Sovereignty an Indegineous-led organization that “works to radicalize and disrupt colonized spaces,” according to the project’s website

Cooper also strives to incorporate sustainability into her shop, only sourcing products that use eco-friendly ingredients and packaging as well as pay their employees fairly and use ethical work practices. 

“Things are always moving and changing, it’s important to go along with that,” Cooper emphasized. “We’re always learning new things and unlearning a lot of things. I’ve always got my eye on the future.”

Ritualist is located on 19 N. Front St., open Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Stop by to see their line of healing and magic-making products, plants, stationary, gifts, accessories and more.