I stepped into a lavender house on Main Street on Saturday morning, both nervous and excited to begin my four hour immersion into the world of goddesses, psychic readings, witchcraft and women’s empowerment.
As I closed the door behind me and noticed the warm setting of candles, healing crystals and aromatic perfumes filling the air, I felt a bit more at ease. The beautiful and intentional decor of the space allowed it to feel like a home I had known my whole life, despite having just stepped in.
A silver-haired woman who worked in the shop looked up at me and I quickly introduced myself. With a warm, knowing smile she said, “I knew you were Amayah. Follow me.”
This lady’s name is Hanah and the shop she works in is called The Awareness Shop. On the first Saturday of each month she facilitates a women’s empowerment workshop, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m. in a space adjacent to the shop. The shop has been open since 1993 and was voted Hudson Valley’s Best Psychics.
These workshops are inspired by the practices of ancient women. Long ago, ancient women would gather at lakes as they all did laundry for their families together. Their time at the lake allowed them to form a bond of sisterhood and trust where they could share their pains and feelings with each other.
Hanah noticed that today, women don’t have assembly places like the lakes where they can pour out their feelings and bond with each other. The workshop intends to symbolize the modern day lake that women had in the past.
Hanah has been inspired by ancient women and feminine energy her whole life. She describes herself as “devoted to the goddess and to feminine, divine energy.” She notices the nuances that distinguish masculine energy, which she describes simply as “it’s linear, it’s logic, it’s war,” with feminine energy which she describes as, “a cyclical way of looking at things,” “inclusive” and “more loving.”
Reading the book “When God Was A Woman” by activist and author Merlin Stone during the first women’s movement is an experience that was transformational for Hanah’s journey of appreciating the power of goddesses and women.
Together, Hanah and I left the crystal and incense-filled shop through the back and entered a new space. On the door was a sign that read, “Please do not enter this space without permission.”
Before entering, Hanah reminded me of the terms of confidentiality: Nothing that would be said in this room would leave the room and could certainly never be published.
So, that’s where this story ends.
The room was heavily, if not entirely, informed by the Wiccan tradition of witchcraft, which makes sense considering much of the staff at The Awareness Shop participates in Wiccan practices. Each corner of the room was painted with representations of one of the four elements: air, water, fire, earth. The elements had faces drawn onto them to represent that each element is alive. Ritual objects were placed beneath each figure. For example, under the fire element was a small fireplace, as well as sticks.
While the content of the meeting will eternally remain confidential, Hanah was certainly correct when she told me at the beginning that the space would be an open, bluntly honest and emotionally transformative space of sisterhood and bonding. Nobody is ignored or can go without speaking. Everybody is given the space to share their journey, thoughts and experiences while being supported by the words, advice and messages of encouragement from the other women in the room.
At the end of the workshop, Hanah gave each woman a black tourmaline crystal before we gave each other hugs and said our “goodbyes.” Black tourmaline is meant to be a protective crystal, which deflects harmful or negative energy and helps the person carrying it to feel more grounded.
I’ve held the crystal with me each day since then and have definitely been feeling the benefits and power that the crystal has. But in addition to its natural properties, it also gives me a reminder of my metaphorical trip to the lake with Hanah and all I’ve learned about myself and the world of goddesses.
For women who are open to trying an experience like this one, head to the Awareness Shop at 180 Main St. on the first Saturday of the month for Hanah’s workshop. You can sign up first by calling the shop at 845-255-5756. Visit The Awareness Shop’s website, http://awarenessshop.com, to learn more about other workshops and offerings.