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Zachary Stories

Witch, please

This was meant to be a cute little story about a new shop, maybe where you could pick up some shiny rocks and local essential oils.

Snooping out a lead I saw on a Facebook moms group, I went into Storm Kalmerz on a whim one Thursday night.

Tucked in the strip center behind the Taco Bell, you wouldn’t even know the store was there unless you’re looking.

I tried the door, noting the sign that they closed at 5 p.m. and it was now 5:47, but the door opened anyway, and I stepped into a small, black room filled with plants, late afternoon sunshine, two very cute toddler boys running around, and lots of potions, candles, and witches’ brooms.

Wait, what?

Before I go any further, let me take a minute to acknowledge that the rest of this story might go beyond the comfort zone of some of our readers. Although Hoodoo is as much a part of Louisiana as boudin, it’s also not something we tend to openly discuss. If you’re the owner of any torches or pitchforks, turn back now. Otherwise, I hope you’ll read it in the spirit of openness that I intend.

“I’ve been waiting for you since April,” the proprietor, Storm, says to me after I introduce myself. Really? “Yep,” she says. “Ask any of my workers. I said in April a woman would come to interview me, she would pop in, my hair would be a mess, my shop would be a mess…And here you are.”

“Here I am,” I say, rubbing the goosebumps on my arms that just popped up. “So tell me,” I say. “What is this place? What’s it all about? Who are you?”

“I am fifth generation. It was passed down to me on both sides. All of my dad’s brothers and sisters had the gift,” Storm says.

“Fifth generation…what?” I ask, knowing full well the answer would be outside my own comfort zone.

“Witchcraft,” she says. Hoodoo. Conjugation.

It’s important to note that, while the brooms in the corner and the little chicken feet and the atomic green potions lining the shelves did suddenly pop out to me like I was inside a Magic Eye 3D Illusion, I did my best to play it cool.

“We sell crystals, herbs, conjuring oils, chicken feet for luck,” she continued. “Witch brooms of cinnamon for prosperity and abundance. Put them over your door and you’ll attract great customers and lots of business,” Storm says.

A real witches broom?! I mentally exclaim with glee as I take some photos. This will be perfect for the week before Halloween! 

“Our best seller is fast oil. Rub it on your hands really fast and think of what you want, and then go do it. Buy that lottery ticket, make that phone call,” she says. She also does lots of readings. “This is my best seller,” she says, pointing to her menu of services on the wall. “Is he a cheater?” I read aloud, laughing. She says, “No, I’m telling you, girls come in here all the time!”

We continue to talk for a bit, while her beautiful, bright-eyed children are playing underfoot, bringing me things, letting me hold them as I interview their mother. It is, after all, 47-plus minutes after her shop closed. I am an intruder.

She looks at me while holding her baby on her hip, discerning. “You have a green aura about you. A light,” she says. “You’re open-minded, willing to listen to what I have to say.”

“What do you want people to know?” I ask.

“That this isn’t what you think it is,” she says. “At first, even my mother (who has the gift) was very against it and went straight to Christianity, but as time passed, she saw how I was helping other people, and soon became accepting. I want people to be open-minded. It’s an art and a craft that reflects the gifts of the natural world around you,” she tells me. They connect us all as one.

She describes her family as though they’re Disney characters from the hit movie Encanto– a real-life family Madrigal with gifts just as special as they are. Her mom is psychic (future seeing), her sister was a seer of things past, present and future, and her brother can speak to spirits. Her dad is good with coming up with concoctions on the spot, but she says that he seriously suppresses his gifts.

Time for a song break!

My tío Bruno
(We don’t talk about Bruno)
They say he saw the future, one day he disappearedOh! And that’s my mom Julieta, here’s her deal, whoaThe truth is, she can heal you with a meal, whoaHer recipes are remedies for realIf you’re impressed, imagine how I feel, Mom!
-“The Family Madrigal” from Encanto

I know that it takes all kinds, and I believe her when she says it’s her gift. She gives me some solid advice. She reads my energy and says that I’m frazzled and overworked. I am a bit frazzled and overworked, but that’s probably true of any working parent, or human in general. She said I need self-care Sundays, to take time for myself to recharge. Again, advice for any parent or just person in this modern world.

None of this seems like the type of thing someone could be burned at the stake for. I can know what I believe without condemning another person for what they believe, and I appreciate the kindness she showed to me. And now? I’m going to get a massage and take a half-day off work…Witch’s orders.

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