(Apologies for not posting as much as I’d like during this witchy week due to RL ill health, but I shall, of course, make up for it!)
Of all the Pagan Places in world, one that has probably received the most publicity, and rightly so, is the Witchfest/Witches Island community. It’s a vibrant community, and the home of the justly exalted Artemis Tavern, and is backed (or at least was, I’m not sure if this is still the case) by ‘The Children Of Artemis’, an esteemed and world-renowned RL non-profit Witchcraft organisation (of which I used to be a member, didn’t renew due to moths flying out of purse when opened)
Before we discuss the main shopping area, billed as the biggest Pagan shopping area in world, remember how I told you that at Covenstead you can rent properties and thus become part of a Pagan community? Well, Witches Island offers the same, in fact they have an enormous rentals business which encompasses small dwellings, mansions, even enormous skyboxes. Anything the Witch about town could possibly desire! I noted that a fair number of the dwellings seemed to be inhabited, always a good sign, and what makes this habitat especially nice is that the living spaces are dotted with stone circles and temples between residences for avatars to enjoy. The landscaping is nice, but not great…for example, I don’t care much for the teleportation devices, which are just signboards. Their appearance really jars against the environment, but I can see they serve a useful purpose, so may one be so bold as to say why not change them to something more in-keeping with the rest of the area?
The Artemis Temple that looks out over the landscape looks great, but, disappointingly, when you go inside it’s very bare apart from two scrolls to your immediate left. If you click these you’ll find some introductory Wiccan teachings from Merlyn Herne, one of the community leaders here, and they’re an excellent introduction. ..I just wish that as much thought had be applied to the furnishing of the temple! I also spied a huge cave which turned out to be a nightclub, but again it just didn’t strike me physically as somewhere I’d like to hang out.. Look, I recognise that appearance isn’t everything and it’s the people that make a place and not the pictures on the walls, but at the same time a place needs to be inviting, to draw you in and make you want to stay. Judging by the amount of traffic that this place gets on a daily basis they’re evidently doing something right, but I just feel it could be a wee bit improved…
Anyway, I don’t want to dissuade you from visiting or put a total damper on this piece because this is an essential place for any virtual Pagan to visit, make no mistake about that. I’ve visited The Artemis Tavern a number of times and each time have been made to feel really welcome. In fact, every time I visit there is usually someone in the Artemis, if not a group. In over three years of Second Life I’ve never visited and not found people enjoying themselves there or engrossed in discussion, it really is a genuinely popular place with Pagans and non-Pagans alike. This popularity says a lot about the community at the heart of the place:) I’m sure because of it’s affiliations Witches Island is a great place to seek valuable instruction, and if you’re just starting out on your path then you could do a lot worse than make yourself acquainted with the folk here. They have courses and events constantly, and will be more than willing to fill you in on details should you ask.
Okies, shopping time! The shopping area is mall-like, and each vendor is an open plan barn-style store, which vary in size from small units to much larger, grander affairs. There are money trees ( hat do actually contain Lindens) dotted around, and there are random freebie boxes to be found too, a useful bonus for a newbie. The shopping area itself is relatively plain and easy to navigate, but would benefit from a lick of paint. The Mall is divided into courts named after Astrological signs. There are LOTS of stores here selling practically everything you could imagine at a virtual New Age fair…from crystals to clothing, wands to whiskers you’ll find it here. A quick point: due to the scale and nature of this mall a lot of the stores in residence are satellite stores, but don’t let that discourage you, the majority are well-stocked. A final point, I’m not covering every store in this post, that would take too long. Some stores I’ve not included because I didn’t especially like their wares, or because I felt there were copyright issues that needed to be addressed. Some I’ve not included because I just didn’t have time.
This is just to give you a taste of what you will find there, the idea is to make you visit, naturally:)
First up, in Leo Court, is a store called ‘Briar Rose.’ OK, it’s not a great looking store, but inside you’ll find a few useful pieces, such as ten scripted, individually coloured candles with holders in a pack for L$80, when you purchase them you receive a note with advice on using candle magic & several sample spells, but these are perfect for decoration or lighting too. More expensive is the copy/mod spell box which retails at L$100. (Situated next to the box is a scroll which has details about creating and using magical spell boxes should you be so inclined. Worth reading that before you purchase I think.) To be honest this is an odd little store without much in the way of stock, but what is there certainly has it’s uses. I especially like (and this is fashionista, not witchy related) the pose rug and rezzable private dressing room which costs just L$25. Just the ticket if you have no fixed abode in SL and rely on sandboxes…that said, ‘Briar Rose’ offers a solution to that too; there’s a rental property board inside:) Leo Court also features a furniture display by ‘Twin Souls’, and it is gorgeous, richly textured renaissance inspired stuff. Take a LM and visit the main store if your castle needs new nicies:)
‘Hectic Moon’ features extremely fetching gowns and outfits. I particularly liked ‘Alchemy’ and ‘Vamp Priestess’ but to be honest I was more captivated by the objects on sale rather than the outfits. A real bargain, is the ‘Crystal Magic Pendant Set’, which features a 21 colour change wire wrapped crystal pendant. At L$199 it’s a bargain.
You MUST see ‘Mae Fairy Tale‘, a store owned by a very talented lady called Maena Tammas. For starters, she’s created a fabulous witch broom and grimoire set, as well as a wishing well, gazebo, stunning fantasy tree house and a gorgeous little mushroom for a linden. She also sells really beautiful Fairy wings, and even though I can’t say that they are an item I especially covet in SL, I think you’d be hard pressed to find better. What I particularly liked however were the original artworks displayed at the rear of the store. Maena is a girl with exemplary digital talent and a visit to her gallery, via the LM in store, is definitely worth your while. Her artwork is of course available to buy and would be a worthy addition to any Elven themed home.
Moving into Capricorn Court now, and I was going to walk past the store called ‘Vamps and Tramps’ because the name just made me cringe so much, but I have to say, on closer inspection, that the clothing was actually exceptional (as are the ads displaying the wares) If you like gorgeous Gothic gowns, then you have to come here and see the ‘Gothic Romance’ gown. Even better, the clothing in the store is TRANS, so you can buy pressies here! It isn’t cheap though – the ‘Pagan Romance’ jewellery set is absolutely stunning but at L$800 it’s a bit of an investment buy. Still, if you’re after something a bit more adventurous than your common or garden pentacle this has to be worth checking out!
Onwards, past The Artemis Tavern to Libra Court. There’s a huge display here featuring the COA’s magazine, ‘Wicca and Witchcraft‘. I own a fair few issues of these myself and it’s a glossy well-produced magazine (are they still producing it?) and there’s a large display featuring an article on ‘Cyber Witchcraft’ that was featured in the Lammas 2008 edition for you to read.
‘The Fairy’s Aunt’ is another showcase of digital art, this time by Sylphie Fei. There is a lot to enjoy here, and the prints are very reasonably priced too. Her work is varied and beautifully designed, and I fell in love with a number of pieces, especially ‘Hunters Moon’ and ‘Fallen Angel’. Like ’Mae Fairy Tale’ the artwork would look stunning hung in your virtual home. Next door you’ll find ‘Temp T’ a shop selling a mixed bag of goodies, including spell cabinets, jewellery and a ‘Mystical Greenhouse’ which would be a perfect skybox dwelling for Fairy aficionados, and nearby is ‘Talevin’s Designs’, where lovely magical book props, as well as jewellery, wands and staves are the order of the day. There is an excellent unisex triple moon Goddess pendant for L$50 in store.
I’ve told you about a handful of shops ( I’m leaving the hard work up to you!) but let me tell you about my favourite store in the mall. It‘s called ‘Picky Pagan’, and is owned by Dixie Berliner. There are actually two outlets at the mall for this brand, but the main store is where you will find quite simply, the loveliest Imbolc altar set-up that you will find anywhere in SL, and she also offers TEN pagan freebies for your delectation; all quality items that some designers would charge the earth for. Dixie is evidently not profit driven though – her work is not only exceptional, it’s great value too: the altar is a steal at L$100. At her other store you’ll discover a cauldron bathtub scene, replete with animations, tub, witches hat and broomstick, which is just so much fun that I had to have one, and there’s a glorious cooking hearth with bread, cauldrons and a roaring fire. Again these are perfectly created and cost just a mere L$100. Bargains.There’s lots more I could share with you but I’m going to reserve my other favourites for another blog post. Suffice to say that if shopping with a mystical flavour is your thing, then you’d be hard pressed not to visit the mall here, and I also totally recommend the social network that thrives here. My only gripes are that there are some items on display that are quite blatantly breaching copyright ( as per my previous post) and also there’s some pretty awful items on sale too. I also hinted earlier that I think physically, the place could do with a bit of an overhaul, but all things considered there’s a reason why this ranks amongst the top Pagan destinations upon the grid, and that’s because it is run by Paganfolk for Paganfolk, and that shines through all.