Crystals, such as these shown at The Healing Bar in West Columbia, are one aspect of metaphysical spirituality. (Photos by Bridget Frame)
The metaphysical community has grown and flourished in the Columbia area in recent years.
Metaphysics is a “division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being,” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.
For many, spirituality and rituals are at the core of what they’re seeking.
Stores that cater to various aspects of spirituality have found a community and an expanding customer base in the city.
Cara Smalley opened The Witching Hour metaphysical store in West Columbia last year. People shop there for a variety of reasons, she said.
“This is a place for you to have experiences, and for you to be able to change your experiences for your everyday life,” she said.
One of the oldest stores on the scene is Belladonna’s, which has been in operation for 17 years.
Owner Jen White began the store with a desire to teach others about spirituality.
“I wanted to open a place where people could come and ask questions and feel comfortable and, you know, hopefully find things that they can use to help shift problems,” White said.
Some spaces were not always welcoming to White when she began her spiritual journey, she said.
“A lot of the stores, when I was younger, when you went into, it kind of made you feel a little strange,” White said.
Her goal was to provide a store that catered to long-term spiritualists and newcomers alike.
The store offers classes for tarot, aromatherapy, crystals and more spiritual practices. Belladonna’s also provides a variety of items for different beliefs, such as Wicca, Buddhism, Christianity, general spiritualism and more.
White wants people to minds that are open to spiritual practices and said she thinks there’s space for everyone within spiritualism.
“We as people have so much more in common than we don’t,” White said. “We want love, we want understanding, we want to heal, we want to be healthy, we want to be happy.”
White found and created a community with Belladonna’s. Many loyal customers and friends use the shop as a place to find comfort and learn about themselves and their spiritual journey..
“People have been born, people have died,” White said. ”There’s a lot that has transpired in the almost 20 years that I’ve been here. And I feel blessed that I’ve seen people grow up. I’ve seen people grow into this spirituality. I’ve seen people grow out of this spirituality.”
More recently, others with a passion for the metaphysical have opened stores in the Columbia area as well.
The Witching Hour’s Smalley has found a community within her customer base.
“I have made so many friendships and I have so many repeat customers where I just, I get to see other people grow in their place,” Smalley said. “It’s so fulfilling.”
Smalley wants to help people while running her business.
“At the end of the day, we are a retail store, and we do sell services, but this is a place for you to have experiences, and for you to be able change your experiences for your everyday life,” she said.
Other stores looked to expand on another service.
The Healing Bar in West Columbia began after a wife and husband duo decided to buy the space of an African holistic store that was closing.
Karley Shumpert and Chase Williams both have an interest in various aspects of spirituality. They have been able to watch the business grow since opening in 2019.
“Whenever we first started, my husband was here every day, open to close,” Shumpert said.
“We didn’t have any employees,” she said. “It was just him. And now we, you know, have grown some. So we are able to hire employees. So we really sit back and worry about inventory.”
The store offers a variety of goods for spiritualists, such as crystals, herbs and tarot cards. Many people seek out spirituality to find answers, said Sakura Rain, a manager at The Healing Bar.
“They’re looking for something that’s more satisfying to the soul and that’s more nurturing and aligns with their beliefs and their values and where they want to be spiritually,” Rain said.
The spiritual community seems to be ever growing, White said. She said she is always open to new members who want to learn.
“It’s always been good because I get to live my dream,” White said. “Even when I first started and things weren’t super busy all the time, I was just grateful to have people coming in and supporting my shop and, you know, I get to do what I love.”
Sakura Rain, pictured here, says her spiritual journey began in 2013.
Metaphysical shops, such as The Healing Bar, can cover a variety of spiritual beliefs, ranging from a belief in a single deity to shamanism.
Belladonna’s has been in Columbia for 17 years, and most recently moved to Rosewood Drive.
Herbs, sage and other supplies for people practicing spiritual rituals are available at stores such as The Healing Bar.
Crystals are associated with meanings and effects they are said to have.