Simsbury’s Bell and Raven shop is where you’ll find all things magical and mystical. There’s even a ‘metaphysical Starbucks’

The Bell and Raven is a peaceful little shop in Simsbury specializing in paganism, mysticism, ancient magical practices, divination and other esoteric traditions. The heart of the shop is what owner Isabel Carrington calls “a metaphysical Starbucks.”

At Spell Jar Bar, customers tell their deepest wishes to Carrington and she will help them assemble a pretty little jar of salts, herbs, charms, crystal powders and other elements that “correspond best to the intention they wish to set,” Carrington said.

“I wanted to offer something to tune out the noise of everyday living, let go of the heaviness, to come in here and find a sanctuary, to sit down and tune into an intention would would to manifest in your life or for a loved one,” Carrington said.

Customers place their spell jars at home where they will best help manifest the intention: “If you want calm, you put it in your bedroom. If you want motivation, you put it in your office. Some people bury them in the backyard,” Carrington said.

The entire shop — painted a soothing dark green, with tiny lights, soft music and sparkly merchandise — is geared toward turning away from the hubbub of modern life and embracing the power of traditional healing or witchcraft.

Carrington identifies as a pagan, not a Wiccan, but she understands the lasting legacy of the common historical views of those who practice witchcraft.

“In pop culture and classical literature, witch was a term for a villain who puts a hex on you or wreaks havoc or lures people to their demise,” Carrington said. “But the root of the word “witch” is healer. They help people find solutions to what ails them.”

Everything Carrington sells, with the help of her assistant Katie Brunetto, is geared toward helping people find solutions they can’t find by more contemporary means.

Dozens of varieties of crystals sit in baskets with explanations of their use. Rose quartzes are for unconditional love. Blue apatite is for motivation. Lepidolite is for harmony. Dragon’s blood jasper is for inner fire. Black onyx is for protection.

Carrington sells a wide variety of tarot decks and oracle cards and rotates these frequently to showcase different artistic interpretations of the divination tools.

“People collect decks, and a lot of times it’s the particular artwork that speaks to them,” Carrington said. “It’s not necessarily that you need more than one deck, but the look of it may correspond to what you are feeling that particular day.”

The shop offers weekly tarot and oracle readings. Every other month since she opened in October, Carrington has brought in a couple that does aura readings. On the shop’s one-year anniversary, she will host a variety of activities around the pagan festival Samhain, “when the veil between this world and the next is thinnest.” “Witching Hour Wednesdays” is a weekly offering of traditional folk myths, for adults only.

Books on mystical topics — paganism, witchcraft, dreams, crystals, past life regression, runes — are sold, as well as journals to record mystical experiments.

Carrington has a sense of humor about her wares; even customers who can’t relate to esoteric merchandise will find something amusing, like Golden Girls prayer candles.

The cutest corner of the shop is a tiny room transformed into “Archard’s Burrow,” home of the resident hobgoblin, Archard Ilvelore, who sleeps in his hammock during the day, watched over by his pet owl, and keeps Bell and Raven tidy when no one is looking.

Change of career

The shop represents a career change for Carrington. She used to be the director of education at Warner Theater in Torrington. When the pandemic shuttered every theater in the state, she had a lot of time to think about her life. Then her father died.

“There was something about that happening that made me have a mental and emotional reboot,” she said. “I kept hearing him in my head saying ‘chase your joy’.”

Her father had been a chemist. She began thinking about his profession in the light of its similarities with alchemy, “the magic that is all around us.”

But her lifestyle shift goes back to her childhood in Old Lyme. She was the youngest of four children. Her oldest sibling, Katie, was her “mentor of all things mystical.”

“When she got old enough to drive, she was always looking for, hungry for, more info about Wiccan practices, pagan practices, herbal remedies. We went to bookstores. Then I discovered the astrology section of Merlin’s Bookstore in Niantic. I would sit on the carpet and devour all of the info. That set me forth to learn as much as I could.”

Her mother, Rosalind Hindman, was a professional storyteller, who told many tales including traditional folktales. “I was immersed in the lore and stories of common magic practice and how it was rooted in actual historic practice,” she said.

Those two fascinations combined and shaped her pagan beliefs. When the pandemic hit, she decided to “chase her joy” in that direction, opening the shop.

“I like to say this shop offers ‘subjective magic.’ We all have magic in us. What that means is subjective. What kinds of magic speaks to us?”

The Bell and Raven, at 926 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury, is open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Susan Dunne can be reached at