The Reverend Stitch Jones leans over the counter at Augustine’s Authentic Spiritual Goods and addresses the woman sitting before him.
“So, do you meditate?” He is surrounded by semi-filled bottles of different colored oils and powders labeled with names like Love, Dragon’s Blood, and Peace.
“Is there any particular type of Buddhism you’re interested in?” His subject mentions a few names, and they are greeted with hearty recognition by Reverend Stitch. Candles ($19.95 each), a couple of books, a package of incense ($5.95), and some bath salts lie between the two individuals. Reverend Stitch is trying to explain to his customer how she can empower herself to feel better.
“I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m trying to not feed into the negativity,” he says. The friend that brought her to Augustine’s, as it is affectionately referred to by its staff and customers, practices Hoodoo herself. An African-American system of folk magic with European and Native American influences, Hoodoo is just one of the many kinds of spiritual systems supported by the supplies available at Augustine’s. Reverend Stitch explains that many of the people who come to Augustine’s already follow practices such as Buddhism, Herbalism, SanterÃa, and Mexican magick, but most come for help with a loving attitude.
Although one can find the Reverend Stitch behind the counter most days, Augustine’s is really the work of Reverend Carolyn (both reverends are non-denominational). Reverend Stitch describes her as “a down-to-earth lady with four children who is quite spiritually brilliant.” She also practices Hoodoo, and has owned Augustine’s for about seven years, although it was open before that under different management. Reverend Carolyn agrees with Reverend Stitch about the mission of the store. “It’s a place of empowerment, and that’s what we teach–we want to help people to get in touch with their inner power, to get in touch with their truth. We seem to attract people who are ready to grow, and that’s the community we draw from,” she explains. Reverend Carolyn accounts for the path of the store by saying that she stocks it according to her customers’ wants and needs. “When I want something, I tell my Oversoul God-mind what I need and it usually walks through the door.”
Felicitously, this method has been pretty successful so far. Augustine’s stocks a wide variety of goods, and their customer service is meticulous and focused. They even offer classes, with titles as intriguing as Basic Crystals and Candle Reading, and Northern European Shamanism. Assuredly, many would greet the staff and customers of Augustine’s with a cocked eyebrow and a doubtful expression. But whether one subscribes to the beliefs touted by the shop or not, the attempt offered by the staff to help their customers is genuine. Though Reverend Stitch admits that you could use the oils sold at Augustine’s as perfume or to scent your house, he says, “The joke is that we really are a serious store and deal with serious stuff. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!”
“I make sound effects to make it all more mystical,” he clarifies while raking his customer’s palms–a process he hopes will help change her negative energy.
All jokes aside, Reverend Carolyn makes it clear that Augustine’s is not about hokey nonsense. “Augustine’s is different [from other spiritual goods stores] because we base our teachings on truth. We don’t tell people what to do–we want them to talk to their Oversoul God-mind. It’s about getting power from and control over your own mind.” Reverend Stitch adds to this statement with his own round-up of the store’s strong points: “We’re a great mix of hands-on folk magic and things that work. We’re really honest, our grasp of humanity is wiser [than many New Age stores], and we’re pretty down-to-earth.”
Upcoming Classes: Talking to the Spirit, Basic Mediumship; Introduction to Tarot part I, Major Arcana; Basic Crystals and Candle Reading part I; Healing with the Chakras; Northern European Shamanism.
Augustine’s Authentic Spritual Goods, 3327 S. Halsted St. Monday-Thursday 11-7pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-6pm; Sunday, noon-4pm. authenticspiritualgoods.com