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A visit to The Neighbourhood Witch

Introducing new Wayves writer Brittany Rogers! Brittany was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. Growing up she had a passion for writing and all things queer. In her adult life, those passions have continued to flourish and come only second to her interest in the occult. When she’s not writing, she can be found snuggling with her cat, Artemis, or enjoying the outdoors with her son.

Nestled in a row of colourful buildings on Queen Street, lies The Neighbourhood Witch. Just down Queen Street from the new Halifax library, the building dates back to the 1860s; the teal-coloured structure boasts a black witch’s hat beside the door and exudes welcome. For witchy newcomers and seasoned practitioners, the shop has an eclectic mix of items from stickers to spell materials.

Pamela McInnis, owner of the shop, has lived in Nova Scotia her entire life and is no stranger to the metaphysical. Before opening the Neighbourhood Witch back in 2015, she worked at the store Little Mysteries that was located on Barrington Street. During that time she was a student at NASCAD in Halifax and was enjoying immersing herself in all things occult. But as her school schedule got busier, she moved away from Little Mysteries and worked at a consignment store by the name of Put Me On, which was located in the basement of the current home of The Neighbourhood Witch.

neighbourhood witch Pamela

When news of Little Mysteries closing reached her, Pamela jumped on the opportunity to start her own business. More than that, she explained, was the gaping hole that the only other metaphysical shop in the city had left with its closure after nearly 25 years of business. And so, The Neighbourhood Witch was created.

When crossing the threshold of the store, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of inventory. Luckily, the knowledgeable staff are not only there to greet you, but to assist you with any questions you have.

The array of tarot decks that line the shelves are alluring to anyone with an inkling for divination. Candles of varying colours are lined neatly on display as well as oils to suit every need or wish. 

As is commonly found in most metaphysical shops, herb bundles such as mugwort, lavender, and sage (to name a few) are plentiful. White sage is sold in store, an herb used commonly in smoke cleansing. “There is a difference between smudging and smoke cleansing,” Pamela clarified, "one is a closed practice used by indigenous peoples involving more than just sage, the other uses just the herb bundle itself." However, for anyone uncomfortable using white sage to cleanse, there are other options available: “white sage just works the best”, she noted.

Other items found in store are cast iron cauldrons of varying sizes and locally made jewelry. Perhaps one of the most unique additions to the shop are the enamel pins, stickers, and patches that are stocked to suit any shopper’s needs.

“People come into the shop and want to support us but might not have a lot of money; stickers are perfect for that”. Not to mention how much personalization can be added to a phone case, a binder, a computer- wherever!


Neighbourhood Witch Nerissa

But perhaps you're not visiting the shop to purchase items; perhaps you’re there in search of a service. Tarot readings are offered daily and with the recent return of Nerissa, a shop favourite, there will be no shortage of patrons coming by for one. Palmistry, the art of palm reading, is another popular service to be found there. The standard divination practice of tea leaf reading can offer insights into current concerns and situations, and finally aura reading can be performed by certain readers. Each service offers something unique to the patron in search of answers.

On any given day the patrons of the shop range from nanas and their grandchildren to university students. The shop has something for everyone and for a range of beliefs.  A lot of the regulars and veteran shoppers were inherited from Little Mysteries when they closed, others have simply stumbled upon their little piece of witchy-heaven in the heart of Halifax.

But what kind of overlap is there between Halifax’s queer community and those who visit the shop? “All kinds!” Pamela had a smile in her voice when she said this. Often there is a hand-in-hand relationship between the queer community and the occult; “people who have their feet in both worlds”, she explained. The acceptance found within the queer community is complemented by that of the occult world because, when it comes down to it, it’s about the support of the community.

When asked about the general feeling of the people who enter the store, Pamela laughed and said that the witch hat on the door was a giveaway as to what was inside: if people aren’t comfortable with it, then they don’t come in. And for anyone wishing to spread hatred: “a healthy fear of witchcraft keeps them away”.

So, what’s next for the little shop on Queen Street? A big move! In early 2024, The Neighbourhood Witch is moving into the old home of Little Mysteries on Barrington Street which is “just as haunted”, Pamela assured me. The move is not one that she sought out, however. The building that houses the shop currently is being torn down, despite the attempt to have historical property status approved for the site. Taking these older buildings down “robs the city of character”, she said sadly. The silver lining Pamela noted was that the building on Barrington Street is only 10 years younger than their current haunt and she and her staff can continue serving the community of Halifax. Until the move, you can visit Pamela and her staff at the shop at 1526 Queen Street seven days a week, between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.

You can follow The Neighbourhood witch on Instagram or Facebook.