One of the better known magic centres in Washington has been badly burnt by a suspicious fire. Moonflower Magicks was a rare place for today's witches and pagans to gather and be accepted. It was as much sanctuary and cultural center as it was a book and supply shop.
When a fire two weeks ago closed the purple gilded New Age shop at the corner of Colby Avenue and California Street, word of the loss shot through the communities that called it home.
"It's pretty much a hub of the neo-pagan community," said Willow Moon, an Italian witch and Wiccan high priestess from Everett. "It's been a big loss."
The arched ceiling is charred black. Temperatures up to 900 degrees melted the shop's light fixtures.
Investigators said the cause of the fire has not been determined. Shop owner Jana "Moonflower" Benson, 63, said she suspects arson.
She moved to the location two years ago - replacing the Silvertips' first headquarters.
The store stocked a wide range of books on paganism, Wicca and old-world, non-Christian traditions. Owners sold aroma-therapy items, incense, oils, candles, gemstones and jewelry. They also sold statues of gods and goddesses, wands and magic supplies used in rituals.
"It had the sense of an old-time country store, a gathering place and very much a safe place," said Theo Williams, a Wiccan from Everett. He said he "came out of the broom closet" 11 years ago to find that most of his friends were Wiccan, too.
"Having Moonflower's here was a blessing," he said, a pentacle hanging from his neck signifying earth, wind, water, fire and spirit. "If I saw the pentacle, I immediately had someplace to send people."
He reflected on the loss of the store while standing in the darkened ruins last week, amid the cloying scent of a hundred broken bottles of fragrant oil.
"I would definitely not want the karma of the person who did this," Williams said.
Critics occasionally hurled slurs like "devil store" at Benson.
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