Witches of the West
Reno Magick is your friendly neighborhood occult shop
Witches are real. But “scary” doesn’t apply to Reno Magick Store founders Scott Reimers and Misty Grayknights, seeing as they’d probably work fine as guests on a kids’ show, leading an upbeat sing-along about herbs and goddesses and what-have-you.
A witch, shaman, high priestess and at times “spiritual mother,” Grayknights wears many hats, helping veteran practitioners and the curious find their path. Reimers takes much the same role. But to describe their work so broadly is unfair, almost like paraphrasing the Bible, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita and far more obscure texts in just a few sentences. It’s complicated.
Their rituals hail from African, Celtic, Greek, Indian, Native American and Nordic culture, and that’s just for starters. You can even be a Christian witch if you’re up for it.
“It doesn’t matter what faith you are,” Reimers explained. “Witchcraft is the study of the structure of the universe to try to use it for power,” spells and all.
And all are welcome at Reno Magick, which peddles candles, stones, herbs, jewelry, actual potions, and a place to socialize. The temple is next door.
“The world is changing very, very rapidly,” Grayknights said, perhaps a little apocalyptically. “There are more and more people who don’t identify with any religion, and they’re lost because religion and the spiritual life is what kept communities together, what kept families together. If nothing else, you had Sunday dinner.”
The Reno Magick community began under different leadership about a decade ago, and since last year has maintained its brick-and-mortar spot on Wells Avenue. The temple is home to a regular rotation of classes, events, readings and rituals, often in honor of solstice cycles and holy days. Its crowded altars hail everyone from Ganesh to Aphrodite.
“We don’t have a big enough community that one person can afford to just put on one hat,” said Reimers, who also bills himself as an alchemist. “Right now, because it’s a small community, we’re required to be generalists who may have a specialty or two.”
They’re not the only mystical hub in the area. Mystic Rose offers a number of classes and services. Children of Temple Earth is a general Pagan group “with a Nordic twist,” per its Facebook page, and is affiliated with the Nevada Clergy Association.
In case you’re wondering, Reno Magick does have occasional blood offerings, mostly of chickens and rabbits. All are prayed over, killed quickly and eaten.
“There is nothing like blood to activate stones,” Grayknights said, which is basically a slam-dunk-WTF-gift quote for any reporter with a voice recorder. Stones are important in many rituals, though, plus the woman grew up on a farm, and says she knows how to slaughter animals painlessly.
“Would you eat a chicken from the grocery store?” she asked. “Well, it still died. It still gave blood, and nobody prayed over it. Nobody was sacred about it, and nobody really appreciated it when they ate it.”
Touché.D & D and you and me
Grayknights finds some of her altar decor at Ross Dress For Less, and loves to paint cheery designs on the walls of her store. Raised Jewish, she's half-Japanese by way of Tennessee, and has a straight-shooting sense of humor with an easy laugh.
Reimers, who’s 12 years her junior, fell in love at first sight when he heard her speak at an event. That was years ago, and he was still sorting through his fundamentalist-Christian background.
“I’m a Christian witch,” he told her later, extending his hand.
He may as well have had cartoon hearts in his eyes.
“I didn’t even know what to do with that,” Grayknights recalls with mock horror. “A Christian witch?”
They were on similar journeys, however, and both leaving conventionally religious childhoods in favor of a more free-form, earthy connection to the universe.
It all got rolling with Dungeons & Dragons. No kidding.
The infamously nerdy roleplaying game “is a gateway to magic,” Grayknights said with a laugh.
It actually was, in her case. His, too.
“When you’re heavily dogmatic, you’ve spent time training your brain to think along a specific set of paths, and you’re closing your eyes to anything that doesn’t agree with that,” Reimers said. “You go through life going, ’la-la-la-la-la’”—he sticks his index fingers in his ears and closes his eyes—“ignoring everything.”
D & D “is shared imaginings,” he said. “It’s all of these things that take you outside of this place where you can control your world, and make you go, ’Wait, maybe those limitations don’t work for me.’”Won't you be my neighbor?
Grayknights and Reimers have nothing but praise for their commercial landlord. Their neighbors range from tolerant to iffy to oblivious.
“Actually, we don’t even know where they’re at,” said Northern Insurance agent Faye Bormann, who works less than a block away. She was kind enough to ask someone else in her office, too. Nope, never heard of Reno Magick.
Another nearby merchant complained about the community for a good five minutes, then said, “no comment” (which wouldn’t even work in a movie about a newspaper, but I’ll humor him). That, and he didn’t want his store’s name attached to his pretend non-commentary. Deal.
Then a different Wells Avenue neighbor spoke at length about the magic shop, his own spirituality and the beauty of diversity in the business world. He admires anyone who’s trying to turn a passion into a livelihood, he said, referring to Reimers and Grayknights.
“But I want no part in this story,” he added, more than 20 minutes into an otherwise positive spiel. “Keep me out.”
What gives?Playing with rocks
Angelina Reyes is 25, but the seasoned military vet and expecting mother could pass as a young teenager. She hears it all the time.
During a recent visit to the temple, she settled into a beanbag chair and cuddled with Miko, her pitbull puppy.
“My family … they don’t understand me at all,” Reyes said frankly, “And in fact, they’re kind of rejecting me. It sets my mind at ease knowing I’m so loved here, even if it’s not by my own flesh-and-blood family.”
In rituals, “We all agree to be in the space for a specific purpose,” she said, describing an event last month that involved harnessing a guardian spirit who’d step in “were we to get hexed or cursed or attacked. Instead of reflecting it back at that [attacker], we’ll take that energy in and use it for something good.”
Patrick Cox, 33, lived in Korea before he found his way to Reno last spring. A laidback Christian friend told him about the city’s “new age” community, and soon the former soldier began taking smoke breaks outside the magic store with Reimers. They had much to discuss.
“I guess you could say it’s PTSD,” Cox said of his emotional state. Recovery amounts to “a lot of talking, realizing what went on, and facing issues. A lot of this is digging it up, so to speak, and facing it in little chunks.”
Anyway, it’s working. Maybe that’s enough.
“So you like dragons and you like unicorns? Whatever,” Grayknights said. “You like mermaids and you like the earth, or you like to play with rocks? Whatever. Is it working for you? That’s all that matters.”