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Rideau Spotlight: Witch Chest 

October 19, 2023

Ottawa’s Original Downtown has the great privilege of hosting businesses whose proprietors represent an immense selection of ideas and ethnic origins. Yet even with all the diversity present in both Rideau’s stores and the fascinating people that own them, there are still some businesses that manage to stand out as being particularly unique in terms of the products and services they offer. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that Rideau Street is just as capable of attending to the spiritual and metaphysical needs of visitors as it is at providing novel cultural and culinary experiences! 

This is made possible with the presence of Witch Chest and its owner, Julie Saunders. Having spent over 20 years in the Ottawa community, Julie has long been devoted to educating her clientele about the benefits and practices associated with witchcraft. For her and her followers, witchcraft has acted as a path towards a better understanding of the self and one’s relationship with their surroundings, facilitating a happier and healthier existence. 

Julie Saunders is the proprietor of Witch Chest and has been a practicing witch for most of her life. 

Walking Along a New Path 

Julie traces the beginning of her interest in witchcraft back to the women in her family that instilled in her a love and respect for nature from an early age. She grew up surrounded by nature in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island with a family cottage in Seven Mile Bay that backs onto one of PEI’s seemingly infinite red sandy beaches.  

At that same time, her grandmother began acquainting her with the roles and responsibilities of a green witch. These were skills that were originally learned by Julie’s great-grandmother while working as a town healer in Simcoe County; they were then passed on to Julie’s grandmother before eventually being taught to Julie herself. 

“People would always come to her for bug bites, bee stings – that sort of thing,” she recalls. “She always was in the garden making poultices.” 

Over time, Julie’s interest in her grandmother’s line of work would wane but was eventually rekindled after experiencing health issues that were healed largely in part by the age-old teachings of her ancestors. Having owned and operated Witch Chest for as long as she has, she has come to learn that the reason for her re-discovery of witchcraft is quite common amongst witches. 

“A lot of people actually get into this line of work – energy, that kind of stuff – when they have an illness or some sort of disease.” 

Since then, Julie and her husband have been deeply involved in Ottawa’s witchcraft community. Aside from receiving her certification as a Reiki Master and furthering her craft as both an energy healer and a hearth witch, Julie carries her own line of “All Charmed” products and regularly hosts witchcraft workshops and other related services in the basement of her shop. 

In this historical photo, dated c. 1890, a woman gathers blossoms while out in wilderness – a common practice among “wise women,” known more commonly today as witches.
(Image: A.J. Campbell) 

Spells & Potions For Sale 

When sourcing products for her store, Julie is committed to ensuring that her wares always come from reputable dealers, both local and abroad. Her herbs are often sourced from local foragers, but in instances where the herbs cannot be procured organically (such as with rue and mandrake), she has historically worked with Starwest Botanicals, a U.S.-based retailer whose products are all approved by the FDA and Health Canada. Perfect for making a tea, dressing your candles or building a spell jar! 

If you ask her what her most hot-selling item is, however, spells are by far what the vast majority of her clientele are looking for when they visit. She cautions, however, that anyone who engages in the practice of casting spells need to be well-versed in the relevant core foundational knowledge before doing so.  

“If you don’t have a foundation of witchcraft or anything Wicca, jumping into spells could backfire on you,” she warns. “If you want good luck, it could give you bad luck!” 

Julie’s vast selection of herbs, kept behind the front desk at Witch Chest, is certain to meet all witchcraft needs.  

To be effective, witchcraft requires that the practitioner’s “intention” be pure and clear, which she describes as being cognisant of what you have and how you feel before asking the universe for anything else. “It’s just like making a meal,” she explains. “If you come home from work and you’re making stew and you’re crying, that stew is not going to make you feel good because you’re putting your tears and frustration into that stew.” 

These are the lessons that she and her employees are in the habit of teaching to customers. While she acknowledges that this isn’t always the most exciting aspect of witchcraft, she insists on the importance of respecting the history of witchcraft and its tenets of doing no harm as well as issuing no judgment.  

“Obviously you don’t want to have to learn certain things, but you need to know how to protect yourself.” 

Julie’s vast selection of herbs, kept behind the front desk at Witch Chest, is certain to meet all witchcraft needs.  

Getting Involved Today, Seeing Into Tomorrow  

Among Witch Craft’s staff is one of the store’s most recent hires, Makeelia Jordan. A proficient tarot card reader from the time they were seven years old, Makeelia became acquainted with Julie and her store through their mother, who was a frequent customer. When Julie put out an ad looking for new sorceresses, they were quick to respond. The accuracy of Makeelia’s readings has kept customers coming back ever since. 

Since they began working at Witch Chest, Makeelia Jordan has been amazing clients with the accuracy of their tarot card readings.
(Image: Witch Chest) 

Tarot card readings are only one of many services offered at Witch Chest. Julie and her staff frequently host workshops that teach the intricacies of witchcraft, from spell-casting to tea-brewing; she intends to host a workshop about the latter this month. Also, she will soon be launching one-on-one sessions with customers in order to offer them assistance that is tailored specifically to their needs. 

Witch Chest regularly contributes significantly to the greater Ottawa community as well. Julie and her store have acted as a sponsor for cultural events throughout the city, including the Mirror Mountain Film Festival. In between this and her work with Makeelia, Julie has tirelessly lent a hand to marginalized communities and helped amplify their voices all in the name of spreading one of the core tenets of witchcraft: no judgment. 

Mark your calendars! This month marks the dawn of Samhain, which is how witches celebrate the New Year. “It’s a time when the veil is very, very thin,” Julie explains. “If you’re wanting to contact any ancestors, it’s a very good time to do that because it’s a little easier to break through that wall to hear them and ask any questions.” 

To commemorate Samhain, Witch Chest will be hosting their Cauldrons & Cocktails Samhain Party at allsaints event space located at the corner of Chapel and Laurier! Attendees can anticipate a DJ, drinks, a costume party, tarot card readings and, above all else, a ritual at midnight to take full advantage of this special time of year. 

Whether you’re looking to pick something up for your sacred space, learn more about witchcraft or meet new people within the community, there’s hardly a better place to be than Witch Chest! Visit Julie today to browse her selection of herbs, schedule a tarot card reading or learn a spell and discover why this store continues to be one of the quaintest little shops in Ottawa’s Original Downtown! 

Witch Chest’s Samhain Party will be held at allsaints event space, which was originally a gothic church constructed in 1900 – the perfect place for a witchcraft party!
(Image: allsaints event space) 

📍 509 Rideau Street 

Monday – Wednesday: 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm 

Thursday – Friday: 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm 

Saturday: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm 

Sunday: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm 

📞 (613) 903-9959 

🖱️ witchchest.ca 

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Click here to check out other blogs we’ve written about businesses in Ottawa’s Original Downtown!