Photos by Dana Cooper
The Ulster County storefront is the perfect place to stock up on witchcraft-related products like herbal elixirs, tarot cards, and crystals.
Dana Cooper first dreamt of her witchcraft store The Ritualist when contemplating a way to transition out of her career as a music publicist. At the time, Cooper and her husband were considering moving from Brooklyn to the Hudson Valley. She sought a new career path that would include more face-to-face interactions and allow her to share her passion for spiritual practices.
“I started dreaming about a business that would be part retail shop and part event space, allowing me to share some of the tools I’d incorporated into my own practice—like amazing tarot decks and herbal potions. I can also curate events to promote a stronger sense of community and connection,” Cooper says.
Cooper developed an interest in witchcraft after attending a workshop in 2016 to help her manage stress and anxiety. She remembered feeling a sense of community and support within the workshop, which led her to further explore witchcraft and spiritual practice. A later experience at a full moon circle solidified her desires to explore the spiritual side of herself.
This dream grew into the store known today as The Ritualist, a Hudson Valley-based witch shop. The brick-and-mortar store in New Paltz is complemented by a large web and social media presence. The Ritualist centers itself around a mission of helping people connect with their true selves.
“So much of my vision for Ritualist has been built around the concept of helping people connect with their inner power: encouraging them to get quiet, tune in to their intuition, recognize their unique gifts and passions, and feel empowered to show up as the fullest, most honest version of themselves” she says.
To do so, The Ritualist offers a wide range of products. These goods are intended to help customers with self-discovery and exploring their intuition. One of the Hudson Valley store’s more prominent selection of products is the variety of herbal medicines.
“We carry herbal tinctures, elixirs, and oxymels, tea blends, fire cider, and herbal coffee, and they each have their own benefits and superpowers. Engaging with medicinal herbs — whether it’s on a daily basis for maintenance or prevention or on an as-needed basis, to help manage acute symptoms — can assist with everything from easing anxiety and sitting with grief to sharpening our focus and boosting the immune system.”
These products include “Coat My Nerves” herbal drops, which contains glycerin, organic milky oats, and skullcap, among other ingredients to help curb anxiety and stress. Special herbs called adaptogens are of particular interest to Cooper. Another of The Ritualist’s 24 different options is “C U Later Dysphoria,” which contains organic blue vervain, ashwagandha, rose petals, and ghost pipe essence.
The Ritualist also sells educational materials to help customers explore witchcraft and spiritual practices, such as the books Witchcraft: A Guide to Manifesting a Positive Future, Witch Ethics, and The Herbal Homestead Journal. It also offers a daily magic notepad and various tarot decks. Additionally, customers can pick up a variety of candles and crystals, or explore a variety of self-care products, such as the Moon Bath Ritual Soak made with palo santo and jasmine, or the Eternal Sunshine Herbal Body Oil made with solstice wort flower.
Cooper strives to sell products that come from ethical sources, and to support other local businesses while doing so.
“All of the goods we sell are made by small brands and independent artists, and I love knowing that I’m supporting them by stocking their work in my shop and helping to expand their audiences,” Cooper says.
A key component of Cooper’s mission is to promote inclusivity for marginalized communities, both to support their work and to make consumers with similar identities feel accepted in The Ritualist.
“It’s important to me to always carry products created by BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ led brands and makers — not only because there so many incredible artists, writers, herbalists, and and other magic-makers from marginalized communities who deserve a platform for their work, but also because I want to make sure that customers of all identities see themselves represented in the shop.”
The Ritualist is not just for dedicated witches, but anyone looking to discover a new side of themselves.
“I also hope that people of all different backgrounds and experiences feel equally welcome here. I’ve met customers who have been engaged in spiritual practice for as long as I’ve been alive, as well as customers who are just beginning to dip a toe in, and this shop is absolutely for both of them.”
Cooper emphasizes, “I hope that people see Ritualist as a welcoming, inviting, and supportive space, and I’ve made every decision for the shop with that goal in mind.” Stop in for holistic remedies, spiritual goods, and all kinds of occult accoutrements.