Chosen Pathways Spiritual Emporium, located at 400 E. State St. Suite A, opened Saturday, featuring a variety of spiritual gifts and local art.
Kelly Lawrence, owner of Chosen Pathways, spoke highly about the opening.
“I had a real good crowd all day long,” Lawrence said. “Lots of people coming and going and I had lots of purchases, so that was really fun.”
Lawrence said in addition to carrying items such as tarot cards and incense, she features art from about 20 different artists, all of whom she knows personally. Lawrence highlighted Susan Abramovitz, founder of Rock Riffle Run Pottery, as one of the artists who is featured in her store.
“Her work is gorgeous, and I am the only person in the state of Ohio carrying her artwork, other than in her own studio in her home,” Lawrence said. “I’m excited to get it out there for people.”
An artist herself, Lawrence has had her own art business, Green Mantle Studio, since 2000. Her focus is primarily on pre-Christian Celtic art, she said.
“I’ve always seen myself as a person who is more interested in nature-based religions, and my Celtic heritage is very important to me,” Lawrence said. “So that's something that I like to explore and educate people.”
Lawrence said she wants to eventually expand her shop to include lectures, music, poetry and craft nights, to cater to what the Athens community is interested in.
“Athens is a very special place,” Lawrence said. “There’s a lot of like-minded people here who welcome a new-age shop. There’s a lot of mysticism and mystery that surrounds Athens County.”
Ava Towle, a sophomore studying journalism, believes the shop will be a great addition to the community. Towle said in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, there are many similar stores.
“I feel like for people that don’t live in a big city, it’ll be good and create more accessibility for people that are into those things,” Towle said.
Towle said she has been interested in astrology for her entire life, and recently started learning about meditation and crystals.
“I think tarot cards would be super cool to get into and that’s awesome that a store is coming to town because then I can actually learn more about it from the store,” Towle said.
Towle said she has also been learning more about spirituality through social media, and believes social media can be a helpful tool to an extent.
“It’s important to remember where things come from and for people to do their research, and not just get all their information from a Tik Tok,” Towle said. “A lot of times, there’s cultural or historical things that go along with it.”
Wil Hoffman, vice president of Ohio University’s Astrology Club and a senior studying communication studies, agreed.
“The roots of these (practices) have come from across the oceans and from the melting pot that is the United States, and I just worry that it might become another thing that is taken advantage of,” Hoffman said.
However, he also spoke to the welcoming nature of the spiritual community and how it impacted him personally.
“I was first introduced to astrology by socialization and friends and acquired knowledge, just here and there. I think like everybody, I was skeptical at first,” Hoffman said. “Just being a member of the LGBTQ+ community … I was learning more about myself and my persona, and this kind of helped me along the way. It helped me realize what I was interested in, what are my strengths. It helped me find a community of people who were very open with others, very interested in people in general. Just a fascinating and beautiful, natural thing.”
Hoffman also compared Chosen Pathways to other stores in his hometown, and said it was about time Athens had something similar.
“I think it would do really well because there’s a lot of open-minded, communal people here,” Hoffman said. “I think it has been a long time coming.”
Lawrence also acknowledged the history of many of these practices, and hopes that her shop can help people from all faiths find the path that suits them best.
“One thing that social media has done is helped people to understand it’s all been around for a very long time, and you don’t necessarily have to be a ‘witchy’ person to believe that a beautiful stone can have some energy to it,” Lawrence said. “We can all be here together, and we can all learn from one another … the divine is in everything and everybody.”