Photos and text by Najah Lightfoot
The Northside,” as it is still affectionately called by those of us who have lived here for decades, has seen its influx of new businesses and experiences. But for those who lean toward the spiritual and the magical realms, there are hidden gems located in neighborhoods you may pass through on an ordinary day.
Three places which hold treasures of the spiritual and magical are the Lumber Baron Inn, Botanica Yemaya, and the Metaphysical aisle of West Side Books.
The Lumber Baron Inn & Gardens sits inconspicuously in a quiet neighborhood nestled on the corner of 37th Avenue and Bryant Street.
The Inn has been through many incarnations, beginning as a private residence, then an apartment complex, and now in its latest form as a bed and breakfast, which includes a restaurant that serves brunch on weekends, as well as an English tea service.
Its reputation as a “haunted venue,” has long been established, evidenced by a sign that clearly states they are not available for paranormal investigations. However, for an added cost you can get a reading to your tea service, with the mystical and enchanting Elaine Britten-Bryant.
What better place could there be for a reading, than among the winding staircases, high painted ceilings and rooms adorned with portraits and exquisite antique furniture from the 1800s? The Lumber Baron Inn & Gardens is a mustsee for dining and what your future may hold.
Next, we have Botanica Yemaya located at the crossroads of 38th Avenue and Federal Boulevard. The Botanica is a cavern of candles and devotional statuary. When you step inside you are greeted with floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with candles, incense, books, charms and statues of deities.
These precious items are geared toward those whose spiritual practices and beliefs fall within the realms of the Espiritu, people whose lineages hail from Afro, Cuban, Latin and Mexican ancestry.
However, it’s not necessary for you to belong to those practices to shop in their store. The store owners are friendly and extremely helpful, willing to answer any questions or assist in finding just the right product, for your needs. Their tremendous selection of candles come in all sizes and colors, from tiny tea lights and tapers to gigantic glass encased candles. In addition, they carry ready-made spiritual washes, which people use for cleansing. Botanica Yemaya is not only a store, it is an educational venue, ready to assist you in obtaining highly magical, spiritual items, which for many are simply a part of their daily lives. Be sure to bring cash, as checks and credit cards are not accepted. As you enter you may be greeted by the lovely store dog and the enchanting scent of incense. Botanica Yemaya is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
West Side Books owner Lois Harvey and her staff have created a home where all loved, and well-read books, desire to end up, gracing one of her countless bookshelves. Although West Side Books sells new books, it is truly the overflowing shelves of used books, which makes them shine.
When you enter the store, you will find yourself twisting and winding your way through the aisles, gazing at stacks of books taller than the average human being. Continuing through you will find the metaphysical section, which is crammed full of every type of book one could desire to advance their Spiritual studies.
Here you will find books on every topic one may need to pique their imaginations and further their studies of Metaphysics. It’s also highly possible that if you take your time, you may find signed copies of first editions from authors who have truly advanced the studies of magic, the occult and the spiritual.
Once you find your hidden gem and make your way to the front counter, it’s possible to find yourself in a stimulating, intellectual conversation with the staff, which is also a glorious treat, especially now as conversations have been delegated to texting on your phone.
West Side Books is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. They are located at 3434 W. 32nd Ave., in the beautiful Highlands area bordering the Allen M. Ghost historic district, in North Denver.
Najah Lightfoot is a multi-award-winning author and a regular contributor to the Llewellyn annuals and a contributor to Taschen, The Library of Esoterica -Volume III – Witchcraft. Her magickal staff is on display and part of the permanent collection of the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft, located in Cleveland, Ohio. She can be found online at www.instagram. com/NajahLightfoot, www.facebook.com/NajahLightfoot.