Best Consumer-grade Mysticism

It’s hard for just about any small business to make ends meet during a recession, but D.C.’s spiritual-themed shops have had a particularly tough time over the last couple of months. U Street NW’s Mystic Shop, for instance, appears to have cleansed its last chakra. A trendy dress shop now occupies the location. It seems that when a population’s disposable income vanishes, so does its desire to muck with supernatural forces for recreational purposes. Eventually the spiritual economy will rebound, but until then here are a few places where your debit card can still buy you peace of mind.

Botanica Yemaya y Chango, 2441 18th St. NW

Just how the Santeria shop Botanica Yemaya y Chango has managed to survive on 18th Street—amid an ever-thickening crowd of sports bars—is a mystery. Perhaps it has something to do with the store’s wares, which include candles, oils, magic baths, and a few dried alligator heads. In fact, Botanica Yemaya y Chango’s well-stocked shelves are so convincingly authentic that I fear supernatural retribution too much to make any jokes about this shop. “Sorcery and council: simply nothing same has ever existed,” explains a flier offered at the front counter. Believe it.

Institute for Spiritual Development, 5419 Sherier Place NW

This metaphysical church in Palisades offers free spiritual healing sessions Sunday mornings at 10:30, prior to a weekly service. “Healers work in plain sight in the front of the sanctuary. As a chair is vacant, it cues the one desiring healing to come forward, sit and surrender to the flow of Divine Healing Love,” explains the church’s Web site. For those with a little more time to invest, the ISD also hosts in-depth courses in yoga, the Hermetic laws, and psychic development.

Drank Extreme Relaxation Beverage (at 7-Eleven, 1401 Columbia Road NW)

If anything, Drank has convenience on its side. It is, by far, the most soothing—and possibly the only—mystical experience ever made readily available from a 7-Eleven cold case. Touted as an extreme-relaxation drink, Drank is the anti-Redbull. “Formulated to relax the body, mind, and soul,” reads the can. While it’s not quite the Fanta/Soma hybrid that billing implies, it does pack enough melatonin and valerian root to induce mild drowsiness. And, sometimes, coupled with a burning stick of Nag Champa and a night of must-see-TV, that’s all you really need.