Bloomington plant store Oak. will welcome guests to their summer solstice Block Party for the Modern Witch at 4 p.m. June 21 on the corner of Fourth Street and Grant Street.
Oak., in partnership with the Bloomington Witch Collective, Moon Stones and multiple local artists, will offer several witchy, spiritual activities. The free event will include a collaborative drum circle, meditation and ritual, chair massage, bone readings, tarot readings, norse pagan ritual items, astrology readings, a plant-inspired photo booth and several booths with local artwork, jewelry, crystals and plants.
Musical entertainment, sponsored by local music store TD’s CDs and LPs, will feature performances by Busman's Holiday, Hogbite, Erby Burnfield and Sam Sheffield.
Talia Halliday, Oak.’s owner, said the event will thank the Bloomington community for its support since Oak. opened its doors in June 2020. While Oak. was scheduled to open in March that year, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed Halliday’s plans to open the store in person.
Because Halliday had a community of support built up from her other local business, Gather, she said both the Bloomington community and IU students gave Oak. a “big hug” when the store opened.
“Those first few months, honestly, that first year was pretty amazing for us,” Halliday said. “We got a ton of support.”
The block party will not only celebrate Oak.’s two year anniversary, but will also celebrate the summer solstice. Halliday said she prefers to organize events around astrological phases or the cycles of the moon, so the solstice seemed like the perfect time.
“It's just something that really sits right in my soul to organize events based on the phases of the moon,” Halliday said. “My mom always cut my hair based on the phases of the moon, so it's just something I've always sort of done.”
Halliday said she hopes the “modern witch” block party will expand people's perceptions of what witchy lifestyles can look like. The word “witch” often has negative connotations that even Halliday said can be hard to look past.
“I really want everyone to feel welcome,” Halliday said. “Whether you are a practicing witch, or you think that it's fun to have your tarot cards read, or you're just curious. I want all ages to be able to come out and see what the witch community here in Bloomington has to offer.”
Halliday reached out to Kara Bookwalter, who started the Bloomington Witch Collective discord server in February 2021, to help organize the event.
For Bookwalter, the Collective is similar to a church community, where she and her friends can discuss their practices and check in with one another.
“People come and go from Bloomington often,” Bookwalter said. “I want a place where I can still be hanging out with buddies.”
Bookwalter said that at the block party, the Bloomington Witch Collective can act as a touchpoint for curious locals, whether they’re looking for a community of fellow witches or just looking to learn more about witchcraft in general.
“An event like this brings real witches out into the fore,” Bookwalter said. “Someone can come and see and recognize like, ‘Oh, they're just real people.’ ‘Oh, they're just doing fun, crafty stuff.’ Learn a little bit more and just uncover that unknown.”
Due to construction around Fourth and Grant Streets, guests are encouraged to walk or park near Kirkwood Avenue. This event is free and open to the public.