By Hollie Grace James –
Desireah Lascelles and her partner Jacques Hardy aren’t your typical new business owners. A shaman and warlock from Sudbury and Northern Quebec respectively, they’ve recently taken over the space recently occupied by Hintonburger (1066 Somerset St. W.) and have been spending the past few months transforming the former restaurant into “a forever growing and evolving witch’s paradise.” They don’t want you to think that you have to be associated with a certain lifestyle to fit in though – this is a space for everyone. Picture a vegan coffee shop combined with a metaphysical library and mystical vendors and tarot card readers, and you’ve got the concept of The Witches Thicket.
After a trip to Gaspesie, spending some quality time together up in the mountains, Desireah and Jacques were discussing where in life they wanted to go and what exactly they wanted to do. Although they were offering healing and cleansing services from their home, they wanted to do more. And on this trip is precisely when the name Witches Thicket was born, although they didn’t yet have a clue how exactly it would turn out. It wasn’t until Christmas that they decided on the future of The Witches Thicket and by January they were on the hunt for realtors.
So what exactly are shamans and warlocks anyways? According to Desireah, shamans are simply translators of language between the biological world and beyond the veil, while the term warlock translates directly to male witch. But this isn’t something that one can simply learn, there are no courses or certifications. “I was born with a sacred contract,” says Desireah. Although shamanism is typically related to indigenous groups and Desireah was adopted into a French Canadian family, she feels that her “soul is actually more than 2000 years old.”
“My love of shamanism is the medical aspect,” she says. And her specific duty in this lifetime is to heal. When asked about a friend’s health issues, she was able to pinpoint persistent emotional issues linked to physical ailments. And that’s precisely the skill set that she was born to provide, addressing any issues or concerns and crafting things that help with wellbeing such as teas, salves, and ointments. But it isn’t easy – it’s “a life that bears you pain and learning and solitude,” she says.
Originally Desireah studied in the food industry and although she pursued a variety of different career paths, including hair, sculpted nails, and natural health consulting she says her life “has come full circle back to food again and we’re just adding that metaphysical aspect to it.” Their main goal is really to bring together the community. “In order to create a community of spirituality, you need to go the extra step to get out there, and we’re using vegan food to invite people in since there’s such a high demand for it.” Once inside, customers can also spend their time exploring the spot, which doubles as a metaphysical boutique.
Desireah has only been vegan herself going on three years, and Jacques for a little bit less. They’re experimenting, using trial and error to figure out those “soothing, comforting and satisfying foods” like gravy (Jacque says he misses that the most), as well as pizza, lasagna, poutine, and donairs. They will also be selling take home frozen foods like vegan butters and spaghetti sauce, and will be heavily concentrating on pastries, including an orange creamsicle cake and another that they’ve named “crack cake.”
Hoping for an opening date during the third week of July, this vegan cafe isn’t pay by weight. There is none of that here. And they’re going to be avoiding too much kale because “everything vegan has kale – it’s so predictable.” What’s more, they’re also working on some gluten-free recipes and all of their packaging is eco-friendly. Once you’ve ordered your coffee and food and taken a seat (there’s a patio!), you can browse the metaphysical library, have your cards read on Friday and Saturday nights, browse the jars of herbs and voodoo/hoodoo dolls, as well as an altar, sub altar, and meditation space. Or you can just sit and enjoy the new energy this place brings to the neighborhood.