REVIEW: Candle-Making with the Coven Mavens at Booksweet!

For those who prefer more intimate Halloween celebrations, this Samhain candle making workshop at new North Campus bookstore Booksweet was not to be missed. The Coven Mavens curated a truly magical experience right down to the golden place settings and the abundance of dried herbs and essential oils. Before we made our striped candles, Coven Mavens Juliana and Sara shared with us a bit about Samhain. “Samhain is the traditional celebration in Celtic and Wiccan belief at the end of Harvest before winter begins when the veil between worlds is understood to be thin. This means that we might feel the closer presence of the dead, or ancestors, or even spirits like fairies.” The Coven Mavens are two alumni of the University of Michigan who now facilitate magical events around Ann Arbor.

The Coven Mavens at the divination table
Coven Maven Juliana pours wax for a participant

This workshop attracted local Ann Arbor families and students a like. There were people like myself there who practice witchcraft and other types of spirituality but I would say we were outnumbered by participants as equally passionate about scented candles and candlemaking. The Coven Mavens helped us along every step of the way with tips to make even stripes and a large variety of ingredients including palo santo oil, dried lavender, and sea salt. My favorite scent to try was the white birch! The workshop also featured optional Tarot reading and a raffle. Each participant received a goody bag with a metal candle snuffer among other treats. I was really impressed with the quality of it all and excited to add my new candle and snuffer to my altar!

I hope in the future the Mavens will host more events and give us an even deeper glimpse into some of these magical traditions. The Coven Mavens may attract a wide range of customers but when it comes to witchcraft, they are the real deal. They practice magic themselves as part of a larger group and hold specific events to share some of their practice through their business. They are what Booksweet owner Truly Render calls “community experts”, local practitioners, writers, scholars, and activists based in Ann Arbor who collaborate with Booksweet.

Booksweet is a family owned and operated business that seeks to showcase the work of these experts and foster community around literature and discussion. The shop features curated reading lists, including a Racial Justice List and a Gender Reading List. Past partners have included Black Men Read and Booksweet is a proud partner for monthly Family Book Parties when the weather is nice. Next month, Booksweet is hosting  11/6 event with with Rise, a student-led advocacy organization committed to restoring funding for public higher education to make public colleges and universities affordable and accessible to all.

A selection of books on the topic of racial justice
Participants at the candle making table
My new Samhain candle!

Booksweet is not your typical Barnes and Nobles type of experience. Where as larger bookstores might provide variety and anonymity– a place to drink a coffee and work undistracted– smaller bookstores like Booksweet offer a curated, interactive experience. They have a unique selection of books ranging on topics from religion to current events to young adult fiction to graphic novels.

I picked up a gem I have been coveting, Misfits: A Personal Manifesto by Michaela Coel, the genius writer, director, and star of tv series I May Destroy You. Included at this event as well were various books of magic and tarot decks discounted to the participants of the workshop. If you’ve been craving a change in perspective, check out Booksweet on 1729 Plymouth Rd!


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