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Meet Tigard's witchy woman

New witchcraft store in downtown Tigard offers pendants, candles and everything else local witches and pagans need.

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Debbie Bailey, owner of 'If the Broom Fits' witchcraft shop in Tigard, is annointed with oils by Michelle Caughlin of Tualatin before entering a witch's circle to celebrate Samhain.Debbie Bailey doesn’t look much like a witch. 

For one thing, her skin isn’t green. Her nose isn’t warty, and she only brings out her broom on special occasions.

This time of year, Tigard is no stranger to ghouls, goblins and other garish creatures out on the hunt for candy, but Bailey, 58, has been setting the record straight about witches and magic for more than 30 years. 

The daughter of southern Baptists from Savannah, Ga., Bailey has always felt a spiritual connection to nature, and particularly to the moon. 

“It’s something that I have always done, but I never knew that there was a name for it,” she said. 

Check it out

What: "If the Broom Fits" witchcraft shoppe

Where: 8843 S.W. Commercial St., in Tigard

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday

More info: www.ifthebroomfits.com or calling 971-777-1636

It wasn’t until the early 1980s that Bailey discovered other people had the same beliefs as her, she said. 

Now, the Tualatin resident has become the high priestess of a local coven of Westside witches, and in September, Bailey opened up her own shop on Southwest Commercial Street in Tigard for witches, wiccans and other pagans in need of supplies. 

If the Broom Fits sells everything the modern witch needs, she said, including candles, rune stones, incense, crystals, pendants and an assortment of brooms.

What is a witch? 

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Debbie Bailey, owner of 'If the Broom Fits' witchcraft shop, reads rune cards at her business in Tigard. What most people associate with the term “witch” couldn’t be farther from the truth, Bailey said.

“My mother will sometimes say, ‘Oh, you’re a real witch,’ and I’ll say, ‘You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Bailey said.

Yes, they do wear cloaks occasionally, and she has been known to use brooms, but it’s not what you might think. 

“Brooms are used to sweep negative energy out of a space,” she said. 

She doesn’t have a dusty old book of spells in her attic, either. 

“I’m a modern witch,” she said, with a smile. “Mine are on CDs, or on my iPad.”

Real life witchcraft has nothing to do with practicing the dark arts.

Instead, she said, real witches use magic to help them be successful in life and commune with nature.

“For me, it’s a belief and a path. It’s what I believe, it’s how I live. It just is.”

To the uninitiated, the items in her shop might seem out of the ordinary, but each serves an important role in blessings, prayers and spells.

But, if you are expecting to find jars of magical ingredients, such as eye of newt, you’ll be disappointed. 

In fact, Bailey said, she can’t remember the last time she cast a spell.

“It has been years,” she said. “It’s the last thing that I do.”

Happy Samhain

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Michelle Caughlin of Tualatin anoints witches and guests with essential oils before entering a circle to celebrate the festival of Samhain. Halloween is a big time of year for witches. While children across the country will be dressing up, Bailey and the rest of her coven will be celebrating the festival of Samhain.

"It’s a family event — people bring their friends, and we can have up to 30 people here,” she said. 

The holiday (pronounced “Sow-en”) celebrates the lives of those who have died and serves as a spiritual cleansing before the dark, cold winter months.

“We don’t go trick-or-treating,” she said. “You use this time to get to know you and release the things that no longer serve you and get ready for springtime and the beginning of new stuff.”

Many of the rituals her coven practices involve the removal of bad thoughts or emotional baggage. 

“People will take a cleansing shower or bath and use special oils, and then you can watch your problems go down the drain with all your anger and negative stuff. You would be surprised how well that works for people.”

Growing up, Bailey would commune with the moon at night. She said the phases of the moon and the seasons have an impact on her emotions and her life.

“I shudder to say it wasn’t ‘normal’ because I think that I am normal,” she said. “But it was different than what non-witchy people would do.”

Zen witch of Tigard

In the local witchcraft community, Bailey is known as the “Zen witch” because of her acceptance of other cultures. 

“I’ve studied so many different beliefs. If I find something that resonates with me, I’ll incorporate a piece of it,” she said, admiring a small statue of Buddha on her wall.

“There’s some Buddhism, a bit of Taoism, Paganism, Hinduism, even a little Christianity.”

And Bailey is far from alone. There are an estimated 1.2 million witches, wiccan and other pagans living in the United States, according to Pew Research’s Religion and Public Life Project.

These days, local witches meet one another online, through sites like Witchvox.com or Craigslist. 

A dozen shops serving local pagans are scattered across the state, with a small handful in the Portland area. 

Bailey’s shop is the only one in Washington County. While most other Portland stores have gravitated toward the Hawthorne district, Bailey said she wanted her shop to be accessible to people outside of the city. 

“I wanted to be somewhere that was a little bit off the beaten track for this sort of thing,” she said “I want people to come here because they want to come here, not because they see a weird shop and want to check it out.”

Educational center

The popular idea of witches as devil-worshippers has been perpetuated for eons, but in truth there’s little more to them than any other religion, she said. 

“But people would rather believe ‘Hocus Pocus’ because it scares them,” Bailey said.

It’s a comparison that Bailey is used to hearing, and one she accepts with a bit of humor.

“Sometimes we will get people to come to our Sabbaths who are not of the path, and they will ask if it’s OK that they come, and we will say, ‘Oh, yeah. We’re not sacrificing any Christians this time,” she said, laughing. “We say that just for a joke, but you would be surprised, how many ask, ‘Really?’”

It’s that lack of understanding that Bailey hopes to tackle with her shop in downtown Tigard. 

Bailey holds classes and workshops to help people learn about witchcraft, including “Witch 101” classes for people hoping to learn more about her faith.

“I look at this as an educational center, I am all about educating the public about what and who we are,” she said. “Don’t believe the garbage you see on TV. I invite people in.”

Bailey said she sees her shop as a place where non-witches can learn more about the Pagan community, as well as offering services such as divination and meditation.

“I did this for me. I felt like it was something that I needed to do. I needed to let people know that we’re not weird, or at least any weirder than them. We’re not hacking up babies up here or any other crazy garbage that people think.”

If the Broom Fits is located in the Fraternal Order of Eagles building on Southwest Commercial Street.

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