Alchemy. A mysterious yet evoking word of ultimate transformation.
No, you don’t need physical lead to create an abundance of gold these days. Perhaps alchemy can now be thought of as an innate desire to actually become the gold you seek.
Started by two women of color, Lalania Simone and Flor Marquez, Alchemy Ritual Goods inspires Denver locals to awaken their inner alchemist with every service and product it offers. Decks, books, jewelry, crystals, candles, herbs, teas and natural body products are a plethora of tools that the business supplies to those who embrace a more spiritual and magical lifestyle. You can even find the business on its online shop on Etsy.
“An alchemist is one who understands that they can transform their own life, transform their very being. Like the alchemists of old whose intention was to transform lead into gold and with that knowledge discover the elixir of immortality, as spiritual alchemists we are discovering that we are extensions of the Source of life” explained Simone.
To fully understand the universe, Marquez added, you have to understand energy. It’s through the energy that connects us all which can enable us to better understand and love one another she said.
Along with its products, Alchemy Ritual Goods regularly collaborates with local experts of the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) arts, activist and healer community. From weekly walk-in ancestral medicine clinics to tarot and spiritual readings, Alchemy Ritual Goods is where the metaphysical and wellness party is at.
“Alchemy [Ritual Goods] is a place where local BIPOC, QTPOC and other ‘groups’ come together to build and connect. We purchase products and services from these communities. Because of who we are and how we show up in the world — voluntarily and not — we have no choice but to honor our path and those who walk with us. So in this way, just by being here and having a safe space where our community can come together and laugh, rest, love each other and heal promotes diversity and equality,” Marquez shared.
It wasn’t until fate had brought Simone and Marquez together while both working at a non-profit organization just eight years ago that their journey started. Feeling immediately drawn to one another, they quickly became destined friends.
In early 2017, Simone — having owned and co-owned several previous businesses in the past— was finding success with her then newest venture, WEvolve Box. She’d dreamt of expanding the metaphysical subscription box into a brick-and-mortar, but had no clue how to do it while working full-time and raising a family.
On the other hand, Marquez came to notice a problematic trend while working in the non-profit sector. She found those working for the community were among the lowest paid, often people of color and were mostly comprised of women. With a similar entrepreneurial mind-set like Simone, she began shifting her attention out of the non-profit sector and into holistic wellness instead. An intent to create a framework of collective liberation and healing through the healing arts strongly resonated with Marquez.
Then, Simone struck gold.
That March, there was an open retail space available for lease on Champa, located in the same neighborhood Simone had fond memories of growing up in. The Five Points and Curtis Park area was swiftly changing and the thought of actualizing a POC and woman-owned business in its heart excited her to her core.
“I immediately discussed the retail space and my ideas with Flor. We had never previously talked about going into business together, but we both felt completely aligned to the idea of creating a spiritual healing space. We opened the shop three months later,” Simone stated.
Creating a nurturing space that reflects the strength and resilience of their community was of the utmost importance to Marquez when Alchemy Ritual Goods finally came to life.
Accessibility — to all people and all walks of life — has been one of the key drivers of the business since day one. To Marquez, there is a dismal trend with wellness and metaphysical shops becoming an exploitive practice of capitalism and exclusivity. This has made inaccessibility and the lack of diversity and representation utterly apparent to her. She mentioned how “healing” has now become a luxury for a mere few who can afford it and has even disconnected people from their own roots and traditions. “They use other spiritual cultures to try and find some grounding and balance.”
Taking up space where their community has always belonged, co-creating and bringing back much deserved and overdue resources, to Marquez, has been vital. “Just BEING in existence in a place like Denver is a political act, especially in the current political state.”
After participating in a Satya Yoga teacher training for POC, Simone has also understood the unmet need for diversity. To her, communities of color have now realized that they too can benefit from such a space like Alchemy Ritual Goods.
With COVID, stay-at-home orders and racial injustices on everyone’s mind, it’s easy to become consumed by the frenzy of what’s happening outside. However, the very act of social distancing can be a catalyst for a much-needed mental cleanse and detox from the world outside. Simone has felt how the journey inwards has become a common phenomenon by reexamining one’s life and even privilege.
“People had to spend quality time with themselves, whether they liked it or not. This seemed to help people re-prioritize what was really important to them, and for many, it exposed the lack of wholeness. Others saw where they wanted to make changes or desired deep healing so that they could grow in new ways.”
Coincidentally, both Simone and Marquez have been no strangers to exploring the inner-workings of their minds and hearts.
For Simone, her awakening experience began as a young adult in East Denver when crack and gangs infiltrated neighborhoods in the area. Despite the circumstances she’d faced, Simone reveres her Catholic faith as saving her while living amidst death and drugs.
Fast forward to 1994, after moving to San Diego with friends as a budding artist, Simone stumbled upon a book describing the Goddess religion. Being immensely inspired, she continued exploring spiritual traditions — from all over the world — and began meditating. Eventually, Simone was offered a book deal and published “Urban Soul Warrior: Self Mastery in the Midst of the Metropolis” — an interactive book about how to live an extraordinary and powerful life. “I realized that becoming aware of myself as a spiritual being was my life’s purpose.”
Contrastingly, Marquez found the alchemist within while growing up in a small town near Longmont in Northern Colorado. Being surrounded by cornfields and dirt, she spent her days with her sisters collecting rocks, making flower essences and teas, speaking with trees and flowers outside and dreaming things into reality. “I like to joke that I grew up in a cornfield because that’s kind of what it felt like. We had even built a fort in the fields, with rooms and a kitchen — it was great.”
Spending so much time outside fostered an intimate relationship between her and nature which awakened something in her.
“I think unknowingly, I spoke a language that I thought everyone else also spoke and it wasn’t until adulthood that I realized there was an entire industry capitalizing on seeing this ‘magic.’ It was just my refuge away from my unstable and unpleasant ‘normal’ environment.”
Through a collective approach, the women behind Alchemy Ritual Goods both agree that our world deserves the best version of ourselves in moving forward and creating a more uplifting future. They feel so blessed to have had continued support and a community of individuals doing their work to become who they want to be.
So, remember this. First, look within yourself to be the change you want to see in the world. This is pure alchemy.
Photos Courtesy of Alchemy Ritual Goods