Anita Covington has been in the pagan community since 2002 when she opened her store Mother Earth Oils and Herbs with her daughter Summer. It now operates on a website with the same name, but for four years the store operated out of the Old City and then on 11th. Street. She is also the treasurer and on the board of directors for Sisterhood is Powerful, an interfaith nonprofit organization dedicated to personal empowerment and providing basic needs, especially for women in the pagan community. Covington says she became interested in a pagan spiritual path while reading Sylvia Browne, and Scott Cunningham’s Magical Uses of Herbs.
In the days that her store had a physical location, it was fondly remembered by patrons and its owners. Mother Earth Oils and Herbs had many characteristics which brought people together and fostered real a sense of community. Some of the many products available were natural handmade soaps, lotions, candles and bath salts; more esoteric items were then added such as stones, handmade jewelry, aromatherapy products, and the widest selection of herbs around. If a customer wanted something not found in the store, Covington and the others would try and help them find it. Adding to the sense of community was a festive atmosphere, and community events. Paintings and sculptures by a local artist were on display, authors spoke and had book signings, local diviners and healers practiced, there was a story telling event for children, the local Pagan Night Out was held at the store, and it was also the base for Sisterhood is Powerful. There were even rituals held for pagan holidays, and drumming and dancing. Bishop Yvonne Ragland of the Church of the Seven Planes, a close friend recalls, “I can remember the joy, harmony, and the celebration of music and ourselves, dancing up and down the street; it was a spiritual experience. I miss the opportunity for so many religions to come together and celebrate our similarities.” Says Covington, “What I miss the most about the store was the smell of homemade soaps and incense as you walked in the door, and the people always commented as they came in of those wonderful smells and how inviting it was. I miss interacting with the customers on a daily basis. You can’t do that online. I really truly from the bottom of my heart miss the store.”
Mother Earth Oils and Herbs is still very much in operation at http://www.motherearthoils.com/. The specialty is essential oils and herbs, and there is still an excellent selection; also offered are natural bath products, divination tools, dolls and other creations by Summer, and clothing lines including NaNita’s Originals designed and sewn by Anita. Mother Earth Oils and Herbs offers the pagan community, especially when it had a building, a place people can go for all their shopping and magical needs with an atmosphere of acceptance. Covington hopes to find a new location for her store soon, with all the wonderful qualities of the old one. Having a place for people to gather in an interfaith environment, and where pagans can openly be themselves, would be a great asset to the greater Knoxville community as well as the pagan community. Connecting people in joy is “the heart of what Anita does,” says Ragland.