Featuring one of Belmont’s longtime retail businesses and in fond remembrance of co-owner Reverend Roland W. Lakey 1949 – 2019.
By Nancy Tannler
We are lucky to still have so many interesting retail shops to browse through in southeast Portland. One that brings a bit of earthly magic into our lives is Moonshadow, Portland’s Premiere Pagan Emporium, 3819 SE Belmont St.
The owner, Debora Bartlett-Lakey, is just the person to be the conduit between the practical material world and the unseen forces in life. Ever since she was a little girl she sometimes dwelt in the realm of the fairies. She played for hours at a table top made from a sawed off ceder tree where she constructed furniture and houses for these little people.
She was also a twin and one of fifteen children in a household where there was never a dull moment. Her retreat into the world of imagination and nature was where she found her truth. Debora’s formal religious training was Catholicism, but when she told the priest that Mother Mary was the most important person in the universe since she was the mother of God his negative response made her doubt that this was the path for her.
As a young married woman and mother, Debora lived close to the Sierra Nevada mountains. There was a canyon within walking distance of her home and this became her church. Her children would tease anyone who came to visit while she was in the canyon that she was, “off talking to her fairy friends.”
Sorrow struck with the untimely death of her first husband Bill Bartlett, leaving her with three young children and a future to face. During this time of mourning one of her friends invited her to a pagan circle. Part of the pagan philosophy is that they are a part of the whole of nature, the rocks, the animals, the plants, the elements, the stars; all humans are brothers and sisters.
This resonated with Debora, it was what she had always been searching for and it was here that she met the remarkable Reverend Roland W. Lakey. Together they had the epiphany to open a shop that supported the practice of paganism and magic.
Roland was from England and his affinity for the Druid traditions just came naturally. He was formally schooled in the Church of England but in the long run it didn’t speak to him.
Their home in Reno seemed an unlikely place to open a store front of this type but Portland, Oregon was not.
The name Moonshadow Children of the Mist came from a vision Debora had of a shadow cast by the moon on a group of dancing people. The first Moonshadow opened on Roland’s birthday August 19, 1995 at 32nd & SE Hawthorne Blvd. It was the weekend of the Hawthorne Street Fair and the place was jammed with people. They quickly realized this wasn’t going to be enough space so they quickly acquired the space above what is now the Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine, 3354 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Zoning issues had them relocate to their current location on Belmont.
Sadly The Reverend Roland Lakey unexpectedly passed away on June 6 of this year. During his illness Debora continued to maintain the business but their leadership of the local pagan circle, the Order of the Sacred Oaks, is on hold for now.
Moonshadow is one of those stores where you can find something charming, beautiful, unusual, earthy, arty, healthful, educational, practical everywhere you look. The cases of fine crystals and unusual rocks are enthralling. The books, tarot and oracle cards are inspiring and beautifully illustrated. Statuary and jewelry, caldrons and magic wands, swords and helmets, herbs and essential oils are just some of products available.
The most consistent seller are the candles and incense. When times are hard people still buy them, Debora said. There are a variety of sizes and colors but the fifteen hour intentional votive candles are this shoppers favorite.
Debora’s knowledge about the elements in her shop, the deities of the past, herbs and oils and other sundry pieces of information, is vast. She makes you aware that there is a little bit of magic in everything, you just need to pay attention and eventually you too will see it.