:Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, but I did become aware of this shop through mutual friends and won a giveaway the shop hosted.:

I enter contests on Facebook almost out of habit. Almost nothing good comes in the mail these days (unless you’re lucky enough to secure a Pagan pen pal), so we snatch these bits of joy where we can. One such contest was the first day I heard of Bear Cave Soaps, a little Etsy shop run by an affable guy called Joe, and a short time later, when I won their giveaway, it would be the first time I tried his products.

The giveaway stated that I won a bar of his custom soap, and when I went to his shop to read the descriptions to find out which soap might smell the best (get the Sunshine, Lollipops, & Rainbows bar if you want the same orgasmic experience I had), a few of the soap names stood out to me, such as “Midnight Margaritas”, “Perfect Love”, and “Invocation”. When I reached out to provide my shipping address, I had to ask…”Are you Pagan, too?” And indeed, he is!

“I am a brother initiate of the Unnamed Path and I’m very humbly proud of that. I am a Reiki master, I’m trained in Integrative Energy Therapy, as well as trained in core shamanism. I’m a Celtic Pagan, Heathen, and simple hedge witch with a big soft spot for British witchcraft, Northern magic, sticks, stones, fairies, and animal spirits. I’m a rune reader and reluctant medium. I’ve been “finding my path,” as they used to say, since I was 13. I’m 30 now and the journey never ends. I honor my Gods and the Ancestors, serve my Patron, help the dead when I can, and try my best to care for the animals and the Earth.”

There are more and more Pagans in all walks of life, from accountants to grocers, but I get a special thrill when I see Pagan-themed names and items in shops, especially when some items (such as the “Invocation” soap bar) can become ritual tools. I wonder how much of their personal practice gets infused into the crafter’s works, and with Joe, at least, it seems to be equal parts path and nerdiness (another beloved path of mine). As he puts it,

“My spiritual practice absolutely influences my business. The founder of my tradition (I’m a brother of the Unnamed Path) once said to “walk your Paganism,” meaning BE your Paganism, make it as much a part of you as your blood and breath. In the beginning I tried hard to have witch-y and Pagan-y rustic sounding names for my soaps. I still do. I have ones called ‘Familiar Spirit’, ‘Darksome Night’, ‘Wood Witch’, and an entire four bar collection inspired by the girls from The Craft. Although I still have witchier soaps and things that lean mystical and folkloric, a lot of my stuff is inspired by music or movies. But outside of aesthetics and scents, I try to use only ethical oils and additives in my soap making. That is a lot harder than people realize.”

Joe has been making his soaps since 2013, when he wanted to give gifts to the hospice patients at his volunteer work. A few short years later, he was in business for himself, and has been looking at branching out into candle making and crafting other Pagan items. His shop currently includes soaps like “Fisherman’s Cabin”, named in honor of his late father, as well as a series of candles based on Rifftrax movies and the gay community.

But of course, you want to know: how good is the soap? If you can bring yourself to stop inhaling it like a little bundle of aromatherapy and put it to use in the bathroom, you’ll be delighted with how well it lathers and how much more intense the scent becomes. I’ve had some disappointments in the past with hand-crafted soap (such as the dreaded gritty feeling or sub-par lathers), but there are no such problems here. The suds are good and rich, the scent deepens but stays true, and the feeling is soft and smooth as lotion. I may have won my first bar, but I’ll be buying the next seventy five.

Bear Cave Soaps meets with my hearty approval, and if you want to know more about the magic happening here, you can find Joe in his Etsy shop, or look for him on Instagram @joeinthebearcave.

[Written by Ashley Nicole Hunter.]

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