© 2024 WEMU
Serving Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, MI
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

#OTGYpsi: Ypsilanti to serve as host for the metaphysical and spiritual 'ConVocation'


Concentrate Ann Arbor

Rylee Barnsdale's Feature Article: Major conference celebrating alternative spirituality comes to Ypsi Township for the first time

Evenstar's Chalice

Magical Education Council



Rylee Barnsdale: You're listening to 89 one WEMU. I'm Rylee Barnsdale, and this is On the Ground Ypsi. One of the state's largest pagan gatherings is making its way to Ypsi later this month. And not only is it planning to stick around for years to come, but it's also reaching out to Ypsi's community of businesses, magical and otherwise. ConVocation, a four-day convention hosted by the Ann Arbor Magical Education Council, which got its start in 1995, brings together many mystical paths and the people that follow them through educational classes and panels and art show and merchant's room, featuring businesses and artisans from across the country, a masquerade ball and more. The event comes to Ypsi's own Eagle Crest Hotel this year and is adding another focus to their mission: getting attendees excited about Ypsi. I'm here with Mara Evenstar, owner of the metaphysical shop, Evenstar's Chalice on North Huron Street in downtown Ypsi, whose business is not only a major sponsor of Convocation, but also has a personal connection to the event. Hi, Mara. How's it going?

Mara Evenstar: Hey! Great, Rylee! Thanks for having me here.

Rylee Barnsdale: So, for those who may not know, can you tell me a little bit about Evenstar's Chalice? What is it? How long have you guys been around? What is your mission statement, if you've got one, or if that's the terminology you'd like to use for that?

Mara Evenstar: Yeah. So, we opened Evenstar's Chalice in the summer of 2017, and it was actually not part of our overall longer plan. We were looking to actually open up a center, a healing center. And then, some opportunities came up to actually open up the retail shop. And we're like, "Well, okay. Why not?" So, we went into a little bit green. I mean, we have business background, but small business and retail wasn't really in our background. But, the whole spiritual side of things--I was already teaching transformational workshops, holding retreats, things like that. And so, this was just moving into this world of really supporting all the different paths that there are. So, we're a metaphysical store, but we really do like to try to hold that we are open for many different paths, and that includes even Christianity. So, we're not, like, pagan only, but we hold that we want the space itself to just be a place where people want to come and connect and find meaning and help them along their path. So, yeah, that's really the vision. And then, we also have a pretty close connection with what we call the "divine feminine." So, you're going to find a lot of goddess stuff. So, a lot of our stuff is focused more on the feminine aspects of things.

Rylee Barnsdale: And how did that journey from starting up the retail side of things in 2017 kind of leads you and the other folks at Evenstar's Chalice to ConVocation? How did you guys sort of find out about the event and get involved originally?

Mara Evenstar: Yeah. Well, one of the businesses that opened up next to us, Twisted Things, some of the owners there were actually involved in the Michigan Educational Council and the holding of ConVocation. And when they met us and they were just like, "Oh my gosh!" You have to go to this. You have to know." And so, yeah, I think 2018 was our first Convocation. We've been going ever since. I've been teaching classes there at Convocation. And then, last year was our first year in the merchant room.

Rylee Barnsdale: And so, you mentioned Evenstar's Chalice's kind of goal of bringing a community together regardless of the path that you're on. And ConVocation's goal, from their website, is to cultivate a vibrant and knitted community for individuals who honor and align with mystical and esoteric paths. How do you see your business's vision meshing with that? What kind of makes them a good fit for you guys?

Mara Evenstar: Well, I think you just said it. I think they're a perfect fit. And we are also really focused on learning. I mean, we've developed, an institute through Evenstar where we hold classes and things like that on a lot of different topics. And ConVocation is very much also about education and about people coming together, learning together, playing together. And, really, people need community. So, there's a lot of learning that you can do on your own and a lot of practices that you can do on your own. But people really long for being able to do this together. And so, yeah. I think our missions are very closely aligned.

Rylee Barnsdale: This is WEMU's On the Ground Ypsi. I'm Rylee Barnsdale chatting with Evenstar's Chalice owner Mara Evenstar about the upcoming ConVocation event at the Eagle Crest Hotel. You have the experience as an attendee, as a teacher, as a business owner in the merchant room, a sponsor of the event as well. What can you tell folks about Convocation and what they should expect if they're attending for the first time this year?

Mara Evenstar: Oh, absolutely. So, it is really jam-packed with a lot of different classes and rituals. So, it's like four days. And there are also special events. You had mentioned the gala, the masquerade ball and things like that. So, it runs from in the morning to like 11:00 at night. And so, part of the problem is just choosing what you want to be able to do to. There are so many choices. And then there's the merchant room where you can go shopping from vendors from all over. And then, they have the artist room, so local makers and things like that also have things in the artists room. But a lot of the connection also happens just like out in the main common areas, where people congregate in between the classes and the rituals and things like that. And you're always saying, you know, old friends making connections, people you haven't seen in years. And then, there's all these new faces that you're getting to know. So, it really is a great vibe.

Rylee Barnsdale: Is there anything that you feel might be different about this year, aside from, obviously, the new location?

Mara Evenstar: Well, the ConVocation folks have been saying that they want to reach out more to the community. And I think that's what's really new. And I think the Ypsi community is--I mean, we are so stoked that it is going to be just right up the road. I mean, we are really stoked. And Ypsilanti is having kind of like a rejuvenation in a lot of ways. I mean, Ypsi is so diverse, and it has all these different, diverse spiritual paths and all the different artists, right? And we're so diverse just in the population. And there's a lot that's offered in Convocation through that. And we're just really excited. I think before ConVocation, it was held at a hotel in the middle of a big not really a neighborhood. And this is just, like, not far at all from our downtown and our neighborhoods. And so, I think that's what's really, really exciting.

Rylee Barnsdale: This is WEMU's On the Ground Ypsi. I'm talking with Mara Evenstar, owner of downtown Ypsi metaphysical shop, Evenstar's Chalice. Why, as a local business owner or as an event sponsor, do you feel that Ypsi is a good place for a ConVocation to stay? Why shouldn't they go somewhere else in, like, the Washtenaw County area or something along those lines? Why is Ypsi the place for it?

Mara Evenstar: Right. Well, Ypsi, definitely, I think, has more metaphysical stores per capita than almost any other town, certainly in around the area, certainly within Washtenaw County. So, we seem to be kind of like a a spot that's beginning to be a hot spot for this. So, that's why I feel like it's going to be really great. And then, just personally and selfishly, having it so, so close. And it's like it's my community, right?

Rylee Barnsdale: Right.

Mara Evenstar: So, having a big like national level, it's definitely one of the biggest in the States and even a national level, conference event a mile up the road from both my business and my home, I couldn't ask for more.

Rylee Barnsdale: You know, there's folks coming from all over the country--folks that are going to be visiting Ypsi for the very first time. And the ConVocation team really wants people to get into the community when they're not enjoying the event. Of course. And, you know, we mentioned how many of these metaphysical and esoteric type shops are in the area. But how is this going to help Ypsi as a whole if it sticks around?

Mara Evenstar: Yeah. Well, I really hope that it does help the restaurants. I mean, just even during the time of the event, people are wanting to source food outside of the hotel, right? But I think it could really help if it does stick around, really help kind of build up that traction that is happening in Ypsi right now in terms of supporting these communities, especially, like, the pagan communities, which is one of the fastest growing religious paths that there is. So, yeah. I think it's important. I really hope that they do stick around. And we have a great experience up at the Eagle Crest.

Rylee Barnsdale: And I'll wrap things up here by asking you. If folks don't get the chance to visit Evenstar's Chalice in the ConVocation merchant room from February 22nd to the 25th, where can they find you? Where can they learn more about your business? Where can folks find Evenstar's Chalice?

Mara Evenstar: Yeah, well, we're on the web too at Evenstar's Chalice.com. We also have an online store, so if you can't make it down, to see us in person, we have the online store that goes there as well. Pretty much everything is there on the website. So, yeah, come and see us or come and see us online. And we would love to hear from you.

Rylee Barnsdale: Well, thank you so much for being here with me today, Mara. With ConVocation coming up so quickly, I'm sure that you have a lot to get ready for!

Mara Evenstar: Yes, the list is long!

Rylee Barnsdale: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today.

Mara Evenstar: Right. Thank you so much, Rylee.

Rylee Barnsdale: For more information on today's topic and links to the full article, visit our website at WEMU dot org. On the Ground Ypsi is brought to you in partnership with Concentrate Media. I'm Rylee Barnsdale, and this is your community NPR station, 89 one WEMU FM, Ypsilanti.

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

Concentrate Media's Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.
Related Content
  • Though the residents of the West Willow neighborhood in Ypsilanti Township are predominantly people of color, a document affecting about 196 homes on a parcel in the neighborhood is still on the books that bans anyone who isn't white from living there. In an effort to change that, the New West Willow Neighborhood Association (NWWNA) has partnered with the Justice InDeed project at the University of Michigan Law School's Civil Rights Litigation Initiative to repeal the race-restrictive covenant covering that plat of land. Concentrate Media’s Rylee Barnsdale discusses the work being done to repeal this document with NWWNA president JoAnn McCollum.
  • Michigan primary elections are just about a month away. This will be the earliest the state has held its primary and marks the first time early in-person voting will be allowed. There is an educational process that needs to take place for everyone, but there is a concentrated effort on getting the student vote out on college campuses around the state. Concentrate Media's Rylee Barnsdale talks with EMU student Naomi Barbour about her work to help the campus community overcome challenges and barriers to voting.
  • The number of people who will turn 65 years old this year will exceed the number of people who turn 18. Aging services face a looming crisis around the country and here in Washtenaw County. Monica Prince is the executive director of the nonprofit Ypsilanti Senior Center. She sees the struggles on a day-to-day basis and is among those trying to create a stable source of funding for aging services in Washtenaw County. She discusses the challenges with Rylee Barnsdale on this week’s #OTGYpsi.