By DANIELLE TEPPER
If while strolling Monmouth Street in Red Bank you catch a titillating whiff of patchouli incense and sandalwood, let your curious nose guide you into Earth Spirit New Age Center, a shopping experience that for some is a form of sensory overload.
Feathered dream catchers and tinkling wind chimes hang from the ceiling; brightly colored gemstones – pink rose quartz, purple amethyst, and orange citrine – sit loose in dishes with small signs that describe their spiritual meanings; tiny bottles of aromatherapy oil are displayed next to figurines of Gothic gargoyles and mermaids; bookcases line the walls with volumes that run the gamut from Buddhism and Hinduism to astrology and healing.
And that’s before things get deep: the Midoses can also put you in touch with loved ones who have passed on – for a fee, of course.
All-natural aromatherapy oils from Sun’s Eye are available in pure scents such as frankincense, pomegranate, and hyssop. (Click to enlarge)
Joycelyn Midose, who runs the store with her son, Chris, comes from a long line of born-and-bred Red Bankers, with ancestral roots that can be traced to the 1600s.
“I can still remember when the road would wear away and you could see the old trolley tracks, back in the ’50s,” she said. “And when we used to ice skate on the river in between all the eelers in the winter. I’ve always loved Red Bank. There are a lot of family memories and stories here.”
Jocelyn said she grew up with an interest in metaphysics, and “at 13 or 14 years old, I could pick up on energies and feel spirits,” she said. “My mother was open to it, so I went with her physic readers and tea leaf readers as a kid.”
But she couldn’t have foretold that she would carry her passion for spirituality into her adult life and eventual motherhood, one day owning a business through which she would share that connection with her neighbors.
Chris, 47, developed an interest in astronomy around 12 years old and would look for planets through a telescope with his father. Joycelyn fostered his interest and taught him how to read the stars, thus spurring his eventual talent in astrology.
“I was raised with openness to it, just like she was,” said Chris. “And when I really began to learn about it, I was just amazed by it. But I never saw an opportunity to make a living out of it the way she did.”
They opened their business in May, 1991, at 16 West Front Street (now home to Tobacco Paradise), where it remained for 14 years, in spite of “Dead Bank” and some initial “administrative weirdness” with the town.
“At the time, gypsies, fortune tellers, or anything that fell under ‘crafty sciences’ wasn’t really allowed in the borough,” explained Chris. “Neither were tattoo or massage parlors.” But the Midoses were generally accepted by the residents, with the exception of a church group or two that came in to try to save their souls.
“People perceived New Age as being something other than what it is,” said Chris. “But there’s nothing cult-y about it, no agenda. And yet it has this negative connotation. I think people now realize that it just embraces all things. We don’t really deal with anything anymore – well, we deal with crazy people because it’s central Jersey, but it’s been a positive reception all around.”
When they moved to their present home of 25 Monmouth Street (where they have been for the past 8 years), not only did their current customers follow them, but their business tripled.
“We’ve been extraordinarily fortunate every step of the way,” said Chris.
“There was a synchronicity to it,” added Joycelyn. “One thing after another just fell together.”
A cancer survivor of 15 years, Joycelyn enjoys being able to offer alternative methods of healing to the public. She has connections that go as far back as the ’60s and can therefore recommend practitioners in massage, reiki, and other homeopathic remedies.
“We know who’s good and who’s not,” said Chris. “Which is not a judgment of spirituality, but personal integrity.”
Joycelyn’s belief that all religions are one and can be celebrated as such is what fuels her decision-making when stocking the shop: “You’ll see it’s very diverse, because that’s what the store is all about. It’s a holistic experience.”
But they do have limits: “We don’t have anything on Satanism or black magic,” said Chris. “Nothing manipulative, because that’s just wrong. If that’s what someone is looking for, that’s their business, but they can go to Barnes & Noble’s New Age section for that.”
“It’s a place where people just like to come in and walk around,” said Joycelyn. “Kids will buy the stones, not because they know what they are, but just because they collect rocks. People love our candles and the smell of the incense.”
Readings are offered daily. Chris does Tarot and astrology, while Joycelyn tackles the beyond.
“I connect with people on the other side and I also do future predictions, which are very popular,” she said. They feature workshops and classes on gem stones and Tarot as well, plus a healing circle every other week.
Their longevity has already been proved and the Midoses plan to stay loyal to Red Bank into the foreseeable future.
“The most important thing is loving what you do,” said Joycelyn. “I love Red Bank. I love the people; I feel like everyone is my extended family. I couldn’t imagine doing this anywhere else.”