Brooke Mackay-Brock, 38, owner of Black Moon Botanica, talks to Caitlyn Dewar about bringing back a bit of magic to the city’s Candlemaker Row
‘For as long as I can remember I have always wanted a shop on Candlemaker Row; generations of my family have lived above my shop and I have always loved a bit of romanticism in history and I’m trying to bring a little bit of lost Edinburgh back to its roots.
“I’ve been making hand-dipped candles from beeswax in the traditional way since I was a teenager and I have always had an interest in crystals and tarot so this shop feels like a full circle for me, all those years sitting in my room reading books on spellcrafting and herbs and how to make your own candles has now become Black Moon Botanica and I can actually share my knowledge with other people who have similar interests, I think I would have loved this shop when I was 14.
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“I can’t say there has been a typical day for me since I opened, but there is a lot of making candles and wax melts traditionally by hand, the beeswax ones take the longest because you have to keep dipping them but the other candles and wax melts are made with soy wax because it’s vegan friendly, really creamy and a nice material to work with.
“I make the candles at home at the moment but I’m planning to bring the candlemaking into the shop, that was always the intention, to bring candlemaking back to the street it used to trade in.
“I’ve kind of got a system now, where I put the hand-dipped ones on a rack so I can do six at once, although it still requires dipping them in and out, but I find it really relaxing.
“I studied herbology at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh so when I’m creating them I like working with traditional properties as well as magical ones. They’re all made with a certain intention and the name of each one should invoke that intention, I try to combine herbs and oils which would traditionally be used in different spell candles, for example the Aphrodisia candle has oud and rose which are traditional aphrodisiacs so would be perfect for a love spell.
“I have another one called Queen of Scots, and the reason behind the name was because I loved stories about Mary Queen of Scots and her connection to France because I went to school in France and she grew up in the French Court, so I researched oils that would have been popular as perfumes at that point in history in France and I was trying to recreate something that maybe would have been similar to a perfume that she would have worn.
“I’m a real history buff, and history has always been really important to me. People don’t need to know this when they buy the candles but there is intention behind all of them, either an intention or a story, a lot of thought goes into them, probably too much.
“As well as candles there’s also tarot, crystals and herbs and people are excited to come in and speak for hours about them, a lot of my day is spent speaking to people about their interests and needs and sharing my own knowledge.
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“Tarot has been one of the bestseller items since I opened, I get them in from independent artists and they are really beautiful decks that are independently produced, sometimes I have to wait for the artist to reprint them, but I quite like that too in that it’s not fast and makes it a special and exciting process.
“When I first became interested in witchcraft and the alternative, there was no internet and it’s part of the reason I don’t have an online store, the shop is more about human interaction and connection, it was intended to be more of an experience where people can touch, smell, feel, chat and hangout, I think people appreciate that. Another thing we’ve been lacking is somewhere to gather for people that are interested in this and I’m trying to open that up by running introductory workshops to tarot and make it more of a community and social hub, not just a shop.
“While I have lived in a lot of different places, nothing competes with Edinburgh, this street is my roots and I love being here because I have a such a connection with it.
“I love being able to walk down to work every day and know that my grandparents and great-grandparents and family I have never met all lived here above the shop and down the street from here.”