Horrid Spirits is redefining magazines, media and the occult

By Addison Herron-Wheeler

//Horrid Mag founder Emerald Boes and Sage & Spirits creator Kelsee Ross at Awakening Boutique’s office space in Denver on Jan. 18. Photo by Polina Saran | polinasaran@gmail.com

Editor’s note: Ms. Mayhem is co-hosting the Leather & Lace alternative Valentine’s Day artisan market, burlesque performance and drag show with Horrid Spirits and Awakening Boutique on Feb. 11 from 4-10 p.m. For more details and tickets, click here

Despite all odds—COVID-19, the claim that print and independent media are dead and the standard struggles of running a small business—Colorado is a hotbed for unique DIY media projects. Denver occult art and photography magazine Horrid magazine is part of that list. 

“I created Horrid Mag in 2018, and we started as a dark arts magazine, then kind of evolved in 2020 to have spell candles and different ritual items,” said magazine creator Emerald Boes. 

In 2020, Horrid began running quarterly issues on the 13th day of January, April, July and October. Each volume has a different theme, featuring 20-25 artists from all over the world. Boes and her brother, Jake, curate the Denver-based magazine. Jake also does the design portion, including graphics and layout. 

While the business is already set up for success, Horrid became even more of a powerhouse by partnering with another creative in the ritual space, jewelry maker Kelsee Ross. 

“I started Sage & Spirits, which started off as festival jewelry and then became bone jewelry,” Ross said. “[Boes and I] were kind of working on our own retail stuff and wanting to do similar things, and we were all about joining together in community, so we started scheming and came up with the idea of combining the two brands to make Horrid Spirits,” Ross said. 

The two brands are still technically separate but hope to eventually take the plunge and become fully joined. They work together to create a hub for artists and creatives to sell and promote their wares, practice rituals, contribute art and writing and generally come together for community. Horrid Spirits hosts rituals and holds space for everyone in the witchy scene. The pair organize frequent events like drag shows and artisan markets, providing creatives an opportunity to sell their wares. Boes and Ross have also become mainstays of small markets themselves, offering ritual candles, bath soaks and witchy things like full moon kits.

“We have our stuff in a couple different stores—Arcana Herbal and Reign Rituals—and we do pop-ups at those stores where we sell our wares, do tarot readings and just generally network,” Ross said. “We do last Saturday sales at Reign Rituals where we pop up and offer oracle reading services and table with products, and we’ll be doing new moon sales in the new year.” 

They also go out of their way to ensure they’re inclusive and welcoming to everyone who is interested in shopping at the store by ethically sourcing the materials for their products. 

“We either make sure that our ingredients are ethically sourced, or we source our own,” Boes said. “When we source stuff like Palo Santo or sage, we make sure it’s from private land, grown by people who have access to their land. [We make sure] that it’s not stolen or sourced unethically.”

The team also tries to source elements from their own private land. Both have access to land in the Rocky Mountains, through Ross’ partner and Boes’ family.  

“I also like to make sure that we’re aware of any overlap or influence that we’re using in our own witchcraft or ritual practices that come from Native or Indigenous cultures,” Boes said. “It’s super important to honor them and make sure we’re doing everything in a respectful way because everything is influenced by something else. Modern witchcraft has sage bundles, so being super aware and respectful and understanding any historical practices is super important for us.” 

Keep your eyes out in the new year for more issues of the magazine, ritual products, jewelry and collaborations, along with more exciting announcements on the ritual and events front.


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