Shining a Peaceful Light in Saline
by Tracy Scherdt
Kristen Madrid and James McDonald have had a lifelong interest in the metaphysical and spiritual tools for healing practices, and their shared passion has blossomed into Saline’s first and only mind, body, and spirit shop: Earth Elements. At their store on Michigan Avenue in downtown Saline, you’ll find everything from crystals and gemstone jewelry to loose leaf teas and Reiki healing services. Together, they have created a one-stop-shop for self-exploration and spiritual connection. Stay for a cup of their “tea of the day”, and you will find it is also a wonderful space for relaxation and taking a much-needed break.
Before Earth Elements, Madrid and McDonald worked together at a manufacturing company, but it wasn’t until McDonald unknowingly moved three doors down from Madrid that they really got to know each other. “We worked together for five years, but the thing that coincidentally sparked our friendship is when I moved to Saline from Ypsilanti,” said McDonald. “I didn’t know when we put the offer in that she was three doors down, but after that, we became instant friends.
They found that they shared the same core beliefs. “At the core of what we both believe is that we don’t know everything and there’s no one way to have the right answer all the time,” said McDonald. McDonald, a Reiki Healing Master, is intuitive, and Madrid grew up in haunted houses, brushing shoulders with the otherside early on in life. And although they share a common understanding, they also have many polarities. While McDonald is interested in energy and Reiki, Madrid is interested in the paranormal and metaphysical. “We kind of balance out because we both bring something different, even though it’s all in the same world of mind, body, and spirit,” said Madrid.
Madrid and McDonald continued to work together at the manufacturing company, sharing in their kindred interests, but it was when their situations changed and the work became corporate that they decided to open Earth Elements. “It wasn’t fun anymore and we both had a horrible boss and we decided it wasn’t what we wanted. So we decided to be our own bosses. Which has been scary, but also very rewarding,” said McDonald.
Madrid, however, was also nearing retirement when they took the chance to open their business together. “I was at my previous job for 17 years, and in my head I had decided that I was going to retire there, that’s it.” But she had faith in this moment and in her endeavor with McDonald. “I’m where I am because this is where I need to be. I’m here because I was supposed to meet him half a dozen years ago and this is where we’re supposed to be at this particular point. I’ve lived a lot of different places and done a lot of different stuff, but this is where we’re supposed to be, this is where I’m supposed to be right now.”
There were many skeptics when they first began to propose the possibility of a metaphysical/new age store in Saline. Many wondered whether Saline was the right place for a spiritual store. “The scary part was everyone was like, ‘What? You’re going to what.. in SALINE?!’” said McDonald, “It was the quote unquote all caps exclamation, every time. Even our landlord said, ‘No, I just want you to look at it from all angles.’ But the truth was, what they all meant, was ‘in SALINE?!’”
Despite the skepticism and the huge leap of faith they both took, Madrid and McDonald stayed strong in their desire to open their store, and they held fast to their belief that Saline would greatly benefit from having them there. What the owners of Earth Elements knew that others maybe not realized yet, is that it was exactly that reaction—in SALINE?!—that validated the necessity of the shop. “The goal is a necessary community space. I mean, you look at the state of the world, and we just want to be a beacon of light where we can be,” said McDonald.
Madrid and McDonald recognized that there was a gaping hole in the map of the metaphysical community in Southeast Michigan, and that there was a possibility to be that beacon of light in Saline. “If you look at a map of Southeast Michigan, you see Plymouth and you have Earth Lore, in Ann Arbor you have Crazy Wisdom, Ypsilanti has World of Rocks, I believe there’s even a place like this in Adrian, Howell, Brighton, so all around, but you’re looking at a 20-30 minute drive out at least, if you are living in Saline,” McDonald explained. And the two knew that they were not the only people planning day trips just to access what these places offered, so they thought, “Why not here? Why not us?”
Madrid and McDonald want to emphasize that Earth Elements is an open, safe space for anybody and everybody to find what they need. They describe their store as a “multi-faith” space, and this is because they never want to exclude anyone, or deny anybody’s exploration of life’s biggest questions. They also understand that this may be completely new territory for many. “If you walk in the door and you see something that’s familiar to you, you’re going to let your guard down and be open to the rest of the stuff that’s in here. That’s why we’ve been very mindful to have representations of all religions and spiritualities,” said McDonald, with Madrid adding, “I call our shelf of beginners’ books here the ‘Metaphysical for Dummies’ section, and it has everything from Angels to Ouija boards, and all topics in between, whether you need Prayer for Beginners, or Table Tipping, or Dragons, it’s all in there, so there’s no ‘this is only for a certain type of believer.’”
Because of the open, explorative nature of the shop—and because of Madrid and McDonald themselves—the store is also bursting with positive energy, and not without intention. The two have created this space and store with the hope that the Saline community will discover their own spiritual tools to heal, and the owners have stored their own positive energy in each item. “Everything we have here, we love, or it wouldn’t be here, so when we unpack stuff to stock, we get excited, and that puts all that positive feeling and energy into what’s here. It’s coming out of the box with the good feelings baked right in,” said Madrid.
But “good feelings baked right in” is as far as Madrid and McDonald will go in suggesting to you what you might need at Earth Elements. They do, however, hope that whatever you need, they’ll have it in their store for you, waiting until you’re ready to find it for yourself. “We’re a work in progress and we want to carry things that are of interest to our community and our customers. What we had to go on when we started is what we’re interested in, what we like,” said McDonald, “and if we don’t have it, we will try to get it.” Madrid chimed in then, saying, “We’re not here to impose our beliefs, we’re here to help you find what it is you are searching for. It’s rewarding when somebody comes in and says, ‘this is exactly what I needed.’ I’m like, ‘Here you go, I got it in for you.”
Madrid and McDonald also encourage further exploration after hours, hoping to host monthly/bimonthly gallery readings as well as events with other spiritual practitioners. Earth Elements hosted their first gallery reading this past January with spiritual medium Jani Cooke, calling it Wine & Spirits. It was an evening of wine, cheese, and life-altering connections with deceased loved ones through a practiced and earnest medium—I cannot say enough how impactful this was for all of us in attendance. Another goal for the future of Earth Elements is to expand their private label products of in-house oil and incense blends. On shelves now is their first in-house blend called “For When You’re Sick Oil,” which I myself love and use often.
What remains at the heart of Earth Elements is the belief that there is no right answer to life’s questions, but that there are spiritual tools we can use to get closer to our own understanding. So if you have questions—whatever they may be—I recommend stopping into Earth Elements, grabbing some tea, and spending some time perusing. “Part of our mission is to enlighten others about the universal positive energy that is a part of everything and every one of us. You know, to bring that together, to the community, to our customers, to anyone who steps into this space or is thinking about that. Come and experience that, and explore that,” implored Madrid. McDonald also added, “At the end of the day, if it resonates with you, then take it. If it doesn’t resonate with you, then let it go.
Visit Earth Elements at 104 West Michigan Avenue, Saline, MI 48176 or online at earthelementsmi.com. They are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Give them a call at 734-470-6801. You can also look for their event postings either on their Facebook or Instagram feeds @earthelementsmi.