When Maria Muñoz moved her business and spiritual space, Light Owl Healing, to a private, green building in Fremont, she noticed something interesting.
Situated on the north edge of Fremont, near the Woodland Park Zoo, she’d expected to feel some animal energy nearby — but she started to sense a noticeable owl energy. At first, she took it as validation that she was doing the right thing.
“I kept feeling this owl energy around and I thought, ‘Aw, it’s a guided message,’ or whatever,” Muñoz said. “And then I found out from the neighbors, that no, we have two owls that are always coming around here. I have yet to see them but the neighbors told me that there’s two little resident owls. The shop was called Light Owl before that, though.”
That wouldn’t be the last exceptional affirmation that she was in the right place.
She first conceived of the idea for Light Owl over five years ago, after noticing there was a need for a space that was readily equipped with the tools and setup that many spiritual practitioners typically had to travel with from place to place.
“I kept getting a nudge over and over, ‘We should create what we need. In order to fill that gap,’” she said.
So, she found a temporary lease to pilot her business idea. Shortly thereafter, she opened up at her current location, where she’s been since 2018. Her concept came to life: a cozy space brimming with pillows, blankets, and candles. Some of the space is reserved for practitioner rooms, some for group practice, and another area is home to a small retail shop.
She began to host a wide array of workshops with experts in guided meditation, sound bowls, sound baths, hypnotherapy, herbal medicine, energy healing, nutrition, and traditional Mexican medicine. It wasn’t long before neighbors started taking notice.
“People would randomly say, ‘I don’t know what you do, but I wanted to check it out.’ Or, ‘I don’t know what this space is, but i felt compelled to walk in,’” Muñoz said. “A lot of it is intuitively guided. Sometimes I’m just like okay we’re going to clear the space today, we need to reset for whatever reason and put some investment in on my side around energy work and once I do that it helps me to identify and work with what the community needs. And then that’s what’s attracted and clients just arrive.”
And her work wasn’t just attracting new clients. Light Owl was also quickly attracting prospective practitioners and even some practitioners who were interested in opening a similar spiritual space elsewhere. It was clear that people had a special appreciation for this unique place that Muñoz had cultivated. Her business growth was organic, mostly by word-of-mouth.
In alignment with Light Owl’s thoughtful origins, Muñoz carefully curates the retail portion of the space. She stocks various spiritual tools including books, resins, incense, and clearing kits. These tools often correlate to various workshops.
“When I was first exploring [spirituality], I would get all excited,” she said. “Then you’re writing a list of all these things and you’re out hunting for things because you have to go to different locations. So I just decided, this is part of progress. You know, having them learn and then get to practice right away.”
As much as possible, Muñoz purchases goods from local makers in Seattle and the larger Pacific Northwest region. She’s even stocked some handmade eye masks that her sister designed especially for sound bowl healing and meditation classes.
“For me, it’s really important that my money is reinvested in the community,” she said. “We vote with our dollar. If you’re voting with how you spend and you associate that ability to help transform the community by doing that, it’s always in the back of my mind.”
For those who practice with Native and Latinx ancestral traditions, Muñoz also tends to carry some specialty products that she’s cautious to protect from appropriation.
“I am working with integrity which means that sometimes, certain things I carry, I don’t always sell to everybody,” she said.
As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in March, it was obvious that the preexisting practice model at Light Owl was going to need to shift. But Muñoz was also paying attention to the way that people were responding to the pandemic.
“I definitely get to see the trends in self healing and wellness because I have a space like this and have people reaching out,” she said. “In the start of the pandemic, a lot of people were trying to find a way to not be lonely and stay connected and still find ways to be in community.”
So, she shifted to virtual offerings. While it was new and challenging, she says that some notably positive changes occurred. First, Muñoz started hosting more workshops herself — something she doesn’t always do because she also works a full time job. But also, access to her workshops has widely improved.
“People who normally couldn’t attend these events are attending virtually,” she said. “Now those people are saying, ‘If you go back to doing in-person events, would you mind livestreaming or having a hybrid?’ And I’m like, yeah of course, if it works for the course or the session. So that’s been a nice surprise, being able to work with people out of state that normally wouldn’t get to visit Light Owl.”
Then, following the murder of George Floyd, Muñoz felt compelled to shift her energy. As the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (C.H.O.P.) took shape in a neighboring Seattle area, she set up in the designated spiritual space.
“I was there a few days helping with this spiritual space they created there just to be available if anyone wanted to drop in and get support,” she said. “It was lovely to get to work with Black women who came in that were like, ‘With everything that’s going on, I love that you’re Brown. I feel safe and you can help me.’”
Soon thereafter, Muñoz met with an organizer from Abundance of Hope and became a co-facilitator for their outdoor Community Care Events. These events were designed to support Black and Brown folks in Seattle. She painted them in vivid detail, describing a robust variety of self-healing offerings including mindful movement, one-on-one clearing sessions, and group discussions.
“We just covered all of the topics that we were getting pulled to offer,” Muñoz said. “It was beautiful. I was so amazed by how people felt comfortable and safe to be in community together that way and knowing how difficult things were.”
These spaces have also transformed Muñoz, she says. With Light Owl Healing, she’s often working with a predominately white clientele. But co-facilitating these Black and Brown healing spaces has encouraged her to show up more authentically in her own lineage and traditions as a Chicana, Mexican-American woman from East L.A.
“It was the best thing I could’ve done because it helped me and reinforced for me the importance of being authentic and talking more openly about my own traditions and lineage and feeling really good about it,” she said. “When I speak of my traditions and have pride in my work, it gives space and it allows others around me to do the same. So I think that’s been such a nice surprise in all of this.”
But things are changing again, and the Seattle weather is starting to prohibit outdoor events. While having in-person events in the Light Owl space is what she misses most, you likely won’t see her feature anything of the sort on the website anytime soon. But keep checking their social media, she says. You’ll continue to see adaptive programming and expansive offerings, including virtual workshops, private in-store shopping appointments, online shopping, and her intuitive gift giving program.
Muñoz described the intuitive gift giving program saying, “ People give me their budget and they can either tell me what they’re looking for or I put a package together […] It’s been fun, it definitely makes me work my intuitive muscles. These are strangers — a lot of these people have not been in the shop before and they just saw it online or heard about it from someone else so they reach out.”
Ultimately, Muñoz confesses, she’s been struggling alongside many other brick and mortar business owners during these challenging times.
“In order for me to continue this work and really come out of this on the other side — the new Earth we’re all creating, whatever that looks like — I would appreciate people being open to making connection,” she said.
And connection is precisely what people need right now, she says. People are feeling exceptionally lonely and are desiring spaces to process and work together.
“People are all feeling so many similar things and not reaching out for support or being in community with others,” she said. “It’s such a tense environment no matter who you are and I think we need the soft, we need the nurturing, we need that loving energy. I guess for me, that’s the offering. Whatever it is that you’re participating in that has to do with Light Owl has something in there to support and hold you.”
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