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    The Phoenix Rises at The Sword and Rose

    By Jennifer Kroot and Robert Holgate–

    The Sword and Rose is a one-of-a-kind spiritual and metaphysical shop in Cole Valley, hidden behind an alleyway. A charming garden separates the shop from the hustle and bustle of Cole and Carl Streets. It’s cozy and cabin like, covered with rich tapestries and fragrant with handmade incense. Life partners Patrick Ferry and Randy David Jeffers opened the shop 36 years ago this month. Their hand-blended incenses, oils, and baths are legendary among San Franciscans looking to attract and direct spiritual energy.

    On the evening of December 26, 2013, Randy died in a fire at their home, started by a space heater that malfunctioned. Patrick’s hands were badly burned in the fire, but he fully recovered and has remained committed to the shop that he and Randy created together.

    As longtime customers of The Sword and Rose, we recently checked in with Patrick to learn more about the history of the shop, his relationship with Randy, and how he’s been able to carry on without his partner. However, we quickly realized that Randy’s spirit is ever-present. 

    Jennifer and Robert: How did you decide to open The Sword and Rose?

    Patrick: I moved in with Randy on August 5, 1985, which was my birthday, and Randy was the best birthday present I ever got.  He told me he wanted to open a shop and make incense. It was young love, so I just said, “Sure.” He’d always had a deep interest in spiritual things and had worked at a well-known occult shop called The Mystic Eye.

    That afternoon we attended a housewarming party for our landlady, who had just bought the building, and the real estate agent who’d listed it was there. I mentioned that we wanted to open a store and she knew of a space that was available. She asked if I wanted to check it out. That was Saturday. Sunday, I checked it out. Literally, within a couple days of Randy saying he wanted a store, we had this space. Randy had an uncanny ability to manifest things.

    Jennifer and Robert: What are your customers usually looking for?

    Patrick: Sometimes people have gone through a crisis or have been ill. They appreciate that our incenses are highly consecrated and bring spiritual energy. So many people don’t believe in spirituality, or that you can bring that energy into your life. We always tell them to play like a little kid. Light the incense, and ask for something. Just say, “Show me.” This shows you might have a smattering of faith. People then come back saying, “You wouldn’t believe the experience I had.” And we say, “Oh, yes we would.”

    Jennifer and Robert: What are your spiritual backgrounds?

    Patrick: I moved away from Catholicism because I was gay. I’d gone to Catholic grade school and high school. I’d been an altar boy all the way through the middle of high school and I learned Latin. I wanted to be a priest at 13. I’d loved my faith and had a spiritual commitment.

    Randy’s whole family was spiritual. His mother did seances and table tipping. His grandmother was full Cherokee. She was an herbalist. When they were out driving, she’d say, “Stop the car,” and she’d go out into the desert and grab herbs and things to heal.

    At 16, Randy was healing people in a faith healers’ tent. He would put hands on and the whole thing. One day, the church brought Randy into the office. The bishop was there and offered him a full scholarship to go to Bethany Bible school. Randy told them, “I’m gay.” They didn’t care and said, “You’re the real deal. You’re destined to be a healer and a spiritual leader.” He thought about it, but realized that he wanted to do something different with his life, and on his terms.

    Jennifer and Robert: Is it tough to carry on without Randy?

    Patrick: Well, I know that I was chosen for this. Four days before he died, Randy asked me if I wanted to learn how to make the incense. I said, “But, I’m four years older than you. It makes more sense to train somebody younger.” He said, “No. There’s nobody else.” So, I promised him I’d learn. Four days later he died.

    He knew that he was going to die. He had visions where he had to go to the center of a revolving sphere. There was less movement in the center, but on outside edges you could be flung out. He was trying to stay inside, and stay incarnate, but he knew something was going to happen.

    Jennifer and Robert: How did you learn to make the incense after Randy died?

    Patrick: The recipe cards for the incense were found in Randy’s bedroom, which was where the fire started. Randy always carried the cards with him, because he didn’t want anybody to steal his recipes. Several people had tried.

    The bag and wood box that the cards were in had completely burned, and the paper cards were wet from putting out the fire. The ink had soaked through and many were burned, so they were nearly impossible to read. But the top card was still legible: “Grandmother Spider.” This incense reminds us that faith, joy, and love are more powerful than fear, and I knew I had to make it first.

    I came into the shop at two in the morning. I said, “Okay, we have to make this incense, and I’m going to use my tarot cards and what’s left of my eyesight to try to figure out WTF is on Randy’s recipe cards.” It was amazing. It just started coming to me. And that was perfect because I was grieving and I wanted my energy to go somewhere else. It really was my way of processing my grief. I heard Randy on the other side saying, “Enough tears; let’s have some fun now.”

    For more information, visit https://www.theswordandrose.net/

    Jennifer Kroot is a filmmaker known for her award-winning LGBTQ themed documentaries, including “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin” and “To Be Takei.” She studied filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she has also taught. She is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    A humanitarian, as well as a designer, Robert Holgate is dedicated to critical social issues. With his hands-on approach to philanthropy and social justice, he supports the advancement of local and national social causes. For more information: https://www.rhdsf.com/

    Published on December 2, 2021