The first thing I saw this morning when I got up was sad news. Not the best way to get up, but sometimes it has to happen. Randy Sapp, the owner of the Sword & the Rose occult shop in Cole Valley died on Christmas Evening.
Randy and his shop were know around the world. It was a tiny place that if more than five people were inside it would feel crowded, but it was the magical feeling of this place that made it special as well as adding to San Francisco a little bit of weirdness. Randy was a master of incense and oils starting as an apprentice at the old Mystic Eye occult shop on Broadway where he spent ten years just sitting in the back focused on making incense. Randy looked a bit like a dark version of David Bowie
Randy’s incense was not the hippy, heavy floral stuff that you’d find on Haight street to cover up the smell of pot [well that’s why they burned it according to my Mother.] Randy’s incense would actually transform you by its smell. Depending on which one you burned it would fill the room with the elegance of a cathedral, but it would also reach inside you and change you. His blends had names such as Anubis, Xepera, Horus, Isis, Holy Grail, Shekinah. He would make the incense when he felt like it. That’s the kind of guy he was. I guess you have to be in a certain state of mind when creating an incense to invoke Anubis.
His shop was just like a movie set when you’d walk inside. There were curtains hanging everywhere. It was dark with an old pot bellied stove to warm the small shop which you could never see from the street. You would have to walk through an alcove and to the back through a very ornate garden to the small ivy covered door. San Francisco has had many occult shops over the years, but that name just doesn’t seem to fit for the Sword and the Rose. This was not a buy my magical trinkets kind of place, but a place where people who seriously needed something different would come. Sure, he’d welcome the curious who might spend a few dollars or just want to talk, but he supplied people from around the world with his incense many of whom would make a special trip to his store when they were in San Francisco on vacation.
His partner of 29 years, Patrick managed to survive and will continue on with the Sword and the Rose once he recovers. Randy will be sadly missed. Was like the David Bowie or the magic world. Not the David Copperfield.