Juliana Solovjev approaches a display stand decked with figures of the gods and goddesses of the many traditions of the ancient and medieval world.
There’s the Egyptian goddess Bast in her feline form, and Ma’at, the goddess of justice and equilibrium, and Anubis, the jackle-headed boy in a plushy form not yet seen on hieroglyphics.
“If you can hold your god close, that’s even cooler,” Solovjev offered of the squeezable deity.
Close by is Pan, the cloven-footed god of Celtic lore.
“Well, we’ve got to have some nature happening,” Solovjev said.
That is just a small selection of the “many wonderful tools” with which Solovjev, co-owner of Aura Song Gifts at 329 East Main Street in Auburn, has stocked the first floor of her metaphysical boutique. She also offers a generous supply of energy- pulsating crystals and question-answering pendulums, candles and sweet incense, teas, finely carved wooden boxes, and even bath bombs — one bearing the wishful title Boyfriend Bath Bomb.
“No,” she assures, “it doesn’t turn into a boyfriend.”
And that chocolate over there, what does it do?
“That’s not metaphysical, that’s a fact,” Solovjev said with a laugh.
Everything, she says, “in the service of “advancing the spiritual journeys of my clients.”
But one comes away with the strong impression that those items aren’t what matters most to her: it’s her interactions with the people who come to her, deep-dyed in spiritual traditions as diverse as Christianity, paganism and Buddhism but still seeking.
All the classes and services this astrologist and psychic offers, from spiritual consultation, life and spiritual coaching, to metaphysical classes and custom astrology charts, are a labor of love, as natural to her as breathing.
“I have never known a world where these kinds of things don’t exist,” Solovjev said.
Indeed, she has not.
As far back as memory takes her, 40-year-old Solovjev has seen, heard and felt things others did not.
Sourceless music, phantom frequencies, and spectral shapes flitting about and crawling on the walls.
To a small child, terrifying and bewildering.
“Shapes, I saw shapes,” Solovjev said. “It scared me because I didn’t understand it, I didn’t know what to do with it, and I knew enough to know I couldn’t talk about it with anyone.”
In the Soviet Union, where Solovjev spent the first 11 years of her life, it was unsafe for anyone to talk openly about their belief in a power or powers higher than those of the communist state. Fear of the consequences encouraged even members of the Russian Orthodox Church, to which her family belonged, to keep mum.
Talking about her experiences back then, Solovjev said, could have cost her the career she was training for as a professional concert pianis. It also could have ended her mother’s position as a professional opera singer with the world famous Bolshoi Opera in Moscow.
So, for years, as the ghostly figures continued to vex and the music out of nowhere played on, Solovjev kept it all inside, said nothing to anyone, not even to members of her own family.
“Communism was not a good time to be psychic or gifted in this way,” Solovjev said.
The sense of “being different” this secret imposed on her began to ease the day her beloved grandmother, Melistia, shared with her something she never spoken about before.
“One of the things she told me about a week before she passed was that these kinds of things run in my family,” said Solovjev. “She told me … that when she was growing up, she had a nanny who was from a small Russian village, a Russian shaman, who practiced a variation of magic, and taught the kids divinations and things like that.
“My grandmother passed on some of those things to me, but I think the most important thing she passed on to me was validation that what I was seeing and hearing was real. It was a huge ‘aha moment’ for me, that these things exist in the world, and it wasn’t just me,” she said.
But if this particular gift ran in the family, little Juliana wanted nothing to do with it.
“I prayed over and over that it would stop. And for four years, it did,” she said.
In 1989, when Juliana was 11, and just one month before the collapse of the Soviet Union, her family emigrated to the United States. It was in her newly adopted city of Burien she got her second “aha moment” just as she stepped off a school bus.
“The moment my feet touched the ground, I could feel everything around me pulsating with life,” Solovjev said. “I could feel this energy coming off the grass and trees and from the air. It was like my awareness shifted in that moment.
“It was so amazing, I didn’t want to suppress it, and I didn’t want to ignore it. I wanted to live in that world where everything was vibration and love and excitement and energy. I wanted to understand what I was experiencing,” she said.
To help her understand, Solovjev studied for six years with a teacher in the Seattle area.
At that point, Solovjev turned to academics. First, she earned a degree in psychology from the University of Washington, then went on to work alongside her stepfather, reknowned psychiatrist Vsevolod Solovjev, for several years at Valley Medical Center in Renton.
After that, she on to Gonzaga University in Spokane, where she not only earned a law degree, but also met her wife and business partner, Katherine Brand. For two years, Solovjev practiced as a land-use attorney, specializing in boundary line adjustments, easements, contracts and rents, protecting tenants and landlords alike.
But there was always that other side, pulling at her.
Then came 2008, and in its train, the explosion of the real estate bubble.
“There was this one particular morning when I woke up and thought to myself — and I even talked to my wife about it — and said, You know, it’s not that I hate law, it’s not that I don’t enjoy doing what I do. But why am I not doing the thing I have always wanted to do?”
To which her supportive spouse replied: “Okay, how can we get there? How can we get to this?”
After a decent interval to raise the capital she would need to open the business, Solovjev stepped away from the law and transitioned to entrepreneurship — and teaching herself how to run a business.
Their fledgling effort was at Sanford and Son Antiques on Tacoma’s “Antique Row,” and from there they opened a shop in Tacoma called Expired, which they ran for a couple of years.
When Katherine’s job transferred to Chicago, Solovjev moved with her. There they opened a store on Broadway, which they ran for three years until Katherine was transferred back to Washington state.
“We were back home,” said Solovjev. “All we needed now to open a shop here was a fairly small place where I could see clients — it turned out to be a back room — and to have some retail in the front to test the waters. We had everything set up and were just about to open the doors, but a month after we got there, the pandemic struck, and we were closed down for three months.”
When it reopened that May, the business turned out to be such a hit that they ran out of space much earlier than they had expected. So they sought out new digs, which they found in March of 2021 on East Main Street.
Solovjev describes Aura Song Gifts, as “a welcoming resource for the people who come to explore everything from their previous lives to their spiritual journeys and meditation practices. We drive our own processes, but all these tools help to facilitate and empower ourselves spiritual and grow spiritually, if we let them,” Juliana said.
“As a very young child, it was such a real part of my life that I could not say it was something that did not exist and close my eyes to it. A lot of time our brain ignores what it cannot understand, what it doesn’t want to focus on, what it doesn’t consider to be relevant. For me, all of this was very relevant.
”I’ve been working on this most of my life. Through many, many careers, this is the thing I really, really wanted to do at the end of the day. It’s a love project for me,” Solovjev said.