Mumbaiwale: Can we meet in Mahim? Yes, Wiccan
At The Wiccan Shop, “we don’t say ‘white’ or ‘black’ magic, we just call it ancient magic; power that can be used for good or bad,” says Angel Serrao. He runs the 18-month-old Mahim store devoted to pagan witchcraft, new-age healing, tarot and nature worship, with help from Sonal Bhosle, Zoya Lobo and their remarkably inert cat, Diana.
There are oil potions labelled Boss Fix, Bend Over, Lust, Return My Money, Sugar Daddy and Share Market. You can buy teapot-sized cauldrons and body-shaped enchanted candles for love. For protection, there are Archangel figurines. For desperadoes, there’s Come To Me incense. For just about everything: there’s a spell or a crystal.
“But 80% of the job is helping people unlearn superstitions and misconceptions,” Angel says. Business is toil and trouble. It’s also hilarious:
The questions keep coming
When they opened, Mahim residents would drop in with odd questions, to which the team developed quick answers. “Do you use brooms?” “Only to sweep, they won’t help with traffic.” “What to do if a cat crossed my path?” “Adopt it”. “Is my under-eye darkness a result of someone’s black magic?” “No, but chamomile tea may help you sleep”. “Do you perform animal sacrifices?” “I’m too scared to touch a chicken, let alone a goat”.
Some clients need handholding
An elderly man from the neighbourhood popped in asking whether this was a voodoo shop. “He was most disappointed that it wasn’t, because he was hoping to pick up some dolls and pins to get back at enemies,” Angel recalls. He bought a large batch of chamomile tea to help with sleep. “He was back in 12 days for more, much too soon,” Angel says. Turns out he was brewing one tablespoon of the stuff not a teaspoon. No wonder he was passing out.”
Some require creative solutions
When one woman came in for an exorcism, she had so many questions, it tested everyone’s patience. “She’s the kind of person who, if told to eat an apple would ask ‘Should I wash it? Should I peel it? Can I cut it with a knife?’ We had to do something,” Zoya recalls. Angel got Zoya to bless some neem leaves at the feet of Kali and Hecate. “We asked her to eat them and be still for half an hour. They were bitter but safe. And we all got 30 minutes of peace.” Angel says some clients take things too seriously. “We don’t mind questions. But we do also expect you to use common sense.”
Battling Customs is part of the job
When stock of a best-selling imported oil or candle runs out, it’s a long wait for more. Material is held for months because most items are hard to identify. “They keep inspecting the herbs and wondering if it’s weed,” says Bhonsle. “When it’s finally released we have to cleanse everything to rid it of all the negativity.”
Magic is not medicine
One woman also needed to visit a gynecologist but refused. “She somehow felt magic was less taboo, but we kept telling her that we were not a substitute for a doctor.”
Love and money run the store
Older clients come seeking control - mothers often ask for potions to rein in unruly sons. Young people want help with careers and partners. Many need a boost to leave an abusive partner. “An oil makes them believe they have the strength to do it,” Zoya says.
Harry Potter has been somewhat helpful
JK Rowling’s books have presented witches in a positive light. A teen boy was determined to buy a wand, believing he’d use Wingardium Leviosa and other fictitious spells from the books. One client asked Angel why he wasn’t in flowing robes. “I told her I practise Wicca but I also love Zara.” He’s compromised and now wears a short gold cape. “New trends, man!”
The witches will party today
The shop celebrates the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, with the Solemn Ritual of Litha on Saturday evening. If there’s magic in Mahim, you’ll find it here. If you don’t, don’t hex me.