I walk along Danforth Avenue, taking in the sights, experiencing the atmosphere and enjoying a beautiful day. I look from left to right at the many different storefronts that huddle along the sides of the street, each one offering something new and exciting, inviting its guests in with quirky signs, colourful displays, and friendly faces. But today I am on a mission: I am looking for a little shop that I have read about; a repository of healing stones and artifacts with auras and essences; a place called Gifts from the Earth; a place of magic.
Magic. It’s something we have all believed in at one point in our lives. Whether we were wiggling our nose at a pencil in a desperate attempt to make it roll back and forth on our desks, or waving an intriguing looking stick at a locked door saying, “Alohomora,” and patiently waiting for it to unhinge and welcome us through, we secretly believed in this thing called magic. Perhaps the magic you believed in came in the form of a figure: Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, or fairy godmothers—either way, something in our hearts told us that there was a magic in the world that existed within us, and all we had to do was concentrate really, really hard, focus our mind’s eye on our subjects, and voila! Magic.
Unfortunately for most of us, as we gained years of wisdom and reality and started paying more attention to our books and bills and less attention to our bemused beliefs, the notion that magic truly exists slowly disappeared from our hearts. Yet we seem to forget magic was not forged in Disneyland, nor was it a figment of J. K. Rowling’s or Roald Dahl’s imaginations—magic existed long before we saw it on the screen, or read about it in a book—only it didn’t look quite the same many years ago.
How can I describe to you, the world I entered once I walked through the doors of that little shop on 320 Danforth Avenue? The shop itself is not very large, and yet its capacity to hold endless amounts of objects is unlimited. From sage leaves and incense, to real dinosaur bones and other fossils, as well as the millions of crystals available in a variety of sizes in between, I found myself walking cyclically through the store fifty-plus times, all the while discovering a new item each time.
In the past, there was a magic that existed mostly in the power of the universe. In Ancient Greece, magic or mageia included a wide range of things—from spells, to drugs and poisons, to love potions, and healing rituals. Today we rule magic as a separate entity from superstition, religion, science, and astrology—but to the Ancient Greeks, all of these things were part of their natural beliefs.
I touch the stones and read the tags that go along with them. “Fire Opal: Opal is also known as the “Stone of the Gods,” as the ancients believed that the storm god, jealous of the rainbow god’s beauty, broke the rainbow and the pieces of the rainbow fell to Earth, and became part of the opal.” Each mineral has a history and meaning of its own, and a power that comes along with it. The focus of the shop—with its salt lamps, crystal pendants, and rare mineral specimens—definitely takes on the vibe of the restorative powers of nature (the name of the shop was also a clue to this point). And so I think to myself, what type of person frequents such a shop? Do you have to be specially tuned in to the powers of nature to harness the magic in these objects? Do witches still exist?
Women in Greek mythology were those most often believed to have magical abilities. Hecate, the goddess of magic, the moon, witchcraft, and the night; Circe, the daughter of Helios (the sun god), a sorceress whose expertise was magical herbs and potions; and of course, the oracles who were looked to in times of need and desperation—these women can be considered the first witches in Greek history.
Then an elderly woman walks in. She’s dressed head to toe in flowing, black clothing, and seems to fit in naturally with the aura of the atmosphere. Around her neck hangs a stone that I recognize from one of the many walks I have now taken around the shop. She’s chatting politely with the woman behind the counter while she fiddles with the various stones and trinkets displayed by the cash register. I catch bits of her conversation: “I’m looking for something that provides protection. . . . I want to give it as a gift to my grandsons. . . .” I walk around once more. My eye catches the wall of books and angel cards. “I always carry mine around my neck. . . . Oh, I do believe I have this one already. . . .” As I pass by the register once more, I see she has laid out a row of crystals varying in size, shape and colour. She points to each: “This one for protection, this one for healing, this one for calming . . .” and the list goes on. Every time she prepares to make her purchase, something else catches her eye and she contemplates the nature of it and what it may bring to those she loves.
I think to myself, this is a woman who sees the magic in the universe. . . .
As the times move forward, the belief that there were magical entities and various gods ruling over our world slowly fell to the background and a new type of magic was born. This was a magic still claimed mostly by women: it was the magic that took place in tea shops, and behind veiled doorways, and in ominous shops that carried trinkets and precious objects from the past. These were the witches who focused on the world’s energy and the power they’d harnessed from it. These were the gifted women who had insight and intuition; who could read tea leaves and predict the future; who could use a deck of cards to determine one’s fate; who called themselves clairvoyants and had sight in other dimensions and worlds.
So where does magic still exist today?
Some may argue that it exists in the writing of authors such as Ami McKay (The Witches of New York, The Birth House), Alice Hoffman (Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic), or Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist, The Witch of Portobello). Others may believe that magic is a word that has been used by Hollywood too often, that its legs in the reality of New Age religions and Occult studies have become satirized, though it does exist.
As I make my last trip around the shop, replacing objects I’ve picked up with others I’ve discovered, I stumble across something I have somehow not yet seen. At the very bottom of a shelf sits a row of spherical Himalayan salt candle holders. The smoothness of their surfaces and the glowing orange/pinkish hue they possess catches my eye and I instantly know that I will be taking one home with me today. Although Himalayan salt lamps can be found everywhere nowadays—I’ve seen them at Indigo, Winners, HomeSense, and the like—what I like about this one is that it is not a plug-in lamp, but a candle holder, and my love for candles is richly excited by this feature. I bring my lamp up to the cash register, chat with the woman behind the counter about the shop and its second location—which is larger, located on Queen St. West, and offers Yoga classes—grab some sage, pay, and head for home, content with my purchase and my experience.
Under these circumstances, magic has resurfaced. It has retained its image in the form of Tarot cards, healing stones, burned incense, and auras—but it has also been resurrected as a form of belief and religion. It seems as though millennials are turning their attention away from the organized religions they’ve most likely grown up with, and have directed their beliefs to something more tangible, more holistic, and in some ways, earthlier. Though this New Age religion still requires the power of belief, its origins in history and the requirements it asks of its believers focuses on the self and self-improvement before asking one to focus on others. This may be a testament to its high level of appeal in today’s society.
I arrive home that afternoon, place a tea light in my new salt lamp, burn a little sage, and let the healing powers of nature take over me. I slowly drift into a relaxed slumber, likely brought on by the current ambiance and calming nature of my room, and I dream of a world where magic still exists. . . .
Wanting to know more about the charmed world I briefly encountered, I decided to seek out someone who can explain to me the intricacies of Reiki—a new type of healing process that targets the soul and the energies of the universe. I found and interviewed Samantha Pasut, a certified and practicing Mastery Level Reiki expert, who shared with me her insight into a new world of magic that holds great interest to millennials today. The following is the interview:
J: Can you describe to me what Reiki is?
S: Reiki is the intuitive ability to use the Universal Life Force Energy, almost like “the Force,” to ground, heal, and balance the body, mind, soul of any thing, place, or being. There are energetic air symbols that are learned in order to activate and direct the life force energy. Reiki is non-dimensional, a loving, clear, protective, and wise energy that can be sent to any situation, or a being’s past, present, and/or future. It is a hands-on or distant process that is conducted by a Reiki healer. This, for myself, includes crystal healing as well as major Chakra work, and also the ability to say nothing but allow the individual to use their own personal energy to heal themselves. Reiki makes you feel lighter and more aligned with a clear perspective and motivation to see your path clearly. Reiki can also elevate pain and clear karmic past-life imbalances.
J: When did you first gain interest in Tarot cards, healing stones, and Reiki?
S: Being a visual artist my whole life, it was healing stones that were the beginning factor into my love for the healing arts. The combination of the three [Tarot cards, healing stones, and Reiki] came at different times, but somehow all linked together. First crystals, then cards, and then Reiki. Crystals started extensively in the summer of 2014. I had a series of life events that led me to these modalities. I began to collect, console, and understand what crystals could do for someone who knew she needed that extra vibration in her life. The first time I dabbled with Tarot cards was when my friend Victoria bought them for me for my 22nd birthday. Then Reiki came as a final completion to the trinity.
J: Do you consider this to be more of a natural healing process, or is it almost a religion for you?
S: It is a natural healing process to me. It’s Universal Energy. Religion is a tricky thing for me to touch on because it’s just belief. To me, everything is interconnected and I do not like to put labels on things. Growing up Roman Catholic, this is very much so a different sense of practice, something that allows enlightenment and detachment from most of what the 3D world has to offer, without judgement or guilt. Yes, Jesus came to this Earth and there is a story. All he really came here to teach us about was love. How we developed what we have from it has strayed very far from where the essence lies, in my personal opinion.
J: How does one go about becoming a certified Reiki expert?
S: There are a series of “attunements” you must complete: 3 levels and then a Mastery Degree. This not only allows you to heal others, but also continue sharing the experience of attuning others and continuing the energy exchange. This Mastery Degree takes a year and requires extensive self-work on family life, the truth about how you really feel about yourself and your relationships, and much more. Very much so the philosophy of spirit mixed with the psychology of the mind and the emotions. A spiritual experience.
J: Those who come to you in search of help or healing, what do they typically hope the results will be?
S: A lot of people who seek my help generally feel that there is a sense of energetic imbalance in their lives, and/or they are on their own spiritual growth path, and I am very much so a conduit for those to learn more and gain more wisdom. I believe that in this new generation, there is a mindset of “vibes” and how, good or bad, they linger. Healing is a beautiful thing and every experience is different, based on the individual.
J: Do you believe that precious gems and Tarot cards hold a certain magical essence within them?
S: Everything is magical. Vibrations are magical. Thoughts are magical. Cards are definitely magical. Cards can tell you a story without having to say anything.
J: Do you believe in magic in general? If so, how would you describe the type of magic you believe in?
S: The kind of magic I believe in is angelic magic. I constantly communicate with my guides and angels and things that are magical have continued to grow beyond my wildest dreams. And I’m a dreamer. I believe in manifesting the things you want most in this world by using rituals that have been in place and/or creating your own. I follow the phases of the moon, subconsciously and consciously, mainly because it follows me. As an intuitive, I rarely have a day off.
Magic may not present itself to us in the form of a charmed letter, announcing our acceptance to Hogwarts, and we may never meet our fairy godmothers, but we might not have to give up on magic just yet. It appears as though the time has come for magic to exist in a way we have simply forgotten; a gift to us, from the earth.