By Shannon Seyler
Special to the Record
Magic is in the air at Cumae’s Mystical Shop.
The store is set slightly off the road at 1109 W. Second St. in Roswell. It’s easy to bypass for those who aren’t specifically looking for it, but once it’s been found, it won’t easily be forgotten.
Considering the small floor space, the shop offers a surprising variety of merchandise. Jammed into every nook and cranny, under glass cases and on bookshelves, is a cornucopia of supplies representing a host of spiritual traditions. While leaning toward occult items, there are also artifacts from mainstream religions. It’s not often one encounters a crucifix sharing space with images of Hindu, Celtic, Egyptian, African and other gods. A few feet away from some figurines of the Buddha is a pendant bearing the image of Thor’s hammer. If you’ve ever wondered how many deities can exist under the same roof, it seems that Cumae might be trying to answer that rhetorical question.
“Just call me Cumae,” the owner said when asked for her full name. “No last name necessary.”
“Just call me Tina,” echoed her assistant.
Together, Cumae and Tina help customers find what they’re looking for, which at this shop, could be anything under the sun, including psychic readings.
“I’ve been aware of having psychic abilities since I was about nine years old,” said Cumae. Those abilities run in the family. Her great-aunt was a Native American medium, healer and psychic reader.
A customer walks in for a psychic reading. Another buys a book. Then yet another person comes in. He hands Cumae some cash, insisting that he wants her to have it because she’s helped him in the past. Then he leaves without even making a purchase. It’s not the kind of scene one sees every day at a local business.
But this is no ordinary business.
That becomes apparent the moment one steps inside and is greeted by a jolly welcoming committee of dogs. Then, a tiny kitten peeks out from around a corner. “I have plenty of dogs and cats,” Cumae said. “All spayed and neutered, of course.”
The shop has been around since 1997, but has changed locations several times. “We’ve been at our present location for three winters,” Cumae noted.
Some of the store’s products are associated with occult paths that include Wicca, Hoodoo, Santeria, Heathenry, ceremonial magic and more. There’s a pendant with an image of Chango, a popular Orisha. In the Santeria tradition, which has roots in African Yoruba belief systems, Orishas are described as deities or spirits.
If the inventory is anything to judge by, there are more Roswell residents practicing magic than one ever suspected.
Cumae offers classes, too. She teaches tarot card reading, as well as classes on Wicca, for those who wish to learn more about that spiritual path. She also practices and teaches Reiki, a form of alternative healing. The Wiccan classes are usually offered in the spring and/or summer, lasting around six weeks. The Reiki classes are taught on a more sporadic basis. “When enough interest is shown, then I put a class together,” Cumae said.
While the store carries books on different spiritual topics, Cumae thinks a personal learning experience is best. That’s where the classes come in. Cumae’s own instructor once advised her that one good teacher can be more helpful than reading an entire pile of books. But books are important, too. “We carry many different books here,” said Cumae.
The items in the shop may seem random. Jars of herbs sit near candles in glass containers, some of which bear the image of Santa Muerte, the skeletal “Holy Death” figure. Customers can purchase pentagram pendants, tarot card decks, incense, anointing oils, lodestones and more.
So, what ties these seemingly random objects together?
“Religion,” said Cumae. “Nearly everything in this shop has some connection to it.” Although she teaches Wiccan classes, she’s glad to offer items pertaining to other beliefs. A poster in the shop reads, “Coexist.” The shop is an experiment in spiritual coexistence. If deities like Chango and Thor object to their symbolism being displayed together in tight quarters, they’ll simply have to get over it.
A decoration in the shop reads, “I’m a good witch.”
“We don’t encourage black magic,” Cumae emphasized. “Some people get the wrong idea, thinking these items are used for dark purposes. Take the pentagram. Some individuals have the notion that it’s harmful, but it has a positive spiritual meaning. Clearing up these misconceptions is an educational opportunity.”
Cumae talked briefly about the Sabbats, the Pagan holidays. Some religious groups are currently celebrating Samhain. “Attendance at our Sabbats is by invitation only,” she said. Samhain coincides with the celebration of Halloween, which for most, is secular. “For us, though,” says Cumae, “it’s spiritual. We celebrate it with a gathering of friends and family. We view Samhain as the beginning of a new year. We do a ritual, and there’s also a get-together with food and gifts.”
Working at, or even hanging around Cumae’s Mystical Shop, can be educational. Tina is one of Cumae’s students, as well as her assistant. “I enjoy working here,” Tina said. “It’s a learning experience, and I love to learn.”
The store’s traffic slackens off for a moment, and the dogs and cats settle down together peacefully for a nap. They instinctively seem to realize that the emphasis upon coexistence applies to them, too.