“Where’s the Magic Shop?” I overheard a woman asking her friend as they strolled along Kit Carson Road.
“We’re almost there,” her friend replied. “Just around the corner in the little alley across from Cafe Tazza.”
As it happened I’d been looking for a Magic Shop myself. I had an appointment to see Nyna Matsiak but could not find her location. I had walked up and down Kit Carson Road across the street from Cafe Tazza but OptiMysm eluded me. I was beginning to think an Invisibility Spell had been cast over the place. Until now. I followed the two women who soon turned left and stepped down into a doorway set into the side of the alley.
OptiMysm of course!
In a town as eclectic and diverse as Taos, it stands to reason that along with the native People of the Red Willow and the predominately Catholic Hispanic population, the Anglo Protestants, wandering Jews, far-flung Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims who reside here, a few Wiccan practitioners are included in this strange brew of sacred and spiritual worship.
For many who came of age during the late 60’s and 70’s, Creative Visualization and Magical Thinking were helped along by the abundant psychedelics and psychotropic qualities of other ingestible substances. It was a magical era that fueled a renewed interest in all things metaphysical and occult. Blatvatsky and Gurjieff became household names. By the time the 80’s rolled around there was a “Magic” shop hidden away in every city all over the world, where aging hippies, wannabe Witches and hopped up hipsters would go for their specially engraved spell-binding candles, Witches Herbals and Grimoires. Wicca had converged with Pop Culture.
Magic particularly green magic, folk magic and lay magic are all essentially energy work. All magic is rooted in the same theories and works on the same principles, it largely depends on how you wish to exercise it. Some Witches like to create altars in the kitchen or the garden or some other secluded spot where they can cast spells or simply honor nature and/or their chosen deities. These altars can be simple or as complex as the individual Witch, but they are always personal and charged with intention and meaning.
Crystals, bones, shells and stones collected or spotted during a walk or journey, are paired with candles and bowls of salt and water. Tarot cards, runes and other methods of divination are often included in these magical tablescapes.
Taos has always had a Magic Shop. Before OptiMysm there was Merlin’s Garden and others; too many to single out and name. Besides, OptiMysm has been around for 5 years now and is still going strong. OptiMysm is your one stop shop for all things metaphysical and Wiccan. In this bright, light filled space, Nyna has gathered all the accoutrements any self-respecting Witch (or Wizard) could ever need or hope for.
There are cards to send to fellow Magical Thinkers (some whimsically illustrated by one of Nyna’s incredibly talented daughters), along with several pieces of wonderfully surreal and inspirational art to hang on your walls. An array of gleaming crystals, a variety of incense and oils. Worry beads and touchstones. Calendars, icons, murtis and prayer flags. And shelves and shelves of books. Both new and used.
There are also card readers. When I stopped by, Rhonda Fleming, arguably the best Tarot Reader in Taos, was holding court in the back of the room. Rhonda does readings at OptiMysm on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons.
Originally from Minnesota, prior to moving to Taos a decade ago, Nyna, who identifies herself as a Hedgewitch, had lived in a few other spectacular places including Olympia, Washington and Mendocino, California, where she owned and ran a shop much like OptiMysm. She (and her husband) were ready for a change. A mother of four children who at the time were still quite young, Nyna’s essentials for anywhere they chose to move, included a Waldorf School for her kids, a health food store and a community of like-minded souls. Magical Thinkers. Taos kept coming up on her radar.
A Woman’s Spirit Weekend advertised in a Sedona Magazine finally brought her here and she found herself in the company of more than a few of Taos’ Remarkable Women, including renowned local Herbalist Lucy McCall and singer-songwriter Jenny Bird.
“That was the clincher,” she recalls. “And here I am.” She laughs. “I love it here, it’s home.”
Nyna says she has no intention of moving again so unless an Invisibility Spell is cast over OptiMysm, it should still be in the little alley across from Cafe Tazza, when you visit. And Wiccan or not, a wrist stacked with bracelets of semi-precious stones for protection, balance and healing, or a chunk of Amethyst crystal on your bedside table (to ease insomnia and help with dream recall) couldn’t hurt and just might bring a little magic your way!
OptiMysm is located at 129 Kit Carson Road.
Photos taken on my iphone