So we're having drinks, T-Bone and I, and he's telling me that he wants to throw a party soon, and I suggest inviting a coven of witches, because who parties better than witches? And he starts telling me about this witches bookstore in Hollywood — the real deal, not some cheesy little shop that sells Harry Potter key chains but a store that takes its pagans pretty seriously.
"I've been to a couple of Wiccan bookstores in Salem, and this was better than that," T-Bone says, as if to screw in his point.
(And my editors wonder why I hang out in saloons so much. Tips like these are worth the price of a couple of Coors. No more than that, but at least that.)
Next day, I'm in Panpipes Magickal Marketplace, and it's everything T-Bone promised. Dusty and dark, authentic in the way of a great London bookstore, yet with a glint of religion about it. Old apothecary jars full of mugwort line the wall. There are daggers in the bookcase, books, crystals, capes.
On the wall, this sign: "We do not guarantee any supernatural qualities attributed to any of these products."
So much malarkey? Maybe. Let's give the Magickal Marketplace a chance. For what is any belief system but a form of folklore based on personal spiritual needs? Our nation was founded on such things.
Besides, you don't need to be a Hindu to take yoga, right? Similarly, you don't need to be a witch or warlock to enjoy this odd little shop near Hollywood Boulevard.
Note that if you're looking for freeze-dried bat, forget it. They don't carry it anymore; it wasn't as popular as you might assume, and the inventory grew moldy quickly.
But say you wanted some dragon's blood. That they can help you with, though it might be a special order.
Vicky Adams, who owns the shop with Jymie Darling, is behind the counter this afternoon, helping a couple of attractive Druids with some herbs. You'll spot Adams right away by her trademark eyeliner: not heavy-handed at all, more a form of calligraphy as it ampersands off the eye in lovely arcs.
"It's more goth than anything," she says when I ask her about it.
Behind the Druids is a practicing Thelemite looking to purchase some dragon's blood — the resin, not the sticks — which he is going to put over hot coals for an invocation.
Smart guy, well-spoken, probably a professor of something or other. Thelemites — I had to look it up — are strong-willed free-thinkers who pretty much do what they please. That sounds like just about every CEO I've ever met. Or both my daughters.
"Do what thou wilt," is the guiding principle for Thelemites, who seem to leave a lot of room for fun.
First-time customers? Adams helps them too.
"It's like a metaphysical shop, a spiritual shop," Adams explains, pointing to the apothecary jars full of wormwood and skullcap.
So if you're looking for love, or health or prosperity, she can set you up with a candle and maybe throw in some herbs and oils.
Or how about a spell kit to enhance creativity? There's also the evictus kit, which gets rid of people, as in evicting them from your life. The revenge kit can be used — well, that's obvious and not a bad use of 25 bucks. Gimme four.
"It gives them something tangible to focus on," she says, explaining how it works. "You light the candle and you focus on seeing it unfold. ... It's called creative visualization."
Sounds like the power of positive thinking, which is the basis for a lot of self-help, even some of the tenet of Christianity, and Adams agrees that it's all about changing expectations.
"It's a con game on the mind," she says, so if someone is having negative thoughts, she suggests following each negative notion with two positives.
"I have customers who are Christians," she says. "I have Christo witches [essentially Christian witches]. That is not uncommon."
Adams is not a witch herself, she says, merely a pagan who says there are thousands of others like her across L.A., and she's just here to help, no matter your chosen deity.
"It's hard," she says at the end of a busy day. "I had a customer who watched me work. When I finally got to him, he said, 'I'm a psychologist and I get $400 an hour to do what you do.'"Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun