Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The (not-so) Secret History of Melange Magique -

Did you know that Melange Magique almost didn’t exist? It was all up to the flip of a coin…

In 1991, Debra Aubin and Elise Terra, two university students with big ideas, wanted to open a shop. When deciding on what the shop should be, they left it up to a coin toss; option #1, a magic and occult store, and option #2 (I wouldn’t have believed it myself), was a feminist/feminism-focused lingerie store!
The Pagan community breathed a huge sigh of relief when the coin dropped and decided that magic was the way to go!

Melange Magique opened its door in 1991, in the unlikely location of 1946, St. Catherine Street West… directly above the Cock & Bull Pub. It stayed there for roughly 4 years with Debra using her business skills to generate a profit on the expertise that Elise had in all things Pagan, magic, and alternative healing.
In that store, Melange Magique began its ongoing relationship with store Familiars. Our first was a fluffy white cat with a grey diamond on his head, named Kether. He vanished one day in 1994, leaving space for future Familiars such as Chleo, Gulliver, Ghost, Lancelot, Knick-Knack, Tequila, and now our two resident felines, Luna and Ninja. (Did you know we also have had a Familiar parakeet, and currently have a white laughing dove named Angel?)

In 1995, Elise sold her portion of the store to Debra so that she could pursue scholarship opportunities in the United States as a Shiatsu healer. This year also marked Melange Magique’s first and only move, four doors down to 1928 St. Catherine Street West. We’ve been here ever since! (Yes, really. We promise. 17 years in one place!) 

In 1994 long-time employee, Scarlet Jory, opened the Crescent Moon School of Magic and Paganism. The school, independent of the store, used the store’s class space ( as of 1997) to offer a safe and educational introduction to those exploring or renewing their magical practices and spiritual lives. It has matured and evolved since then and still offers a 4 level program every year! 


Neighbour to Melange Magique was Nebula Science Fiction Books. In 1999, Nebula made the decision to sell their store and Debra snapped it up in hopes of saving it. For roughly one year the two stores shared a space, before Nebula finally closed its doors. The closing wasn’t entirely a loss, as it meant that now the ever-growing Melange Magique had more room to continue stocking quality magical products for the Pagan, magical, and spiritual communities in Montreal. 


In a very generous gesture in the year 2000, Melange Magique also donated a large part of Nebula’s space to the newly created Montreal PaganResource Centre. The MPRC still exists in Melange Magique’s space, offering resources, guidance, and support for local Pagans and non-Pagans who need an ear, or a hand. The MPRC still holds Sabbat rituals for the public, and organizes the annual Witches’ Ball, as well as help to facilitate the annual Montreal Pagan Yule Fair (which Melange Magique has organized and hosted for the last 5 years when Concordia University Pagan Society was no longer able to host it at the university). 


Over the past 21 years, we’ve had some pretty interesting visits from Big Name Pagans such as Judika Illes, Patricia Telesco, Marc-Andre (Abraxas), Silver Ravenwolf, Dorothy Morrison, Chris Penczak, Ellen Dugan, RayMalbrough, and Arin Murphy-Hiscock (former employee and good friend of some of our staff!). Adelina St.Clair, a Crescent Moon School graduate, has also published a book and returns to facilitate lectures and discussions from time to time as well! 


In 2005 the store underwent some major renovations. Of particular interest was the creation of Ye Olde Apothecary, Melange Magique’s witchy little corner that sells magical oil, custom blends (bath salts, incense powders, sprinkling powders), herbs, and teas to help with any potential wants, needs, or blessings you can think of. It is still one of the most active and exciting parts of our store, with a large recipe book, and personalized service for our customers. 


Flash-forward to 2011, when Debra Aubin sold the store to previously mentioned veteran employee Scarlet Jory, and her new business partner Valerie Laville. Re-envisioning the store, Scarlet and Valerie have been working endlessly to stock the shelves with new and interesting magical tools, books, and curios. A new addition in the fall of 2011 was offering alternative healing sessions with specialists in Reiki, Shiatsu, and Osteopathy. 


And that brings us to today; OUR 21st BIRTHDAY! 


We are still here, going strong, and continually trying to bring in new and exciting stock, but with a renewed vision and a focus on traditional tools and getting back to basics. As the community around us and our customers grew from budding Wiccans and Pagans, we too grew with them, but the change of hands from Debra to Scarlet and Valerie gives us a renewed appreciation for those new spiritual explorers and their needs! 


We also are exploring new ideas for specialty occult and magical products; hand made altar clothes, wooden altar patens, magical sachets, and maybe even Ouija boards are all things created by hand by staff members and their families. (Imagine a love sachet, knitted by hand, with love by Valerie’s mom! Or, a wooden altar paten from Scarlet’s dad, a woodworking specialist. That’s powerful magic right there!) 


We are also revamping, bit by bit, our original product lines and their labels and packaging. This includes creating new products like our specialized Deity Offering Kits, but it also means new labels and signs are in the works! Yes, you guys heard right, our trademark Wizard (you might remember him from our Moonwise Creations labels, or our front door) is going to be retired. He’s old, and sleepy, and wants to find a nice chalet in Mont Tremblant where he can make potions in peace! We wish him well! 


Today we are 21, but we have a rejuvenated energy. The staff members are excited to be here during this time of renewal, and we are happy to be part of this long-standing cultural hub! 


 


With that said, a word from Scarlet, one of our new owners:


We are the place where magic happens, and will continue to be a community hub where practitioners of any faith can find information, and supplies, as well as guidance.

Our mission statement has been the same for so long, but I still feel it holds true. I’m so happy to be doing this! 


Mission Statement: The Magical Blend is dedicated to offering a complete selection of products oriented towards the followers of all alternative spiritual paths, including Wicca, Paganism, Magick, Goddess Spirituality, Witchcraft, and Santeria. Blessed be!

P.S. To anyone ‘in the know’; Lady Calendula is doing well, and sends her regards!

1 comment:

Kelly J said...

My friend and I stumbled upon the store as teenagers, probably around 1994-95. We were just discovering Wicca, so it was an interesting coincidental experience.

I was there for the opening ritual of the MPRC and served as a volunteer for a year or two. I led rituals for the MPRC also.

I have watched the store evolve and change and though I hardly consider myself Pagan anymore, I still see the store as a valuable sanctuary and resource for the mystically inclined.

Happy Anniversary and here's to another prosperous 21 years! :)