Magus Books draws many religions to its offerings

by Maggie Hessel-Mial

The strong scent of incense greets first, but just as quickly takes a back seat to the overpowering visual stimuli Magus Books has to offer.

A seemingly endless barrage of posters, candles, books, jewelry, cards and herbs decorate the Dinkytown haven designed to aid the search for religious and spiritual growth.

Of Persian origin, Magus means “juggler,” or “one who handles many things,” according to employee Joseph Amara. The name was chosen because of the wide variety of religions and cultures represented in the shop.

“We support basically every current religion, and many old religions, too,” Amara said. “Anything that helps anyone express their individuality.”

Roger Williamson introduced Magus Books, Ltd. to the public in September 1992. The store began as a small space catering to people looking into alternative religions – such as Wicca and Druidism – as well as more mainstream theologies.

Magus is lined with books on subjects ranging from Taoism to Qi Gong, representing the largest collection of ecclectic writings in the Twin Cities, Amara said.

The bookstore, which is also a publishing company, has only one physical location but has a broad customer base on the Internet as well.

“We have customers from just about every country in the world,” Amara said.

Drawing from all over the five-state area, most patrons of the Dinkytown locale are loyal customers whose faces become familiar to the small staff. But Amara said the business sees over 100 customers per day, an unexpected amount for such an obscure venue.

The evidence of the store’s success was in the 10 to 15 customers of all ages who milled about early Sunday afternoon. Many were examining the jars of herbs dotting the periphery of the cluttered room.

Among them Amara pointed out the Mojo Wishing Beans – an example of the rare items that can be found at the shop. Followers of the Santerian religion believe wishing on a Mojo bean and planting it brings about spiritual wellness.

Amara explained while the herbs commonly serve in religious ceremonies, many are used for cooking and healing as well.

The outlet also boasts an expanse of music, including techno, trance, hymns and chanting. “Anything that has a spiritual effect,” Amara said.

His words echo the ultimate goal of the store, as all of it – books, herbs, music – is meant to further the growth process and the search for understanding.

“It’s a place where anybody can come and explore,” Amara said. “Even if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll find it.”


Shira Kantor welcomes comments at
[email protected] and Maggie
Hessel-Mial welcomes comments at [email protected]