‘We are normal but we have beliefs': Witchcraft bookshop celebrates its 96th birthday

Atlantis Bookshop had to trade 'discreetly' for first 30 years

Thursday, 5th April 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Geraldine and Bali Beskin, whose shop The Atlantis Bookshop in Bloomsbury, pictured left, celebrated its 96th birthday last week

Geraldine and Bali Beskin at The Atlantis Bookshop in Bloomsbury

A BOOKSHOP that had to trade “discreetly” for 30 years due to witchcraft laws has thanked customers on its 96th birthday.

The Atlantis Bookshop in Museum Street, Bloomsbury, specialises in works on magic and witchcraft and is run by mother and daughter, Geraldine and Bali Beskin. They celebrated the shop’s step closer to a centenary with tea and cake last week.

“The shop was founded in 1922 when witchcraft was illegal, so it was running discreetly. It became legalised in 1951,” said Geraldine Beskin. “After the war there were people wanting life to be not as it had been. It was the re-greening of the country.” She added: “On the shop’s birthday, customers were vying to say how long their association with here has been. We have some customers saying they have been coming for 32 years with their parents. It’s a great place because new friendships are formed by it.”

Her daughter added: “We are normal but we have beliefs and act on them. Witchcraft is an earth-based, nature-based religion which acts with the seasons. It’s magical, which is Western, not mystical, which is Eastern. Our door is open to everyone.”

The pair have been running the shop together for 16 years after buying it in 2002. Bali Beskin said: “When kids come in here I tell them this is what you would study if you were at Hogwarts. People have called us the entrance of Dragon Alley.”

Her mother added: “Since JK Rowling, it’s now acceptable to go through a magical phase, happily for us.”

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