Cosy and welcoming, with a clear front window and an open plan display, allowing passers-by to see every inch of the shop, Atlantis is a far cry from how the oldest occult shop in London should look. ‘We wanted it to look like that', says Geraldine Beskin, the owner, ‘it's good for people to see how normal we really are.'
The media, apparently, is surprised with the look - film crews are regularly in the shop, but its contemporary design is rarely what the writers intended. Not spooky enough, you see, and the staff aren't wearing velvet cloaks and too much eye-liner.
The rumours are ten-a-penny. Some have spoken of a dead body found hanging in there, black magic rites are said to have been conducted, a full Golden Dawn temple was reportedly run in the basement. ‘Unfortunately not', laughs Geraldine. Her father was associated with the shop for ten years, and owned it until 1965, a fact which was predicted to him years earlier, and she ran it throughout the '70 till 1982 and owned it for the past 18 months. Facts, however, are better than fiction here. Since the shop's opening, it was popular with the magickal scene. Other mystical shops were not comfortable with hard-core witches and magicians, and therefore Spare, Crowley , Gerald Gardner, Dion Fortune, A.E. Waite, Ross Nicholls and others would gather downstairs, exchange opinions and create history. Here Neptune press published Gardner 's ‘High Magic's Aid' and Crowley's ‘777', here was the first time that the Druid solar festivals were combined with the Wiccan ones to create the Wheel of the Year.
…And the future's just as bright as the past. 30 books were launched in the shop last year, Neptune press is to be revived, ready to publish out-of-print material and new manuscripts. There's no stopping now!
What would Geraldine's only regret be? ‘I missed meeting Gerald Gardner by 10 minutes thanks to London busses. As an asthmatic called Geraldine, I would have loved to have met an asthmatic called Gerald, but it never happened.'