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There is nothing more powerful than magic

14 February 2013 / 20:02:34  GRReporter
10266 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Upon entering the small shop with the mysterious name "The Witches of Smyrna”, the visitor is lost in a different atmosphere. The decoration and the furniture are reminiscent of the luxuriously decorated halls of the 19th century and the mystery that fills the small colourful bottles and covers of books entitled "The Witches of Smyrna", "Book of Spells", "Katina’s Pack" is hard to describe.

We talked with Mara Meimaridi in the room behind the reception hall, where she receives her visitors whom she consults about issues of the ''heart''. She is an anthropologist, a teacher at the Medical University of Athens. She graduated in philosophy at Athens University, in archaeology at the Sorbonne and studied biology and medical anthropology in parallel as wells as participating in studies on child health for years. In recent years, she has been writing articles for major Greek newspapers, mainly on topics related to nutrition and continues with her studies, which this time include astrophysics and cosmology at the American University of UMD.

"The Witches of Smyrna" is her first novel, which has had remarkable success in Greece, Turkey, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. The story of the female character Katina was filmed in Greece.

Writer Mara Miymaridi is a grand niece of the witch Katina. She firmly believes and states in her book that her aunt Katina was reborn in her. That is why she explains in the novel her strong will and aspiration for the knowledge of magic, including her incredible success - personal and professional.
Smyrna, 1887. Katina was a smart and determined woman from Smyrna. In the poor neighbourhoods where she had been living, she met a Turkish woman Atar, who consecrated her into magic. Nothing could stop the witch and Katina aimed to climb up the ladder of Smyrna’s society. Lovr filters, charms, spells - magic proved infallible... She managed to marry four times – each of the men being more handsome and richer than the previous one. Climbing the social ladder, Katina was involved in their businesses - tobacco, olive oil, banks, ships, and trade. And one day, she became the mistress of Smyrna, a personal friend of the Sultan at the time and his first wife, who was also dedicated to magic.

Her notes, spells and magic were found in a dusty chest in her villa on the island of Aegina one hundred years after her death. And the story begins from there.


When people hear the word "magic", they react in different ways. Some fear it, others ignore it, a third group says "what nonsense this is" and there are those who are inspired with respect. Actually, magic is wisdom. In Old Persian, "mag" means a wise man. Magus and magnus mean great, wise. Every nation, village, community or group of people has always had its magician. He or she was the most experienced person, familiar with all the traits of human character and the feelings. People considered that person wise and trusted his or her opinion.

Gradually, this "mag" had become the physician of the village. He knew all the herbs because as humans we are subject to substances. Today, all medicines are based on herbs and the magician had the knowledge of them.

On the other hand, he knew not only the character of the people, but of each man individually. In the villages, people know each other.  They know how they will react in a specific situation, what scares them. For example, in the village where my aunt is living, the oldest resident knows which candidate each of the residents will support during elections. And because these people know the others, they know their repetitions. I mean that people continually repeat the scenario of their lives. A bad man always does bad things, etc. When you do the same thing, the result of your actions will always be the same.

So, people visited the magician for different reasons: to gain strength, blessing, joy. Magic was the first religion long before the appearance of the other ones. Magicians were something like today's psychoanalysts. Magic, spells, cards, etc., on the one hand, are tools of self-concentration for the magician himself because the magician uses only one thing: his mind. On the other hand, they are a means of channelling the energy to the body. The man who goes to a magician always bears a pain, fear, problem.

Mara Meimaridi's reception hall

In the old days, the magician did exactly the work of psychoanalysts today. Even telling someone's fortune by cards is a very serious thing, because it is actually a binary session: the person shares his/her concerns and the magician who reads the cards has a talk with him/her. I.e. we are talking about a real psychoanalysis here. Then, all the women of the village gathered together at the home of the oldest one every Friday, who was called "manda," to read the cards. It was a group therapy in fact. Each of the women spoke of her problem and half of it disappeared only by mentioning it.

Tags: LiteratureMagicMara MeimaridiThe Witches of SmyrnaLoveSaint Valentine
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