Vanessa Mifsud is a woman of two worlds.
By day she is a mild-mannered sales representative for RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage, but by night she is the co-owner of Hocus Pocus Witchery on Toronto’s trendy Queen Street West— an occult artifact shop and theme bar for those who practice witchcraft or are simply curious.
A proud witch herself, Mifsud revealed to us how this often misunderstood brand of spirituality plays a role in both her personal and professional life, including in the performance of rituals to root out negative energy and bring positive vibes to newly purchased homes for open-minded clients.
Below, she tells us how witchcraft is practised in modern times around the world, and how this aspect of her life has both benefited and been benefited by her real estate business.
How did you get started in real estate originally?
His father was in real estate and so was he. They thought I’d be good at real estate, so that’s basically how it began.
What keeps you in the business now?
It’s as if I’m a part of my clients’ lives in some sort of way and obviously the money is good when you’re selling multiple properties.
What did you do before real estate?
Before real estate, I was a make-up artist and I worked several office jobs. In make-up, I did smaller video shoots and the makeup for fashion models.
What separates you from the other real estate agents working in Toronto from a service perspective?
Well, my husband has been a psychic and spiritual healer in the Portuguese community, but from there, a lot of other communities have come around. Let’s say they’re selling their house and if they want, he would do an exorcism on their house. It would help us sell it a lot faster and a lot better than if they were to not ask him to do it.
Beyond that, how do you help your clients adjust to the ultra-competitive Toronto market?
I show them what’s going on in their immediate area, so they have an idea right off the bat. Everyone has an idea of what their house is worth and every buyer knows what they’re going to pay, but they also have fantasies and ideas of what they want.
If they’re looking in a certain area and only want to spend $700,000, but they’re looking at a $1.2 million home and it’s what they want, they need to know that off the bat.
Real estate is only part of what you do, how did the Hocus Pocus Witchery come into your life?
My husband owned a spiritual store in Port Credit.
I was like, “Oh, this is interesting,” so I walked in there and that’s how I met him. Eventually, we opened up our own spiritual store in Mississauga.
During that time I was selling real estate and I always wanted to be on Queen Street West because I know a lot of business owners have different businesses on that street and I always thought it would be a great idea. We started shopping around and then I saw a unit with a liquor license at Queen and Bathurst. The idea started flowing of having a witch bar and that’s how Hocus Pocus came to be.
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What can people expect when they walk into Hocus Pocus?
We opened on Halloween in 2017, so we hit our one year this Wednesday. At first, it took a while for our liquor license to get transferred, so we only had witchcraft items.
Believe it or not, there’s a lot of different types of witchcraft. Just like there are world religions, depending on where you go in the world they have their own type of witchcraft. We try to cater to all of them.
We have books, tarot cards, candles, oils, herbs, incense, matches and we even have our own dark arts section. We have skulls, crystals and different divination tools like pendulums. Then, we have a bar.
With our bar, all of our drinks are themed. They smoke and bubble like a potion and are served in different glassware. Some of them come in clear skull glasses and some of them come in graduated cylinders — it all depends on what you order.
What are examples of different types of witchcraft around the world?
If you go to Cuba for example, they practice Santeria. They don’t mention it as witchcraft. For them, it’s a religion, but it is a form of witchcraft I would say. If you go to Italy, they practice something called Stregheria, which translates to “witch” in Italian. Of course, in North America, we practice Paganism and Wicca. If you go to Haiti, they practice Voodoo, but if you go to Africa, they practice Hoodoo. There are many, many, many, many types.
What got you into witchcraft and alternative spirituality?
I did tarot readings when I was a little girl, so I guess I’ve always been into it. I don’t really know how it began. I think I found it fascinating. It’s maybe a little more open-minded than typical religion. It’s always been a part of my life, but not that major – until now.
How do you typically apply it to your life now?
Cleansing spaces. Sometimes when a buyer is buying a house from me, I’ll go in and sage it for them.
That’s so nice of you! You’re all about energy then, right?
Yeah. Hopefully more positive than negative.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this, but people used to say that if you ever go on vacation to a resort — or stay in a hotel in general — and if there was a couple that was fighting in that room previously, that energy still lingers there, so you’re going to have a bad trip and have to cleanse the space.
Is cleansing new homes a service you offer your new home buying clients?
I usually don’t mention it at all. It depends on where the client is coming from.
If I get a referral from my husband, he’s known for being spiritual his whole life and all sorts of things like that, especially the Southern Europeans — they’re very into that. If they come from him, I usually get him to do what they want him to do and sometimes he makes me pay him for it, but that’s okay, I’m not going to turn them away.
How do you balance your two paths: real estate and running The Hocus Pocus Witchery?
I don’t know how I’m doing it to be honest. I also have a two-year-old, so I don’t sleep and I don’t eat.
Although, there is an advantage to pairing House Pocus with real estate because I don’t have to be at a certain location at all times. Real estate is pretty mobile and each showing maybe lasts around three hours tops and then you no longer have to be anywhere.