About the owner

Maria Madrigal

Maria's love and knowledge of plants and herbs goes back to the days of her childhood. She grew up in Costa Rica where her home town was Alajuelita on the edge of San Jose. When she was a about twelve, she lived with her aunt and uncle to the north, in the mountains of Heredia. At five o'clock every morning Maria went out to the farms and plantations where she worked with herbs, picked coffee, harvested vegetables and helped with farm animals so that by an early age she was familiar with the plants and herbs native to much of Central America.

Maria came from a part of the world where herbal remedies and close contact with the realm of the spirit were natural routes to well-being, where mental and physical health were long considered to be one and the same. Healers and shamans or curanderos and psychic counselling were an old and established part of ordinary life, even in the city, long before they became popular North America.

In 1987, Maria came to Canada and married. She has two children. It was a long jump from rural Costa Rica to the sprawling metropolis of Toronto. Right away, she missed the mountains of her home country and her homesickness has never entirely left her. Yet, she felt at home again whenever she visited Toronto's green houses and nurseries and especially the tropical greenhouses at Allan Gardens and Edward Gardens.

Very often we get a hint of our vocation in childhood but we forget and move on. Years later, something rings a bell and it's reawakened. In Toronto, Maria worked at different jobs until she rediscovered herbs. Almost everything she sought could be obtained in and around Toronto; but the important thing is to know exactly what you're looking for, how to use it, and how to process it and that's where Maria rediscovered her expertise and her vocation.

Many would have thought Maria was asking for trouble after she set up a greenhouse for tropical plants and herbs in her backyard in Toronto only to suffer through the cold winters. Twice she lost nearly everything in power blackouts during cold snaps, but where many would have given up, Maria found the traces of green in the roots and stems below the soil, brought much of it back and re-planted the rest.

Maria has deepened her knowledge of Vedic wisdom and of spiritual well-being through assistance at the Siddha Yoga Centre. She has also become well-versed in the Ayurvedic herbal healing of ancient India. In 2000 she opened the store at 966 College St. and it soon became Maria's Mystical Herbs. She lives in the neighbourhood and supplies herbs, fresh and dried, from the greenhouse and her large garden along with incense, pot pourrie, curios and books on working with herbs, eastern religion and yoga.

Maria's Mystical Herbs isn't just another "New Age" store, it's unique and you won't find any place like it. Come in and see for yourself.

- Written by Hugh Graham