Smells Like Spells / You don’t Need to Go to Bali to Make Magic

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Some torturing, some begging, zero bribing – nothing helped with these two while trying to reveal daily-humanly-basics of their routines. Mostly because Vilius Malinauskas and Marius Bartkevicius – the two magicians behind Smells Like Spells – are usually in their studio, scattering darkness with handmade candles, creating rituals for us, having no time for own daily leisure-fun-lazy stuff. And it’s not a complaint; they are not some working-class heroes, just some magicians doing their job. 

by RINGAILE PAPARTYTE

photos LAMU SLENIS / LINA JUSHKE  

Was it a Third Quarter, a Fool Moon or some specific stars constellation that made a theatre director and a lawyer realize that making candles, incenses and creating magic around all of it might be their real path? 

Vilius: In my case, no radical change was made. Theatre comes from a ritual and it was always near, together with Tarot Cards that I work with. Many people were curious and encouraging – we realized that rituals are needed these days. So, we found a way to make the right tools for anybody in need of a little help. 

Candles became these tools. They are magical objects, used in churches and different ceremonies, I was always interested in. And that interest helped me to combine the right colours, scents and mark it with the right rune signs. Candles symbolize fire, and other elements filled the collection gradually. Incenses are the tribute to air, all the smells come from water and the copper symbolizes earth. 

Marius: Well, as a lawyer I definitely wasn’t an expert of all the magic around the candles and spells. But the inner nerd led me to learn more, understand what’s a simple candle and the magical one – all natural and handmade. I guess it was the process that tempted me, and the law is also about the process. What a combo.

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photo: Lamu Slenis / Lina Jushke

Any school graduate could be jealous – choosing the essentials of your lives so easily. Any 9 to 5 manager that can’t stand his office job, but “oh well, it is For a Lifetime”, would be jealous too.

Marius: I was a teenager myself. And the law is cool when you are a teenager, only later you understand that maybe the World is not going to magically change by what you do. But if that little hope is still there, you are welcome to try other ways pursuing it. So, it wasn’t a shortage, more of a curiosity that put me here in this studio, learning about spells. 

Vilius: This is where the witches win. They have the courage to change careers and other stuff they want anytime they want. None of the things are for a lifetime, especially if these things were chosen by your mother, granny or some influencer you follow. There was nothing scandalous or hysterical about the change in our case, any seek for self-realization too. We didn’t need to go to Bali. Just to visit the studio way more often. Like literally everyday now. 

We all know how all the work and no play made Jack a dull boy. Not afraid of becoming that Jack-guy one day?

Vilius:  This year we made a task for ourselves – finding more free time, at least regular day-offs. Because it is good and healthy for you, no kidding.

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photo: Lamu Slenis / Lina Jushke

Any human rituals on that free time you have once in a month now and will probably have once in a week if completing the task of this year?

Vilius: You make rituals when you have time for them. Looks like we didn’t have much of it during the past 3 years. There was a time when I thought I would definitely lose my mind without a cup of coffee and a cigarette, though. And guess what, I quit. Life is still going. Not much into routine-rituals, as you can see, but still there is one way of recharging I would love to use more – swimming. 

Marius. Not sure if now is the time to lie about some sophisticated rituals I should probably have? Ok, I’ll be honest, now, while learning to live a humanly life, I find myself very comfortable while lazy lying in bed, doing nothing. Our clients, they come for a ritual, so our daily life is sunken in it – the ritual of giving some advice and helping. 

Maybe people try to approach you on the street, I mean not the times when you are walking with your gorgeous dog Luna, but when they want to get some pieces of destiny advice or predictions? 

Vilius: This didn’t happen yet. And I’m not sure if it should, because these are much more intimate, subtle and complex things, you should leave for some backstage matters. 

And while in that backstage, what truths do they want to hear?

Vilius: Good things are the hottest. Most people are concerned about money, love and career. Classics. By the way, during the period of this Christmas, Lithuanians got crazy about health and purification. 

And if it would be something less bright-fluffy-all very well, if they should face darkness, how would it smell?

Vilius: The Moon card is here for you. Water lilies, figs, white musk, opium and sandal are hiding somewhere there in the shadows.

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photo: Lamu Slenis / Lina Jushke

Not the worst company to be left in the dark. But let’s imagine for a moment – these buddies and all other smells are gone. Only one is left on our planet Earth. Which one would you choose to lead you through the days?

Marius:  Easy, a smell of The World – this one contains the essentials. Olives, orange, cinnamon, liquorice and almonds. Quite a sweet bunch of companions. 

Vilius: Opopanax would be my choice. It is one of the myrrh trees, rich in scents of resin, yeast and mushrooms. Would remind me of a forest, I guess. 

Would it be forest if you had spare 60 hrs – the time your candles usually burn – and could escape to any place in the World? Or further.

Marius: Oh, not Bali definitely (laughing).

Vilius: I’m heading to this little town of Peniche in Portugal on my mind. All filled with afternoon Sun, the fort in the horizon, some fish drying, and you meet approximately zero people that day. 

Marius: The Caribbean would be nice repeating, different islands maybe. Would also love to check out South America – Inca Civilization, just to understand that we didn’t create anything new lately. 60 hrs would probably be too little for this trip, but maybe we could light a few candles in a row at the time of my escape? 

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photo: Lamu Slenis / Lina Jushke

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