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Haunted Metaphysical Book Store

A ghost hunt and paranormal investigation of a well known Miami Metaphysical Bookstore in haunted Florida. This is the real thing ... OR SO THEY SAY IT WAS!

Athene Book Store is gone. It is now a Insurance company but the ghost story lives on..... Those Who work there now say the place is very haunted!

The haunted Occult Book Store shop was located at, 6645 South Dixie Hwy, US Hwy 1, Dadeland North Shopping Center, Miami, Florida 33143

Story and Ghost Photos submitted by Clare Jenkins of Haunted Miami, Florida Ghost Hunters

Athene Books and Collectibles specializes in beautiful gifts of all kinds, from fine, imported crystal and jewelry, to many one-of-a-kind items from Africa, India, Europe, and other exotic locations and a multitude of precious occult treasures that would interest any avid collector. Athene's loving motto is "Food for the Mind and Body" and it is one of the few purveyors of unique goods that has received the endorsement of World Famous Psychic Mickey of Miami.

There is a place where magic still exists in Miami. Its story unfolds like only a fairy tale could, with true love. Like any timeless legend there is excitement, tragedy and heartfelt joy. Now let me tell you the tale of what was Athene.

Charlie met Mary in New York at a boutique trade show on September 15, 1980. No one could have seen it coming but the two found themselves in love. Mary was talked into moving to Miami within 6 weeks and both became Pinecrest residents. He asked her after being here for a couple of months what she wanted to do. She said she wanted to open a metaphysical bookstore and offer hard to find supplies to Wiccan followers as well as seeker of knowledge. In February 1981 they opened a small bookstore in the back of his already successful gift store on Bird Rd. They found some suppliers and started going to marts and shows around the country and later around the world to find unique merchandise for Mary's new store. In 1982 she found a location in Coconut Grove and her second location was born. Athene is the name she used for a retail consulting company she started in Washington, DC before she met Charlie. Her background was in the retail women's clothing business where she managed and ran a group of stores in the 70's. She had an art student design the logo and since it is the Crete spelling for the Greek goddess Athena whom is the protectorate of the city and goddess of knowledge she felt it was perfect for the store name. She became Athene in her editorials in the newsletter she started in 1984. Athene has been an oasis of relaxation and peacefulness in a city of multicultural tensions and strife since it's inception.

Some people believe that Mary's dedication to her little Haunted Miami, Florida shop, and the fact that the famous as well as the pedestrian held it dear, was a main factor in protecting Athene from the intense fury of devastating Hurricane Andrew. When the colossal storm battered through Florida in 1992, the shopping area around Athene, including the strip shopping mall where it is located, was entirely destroyed -- Athene, however, was left untouched. And by what Charles Birnholz, says it was the power of the two magical Peacock metal statues Mary so dearly cherished and so loved.

Athene's reputation for oddity only increased after the death of Mary Birnholz, who passed unexpectedly on January 17, 2001. Odd events began immediately following her death leading many to believe that Mary Birnholz, who held the little shop so dear, was still present and lovingly managing it from beyond the grave ...


It has offered music, books, knowledge, classes, informative articles in its newsletter and a place of positive energy filled with powerful crystals and gifts to combat the negatives of such a diverse metropolitan city. Mary created Athene and poured all her energy into the store and buying of books and merchandise for the pleasure and enjoyment of her customers. Her energy and inspiration also extended to the Athene website, Athene, Inc (www.atheneonline.com).

She always wanted to be remembered for her contribution to the community in supplying what was missing in other businesses and hoped Athene would be remembered as a positive energy in a city of apathy and indifference.

Mary has been commended for the service Athene has provided and the resilience she has shown in rebuilding after Hurricane Andrew even in the face of her many medical disabilities. She regularly corresponded with the President and his wife Hillary regarding immigration and healthcare among other subjects. She received a letter from our congresswoman leana Ros-Letinen when the present location opened in 1997. Charlie even received a condolence card from Bill and Hillary Clinton upon her passing. The focus of Athene moved to health and healing as the 80's moved along due `to Mary's diabetes and all the complications that go along with it. She searched for information that might help her and others with medical problems that modern science was still learning about.


The original focus was never lost but through the years new avenues were added to the format of the store to broaden the appeal and make the store a unique experience. In January of this year everything would change for the loving couple and the store. Mary went into the hospital for a procedure and after two months of complications, passed away. leaving a husband devastated and a community saddened.

After Mary's passing in January Athene once again was hit with tragedy. In March both a flood from a neighbors broken water pipe and then an electrical fire due to faulty repairs again threw Athene's fate into question. Although much of the store was not burned, the damage from the smoke and the damage to Charlie's heart made him reexamine the future of the store. Water is a symbol of cleansing. To our Everglades fire is sign of rebirth, a time to move into the new. This became the theme behind the reopening of Athene. With a constant array of problems from the insurance company to the construction, it has been a constant uphill battle for everyone in the Athene family but out of the darkness there was a beautiful light. This light is the new hope for Athene and all it stands for; the woman who was its inspiration, the destined love that brought her here, the guidance it brings to those who are seeking, and the everyday customers who come in for a breath of something sacred.


On January 18, 2001, a shipment of Ghost Balls (used by occultists partly as decor and partly to capture troublesome ghosts wherever they may be) arrived as scheduled and this is when most say the haunting of Athene truly began. As soon as the Ghost Balls were inventoried and placed around the shop for sale, strange events began to occur. Each morning the shop management would be astounded to find the ghost balls had moved overnight. Sometimes there were subtle differences, one ball, for instance, moved from one side of a large display case to the other; sometimes the movements were obvious and completely unexplainable: Once a ghost ball was found in the employee's break area -- INSIDE the small refrigerator used by the employees to keep their lunch and perishable foods.


Over the years, the ghost balls from that shipment were sold, and there have been reports of strange occurrences, one of whom is Famous Mickey of Miami. She calls her ghost ball "Mary" and has given it a place of honor on her bedroom vanity. "I like to think Mary is looking out for me, too," Mickey has said.


A single Ghost Ball from that original shipment is kept in the store today as a memento mori, a little reminder of the ever present watchful eye of Mary Birnholz.

If pennies are offered for thoughts, as the old saying goes, then one of the entities that haunts Athene has a growing interest in what its patrons are thinking ... Pennies can show up anywhere in the shop. Sometimes they are sitting there on the counters or floors as if dropped haphazardly and perhaps by anyone. But other times pennies are found in places they should not be -- in an unused plastic bag, in a sealed box, in the bottom of a sealed bag of sugar -- and it is these "spirit coins" that puzzle both management and patrons alike. Like mysterious "crop circles," the pennies sometimes seem to have been methodically placed in specific patterns: circles, triangles, and the classic Celtic "triskele" seem the most popular patterns, but the placement varies. And the appearance of these pennies is made even more strange when one takes into account that they have apparently been placed there deliberately and after the shop has been cleaned and locked for the night. It was Mickey of Miami who, upon scrutiny of one such penny-crop circle (as the patterns are affectionately called) discovered an interesting and significant fact: all of the pennies were minted in the lifetime of Mary Birnholz (1939 - 2001). There are none older and none minted past 2001. Mickey, of course, believes that it is Mary herself placing the coins, and some long-time patrons of the shop have reported finding similar patterns of pennies on the floors, counters and steps of their own homes. Can this be Mary's way of sending largesse from the other side?

Mary is survived by her husband Charles Birnholz, and it is he who now owns and operates this latest incarnation of his wife's beloved Athene. Charles, like many other friends and patrons, firmly believes that Mary is still a very real and active part of the family business, but he admits that it takes a very special person to work in the shop.

"Not everyone can put up with the little signs of Mary's continuing presence," he says "Things moving, the typical bumps and footsteps, disembodied voices and fragments of favorite songs -- to me, it's like still having Mary around. But sometimes we get an employee who finds it hard to adapt to an unseen shop manager. And I fully understand this." In life, Charles continued, Mary often showed her displeasure in subtle ways. "She was not temperamental, but the occasional outburst would occur." He believes that even today, when Mary does not approve of a business decision or the placement of inventory, or has misgivings about a client or patron, she still vividly contributes her opinion.

Charles readily recalled the time when he was considering moving several of Mary's favorite items (used as shop decor and not offered for sale). "I wanted to change things up a bit," he said, "bring some new energy in." But he soon abandoned his plan when one night, completely alone in the shop and moving some minor brick a brack, he was astounded by the sound of shaking and rattling. His eyes were immediately drawn to a set of metal and enamel Oriental Victorian peacocks, rattling and shaking of their own volition.

"I said out loud: 'OK, Mary, when you want this stuff moved, you let me know.' The rattling immediately stopped." As a side note, the peacocks, which Mary acquired by mysterious means and owned prior to her marriage to Charles Birnholz, have all the attributes of real "Guardians" of the shop and the people in it. Charles relates that Mary often credited the gilded birds with helping to fend off the ravages of Hurricane Andrew.

Paranormal encounters are an almost daily occurrence, and their frequency has increased dramatically since Mickey of Miami began performing readings for several of her most prestigious clients in the confines of the shop. Originally thought of as a favor to her old friend Charles, Mickey's readings have apparently been the catalyst to all sorts of previously unreported paranormal events.

Patrons and employees have reported witnessing actual levitations while Mickey is on the premises. Heavy objects, solid balls of quartz and crystal, have reportedly lifted as much as 1 to 2 inches in front of several witnesses while Mickey is conducting her sessions. Magical tools, antique occult items, and even simple bottles of oils relocate seemingly right under the noses of employees and for the first time there are reports of ghostly sightings in the shop.


Even Mickey of Miami is not immune to the encounters. aand she feels many, many real outside ghost come and visit Athene very often not that just of Mary. "I have left my reading room and come back only to find whole decks of cards spread out across the table where I had just neatly stacked my deck," she says. "One of my favorite crystal balls went missing for three days and turned up without a big fanfare on the fourth day, back on its stand where I last saw it." Though many people would be rattled by such direct encounters, and others might take it a bit "too" personal, Mickey is entirely prosaic: "Mary was a great friend of mine in life and we often talked about how we might communicate with each other, once one of us had passed on to the other side. It's just Mary's way of telling me she's still around, and I find it extremely comforting to know I'll see her again someday."

Dr. Elham Kharabi Acupuncturist physician and is a practitioner of oriental medicine who specializes in hypnotism, chinese herbology, and massage therapy. he also teaches Chi Kung and Tai Chi. He is available to shop patrons where he is commonly known as" Dr. Feel Good."

Kharabi may have had the most dramatic experience yet with the ghost of Mary Birnholz. While staying late in the shop one evening to pick out a selection of Oriental herbs and oils from a new shipment, Dr. Kharabi heard a female voice say "Hello!" Looking up from his task, he was struck dumb by the sight of Mary Birnholz's image, only head and shoulders visible. "She looked right at me and said, 'Welcome Dr. Feel Good!' The next minute, she was gone!" Dr. Kharabi admits that the very NEXT minute he, too, was "gone" having decided to make his selections the next day when the shop was open for business as usual!

Athene hosts several Psychic Fairs each year and employees and patrons are often treated to small reminders that Mary is still around. During one recent Fair the shop's music abruptly stopped and simply restarted by itself; upon investigation, nothing unusual was found with the stereo system. On another occasion a patron turned away for a moment and placed his bag with a recent purchase on the shop counter; when he turned back to it, the bag was missing. Theft was at first suspected, until the patron's bag was discovered hanging from the beak of one of Mary's Guardian peacocks ....

Fair participants and other psychics have suggested that Mary's is not the only energy clinging to the shop. Charles Birnholz has pondered who the other entities in the shop might be and he believes that this must be the remnant energy of someone who loved the shop as much as Mary did or to whom the shop was an important psychic support system. Photos taken during the Psychic Fairs, lectures and other shop events are riddled with orbs and other evidence of ghostly energy, including shadows and what looks to be a vortex in several photos. Since many of the photographs have been submitted by patrons, Charles Birnholz cannot testify to the veracity of the evidence, but says he would not be surprised to find the evidence true.

Lynette, a local astrologer renowned as much for her talents as for her amazing resemblance to famous New Orleans Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, states without hesitation that the spirit of Mary Birnholz is very active but "not alone." I know that their or many ghost in this shop. I feel them here, and see them and hear them everyday." Lynette feels people bring ghost with them to Athene, and the sprits just find the place so happy so pleasent they stay and visit us for a while.

Ms. Edith, Known as the great Miami Aroma therapy Queen, who also manages the store, states that she knows for certain when Mary is around: "She's helped me find the shop keys when I'm in a hurry to get out and has also set the shop alarm for me!" But Edith agrees that there may be spirits of other "old friends" still clinging to the shop.

Other members of the Athene staff including Christina a trance Medium, Josie, Kim, Jon The Cuban King of Miami Magic and Tina "The Sage Queen" have all had experiences or ghostly encounters with the ghost of Mary Birnholz or one of the other spirits abounding in the shop, and are happy to tell about them. None of them has reported feeling threatened or frightened at any time. "It's always present," says Tina, "it's something that you are always aware of, like when you have a co-worker present in the next room: only this co-worker is invisible ... "

Mickey of Miami is heading a full scale investigation into these interesting Haunted possibilities in the Athene Miami Shop. She has set up many camera's and has quite a few EVP"s. " Sometimes I just sit here and feel the pleasent love they offer me. othertimes they speak to me clearly ." Says Mickey of Miami." I enjoy the Shop very much and The ghost just make it a happier place for me to be."

Athene, named for the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, stocks many hard to find magical supplies and rarities, and can obtain many items for the true occultist upon request. Athene has been a metaphysical source in the South Florida area for nearly 20 years with access to thousands of books, audio's, gifts and accessories. Their focus is health and healing with an overview of alternative philosophies and religions.



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