Thursday, March 02, 2006

The occult shop

Seven Rays, Syracuse's occult bookstore, is closing its doors this spring after many years in business. The closing of independent bookstores in the era of Amazon, Border's, and Barnes & Noble has been a difficult thing for book lovers to witness. I regularly made the long trip to Syracuse to visit its first-rate women's bookstore, My Sisters' Words, which closed a couple of years ago (I sat on the front steps and wept at my last visit). Seven Rays has served as a resource for me, but I've never liked the store. Its collection, though wide - from UFOs to Buddhism - wasn't deep; I couldn't reliably find either the new books or the classics I was looking for. The sales staff wasn't knowledgeable about the books and other products they sold. I overheard many a conversation among the staff while I was browsing, and it was always banal gossip. The herbs they sold looked dusty and old, and I could never get a reliable answer about the source of their large collection of crystals. Sadly, it's hard to mourn the passing of Seven Rays.

It's got to be difficult to run an occult shop or bookstore these days. I can't imagine it's a way to make money. Stores close all the time; I spent a disappointing afternoon in Cleveland trying to track down the stores listed on The Witches' Voice. Word to the wise: phone first. But there are some wonderful spiritually alternative bookstores and occult shops out there. Crazy Wisdom, in Ann Arbor, is my favorite. And if you're in northern Michigan, The Higher Self, in Traverse City, is worth a visit. Other stores in my neck of the woods that look good, but that I haven't yet visited, include the new Avalon Moon, in Delhi, NY (near Oneonta, for you upstaters); and Goddess of the Seven Sisters, in lovely Northampton, MA (crap - the brick and mortar is gone, but you can still shop on-line). I'm also a fan of Moonrise Herbs in Arcata, CA.

Do you have a favorite bricks-and-mortar occult bookstore or shop?

8 comments:

Tina Treason said...

When I was young, I loved to visit Dreamstreets, a pagan bookstore in downtown St. Augustine. I had to walk from my grandmother's house on Anastasia Island, over the Bridge of Lions, past the Spanish fort, and through the little cobblestones streets full of tourists to get there. The journey was definitely part of the experience.

I bought most of my first books on Wicca and paganism there. I guess I was too young to really evaluate the store, but I went back there this summer, and it was different. Emptier, somehow, not as peaceful feeling as before. And the book selection sucked.

Garnet said...

In highschool, I discovered a local occult shop, then called Metamorphasis (how appropriate). I dabbled in that shop pretty regularly, buying insence, a couple of introductory books on ritual and wicca, collecting crystals and jewelry. I took friends in there all the time and they either loved it or hated it. To me, it was home.
At the time I didn't know "what" I was. I dabbled in lots of occult areas but I never concerned myself with a name for it all - paganism, wicca, etc.
I lived in a smaller college town for a while and they had maybe one semi-decent shop in the area. I felt trapped!
Then we moved back to my hometown. I discovered that Metamorphasis had changed their name to Spirit Wise and was under new management. It's a cute little house just off a busy main street through town. Still has the same great collection of books, jewelry, supplies and crystals. I feel more at home there than ever. I've taken my dog Dobby inside and the shop owner often asks how he is. I'm on their email list and get monthly updates about what's going on there.
There are several other occult shops in the area and even downtown there is the mega-store Isis. But nothing will ever compare to my home, Metamorphasis!
Thanks for asking! :)

http://www.spiritwisegifts.com/index.html
http://isisbooks.com/

Inanna said...

I was in Denver for a few days this past summer. I wish I'd known about these stores then! Thanks for the tip.

jo(e) said...

Hey, I had just heard a rumor about Seven Rays closing -- funny to find out about it on a blog.

I had the same experience with Seven Rays -- it wasn't a place where I found what I was usually looking for.

The closing of My Sisters' Words, on the other hand, affected me deeply. I can't tell you how many wonderful books from that store changed my life. I did the very last poetry reading at the store before it closed, and it was very hard not cry ....

TurtleHeart said...

My fave shop in the Denver area closed a couple years ago. It was called Wings. I just loved going there; they had a little bit of everything. The owner was a wonderful woman; I miss seeing her... I do get to see her occasionally at pagan gatherings. The Tribe went to her store on the last day, it was very sad, all the shelves empty and the display cases gone.

My fave place now is Herbs 'n Arts downtown on Colfax. They have an excellent selection of herbs, oils and tarot. Good selection of incese and books-- I've found some real keepers on their shelves. They cater to their customers, too. For instance, when Katrina families started being placed in Denver, they started carrying specific voudou herbs & candles and such. They'll let you play with different tarot decks and will play any CD you'd like to sample. And the staff is real friendly and knowledgable.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Celebration in Colorado Springs has been at the same spot since 1978. See a picture of the store here.

Terra said...

It was mentioned that Seven Rays book Store in Syracuse was closing. Another wonderful store has opened on Main St (Rt 11) in North Syracuse, Mystic Side Gift and Book Store. They have eveything from a wonderful selection of books, tarot cards, statues, incenses, candles and unique holders, to stones, crystals, essential oils and herbs.The shop is packed with awesome gifts.

Inanna said...

Terra, thank you for this! I'll definitely have to make the trip to check it out. I love me a good metaphysical bookstore. Are you affiliated with the store? (Feel free to drop me an email.)