I have no idea why I suddenly decided to write this post. I’m currently in a country where I think the idea of a metaphysical bookshop would throw people off entirely. It’s not that the people aren’t superstitious or don’t believe in the unexplained, because I think they do. But despite some of the pagan-esque beliefs in place here, they are all weighed down by the tradition of Christianity, and I think that a metaphysical bookshop would go over like a lead balloon.
Anyway, I was just inspired to think about the metaphysical today, having seen it in an article I was reading, and consequentially this post sort of formulated itself.
I’m from a state in the US that actually has a somewhat impressive Pagan community. I’m not saying that Pagans make up a significant portion of the population or anything, but there are some Pagans and they have managed to congregate in a way that has justified festivals, groups, and even a brewery run by Pagans. Bookshops are absolutely no exception to this. Of course we have chains like Half-Price Books, which often have a “philosophy/metaphysical” section, facilitating a whole generation to quickly shift their eyes to Kant or Aquinas if somebody intrudes upon their hurried search for interesting books on Witchcraft. These types of bookstores certainly have their place, and, as I said, have perhaps made it easier for teenagers to disguise their study if they’re not quite ready to come out of the broom closet. And by teenagers, I mean me. All the time.
However, if you’re looking for a slightly more positive environment, there are two great metaphysical bookshops that I know about in the city center. Both of them create an amazing community where you’re in a safe haven when you’re inside the shop. Nobody is going to judge you, nobody is going to question when you purchase an athame or a book on Witchy gardening or a tarot deck. In fact, the hardest thing you’ll have to do is duck in and out of the shop, if you’re in that stage where you’re worried about what the people on the street will think when they see you coming out of a place named after an Egyptian god.
I think my favorite thing about these places is that, in a lot of cases, they are a one-stop shop for a whole slew of different belief systems. In one metaphysical bookshop, you can find things for Druids, for Wiccans, for Satanists, and, yes, even for Christians, if you can get past the other stuff. The people who work there are almost always understanding; they’re in your shoes, or at least they’ve been there. They know that there are people out there who are just beginning, and they’ll help you, if they can.
Stepping into a metaphysical bookshop is often like going beyond the looking glass. You step off the smoggy street into a basement shop that smells like a hundred different kinds of incense. Beautiful tools hang low from the ceiling or are arrayed under glass. You can buy charms to wear or resins for ink. You can find books on just about anything spiritual or magickal. And for once, you don’t have to pretend you are just really interested in Augustine or Locke. You can look how you want, ask what you want, buy what you want. Everybody is here to learn and grow.
If you are desperate to find the Pagan community in your area, Google metaphysical bookshops and start there. You’ll be surprised how much it already feels like home.