The Evolution of Pagan Book Stores

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British newspaper The Independent has posted a profile of the esoteric book store Treadwell’s. Author Gary Lachman interviews owner and manager Christina Oakley Harrington, and explores how the shop is transcending the usual conceptions of “occult” book stores.

A customer inside Treadwell’s Bookshop.

“Although you’ll find the usual magical bric-a-brac there … what sets Treadwell’s apart from other occult shops is that, since it opened in 2003, it’s become a centre where people from different backgrounds with an interest in paganism and related subjects can meet and exchange ideas … Regulars at Treadwell’s are as apt to be working on a doctorate as they are on a solstice ritual, or invoking a thesis subject as much as a guardian angel. The nucleus of this pagan salon, which draws in skeptical professors and devout practitioners alike, is Treadwell’s guiding spirit, Christina Oakley Harrington.”

I’m particularly fond of the mission statement for Treadwell’s given by Harrington.

“To provide a place for people who have a spiritual, or occult, or pagan interest, but who don’t want to thrown their brain out the door. A place that can link the pagan and occult world to the world of literature, art, and philosophy. To the thinking world.”

That sure sounds like a place I would enjoy frequenting, too bad it’s on a different continent. But the existence of this new store (opened in 2003) leads us to perhaps hope that expectations and standards are starting to change by those wanting to open occult/Pagan book stores. When most of the mass-market books on magic and Paganism can be easily found at Borders or online, stores catering directly to the Pagan/occult market need to raise the bar and provide something different and more in-depth.

If I simply wanted to buy the latest Llewellyn releases I know I could go to any major book chain and find (or order) them, but it takes a special sort of store to stock the autobiography of Patricia Crowther or a history of British Magick after Crowley. I can only hope this article is an omen for the future, and not an isolated bright spark.