Best Occult/Pagan Shop: Edge of the Circle

Well, it is cluttered. But Edge of the Circle is otherwise not at all like what you might imagine a magickal bookshop to be. Rather than gloomy, musty, cobwebby, and antique-filled, it's well lit and colorful, filled with curiosities, but not in the least sinister. Owner Robert Anderson wants his place, which anchors one end of a flourishing strip of shops on Pike just west of Broadway, to be welcoming and inclusive, and he's thrilled to give me a tour.

Maybe not entirely inclusive. In a manifesto on EotC's Web site, Robert describes what the store won't offer: "I hate the New Age. I hate it. I hate ear candles, Deepak Chopra books, and anything in pastels." The book selection does, though, range from herbalism to kabbalah, Frazer's Golden Bough to Astrology for Dummies, A Kitchen Witch's Cookbook to the Poetic Edda. A cloth-swathed shelf jocularly labeled "Spooky Section" holds the scariest works: H.P. Lovecraft anthologies and Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible. Anderson prides himself on having beefed up the selection of what he calls urban folk magic: Santeria, vodun, and related beliefs. "[This] worship community is huge," Anderson says, "and it's great to see the look of relief on the face of someone new to Seattle, who finds that we carry eggshell powder, cascarilla [used in rituals], in those little paper cups."

That's just one of the "props and supplies of sorcery" that Robert relishes being surrounded by, as much as by the books: incense, oils, herbs, prayer candles. Agua espiritual. "Controlling Lucky Mojo" sachet powders—the whole "Lucky Mojo" line, in fact, including Lavender Love Drops and Stop Gossip Oil. Vessels and chalices. Jewelry, bumper stickers, gems and stones, CDs. Large banners adorned with pentagrams; robes in purple, black, and aqua; T-shirts with Celtic knot designs. Dozens of different tarot decks: an art nouveau tarot, a gay tarot, an animal-wise tarot, a medieval cat tarot. And the classic Golden Dawn Tarot in black and white: You can color the cards yourself.

Anderson points out a black, foot-tall statue of the winged, goat-headed idol, Baphomet, in a glass case (yours for just $87.50): "Most New Age stores wouldn't touch that."

The store's predecessor was a place on 14th Avenue and Union Street called Shamanic Convergence, the founding of which is obscured by the mists of time, i.e., sometime in the mid-'80s. It was renamed Edge of the Circle in 1992, moved to its current location in 1994, and has been owned by Anderson (as the company Fun Time Incorporated) since May 1995.

But Edge of the Circle serves an even broader function as a community center and gathering place for pagan and alternative-religion groups of all kinds. An unprepossessing basement room—with a copy of the Wiccan Rede ("An it harm none, do what ye will") tacked on the wall—sees frequent use for classes, meetings, and rehearsals. On the main floor, a cozy corner table is set aside for tarot readings, with three different readers sharing a schedule that covers afternoon and early evening seven days a week. And the entryway windows have become a community bulletin board, with flyers and posters advertising a Seattle shaman meetup; Central Puget Sound Pagan Pride Day (Sept. 16 in Tukwila); the Holy Well Circle, "Seattle's open Wiccan circle"; and rune study classes. A company called Witchy Wonders offers its services to "those of us who desire respectful cleaning of temple rooms, altars, sacred spaces. . . . A complementary smudging is happily offered and banishing rituals are yours for the asking."—701 E. Pike St., PAN-1999, www.edgeofthecircle.com.

 
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