At one time, New York City was the center of the universe as far as bookstores go. Weiser Books and Magickal Childe are among the best bookstores in the world for occult and spiritual tittles. However, both bookstores closed in the mid-1990s, victims of rising rents, among other reasons.
“It is difficult of an independent bookstore to survive in Manhattan. The rents are very high and the bigger chains simply took away many of our customers,” the late Donald Weiser told Esoteric Guides in 2003, Weiser Books has since moved to York, Maine.
Weiser said that when his father, Samuel, began selling esoteric books in the 1930s, his store was the first in Manhattan to do so. “We used to sell the esoteric books in the basement of the store and the regular books on the main floor,” recalled Weiser.
When Donald Weiser joined the family business in1951, he put an emphasis on the spiritual and occult book side of the store, since he was deeply interested in the esoteric. Under his direction, Weiser Books began reprinting many out-of-print occult titles like Kabballah by Issac Meyer and the Book of Thoth by a then-obscure occult writer named Aleister Crowley.
Weiser Books played a big role in the 1960s Crowley revival, by reprinting Crowely’s major works. At the time, most of Crowley’s works were in the “public domain” and not under copyright protection.
Likewise, Magickal Childe, which Herman Slater and Eddie Buczynski originally opened in Brooklyn, played an enormous role in the occult revival. The shop’s publishing house published a number of ground-breaking occult books - including the Necromonicon. The Magickal Childe, for years, was on 35 West 19th Street in Manhattan; however, eventually closed after the death of Buczynski and Slater.
NYC still has some great esoteric bookstores. This is what makes the city great. Patronize these bookstores, learn from the staff and become inspired. Bookstores are magic and the magic happens when you go to the stores, rather than buying online. The following are some of our top picks:
Namaste Bookstore, 2 W. 14th St., Manhattan. A short walk from Union Square, this bookstore has become a must stop for the esoteric seeker. It has filled the void in the area, after East West bookstore, right around the corner, closed in 2010. Great selection of tarot cards, crystal, and eclectic book selection. Namaste also has psychics and readers on hand.
Rudolph Steiner Bookstore, 138 W. 15th St., Manhattan. right down the block from Namaste is the Rudolph Steiner Bookstore, which is part of Anthroposophy NYC. a It has an amazing collection of books by msytic Rudolph Steiner, as well as resources for Waldorf education, the system that Steiner developed .
Aum Shanti Bookshop, 230 E. 14th St., Manhattan. A really beautiful store, opened by Rakesh, who decided to "serve the community and help fellow human beings" after suffering several personal tragedies. The store features metaphysical books, crystals and tarot readings.
Enchantments, 165 Avenue B., Manhattan. Enchantments is NYC's oldest occult store devoted to witchcraft. The store offers a magickal apothecary, custom-carved candles, magickal jewelry, books, and great incense blends. It is a must-stop in the East Village.
Quest Books, 240 E. 53rd St., Manhattan. Located in the upper East Side, Quest Books is the bookstore of the NYC Theosophical society. Has a great collection of metaphysical books and spiritual objects. The Theosophical Society has a wonderful lineup of events in the small hall next to the bookstore.
Emily Sellon Memorial Library, 240 E. 53rd St., Manhattan. Located in the NYC Theosophical Society, this is NYC's premier Library for research on Theosophy and related fields of esotericism, religion, philosophy, and science. The Library maintains one of the best collections of the works of H.P. Blavatsky and is strong in Gnosticism, hermetica and parapsychology. The origin of the library goes back to 1875, when Madame Helena Blavatsky, Col. H.S. Olcott, and others founded the Theosophical Society in New York.