Weisers Bookshop

  • Location New York, 734 Broadway & Astor Place
  • Date Jul 12 2011
  • Time 16:20
  • Category PLACES OF WORSHIP   
  • Incident Incident
  • Nearby Incident Nearby Incident

Incident Report Description

In the mid 1970s, when I was first becoming interested in occult, esoteric, and spiritual literature, the place to find it was at Weiser’s Bookshop near New York’s Cooper Union. For years, interest in the occult, the esoteric, and the spiritual had been limited to a handful of eccentrics on the fringe of mainstream culture, but by the 1960s all that had changed. The Sixties saw a renewed interest in these hitherto marginal pursuits, and by the last years of that decade, a full-fledged “occult revival” was underway, something I’ve explored in my book The Dedalus Book of the 1960s: Turn Off Your Mind (Dedalus, 2010). The most famous people in the world, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, were exploring various aspects of the “unseen,” and a burgeoning “occult counter culture” grew up around this. Publishers recognized the trend, and suddenly books on magic, mysticism, meditation and many more esoteric subjects were selling like hot cakes. By the early 70s, reprints of classic mystical and occult works could be bought for a pittance, and Weiser’s was an esoteric browser’s dream. I remember finding stacks of their own reprints of Crowley’s notorious occult magazine The Equinox on Weiser’s sale tables, going for a song. Many other valuable works were easily available too, and Weiser’s own publishing house was bringing out dozens of books that until then were difficult if not impossible to find. (One that made the rounds among my friends was their edition of Crowley’s infamous Diary of a Drug Fiend.) Sadly, like so many other places from what I think of as “old New York,” Weiser’s fell victim to rising rents and a shift in popular taste, and by the 1990s the shop was a thing of the past. Yet I imagine you can still find some astral trace of its heyday, walking past its old location near Astor Place, on your way to the East Village.
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