It’s twilight, overcast and starting to drizzle. I’m walking down a busy London road. People are in a hurry to get where they are going, over taking and pushing past each other. I turn left to get out of the madness and find myself in a magical paved street. It’s eerily quiet, the street lights flicker on as I walk along curiously looking for the bookshop.
It feels like I have just stepped into the pages of a Harry Potter book. Diagon Alley perhaps, the energy is different, calmer somehow, less people, more interesting people maybe.
A fluke left hand turn has taken me to my destination Watkins Bookshop. London’s oldest esoteric bookshop specialising in occultism, esotericism, mysticism, eastern religions and contemporary spirituality. It looks just like I expected it to look. The shop is busy and a fortune teller reads cards for a lady behind a lace curtain in a window booth. Her candle casting a flickering glow around the shop. Customers browsing the many titles and mystical products on display behind the glass cabinet doors. Incense, magical herbs, tarot cards, candles, silver trinkets and books, lots of books.
A sign leads me downstairs to the real stuff. This bookshop is filled with a lot of new-age mumbo-jumbo publications, but hidden in-between are many of the classics. Metaphysical books written by famous authors like Alice Bailey, H.P. Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley, Edgar Cayce and Rudolph Steiner. I’m browsing the titles, maybe a book will jump out at me? I know the authors I want to read, but nothing has grabbed my eyes yet. I step back to let a fellow browser pass and accidently I knock the table behind me and off falls a hard cover book. “The Book of Enoch” – funny I’d just downloaded this book as an e-book a few weeks ago. A heavy volume guaranteed to help your eyes close on those cold wintery nights. With a price tag of £55 it’s a little out of my budget, but I make a mental note to return and purchase this heavy gem.
A large glass cabinet protects some of the classic antiquarian metaphysical and hermetic titles. Original works, out of print copies, signed originals and other rare treasures that I would love to get my hands on.
A short forty-five minutes later and I’m having to go, but I don’t leave empty handed. A slightly lighter book and more reasonably priced. The Key to Theosophy – by Madam Blavatsky. I hear you asking Theo… what? Theosophy literally means “Divine Wisdom”. It is the study of the hidden knowledge of the universe and explores, amongst others, the questions of metaphysics and enlightenment. Hmmm, still sounds heavy, but I’ll do my best to expand my understanding of the world we all live in.
And to end with a modern movie classic; “I’ll be back”!