The Edge of the Circle - not in Kansas anymore

Not enough money for an exotic vacation this year? Step through the door of Edge of the Circle and you can be in another world, a world of divination, incantations and, yes, magic.

Edge of the Circle is Seattle's premier magic shop - no card tricks, fright wigs or exploding cigars here - and provides for a person's magic needs, be they Wicca, Santeresa or OTO (Ordo Templar Orientis). This is serious stuff, catering to alternative religions and practices that are attracting ever larger numbers of adherents way below most people's radar screens.

"We are not Buffy fans here," said Jonese (pronounced Joanie) Taylor, floor manager of the shop at Boylston and East Pike streets. The popular show about a vampire slayer involved in magic and the supernatural does not depict reality, or even mirror it, as far as this shop is concerned. But don't mistake that renunciation for lack of humor.

"This is our spooky section," Taylor explained with a big grin. It's a bookshelf 7-feet high, decorated with a black shroud and Halloween cobwebs. This is where you find the books about werewolves, vampires and black magic. It also contains works by Edward Gorey, a mainstream spooky writer and illustrator, and Cliff's Notes for Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. If the shop carried Buffy the Vampire Slayer videos or Harry Potter books (which it doesn't) this is where they would be.

"The boss does it just because it makes him laugh," Taylor explained. It makes her laugh, too. She said "the Goths," those youngsters with the black clothes, black dyed hair, silver hardware and black nail polish, are especially attracted to the spooky section.

"They see the black and the cobwebs and they just beeline," she said.

Taylor, though she wore black, did not have a tall pointy hat or a broomstick. There were no cats in the store, black or otherwise. She said if someone came through the door with pointy hat and broomstick she would direct them immediately to the spooky section.

Spooky is at the back of the store, past two bookcases filled with votive candles and the staircase leading down to classrooms where magic groups hold classes and lectures.

Taylor has been working for the shop 12 years. The shop moved to its present location 10 years ago.

Herbalism, you may like to know, is not just a nutritional pursuit: It is all important in Wicca and Druidism.

"It is an earth-based magic, whether you are healing or doing earth magic," Taylor explained. Herbs are major ingredients for magic bags, the small pouches some people wear around their necks to ward off, uh ... stuff. "It's probably the least intrusive form of magic."

Wicca? That sounds like Buffy ... uh, a television show. What is that?

"Wicca is a religion that is not necessarily concerned with doing magic," Taylor said. "It is not necessarily a magical practice." She said it is one of the newer beliefs, having its origins in the 1940s and '50s. Even so, it can involve ceremonial magic and the Edge of the Circle has the biggest selection of Wicca-oriented books in town.

(According to www.religious, Wicca, sometimes called "The Craft" or "The Craft of the Wise," is one of many earth-based religions. Traditional Wicca was founded by Gerald Gardner, who wrote a series of books on the religion in the 1940s. It contains references to Celtic deities, symbols and seasonal days of celebration as well as components of ceremonial magic and practices of the Masonic Order. The various traditions of Wicca are part of the Pagan or Neopagan group of earth-based religions.)

"Buffy doesn't have a lot to do with what we do here," Taylor said, without a trace of exasperation. "This is more earth spells, not casting spells to get your way. Nobody thinks that's OK. Wicca tends to be very loving, very concentrated on the earth, communicating the idea of family whether you are related or not."

The books also cover palmistry, numerology and astrology - everything for divination. You can buy a Ouija board (they are cool looking, ever see a round ouija board?), and the shop stocks the second or third largest selection of tarot cards in the area. In fact, a tarot card reader, usually two, is available seven days a week from 1 to 8 p.m.

Raven, one of the tarot readers, holds forth in a sunny, front corner of the store. She does 15 to 60 minute readings and the cost depends on how many issues and to what depth those issues must be probed.

"I consider it a method of going on a journey of personal transformation and finding out where you are and where to go next," Raven said of her art. "It's cheaper than a therapist."

Raven also dresses in normal street clothes. She is also an artist and a bass player in a Goth band.

The shop carries a variety of ceremonial swords, statues and artifacts useful in magic. The swords are used to cast circles, enclosing and describing a special place to do ceremonial magic. Thus the shop name.

"The edge of the circle would be neither inside the circle nor outside the circle," Taylor said. "In here, this is not a consecrated space."

Attention is given all forms of magical worship, though some areas (Eastern religions, Masonic information) are given very little space to avoid competing with other small Capitol Hill businesses. Then there are the African magic books, not voodoo but hard to find African tribal magic, and then there is the...well, you get the idea,

"We try not to have an agenda as far as politics or magic," Taylor said. "We try to be neutral. We want people to be comfortable."

Edge of the Circle, 701 E. Pike St., 726-1999, is open from noon to 9 p.m. Their Web site is www.edgeofth

Freelance writer Korte Brueckmann lives on Capitol Hill and can be reached c/o[[In-content Ad]]