If there is an incantation for keeping a book store alive, it’s possible Capitol Hill’s Edge of the Circle is putting it to use.
The shop has been supplying Capitol Hill for 21 years, and is currently Seattle’s best source for paganism and the occult. And that’s just in its current location, on E Pike at Boylston, neighbor to The Honeyhole and Babeland. Edge got its start in “a hallway downtown,” owner Robert Anderson said, which progressed into “a shack on 14th and Union, which has since been torn down.” It’s there that Anderson, once a regular customer, got his start as a volunteer.
“It looked kind of like a two-room living space, if it had been emptied of all the stock inside. You wouldn’t have thought it was a store.”
It went by a different name then: Shamanic Convergence. The business moved to Capitol Hill in 1994 with a grand ambition: to operate two businesses at once. The Green Man Cafe, and Shamanic Convergence.
Around this time, the store underwent a name change, becoming the Edge of the Circle we see today, very visible on the northeast-jutting corner on E Pike just before QFC on Broadway.
When it first moved in, Edge was essentially two businesses in one.
The first twin, Green Man Cafe — “ … the swirling money pit of despair,” Anderson called it — was not doing well. This was the time that Edge’s first owner offered Anderson the chance to buy the store.
“The first thing I did after buying it was to sell the café to other people,” Anderson said.
The next owners who moved in opened a new café, which they coined Beyond the Edge Cafe. “We had a little gate that you could lock,” Anderson said, referring to what was once an open section in the north-facing wall of his store. The two businesses would encourage customer traffic back and forth, and they operated together for a few years in a sort of occult-and-coffee symbiosis.
Alas, Beyond the Edge went out of business, and The Honeyhole, Anderson’s current neighbor, moved in.
As owner, Anderson purchased all the assets of Edge of the Circle Inc., under the name Fun Time Inc. “So my official title is President of Fun Time Incorporated,” Anderson said.
Books sell the best in his store, but Edge supplies something beyond the literature and information, something much more important to a large portion of his customer base — magickal accessories and supplies.
“It’s their magickal grocery shopping,” Robert said, “and I’d better not run out of whatever they need for that magickal ritual, tonight. I’ve learned.”
Anderson’s dedication to paganism and the occult, and his deep historical knowledge have kept his customers loyal, and attracted more from all over Seattle. Currently his selection of magickal supplies and ritual accessories is one of, if not the widest in Seattle.
Additionally, Edge regularly hosts events for a wide range of pursuers of magick, occultism, spirituality, and ritual.
His first event was held after some people he met at the Esoteric Book Conference, an annual gathering of occult book dealers, publishers and writers, approached him with the idea.
“It was a party that turns into a ritual, that turns back into a party,” Anderson said.
As for the future? Perhaps one thing remains for Edge. Perhaps not.
“We still haven’t decided if it’s Edge of the Circle or Edge of the Circle Books,” Anderson said.