Prelude to AAR: A Visit to Fields Book Store

Greetings from San Francisco! I’ve arrived safe and sound in the Bay Area, and have received warm hospitality from my lovely hosts. While you’re reading this I’ll be immersed in the proceedings of the American Academy of Religion’s Annual Meeting, but yesterday I had some unstructured time, so I thought I’d spend it by visiting the legendary Fields Book Store, a vital outlet for metaphysical and esoteric material since 1932. Braving the BART and buses, and with the help of some kind elderly ladies, I soon arrived at my destination.

Just beyond the Jade Skin Spa

David Wiegleb, current owner of Fields, who I’ve interviewed via email for a variety of stories over the years, was gracious and open about the challenges of running a metaphysical bookstore in the current economic climate. Over the years he’s seen the number of metaphysical bookstores in the Bay Area greatly contract, and works hard to make sure the legacy of Fields remains in the years ahead.

David Wiegleb and Fields Book Store

What really hit home to me, after I made a couple purchases, was how essential shops like Fields really are in building community. They are hubs of local information, a place to check in, and a provider of resources for those looking to connect. Today I’ll be exploring theory, theology, and the latest scholarship regarding our interconnected faith communities, but it’s good to remember where community is created. The people and institutions who make sure there is a community to discuss, debate, and study. If you’re in San Francisco, take the time to make a pilgrimage to Fields, you’ll be glad you did!

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  • Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    Thank you for the update and information, Jason, please keep it coming as you attend the conference.

    Pssst… still hoping for photos from the Fairy Convention!

  • Justin Patrick Moore

    It was great to partake in a ritual of the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn at the Esoteric Book Conference this past September, where David was one of the ritualists… now it’s nice to see a picture of him here in his home element.

    Occult/Esoteric/Metaphysical/Pagan bookstores have always been hubs for these interrelated communities. In Cincinnati, for a long time it was the Dawn of Light, which later became Aquarius Bookstore. This was where, in the ’90’s I had my first introduction to many of the local elders and long time practitioners who are still a source of wisdom to me today. Sadly Aquarius closed its doors and no shop of its kind remains in Cincinnati.

    Talking with Robert Ansell of Fulgur Ltd., he mentioned how important Treadwells book store is to the esoteric community in England.

    Since the time of the Library of Alexandria, devotees to these subjects have come together to share and learn among the books. Culture and community does get built up around these stores.

    Someone wrote “The Internet may give you what you want, but not what you need.” Amazon may ship me all manner of obscure texts…but the community surrounding it is nowhere near as strong as that at a good metaphysical bookshop.

    Kudos to David and all those bookstore owners and publishers who keep their doors open! May they remain always so…