A strange moment in a New Age bookstore

Never mind religion. Know your customer, right?

Something … odd … happened today. As I have noted here before, I am not a Christian. I’m either atheist or pagan, depending on your perspective, and this afternoon I was in full-on pagan mode, for reasons that will be elaborated on in the next couple of days.

So I head to a local New Age bookstore to pick up some things I need for a ceremony. I quickly locate what I’m after and go to check out. The nice young woman behind the counter rings me up. I pay and as I turn to leave she says “Merry Christmas!”

I thank her and leave and wait, what? The woman at the counter at the New Age bookstore just wished me a Merry Christmas?

Okay. I mean, thanks. I’m fine with being wished a Merry Christmas even though it ain’t my holiday. Seriously, no problem at all with it. And a Christian working in a New Age store? Sure, okay. You don’t see a lot of that, but maybe it’s a good thing, right?

But … I just bought five candles in colors that any employee at an establishment of this sort should instantly associate with a pagan ritual, and by the way, I also purchased a mortar and pestle with a PENTAGRAM on it. You know, one of these:

Merry Christmas to you, too. But IN A NEW AGE BOOKSTORE purchasing elements for an obviously PAGAN RITUAL? On – and I can’t stress this enough – THE DAY BEFORE WINTER SOLSTICE?

Let me offer an alternate scenario for your consideration. You go into a Christian book store. You purchase a crucifix, a Bible and a Christian flag. On Christmas Eve. As you’re leaving the chipper clerk says “Happy Hanukkah!”

Sweet fancy tap-dancing Jesus, Bill O’Reilly would pitch a galloping hissy fit that might not die down before Christmas Eve next year.

Look, forget the religion piece for a second. This is America and the business of America is business. What about knowing your freakin’ customer?! Does your store’s success hinge on the Christian consumer? Do you get a lot of them buying things with pentagrams on the day before the Sabbats? I mean, the West Highlands and Berkeley neighborhoods are pretty progressive places, but the Christians here aren’t that damned liberal.

Okay, breathe deep. Not a big deal. And honestly, I’m really not offended. She seemed nice and genuine and is probably a wonderful woman. I’m sure she meant no ill will and there was certainly no sinister stealth Jesus agenda at work.

But damn. I am surprised. Just … what the fucking fuckety fuck, you know?


Anyhow, Happy Solstice, everyone.



  • Sara Robinson

    And a good Yule to you, too.

    I’ve had my caffeine, and plan to be up to greet the sun.

  • Merry Christmas to you Sam! I’m interested in this pagan turn. As a Christian, it worries me of course, but I’m interested.

    • Pagan turn? If you mean me specifically, this is not new. The turn happened in the late ’80s. But as I say, whether I’m pagan or atheist depends on your perspective.

  • you know, i’ve lately become amazed at the absolute eagerness of people to believe nonsense. not just religion and spirituality, but today i walked through the medicinal section of a trader joes like grocery store. luck. on and on and on. people just love nonsense. even me–i loved star wars, the ultimate nonsense-is-better-than-science movie. the store you were in is obviously proof.

    • Well, there’s a case by case thing you need to consider. There are things that are nonsense. There are also things that look like nonsense unless you know the whole story. And of course, elsewhere the world is full of things that don’t look like nonsense at all, but which are as ridiculous as anything in any New Age store in the world.

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