Spirits Up!

What's Behind the Sudden Surge in Spirituality?

If you don't know Celtic culture from Celtic Pride, the 1996 basketball movie featuring Dan Aykroyd and Daniel Stern, you can research the difference at East West Books, the mecca of metaphysical literature. Owned by the Himalayan Institute and located on lower Fifth Avenue, it's been serving spiritually savvy customers and interested innocents for 25 years. With dream-analysis books, nutrition magazines, and Eastern-medicine journals alphabetized along carpeted aisles, the shop attempts to "link Eastern philosophy with science," says Larice, a clerk. "Buddhist philosophy books sell best," he explains.

"I'm changing lifestyles," comments a regular customer, thin, twentysomething, and breathing around, possibly despite, an enormous metal nose-ring weighing her down even as spirituality lifts her up. "I've been browsing here for the past week, reimagining my perspective on my body's nutrition. I'm taking much more care of my body now by eating organic foods and knowing their sources, which changes everything: the way I think, the way I sweat—the way I shit."

Ossiya guards the door at Aurora, on Clinton Street.
photo: Robert Hale
Ossiya guards the door at Aurora, on Clinton Street.

Aurora, 43 Clinton Street, 212-477-0101, aurora-usa.net. Open Tuesday through Saturday noon to 8 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m. East West Books, 78 Fifth Avenue, 212-243-5994. Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Enchantments, 341 East 9th Street, 212-228-4394. Open Monday through Saturday 12:30 to 8:30 p.m., Sunday 1 to 7:30 p.m. Morgana's Chamber, 242 West 10th Street, 212-243-3415, members.tripod.com/morganaschamber. Open Tuesday through Friday 2 to 8 p.m., Saturday 1 to 8 p.m., Sunday 1 to 6 p.m. Stick, Stone & Bone, 111 Christopher Street, 212-807-7024. Open Sunday through Thursday noon to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to midnight.

Research assistance: Eva Yaa Asantewaa and Fiona Tyson

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