Sydney’s metaphysical epicentre, Adyar Bookshop, has closed its doors indefinitely. It’s difficult to see a well-established Sydney icon of the spiritual community shut shop, having been around in some form since 1922. But as George Harrison once said, all things must pass.
The Sydney branch of The Theosophical Society owned and managed Adyar for nearly a century. The bookshop reflected objectives of Universal unity, the study of comparative religion, philosophy and science, and the investigation of the unexplained Laws of Nature. Throughout the store Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, atheism, witchcraft, and paganism sat alongside astrology charts, tarot cards, healing crystals, and joss sticks.
I began my journey with astrology at Adyar sometime in the 1980s. In those days, the bookshop was situation in a welcoming location on Clarence Street in the city. It boasted base to ceiling shop-front windows. Standing on the outside looking in was tantalising. Gazing onto its floor, I saw a rabbit warren of open shelves arranged free form and bursting with books on the ancient wisdoms. Naturally, I gravitated to the astrology section. My teachers Liz Greene, Howard Sasportas, Robert Hand, Alan Oken, Bill Tierney, Jeff Green, Jim Lewis, and Erin Sullivan were patiently sitting on Adyar’s shelves, waiting for the student to appear. I can’t imagine where I’d be now without that knowledge, had I not stumbled on the shop back then.
What made Adyar vital was its specialisation in traditional esotericism, such as the teachings of Alice Bailey, Madame Blavatsky, Charles Leadbeater, and Krishnamurti. Now that the bookshop is gone, a younger generation of seekers have lost the gateway to these teachings at a time when society is moving further away from the natural world and hitting the pinnacle of materialism and secularism with force.
I am sorry to see another Sydney icon go. Soon there will not be any unique bookstores or record shops left to define Sydney, thanks to the pull of cheap online shopping. The internet is taking its toll on the independent seller. Adyar’s closure follows a downsize last year by the sci-fi and fantasy specialist, Galaxy Bookshop, which is now contained within the parameters of another independent entity, Abbeys Bookshop. Only a few doors away are the formidable Utopia Records, legendary Red Eye Records, and the unassuming Mojo Records. How much time do we ungrateful Sydney-siders have left to enjoy these vanishing gems?