Esoteric Midtown: Theosophical Society and Quest Book Store

Theosophical Society and Quest Book Store

By Aleks Degtyarev

Like many other cities in the world New York is rapidly changing. The old guard of musty and dusty book stores and galleries, museums of oddities and curiosities, and everything under the general heading of ‘occult’ has gone by the way of the broom. Too bad I say, for these are gems much like a properly placed mole upon the face of a rather attractive woman.

What’s left are more than mere curiosities for they are revered survivors of times long past. Quest Books shop and the adjunct Theosophical Society located on 53rd St. between second and third avenues is a thriver. It is a short walk from the Roger Smith Hotel and I like to go there at least once a month.

The place is run by a gentle cast of people headed by a woman named, Lyn Trotman mother of four and president of this Theosophical Society which was in part founded by another woman in 1875, named Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 1.12.28 PM Image1 Hpb

If you’ve never heard of this woman- the long and the short of it – is if you’ve ever meditated or practiced what is generally known today as ‘Yoga,’ you may attribute a great amount of thanks to her. Madame Balvatsky was an extensive traveler and had traveled to India and the deep ‘Orient’ before it was fashionable for women to speak at dinner parties. She brought back the ‘secret-knowledge of the East’ and translated it into the language of the West. Sure if you dig a little deeper you may find gossip, a tarnished past, but which of us are angels? And how many of us have the gall to travel to far and unknown places that would be considered dangerous let alone to excavate secret Hindu, Sufi, and Buddhist knowledge?

In 1875 she helped found the Theosophical Society in New York City; although Lyn Trotman explained to me that it was not the building we were in. Rest assured that if you are looking for something different (such as ancient wisdom, from people that see ‘all life as coming from one source’) you may find it in both this Theosophical Society and the Quest Book store.

Mrs. Trotman explained that they function like any other organization that offers a program but they choose to remain intimate which allows for lower prices for members and the general public. The Yoga class for example, is typically full with seven people at 10$ a lesson. The Yoga instruction incorporates poses, mediation, and breathing exercises- unlike a lot of ‘segmented-yoga’ practiced today.

If for nothing else come for the thoughtfully curated selection of occult, philosophical, psychological and hard to find books on all subjects having to do with expanding your mind body and soul. There is also a wide variety of other talismans, and interesting objects from all over the world that you just don’t find anywhere. I have found a beautiful French printed Tarot deck to add to my personal collection.

Come and discover something from the past, tell Lyn that Aleks sent you and she’ll even let you in on where Madame Blavatsky lived while staying in New York City, hint not the Theosophical Society but in midtown.