Whence a warlock? Nowadays, it means "undesirable male Wiccan", or, to use the parlance "Oath Breaker", with the requisite harkening back to Anglo-Saxon usages. However, back in the 60's and 70's it was simply a male Witch, or a gay male Witch with no negative connotations whatsoever.  To solve this puzzle, I tender the example of the proprietor of the Warlock Shoppe (a/k/a The Magickal Childe), whose name and influence ranges far and wide all over the the Neopagan community, "Horrible" Herman Slader.

To step through the door of The Magickal Childe on West 19th in Manhattan was to walk into an environment out of Harry Potter -- though whether Hogsmeade or Knockturn Alley would have been a good question. Daggers with skull handles and ceremonial swords (a specialty) stood in cases near rosaries and Buddha statues, copies of the Interior Castle of St. Theresa and the 12-volume Golden Bough stood on shelves near pamphlets like The Count Dracula Fan Club Chicken Cookbook and "More Coon Jokes" (a 1908 sourcebook for aspiring vaudevillians). Quite naturally, they had all classical and modern spellbooks, Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley (and all of his sources), herbals, bestiaries, breviaries, and even a few Bibles.

The place was so dimly lit, dusty and crowded, I can't even remember what color the walls were, though dark red is my best guess. The shoppers were similarly varied: scared-looking teenagers, nuns, priests, Asians of various persuasions, voodoo practitioners in full Island regalia, elegantly dressed models and musicians, men with NAMBLA pins, sXe's and even ordinary-looking families with adorable/bored children. Even odder was to find all these people amicably chatting with each other.

You could ask for aloes wood and be told "Sorry, but it's dear -- they haven't gotten the land mines from around the forests in Vietnam yet." place a "special order" in the back ("Ah, I need mutton tallow candles, some crow's feathers, and two double-pitted cherries…" "Oh, having trouble with your love life?"), or buy a coloring book for children showing Mommy sitting naked on the altar or a set of blocks with Hebrew letters. Of course, if you wanted an herb or spice of any kind, from allspice to yohimbe, they had it...even some Sunday school teachers used it as a go-to when they wanted to have a touch and smell display of myrrh, or perhaps spikenard.  An altar surmounted by candles and yellow flowers around a small pool stood right inside the door to ensure wealth, and a table with two chairs stood ready in the back for impromptu tea leaf readings or astrological analysis. In the Yellow Pages, it was listed as a "religious book and supply store" to which Herman would add "for ALL faiths."

In terms of personality, Herman could be the worst of hypocrites, liars and all around bastards, the dearest and most sensitive of friends, or both, depending on his mood. It was understood that you, whether employee or patron, were in the 'Childe at his own whim and pleasure -- if you looked susceptible, you might have to throw a "protective sigil" (on an oversized T-shirt) over your clothes, or, for no apparent reason, be ordered out of the store. He plagiarized other's works for his own published spell books, sold a forged version of the Necronomicon as genuine, and claimed to "do no harm", yet openly sold death curses and Satanic material.  On the other hand, I remember him patiently poring over a formula from a Bantam Books paperback I showed him, and owning that he might not have the exact ingredients -- but, seeing as it was intended for general use, perhaps some Chrism of Abramelin might be useful? (I took it, and it was.)  In the depths of the Reagan-Bush War on Drugs he had the courage to sell Timothy Leary's later writings, and some early Cyberpunk/Neuronaut/Technoshaman material, and many people, including myself, began or were encouraged in The Practice under his warm tutelage. In short, you couldn't live with him...but you couldn't live without him. Herman died of AIDS in 1994, his shop closed in 1999, but survives on the Web.

Clearly, this man fits both sides of the coin. Could it be that the community at large simply wanted to reserve such a term for himself alone?

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