I moved to Seattle in the mid-1970s in the midst of the first full blossom of the New Age movement. The Roosevelt district was home to a delightful metaphysical triangle: On one side was the Sunlight Cafe, home to lemon-tahini sauce and waitrons who sat down across from you to take your order; next door was Mandala Books with materials to guide your inner journeys; and across the street was the general store for the Age of AquariusZenith Supplies (6300 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-525-7997 and 800-735-7217). More than 25 years later, Mandala has closed, the Sunlight is still dishing up tasty veggie vittles in the same location, and Zenith has jumped down the street and is bigger and better than ever.
Just spending time in Zenith Supplies is a sensual delight. The store is awash in fragrance, a waterfall bubbles over the doorway, and original art with spiritual themes from ancient Egypt adorns the walls. Owner Jacob Griffis came up with the name Zenith from his experience climbing to the top of pyramids and temples around the world. It's a great place to find great holiday offerings, particularly if you want something out of the ordinary.
There are lots of bulk supplies, priced very competitively, for production of soap, candles, and massage oils perfect for do-it-yourself presents. All the elements for soapthe oils, lye, and scentsare available in great quantity and size. If you have kids and want to have fun with some shortcuts, large blocks of glycerin soap are available (5 pounds for $15, 25 pounds for $60). Store manager Annalisa Hamilton explains that you melt the glycerin soap, add essential oils for scent (from clove bud at $5 per one-eighth ounce to jasmine at $60.50 per one-eighth ounce), pour into molds ($6.50 for three to four cavities with shapes as varied as frogs, hearts, and Easter Island), let harden for half an hour, and they're ready to wrap.
Likewise, the store carries all the materials for candle makingmolds (from diamonds at $9.50 to six-cavity votives at $17.50), wax ($1.10 to $9.50 per pound), wicks (10 cents a foot), and the aforementioned essential oils abound.
My favorite part of Zenith is the body tools section. In addition to massage tables, there are terrific personal massagers ranging from the basic footsie roller ($10.95)think of a small rolling pin with ridgesto upper-end electronic massagers costing up to $200 (if you have the money, your loved one will really appreciate it). Maybe there's someone on your gift list who has trouble sleeping; try giving them the Tempur-pedic pillow ($99)I used one after injuring my neck in a car accident and found it very helpful.
While some New Age establishments can get a tad cloying, Zenith has always exhibited a refreshing sense of humor. Its fine display of Blue Q personal- care productsperfect for stocking stuffersexemplifies this tradition with peppermint schnapps-flavored Mullet lip balm ("It's da balm"; $4.95) presented by a strapping young man with a gorgeous hairdo and "Wash Away Your Sins" Bath and Body sampler ($17.95), featuring delightfully mischievous nuns.
Zenith also has a book section with all manner of metaphysical books for the seekers in your circle.
The store's popularity continues to grow so much that owner Griffis is looking for a new home, preferably with a warehouse attached. Wherever the next stop on the Zenith journey is, you can be sure it'll be a sensually pleasing ride.
Zenith Supplies is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. They also have a Web site, www.zenithsupplies.com.