LOCAL BOOKSTORE RECIPIENT OF MISPLACED ANGER
A Denver bookstore has been vandalized five times in the last year after being confused with the terrorist group of the same name.
Goddess Isis Books and Gifts has sold its offerings of metaphysical texts, crystals, and international collections of jewelry for 36 years. The South Broadway store was most notably defaced last November when its outdoor signage was destroyed late at night. Other incidents include graffiti damage and shattered glass doors.
“We’ve had people leaving messages saying, ‘You terrorists,’” co-owner Karen Charboneau-Harrison said. “It’s obvious that they’re confused.”
The bookstore, established over three decades before the inception of the now-infamous terrorist organization, is named after the goddess Isis. She is one of Egypt’s primordial deities; Pagans continue to worship her as a goddess of wisdom, healing, and womanhood.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, inversely, has no such longevity—though their activity can be traced back to 1999, their existence has only become part of the cultural conversation in the last ten years. Isis sells incense; ISIS murders thousands of people. For many, the difference between the two remains unclear.
“We have received a small but vociferous number of messages telling us to change our name,” the bookstore posted to their Facebook page. But they refuse to let the (American) terrorists win: To prevent future expenses from vandalism, they modified the signs marking their storefront to read, “Goddess Books and Gifts,” but they have no plans to officially reflect that name elsewhere. “Should thousands of women and girls across the world change their names, too?” the post continued.
Isis Books supports the growing effort to identify ISIS as Daesh, or “one who sows discord.” Notable figures like President Obama and French President François Hollande began addressing the terrorist group as such shortly after last year’s Paris attacks; ISIL is another, more literal translation.
Until these titles become popularized, a handful of Denver citizens will continue to believe that ISIS is seizing control of America by selling tarot cards and healing herbs.
Robyn Kelly, an English Literature student at CU Denver, sides with the bookstore’s decision. “There’s something to be said for maintaining a business’ integrity by keeping its name, especially when that name is associated with an Egyptian goddess of wisdom,” Kelly said. “Had I no idea who Isis was, I would feel compelled to ask questions and search for the answer. Isn’t that the entire point of bookstores, anyway?”
When Goddess Isis Books and Gifts isn’t under assault, its warm color scheme and cozily overcrowded shelves make for an inviting shopping experience. Self-described as “part library, part apothecary, and part temple,” they boast one of the largest assortments of essential oils and herbal remedies in the state.
They aim to be inclusive of all world traditions: Dozens of religious systems are represented in their statuary selections. A massive depiction of the goddess Isis looms down from the wall, meant to guide shoppers through their explorations of wisdom, spirituality, and peace.
Above: Goddess Isis Books and Gifts offers an eclectic array of spiritual articles.
photo: Ashley Bauler • CU Denver Sentry