Post by Joanna on Sept 26, 2017 13:07:22 GMT -5
The Buckland Gallery of Witchcraft & Magick
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Buckland Gallery of Witchcraft and Magick at 2676 W. 14th Street opened inside Tremont’s A Separate Reality record store earlier this year and has remained one of the city’s hidden gems – until recently. “At first, we just had small vinyl lettering on the door; we were very quiet when we first opened,” says co-director Jillian Slane. “A few weeks later, my husband painted the words ‘Witch Museum’ on the window. Now we’ve put a stand-up sign out on the street.”
Word seems to be spreading, as patrons have traveled from as far away as New York, Pennsylvania and Missouri to view the storied collection – which has gone through numerous incarnations (and, likely, incantations) over the years. A prominent figure in the world of Wicca, Raymond Buckland started the collection – culled from artifacts he’d collected in his travels around the world – in his basement in 1966. “At that time, it was just for members of his coven,” explains museum co-director Jillian Slane. “Eventually, the local media outed him and he decided to go public. [Buckland] put it on display for everyone to see at his house in Bay Shore, New York.”
Buckland’s one-of-a-kind collection garnered a great deal of fascination, receiving media coverage in national outlets such as the New York Times and Newsday and a display inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The collection remained at Buckland’s New York home until 1976, when he relocated to New Hampshire. The museum had a three-year run there, but when Buckland moved to Virginia, things hit a standstill. “[Buckland] was too busy writing and lecturing as the founder of American Wicca, so he put the collection in storage,” Slane says.
Interested buyers reached out to Buckland in the late 90s and the museum found a new home in New Orleans. The collection was on display for almost a decade, but after some financial fallout from the deal, Buckland legally reclaimed the collection. At that point, a local Wiccan by the name of Reverend Velvet Rieth took over, displaying the items in her garage for the purpose of educatiing the public. However, after she fell ill, a Columbus-based member of Buckland’s coven brought the collection to Ohio in 2015, where it once again sat in storage.
Enter current caretakers Jillian Slane and Steven Intermill, a married couple who moved to Cleveland four years ago. Self-proclaimed “museum nerds,” Slane has worked at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, while Intermill is the curator for A Christmas Story House & Museum. “We’ve always wanted to open a museum,” admits Slane. “Though it’s always been a dream of ours, we weren’t sure how to manifest it.” Though Slane and Intermill aren’t members of the Wiccan community, they saw an opportunity when they learned about the collection’s arrival in Ohio. “Steven knows a lot about the underground scene and mystery religions, so he emailed Ray to ask what was up with the collection,” Slane continues.
The stars aligned, and Slane and Intermill were granted permission to reopen the museum in Cleveland. In searching for a space, Intermill contacted his friend Gus Payne, who owns A Separate Reality in Tremont. The record store happened to have an empty storage space and Payne offered it to them. “[Payne] specializes in psychedelic rock from the 60s and 70s, so it’s a good synergy,” Slane says. “People who are interested in those records are interested in the aesthetics of the time. It’s a mutual benefit for both of us.”
Because of limited space, only approximately 40 percent of the total museum collection is on display. Some of the crown jewels include Sybil Leeks’ crystal ball, Gerald Gardner’s broom, Morning Glory Zell’s headdress, and items used in Buckland’s Long Island coven, including a chalice and ceremonial robe. One of Slane’s favorite items is a Biomate Biorhythm Calculator, which is said to predict biorhythms using one’s birth date. “There are a lot of things in storage, since it’s a very small space and densely packed,” Slane adds. “There is still a lot more that we could be showing.”
Slane’s hope is to expand the museum in the future, but in the meantime, she plans to rotate things from the permanent collection. Also in the works are contemporary art shows, classes and lectures, as well as special events. In October, Columbus-based medium Susan Rawlings will host a séance at the gallery.
The ultimate special event would be a lecture by Ray Buckland, which Slane says isn’t out of the question. “We would love to get Ray to Cleveland,” she says, adding that Buckland currently serves as an advisor. “He’s in his early 80s and still going strong.”
According to Slane, the response to the museum has been positive, which has come as a pleasant surprise to her and Intermill. “In opening a business that’s somewhat controversial, there have been a lot of nerves,” she concedes. “I’m happy that it has been so well-received. I’m not a witch, we’re not in the craft – but we’ve learned so much that we can inform people about it.”
Source: Jen Jones Donatelli, Fresh Water, September 30, 2017.
Photo by Steven Intermill.