Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick
Look but don't touch. Some artifacts in the Buckland Museum are best left alone.

Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick

Field review by the editors.

Cleveland, Ohio

"People always ask: Have I opened the box? Do I plan on opening the box?" said curator Steven Intermill.

Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick
Celebrity cat Lil Bub and museum director Jillian Slane ponder the crystal ball of witch Sybil Leek.

He was referring to the demon in the box, one of many odd artifacts in the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick.

"I'm not very superstitious," said Steven. "But I'm also not someone who goes around opening a box that may have a demon in it."

The box became demon-filled in the 1970s thanks to Raymond Buckland, namesake of the collection (and one of the USA's best-known witches). At the time Raymond had a witchcraft museum in New York, with items gathered from "pagan elders and bigwigs," according to Steven. Raymond captured the demon with his magickal skills -- it had been pestering one of his friends -- then proudly added the small metal box to his exhibits.

Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick
Head of a horned god was made in the 1960s by a High Priest from Canada.

After that, the museum cycled through several changes in ownership and location. Its collection vanished from view for years, and some of it was damaged or lost. But when hundreds of its artifacts resurfaced in Ohio in 2015, the box was among the survivors, its seals unbroken. Steven and museum director Jillian Slane created the Buckland Museum and reopened the collection to the public on April 29, 2017.

Raymond Buckland, age 82, attended the festivities. "He looked really excited," said Steven. "He isn't officially involved, but Jillian and I consult him constantly."

We can guess one of Raymond's suggestions. Don't open the box.

If your only view of witchcraft has been through the lens of Harry Potter, then the Buckland Museum, though small in size, offers a broader perspective. Its artifacts range from Wicca ceremonial items -- such as Raymond's horned hat -- to astrology, palmistry, tarot, psychokinesis, magick (spelled with a "k" to distinguish it from stage magic), Shintotronics, biorhythms, spiritualism, "scrying," voodoo, and the occult in general. "Raymond thought it was important to show the whole shebang instead of a narrow view of it," said Steven. Raymond even collected items from Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan, although, according to Steven, Raymond tactfully dismissed LaVey as "a bit much."

Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick
Witch's broom. It was used for psychic sweep-ups, not flying.

For fun, the museum displays the broom of Gerald Gardner (Raymond's neopagan mentor) as if airborne. "But you don't fly with a besom (beez-um)," said Steven. "You use it to symbolically sweep away negative energy and astral buildup. It's more of a psychic broom." Exhibits like the hanging broom help the museum seem more familiar and family-friendly. It even has a mock altar where visitors can practice spell-casting poses for snapshots. "I never want to display anything that I wouldn't want my mom to see," said Steven.

Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick
Troll doll has been modified with stuck-on hair and unfriendly swords.

Still, like relics from more familiar religions, some of the artifacts in the Buckland Museum are genuinely weird. Occultist Aleister Crowley's trident wand, for example, has been banned from Steven's car after he noticed himself driving "very aggressively" when he moved it to the museum. And the demon in the box doesn't freak Steven out as much as the collection's toy troll doll, whose powers remain unknown. "It's got hair attached to it and spikes in it," said Steven. "Very strange. Super creepy."

When every major city seems to have a storefront with shrunken heads and serial killer art, the Buckland Museum stands out for its creditable collection and bona-fide novelty. It's not trying to shock anyone, and its visitors have responded in kind.

"I'm honestly surprised by how respectful people have been," said Steven. "I was worried about pitchfork mob types, but instead it's been like, 'Oh, a witchcraft museum. Neat!'"

Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick

Address:
2676 W. 14th St., Cleveland, OH
Directions:
South side of the city. On the southbound side of W. 14th St., just south of its stoplight intersection with Auburn Ave., and just northeast of the intersection of I-71 and I-490.
Hours:
Tu, Th 5-7; F 5-8, Sa-Su 12-5, or by appt. (Call to verify)
Phone:
718-709-6643
Admission:
Adults $5.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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