Taking Back Buckland’s Collection

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 10, 2008 — 4 Comments

American Witchcraft pioneer Raymond Buckland seems to have been in a behind-the-scenes struggle to regain control of the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (aka the Buckland Collection of Magic and Folklore). This collection, which includes over 500 artifacts related to ceremonial magic, folk magic, and Witchcraft, was sold to a Gardnerian couple in 1999 when Buckland found himself unable to maintain it.

“Unable to take timeout from his busy writing schedule, and as book promotions and lectures increasingly demanded more of his time, rather than allow his collection to languish forever unseen in storage, Buckland sold the collection to a Gardnerian High Priest and Priestess in Houma, near New Orleans in April 1999. Monte Plaisance and his wife Tolia-Ann are founders of the “Church of Thessaly” (a Graeco-Roman Coven) and organizers of a “WitchFest”, an annual gathering of witches in New Orleans. Together they own and run a metaphysical store called “Crossroads”, which now serves as “The Buckland Museum”, as well as the base for their Church of Thessaly.”

But it looks like things took a sour turn recently, and Monte Plaisance and his wife Tolia-Ann (aka Kirios Museos And Kiria Gypsy) had packed the collection up, saying that charging admission to the collection amounted to “blasphemy”.

“The museum, although it was a pleasure to own and operate, just did not generate the amount of interest needed to succeed in comparison to the amount of work both I and everyone who helped put into it. The museum, to myself and to many others, is filled with religious artifacts that are important to the history of pagan religion and as such, I felt that profiting from the exhibition of these items was tantamount to blasphemy and also degraded the sacredness of these artifacts. Because of these conflicts of interest in myself, I opted to pack the museum up and store it away until I could find a way to fund it without having to charge for admissions.”

In a press release dated November 4th, Monte Plaisance claimed that after “some discussion” with Buckland they have decided to return the collection to him. However, Buckland’s lawyer, in a press release e-mailed to The Wild Hunt, tells a somewhat different tale.

“After filing a lawsuit against Mr. Monte Plaisance in the 21st Judicial District Court for the Parish of Livingston, State of Louisiana, No. 120767, Division “H”, a copy of which can be obtained from the Clerk of Court, 21st Judicial District Court for the Parish of Livingston, State of Louisiana, Dr. Raymond Buckland recently recovered the the Buckland Collection of Magic and Folklore. The suit was ended when Mr. Plaisance agreed to return the Collection in exchange for the dismissal of the lawsuit against him. The settlement agreement between Dr. Buckland and Mr. Plaisance specifically states that “Mr. Raymond Buckland desires to terminate all contact with Mr. Monte Plaisance.” Mr. Plaisance’s Press Release does not violate the letter of the agreement. However, implying that Dr. Buckland in any way endorses Mr. Plaisance or any of his activities is entirely incorrect. Further, the Collection is still being inventoried, so Dr. Buckland is not yet prepared to comment on whether the Collection has been returned in its entirety.”

So it looks like threatened litigation, not a casual discussion, was what brought about this turn of events. Did Buckland feel the initial agreement was broken when they closed the museum down? Was he insulted that Plaisance implied charging admission was blasphemy? Something else? Whatever the circumstances, it doesn’t seem like relations were cheery between Buckand and Plaisance. I suppose that the full story will never become public knowledge at this point. Buckland’s plans, now that the collection is being transferred back to him, is unknown at this time. We can hope that in due course the collection will be made available to the public, and interested scholars, once more.

ADDENDUM: More background information on this story from New Orleans-based Witch Susan R. Kagan.

Jason Pitzl-Waters