Catland somehow manages to be both delightfully spooky and comfortably welcoming behind its small storefront, which is unassumingly nestled along a busy street in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. Crimson walls display colorful candles and jars of herbs next to ornate art pieces, while carefully organized stones and rocks are spread out neatly over tables alongside handmade cosmetics and zines.
This metaphysical boutique, which sells books, candles, oils, tarot decks, incense, and other spiritual tools, opened in 2013 with the goal of serving the local occultist community.
But with its outdoor space and creative energy flowing through its walls, the shop has become more than just a bookstore and boutique: It’s a hotspot for rad classes, festivals, markets, and other cool events you won’t experience anywhere else in New York City. Catland is a space that’s perfect for the witchy renaissance that’s happening today.
“I think the current witch wave is partially a response to the spiritual vacuum created by the trend of new atheism that many of our parents adhered to,” says Melissa Madera, one of the owners of Catland. “I also think it helps ease the extreme disillusionment with the world that many millennials are experiencing as they get older.”
Madera, a born-and-raised New Yorker, left the culinary world to co-own the store. She initially became involved through attending Catland’s events, and it’s easy to see the allure.
Ranging from highly spiritual to inspirationally instructional, some events you can expect to see are non-secular seances with professional mediums (no cell phones allowed) to dream practice workshops that assist participants in lucid dreaming and dream recall.
Weekends bring plant markets bursting with medicinal herbs, all-poetry open mic nights, and intimate concerts featuring local musicians to benefit progressive causes. Classes are hands-on (like an immersive introduction to tarot cards, or a free movement class showing you how dance can be used as a self-love ritual) or lecture-based (like an afternoon workshop discussing female archetypes in mythology, or classes on plant magic and spell making).
The shop hosts some of the most diverse and exceptionally unique happenings of any venue in NYC. “My favorite event we’ve ever hosted was our 2016 Halloween party,” says Madera. “We had maybe 200 guests, a lineup of incredible witch bands, interactive altars and art installations, a human marionette doll, a bonfire in our courtyard, and a group ritual at midnight. It was a trip.”
Like witchcraft itself, Catland’s events are highly dependent on and inspired by the seasons, with solstice celebrations and zodiac-themed indie markets occurring regularly. Or you can just follow your junior high dreams and take a class on how to curse your ex.
“Right now, our programming is mostly educational,” says Madera. “We’re looking forward to using our herb garden as a teaching space all summer long. I’m really excited about what’s in store,” from plant magic classes to short plays.
And while it can be intimidating to explore a world you’ve never actually dipped your toes into, Madera says that even the most practiced of witches is still a student, and no one will look down on you for being a newcomer in their welcoming space.
“We do our best to serve as a meetinghouse for people of all experience levels and backgrounds, and there is always more that everyone can learn,” she says. “But also, witches are a ton of fun to hang out with.”