March 27, 2013 / Brooklyn news / Bushwick / Books / Boro of Nerds

Magic: The gathering! Occult bookstore a haven for Bushwick’s supernatural scene

The Brooklyn Paper
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The literature at a new Bushwick bookstore is bound to raise your spirits.

Phillip English and Joe Petersen opened the occult bookstore, boutique and performance space Catland on a quiet stretch of Flushing Avenue last month in hopes of serving the borough’s booming metaphysical scene.

“It’s for the Pagans and the Wiccans and the mystics and the hoodoo root workers,” said English, who was raised an Odinian, a worshipper of Norse god Odin, and is now a Thelemite, a follower of the teachings of British magician and writer Aleister Crowley.

The shop differs from the typical botanicas around Brooklyn, which cater mostly to Hispanic and Caribbean shoppers interested in practices such as Santeria and voodoo.

Catland, instead, targets Bushwick’s booming 20-something scene with a focus on education, first off through literary offerings covering both the history and rituals of a variety of marginalized occult religions — look out for titles including “The Magician’s Companion,” “The Voudon Gnostic Workbook,” and “Birth Canal Blues.”

Alongside the books are incense, minerals, and herbs intended to be used to communicate with spirits, as well as figurines, jewelry, and candles.

The pair keep an altar in the rear performance room and put it to use in a recent Mercury ritual to invoke the spirit of the Egyptian god Tehuti, which featured a chalice filled with hyssop water, a bronze cup inscribed in Aramaic, a statue of Odin, two bells connected by a rope, and benzoin powder.

“The idea is to evoke a feeling or a force,” said English.

On top of the merchandise and rituals, English and Petersen host a Friday movie screening and plan to offer a goth night with an open mic, performance hour, and dancing to industrial and dark music.

“We want it to focus more on the social element, instead of having the music so loud that people can’t socialize,” said English.

Customer Lyndsey Harrington, who attended a recent film screening, said Bushwick has become a vortex of occult energy and that a place like Catland — which is named after a song by the experimental band Current 93 — is necessary as a hub for the community.

“Everyone was hanging out and talking about their different approaches to magic,” said Harrington. “Women with goddess and pagan roots spent half an hour talking to a Satanist.”

In a tiny nook under the stairs, a woman who goes by the name of Licorice Root performs astrology and tarot cards readings — bolstered by a computer program and, of course, years worth of horoscope know-how.

“If you have a certain Venus transit, you will find love,” said Root — who vouches for the accuracy of her readings up until the point when free will comes into play. “I can tell you that, but it depends on if you leave your house.”

Catland owners are confident Brooklyn’s small supernatural subculture can sustain the shop — and their business model was enough to win the backing of third investor Fred Jennings.

But don’t expect to find Jennings around the store.

“He’s not interested in the occult,” said English. “He just thinks it’s a good business decision.”

Catland [987 Flushing Ave. between Bogart Street and Central Avenue in Bushwick, (718) 418–9393,].

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at

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Reasonable discourse

o3 from bk says:
boo !
March 27, 2013, 7:56 am
diehipster from Eliminating Ethans says:
Hahahahahahahahahahaha kidultery at it's finest. Another hipster discovery!

Coming up tomorrow: Caleb Van Trustfund brews a kale infused craft ale in his sweet Bozwik loft.

Like like like yah
March 27, 2013, 8:46 am
ty from pps says:
Yeah, diehipster... you're right. There haven't been stores like this, in various form, all over this city for decades or even centuries. Another invention of "hipsters" eh?

You're very dim.
March 27, 2013, 9:10 am
manhatposeur from brokeland says:
harry Potter should be hanging heresz
March 27, 2013, 9:19 am
JAZ from Hurting Harper says:
ty - "The shop differs from the typical botanicas around Brooklyn, which cater mostly to Hispanic and Caribbean shoppers interested in practices such as Santeria and voodoo.

Catland, instead, targets Bushwick’s booming 20-something scene with a focus on education..."

So basically this reads as if they are implying that for the white Brooklyn invading creative class, they need to focus on education, as opposed to Caribbean and Hispanic shoppers who wouldn't care anything about education. You have to admit, it does read as a bit smug and self-important.
March 27, 2013, 9:26 am
SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
Hey DH. I don't think you are a true believer. I bet this bunch could make entire trust funds disappear or magically levitate rents to great heights!
March 27, 2013, 9:51 am
John from Sunset Park says:
why don't store like this get held-up more often? A perp looking in the window at these dweebs should feel incited towards violence and robbery, should they not?
how do places like this survive in Brooklyn, when the Carvel near me seems to get held-up quarterly, WTF!!!
sorry for that, but I just wish skinny-tools with no jobs and lots of $$ would "transition" back to mid-America already — enough is enough.
March 27, 2013, 11:02 am
John from Sunset Park says:
and ...diehipster from Eliminating Ethans says:

IF you are the brilliant person that was running that most beloved site Please PLEASE get that site back up and running. It's absence is killing my sanity. Normal hard-working people need somewhere to vent brother. Don't give in to the flow of yupster/hipster sewage, fight against it. Please!
March 27, 2013, 11:05 am
Phillip English from Bushwick says:
Dear John from Sunset Park who would like to see my store get robbed:

1. Unlike what commenter "Die Hipster" would have you believe, our dusty, creepy occult bookstore is not a high profit business. We are not, nor are our clientelle, "trust fund" kids, and it's not likely that our weird bookshop will be "raising rent" prices in the neighborhood very soon. Robbing us will not yield a particularly worthwhile bit of plunder. We intentionally do not offer the same services as local Botanicas because we do not want to compete with nor harm locally owned businesses. As to "Skinny tools with no jobs"- who exactly are you referring to? My job happens to be "bookstore owner", and I find that most of our clientele are hard working people from a diverse array of ethnic and economic backgrounds with a genuine interest in connecting to the divine.

Now, you may find yourself wanting to consider for a moment that another reason we are not as likely to be "held up" as a Carvel is that we truly do hold strange rites in our backroom and have generated a nexus of power that could result in disaster for anyone who wishes us harm. You may want to entertain the notion that if someone wished us, say, to have harm done to our person, that the inner planes guardians of our shop, and our secret temple, would direct a baneful current of terrible power at their vital organs.

That, of course, is just a hypothesis as to the kind of thinking that would keep someone from threatening our skinny bodies.

Additionally: My thanks to Danielle for a fair and accurate article. It was lovely to share our way of life with you.
March 27, 2013, 11:20 am
scott from park slope says:
these stores are symptomatic of people who feel alienated from established religion, but still seek the divine because they feel the presence of a higher power in their lives. as a firm Christian I don't feel threatened by these folks in the least. I'm glad they subscribe to systems of morality.

the people who do deserve pity and scorn are diehipster, SwampYankee, and their fellow nancies, for whom no introspection, common humanity, mutual respect, entrepreneurial chutzpah, joyous creativity, or simple masculinity ever enter into consideration. nearly every woman, gay man, straight man, and even transgendered person i have ever known, heard of, or read about has more character and balls than any of them. they are cowards and weaklings on every level. get thee gone, nancies.
March 27, 2013, 11:28 am
Tim from Clinton Hill says:
Financial standing, belief systems, color... don't hate. Don't wish evil on others. Just do your best everybody. Can't we all just get along?
March 27, 2013, 12:40 pm
kh from Williamsburg says:
I was raised Christian, was strongly devout through my adolescent life, and now am at a crossroads in my spiritual journey.

I have all the respect in the world for any person who approaches a subject as passionate and subjective as spirituality/religion/belief from a place of openness. The welcoming and informative position that Catland offers is a wonderful breath of fresh air in a subject that till now seems to have been predominantly "underground," at least in my experience.

Bravo, sirs, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
March 27, 2013, 12:46 pm
Homey da Poet from Crooklyn says:
The invocation of Tehudi
Began with Ms. Root shaking her booti
When the deity appeared
He was sporting a beard
And was actually kind of fruiti
March 27, 2013, 2:12 pm
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
Phillip - As a practicing Catholic I can't say I'll be a patron of your store, but I wish you the best of luck on your new business. As a favor, could you and your friends please conjer up a spell to transplant d-bags like diehipster, John and SwampYankee to some sort of parallel universe where they can't bother anybody? Brownsville or Staten Island would be suitable and they'll fit in great there.
March 27, 2013, 4:14 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Anyone out there remember Star Magic?
March 27, 2013, 5:08 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
This venture has potential, but only if its proprietors encourage with curiosity--that doesn't have to preclude congress with the neighboring botanics.
March 27, 2013, 6:24 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
March 27, 2013, 6:24 pm
eric dee says:
nah i no dat one harry potter mother&^%& I went to school wit him.......harry potter livin in a trailer doin wizzard sh*T..... talkin the haunted house down the street sh*t brevard county represent
March 27, 2013, 7:09 pm
shield wolf from midgard says:
D..Hipster and others locals only. ?WTF
March 27, 2013, 7:11 pm
Counting Crows 69 from East New York says:
That —— is trouble. Good luck.
March 28, 2013, 2:06 am
Counting Crows 69 from East New York says:
The —— in the middle I mean.
March 28, 2013, 2:07 am
BunnynSunny from Clinton Hill says:
Sunny was telling me just this morning how strange it is to see so many of these little shops, bars, clubs, restaurants opening all over Brooklyn as they slowly and permanently disappear in Manhattan only to be replaced by a Duane Reade or a bank.
March 28, 2013, 10:54 am
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
“He’s not interested in the occult,” said English. “He just thinks it’s a good business decision.”

Obviously a Wharton Grad.
March 28, 2013, 11:41 am
John from Sunset park says:
Phillip English from Bushwick says:
....You may want to entertain the notion that if someone wished us, say, to have harm done to our person, that the inner planes guardians of our shop, and our secret temple, would direct a baneful current of terrible power at their vital organs.

You are awesome! can I rent you out? do you perform at children's parties?
c'mon, stupid — what whited-out-suburban neighborhood in Ohio, or Michigan did you grow up in?

you hipsters from Bushwick need to stop gentrifying the neighborhood, pushing the poor folks ever further east & south (away from shortened reliable mass-transportation) towards Cypress Hills and East NY, and just go back to middle-America already
March 28, 2013, 12:12 pm
ofine from bush-stuy says:
Reading is good. Let's keep it simple, folks.
March 28, 2013, 12:51 pm
Eric Allen from Bushwick says:
I for one am extremely psyched to see a place like this opening in the area. Having just moved here from Amish country, aka Finger Lakes, it's nice to find a place that serves as a place of communion with like and unlike minds all seeking divinity in our waking lives. I can't possibly see how people like "diehipster" (implied violence = unevolved soul) can find a negative in such a positive contribution to the neighborhood. And to put it in perspective, I've worked hard for peanuts, my entire life. I'm the furthest thing from a trustfund kid. In fact, I believe that trust fund kids are far less likely to research ANYTHING. they're spoonfed, how does someone that is handed everything going to even care about divinity let alone study and practice the traditions? I think the answer's simple, they most likely wouldn't. As far as I'm concerned, I will regular Catland as often as the curiosity strikes me, which is on average daily. To Joe, Phillip, and Licorice, I look forward to watching the temple grow!
March 28, 2013, 4:04 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
This place will be shuttered and reopened as an over priced, pretentious, beardo coffee shop by this time next year. Anyone with a crystal ball could see that coming
March 28, 2013, 4:13 pm
jay from nyc says:
so lets see, a bunch of people making hate speech against a religion on the Brooklyn Paper blog, thats just great, and said religion responds with thinly veiled threats of violence. Even better. Why move to someplace in the south when you can get all your bigotry and hatred in one place here.
March 28, 2013, 7:59 pm
K. from ArKady says:
@ Philip English:

You call that a Center of Pestilence? Why, that's not even an anthill on Everest! You live in NYC, Bro. Take a letter train downtown to the Financial District. Now that's something old man Crowley would be proud of!
March 29, 2013, 11:54 am
Phil from Bushwick says:

Given that I am not a Christian, and have no mandate to "turn the other cheek", I fail to see how stating "we believe that a higher power will prevent you from doing violence to us, and it will be unpleasant for you to attempt to do so" is a hateful thing to say?

It was my intent to stay off of the comments section here, but when someone gets online actually advocating that my place of business, and my employees suffer harm, then I don't see what's hateful about voicing a response that is less than "nice" ?

I would also like to re-iterate that "Occult Bookstore" is usually not something real estate investors see and get excited about. We are occupying a space previously held by a plumbing supply shop that closed up because the owner retired and no longer wished to be in business. I fail to see how a shop like ours contributes to gentrification. Is it a common factor in the gentrification process that a pagan community bubbles up? Do you suddenly go "Uh oh, there are pagans in the neighborhood, now the rent is going to get out of hand!"

I think these comments are far less about gentrification and "hipster bashing" and more about religious intolerance and bigotry. That comes with the territory in a business like mine, but I will not take threats of violence lying down.

Our aim is merely to serve our local community and to facilitate a spiritual, healthy lifestyle for our clientele. We care deeply about our neighborhood, and seek only to foster the spiritual growth of all of its denizens.
March 29, 2013, 1:45 pm
SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
BTW, this occult bullsh@#? Can anybody prove any of it? Same question for any organized religion. Can you prove any of this or is it all crap? so you have a bunch of magical sky or earth magic friends and you want people to believe? Well if the suckers want to buy your books have at it, but not a single word about an imaginary being in any of them have a word of truth.
March 29, 2013, 5:22 pm
JAY from NYC says:
phil try reading my comment you got it exactly backwards, try again.
I will quote myself to make it easier for you "bunch of people making hate speech against a religion"
as in, I am against that, leave people alone to practice their religion as long as it is not breaking any laws. Understand that so far?
That was followed by "said religion responds with thinly veiled threats of violence."
Simple enough for you, and clear things up, oh follower of Alister Crowely and scion of Thelema?
Having said that, Alister Crowley was a known bigot, racist, anti-semite, and his "visions" were fueled by the fact that he was a heroin addict, and habitually used cocaine, hashish, ether, mescaline, and morphine.
In addition this "winner" viewed women as second class citizens, was a woman beater, and he died bankrupt.
If you think that is a good role model, then have at it, but don't lecture me or anyone else on what hate or responsibility or anything else is, given what you allegedly follow.
And actually, yes, you DO have a mandate to turn the other check, its called the law. The law says you don't get to solve things with violence, religion or not. The law also says you don't get to use drugs, and you don't get to beat women, whether in religious ritual or not.
And if you are doing those things, like Crowley did, then you deserve to go to jail.
If you are not doing those things or other nonlegal activities, then carry on and believe what you want and hopefully you will be left alone.
Have a nice day.
March 29, 2013, 6:06 pm
Seamus from Los Angeles via Rockaway Beach says:
1. This is not the first occult shop in Brooklyn by a long shot. The Magickal Childe was there ages ago. This is nothing new, and good for them for engaging with their community.
2. All neighborhoods change. At least brooklyn's getting nicer. Some neighborhoods got the ocean in their homes.
3. LOL @ Uncle Al being a means by which to judge someone. Gardner > Crowley any day, even if he borrowed from him >:D
March 29, 2013, 8:43 pm
kh from Williamsburg says:
@SwampYankee: why would you ever spend so much time and [negative] energy on a topic that you clearly care nothing about? I mean, I'd understand if you were making an interesting point.
March 30, 2013, 12:07 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
jay from nyc - bravo

there is no such thing as the whammy - only idiots who believe in it - be careful or santa is going to pass you up
March 30, 2013, 10:48 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
....fueled by the fact that he was a heroin addict, and habitually used cocaine, hashish, ether, mescaline, and morphine.

so was most of brooklyn during 70/80's
March 30, 2013, 10:49 am
mofo from dofo says:
i saw die hipster having sex with a pile of animal feces in prospect park. true story bro.
April 1, 2013, 3:31 pm
lilcubana from bushwick says:
ty - "The shop differs from the typical botanicas around Brooklyn, which cater mostly to Hispanic and Caribbean shoppers interested in practices such as Santeria and voodoo.

Catland, instead, targets Bushwick’s booming 20-something scene with a focus on education..."

I have to agree with JAZ on the way these two lines jumped out---on the part of the author who wrote them. As someone who's equally at home in a botanica or occult shop based on hermetic traditions, I had a nice conversation with the owners when my husband and I paid a visit to the new store. I didn't get a sense of anything other than respect for the Yoruba/Santeria/Voudoun spiritual paths that have already been part of the neighborhood. (BTW Lyndsey Harrington, what's with all this "Bushwick HAS BECOME magical" stuff?)
The way the article is written, on the other hand, seems far more pandering to white transplants who are afraid of the communities already here than the store itself.
April 7, 2013, 10:16 pm
HermanSlaterGhost from bushwick says:
OOOoooooooo The Warlock Shop was in Brooklyn, the Magickal Childe was in Manhattan on 19th OOOOOOoooooo...
April 7, 2013, 10:22 pm
Michael Nirenberg from Planet Earth says:
What Phil and Joe are doing at Catland is great. If you don't like it, don't go there. Who needs you? If you're going to name yourself diehipster (or some like minded cowardly anonymous pseudonym) then you obviously are a hipster. This is just like how i always thought homophobic was another word for a closeted gay. This mentality is for those who care too much about what others think. Go back to the 1950's because you obviously can't confront change. Oh, and big cities change all the time. That's life. Keep up the great and interesting work Catland. -Mike
April 13, 2013, 8:25 am
Hermasolunas Vuts from South Hades says:
Nice idea, weak offerings. They simply need to find better books, lectures, events..etc. The flimsy new age and 'dark' hocus pocus nonsense brings them down into a spiritual and intellectual ghetto. There are marvelous Hermetic, Alchemical, Qabbalistic, and Gnostic scholars and mages out there who would LOVE to have an event. Find them Catland, and begin to mature. If you don't, it will be lightweight playtime forever. This is actually a word of support!
Sept. 15, 2013, 6:47 am
Diane from DUMBO says:
Catland is great. They just need more books, just more books. They have great titles by Weiser, Ourobouros, Fulgur, Scarlet Imprint, and others....but they need more. It takes time to stock a place like that, and they will get there. My 2 cents: more scholarly titles, less new age material. The candle magic stuff brings it down. Still, they are the ONLY ones around doing it now that all the old shops are long gone. I personally love going in there and hope they last.
Nov. 4, 2013, 2:58 pm
General ——hawk from bushwick/bed-stuy says:
can't believe what a bunch of pikers there are on this website. This bookstore sounds incredibly cool. How do people get off on talking —— about a book store? I mean do you even read books?

Nobody is going to get rich off this occult book store but its an awesome idea that has been seen through and has potential to foster an amazing spiritual community that is sorely needed in a brooklyn filled with zombies and goons.

I tip my hat to you oh magic people. I will be drinking a Semen Smoothie in your honor tonight.

General ——hawk
"the paul revere of bed-stuy"
Nov. 18, 2013, 12:55 am

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