TEUFELSKUNST Occult Art Blog
TEUFELSKUNST
Occult Art Blog

Imbolc, Candlemass, Lupercalia, Fastnacht and other February Traditions

Meanings: return of the sunlight, first of the spring festivals

Imbolc signifies the beginning of lactation in sheep and thus the first fresh nourishing milk after a long dark winter. Imbolc is also translated as “in the belly” (since now the ewes turn pregnant) or alternatively as “allround ablution”, denoting perhaps a great baptism rital. The feast day of Imbolc is rooted in agricultural traditions of Ireland. In the Mediterraneans this time of the year was associated with the Lupercalia in ancient Rome and with Candlemass since the rise of Christianity.

The Romans named the month Februarium, from Latin februum, which means “purification” (the English word fever also refers to this). The Roman Februa was a purification ritual held on February 15 = the full moon in the old Roman lunar calendar.

Other names of February include the Old English Solmonath = “mud month” and Kale-monath – named for cabbage. The February full moon is also called Snow Moon, Storm Moon and Hunger Moon.

Even though the sun is gaining strength and the first signs of spring are emerging, winter is still reigning. The month of February is therefore a month of divination and preparation. In some regions, such as the South of Germany, Austria and Switzerland the female Perchta and her hosts are still roaming about, which is reflected in the Perchtenlauf traditions in these areas, where people dressed in goat fur and wearing scary beastial or demonic masks walk around villages with rods, bells and drum beating.

Similar traditions that fall into February are Carneval and Fastnacht. The custom of wearing costumes, drinking strong beer and acting lascivious goes back to Roman times. It was condemned by the Christian church. But not even the Nazis could ban the tradition. According to Christian lore, Fastnacht is the last night before Aschermittwoch, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season (Fastenzeit). However, according to Wolf Dieter Storl the term Fastnacht originally had nothing to do with what today is understood by “fasten” (fasting) but comes actually from high German faseln (middle German vaselen), meaning to “thrive” and to “fertilize” (the earth).

Rituals:

  • oracles and pronouncing wishes
  • honoring the goddess in her Maiden aspect
  • ablution, cleansing, purification, initiation and fertility rituals
  • blessing and lighting candles (especially white and green candles)
  • planting first seeds (e.g. pre-culturing vegetables and herbs)
  • baking bread
  • drinking and offering milk
  • crafting / blessing “Brigid’s Crosses” and grain dolls
  • burning previously crafted straw figures, e.g. from previous summer
  • binding vices, mental problems, sickness or enemies via sympathetic magic unto straw bundles and burning them ritually
  • forecasting weather, celebrating groundhog Day
  • dressing up for Fastnacht, Carneval etc.

Colors: white + green, also yellow and purple

Tools: grain figures, Brigid’s crosses, ribbons, candles, stones, evergreen wreaths or smudge herb bundles, sun discs, chalice, cauldron, matches

Symbols: birch, primrose (=keys to heaven), snowdrops, violets, bear, white cow, ewe, amethyst

Deities: Brigid as Maiden riding on a bear or white cow, Februa (Roman goddess), Mary as Maiden, Perchta, Frau Holle

February 1, 2024

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Mandrake Phytographs

Mandrake Phytographs from 2023

Living and dead mandrake roots are drawn with India ink on absorbent paper, which has been infused prior with coffee, soil and the body of the portrayed mandrake root. It is meant as a collector’s item in a series of “Root” drawings, which I have been creating over a number of years.

Drawings from this series have been exhibited for the first time in 2017 in Berlin as part of the “Bad Intentions” group exhibition, alongside internationally renowned artists from Isreal and Palestine. They were also featured in an online exhibition titled “ROOT”, held in 2021 by The Organic Centre Ireland during the Corona pandemic.

The artistic process that I refer to as “phytography” has been introduced to a larger audience in 2022 during the virtual “Viridis Genii Symposium VII” and has been published as part of the accompanying book series.

Choosing mandrake as an artistic theme is tapping into and continuing an anthropomorphic mandrake root cult, which can be found throughout millenia of human civilization. My research on the religious symbolism and folkloristic mandrake traditions was published in the article “Regina Amandrakina” featured in “Pillars” journal released by Anathema Publishing in 2014. A summary of mandrake’s purported magical properties is attached via the info sheet accompanying your drawing.

The roots are portrayed in and beyond their physical form, employing different layers composed of physical matter from the root and the detailed ink drawing created during many hours, in which I establish a deeper connection to the plant soul. During this process I gain ‘magical’ experiences, such as roots that seemed dead suddenly starting to thrive again, which is in line with mandrake’s alleged necromantic and resurrecting powers.

Even more satisfying is to see the roots finding new life in new homes and transforming and functioning as divinatory tools and serving as magical famuli in the hands of other mandrake enthusiasts.

January 5, 2024

Posted In: Mandrake Project, Art, Pflanzenkunst

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Blessed Rauhnächte and Winter ’23/’24!

Small acts may still bring small changes and, most importantly, some rest and recreational time. Hence, whether you are able to make a great ritual bonfire or only light a candle, it still does make a difference! My solstice ritual was very basic and reduced. I have cut it down to burning incense and (re-)charging gemstones, which I find at random and in color and vibe connect to the beginning of winter. These currently being a dark translucent black-green tourmaline, a nicely banded gray blueish hawk’s eye, some clear irisdescent quartz crystals, a new rock crystal with dark green inclusions and an ice blue topaz with golden inclusions, which shows some subtle light diffracting effects.

The longest night here was stormy and lit up by lightning. Germany is experiencing heavy storms until christmas. We got a taste of it the next day, when we went outside with the kids for some jolly carousel rides in the rain! It is no wonder our ancestors connected this time of the year with the wild hunt! Though it marks also the turning point for the return of light. But the way is still long and winter has just officially begun.

I used the liminality of the occasion to (re-)charge said stones in the smoke of my Winter Solstice incense blend. And the moment I placed it on the burning coal and the blueish smoke rose up and followed the wind, I realised again that it is indeed one of my favorites! I was also happy to hear back from people, who also use(d) this blend. It feels actually really great knowing that people in very different places burn the same incense and appreciate its effects. 

I therefore wish all my customers and followers a truly magical winter time!

December 24, 2023

Posted In: Incense, Feast Days

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Frau Holle, Old Mother Frost…

Beginning of this year I started a journey with a goddess I had always known from legend and fairy tales but never actually approached ritually. A simple request, whether my Rauhnächte incense could also be used for honoring her, lead me to change my perspective. Eventually I spent the whole year researching and gathering herbs that connect to her essence and bring out her different light and dark aspects to finally compose an incense which evokes the obscure deity in her wholeness.

Lacking any image representing her I also designed a new sigil for her, who…

  • resides on a white mountain top, at the depth of a well, in the clouds or in hell
  • is the goddess of spinning and weaving, winter and death, childbirth and vegetation
  • contains the souls of the unborn and stillborn in her well, grants fertility and receives the souls of the dying
  • governs legions of elves and gnomes, presides over witchcraft and the sending of nightmares
  • sends snow and hail, rain and frost over the land and leads the wild hunt
  • visits earth during the twelve coldest nights, blesses the diligent and punishes the indolent
  • appears as a beautiful virgin of the dawn, fertile mother of man at day, devil’s sorcerous grandmother at night
  • is the companion of the green-man during spring and summer and the spouse of Wode, the hunter, during the dark half of the year

She is known as Percht(a), Berchta and Bertha in upper Germany (who may have Celtic roots), Holle or Holda, holde Frau, Frau Venus in Middle Germany, Frau Herke/Harke or Gercke, Frau Gode/Gaude, in lower Germany, Murawa (a night demon in Saxony) and Spillaholle in Silesia. All these names are present throughout different parts of Germany and are expressions of an older omnipotent goddess.

In Bohemia she is also simply known as Frau Holle, a small and ugly old woman, who carries a batch of stinging nettles. During the twelve cold nights of winter (twelve yule nights) she visits earth and looks into the homes, to see, if the spinners have finished their work or are still spinning. The latter she punishes by beating them with the nettles. But those who have finished their spinning are blessed with a single nettle twig left in the home that protects the house from misfortune for the whole coming year.

A Silesian rhyme about the Spillaholle goes:

Spinnt, Kinderlein, spinnt,
Die Spillalutsche kommt;
Sie guckt zu allen Löchlein rein,
Ob das Strähnlein wird bald fertig sein.

Spin, little children, spin,
The Spillalutsche comes;
She peeks through all the little gaps,
If the little strand will be finished soon.

Spillaholle occurs as an especially cruel and mean version of Frau Holle, since she kills the children, that she has caught spinning at night. She also scares people to death. She is accompanied by wood sprites, a tomcat and a goat.

Holle Incense 2023

November 26, 2023

Posted In: Art, Ritual

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Novemberness

November was once known as Windmond, Wintermonat and Nebelung. It is the darkest month, hostile and chaotic. It brings storms, disorder and weird dreams. It is the month of the ‘wild hunt’, the Cailleach, Holle, Persephone, Hecate, Brimo and other gods and goddesses of winter and death.

It is raining and snowing and the earth is being saturated with water. The cold grayness is lit up by bright saffron blossoms, colorful tree branches and berries. Wild cherry trees color their crowns red; what looks like a fiery shield or warning sign is actually an invisibility shield against herbivores. By dropping their leaves the trees now ultimately strike their solar sails. Simultaneously the fallen leaves re-assemble to form a protective and nurturing blanket on the ground, for myriads of organisms to spend the winter underneath. Here the magic happens that alchemists seek to master. All of nature’s actions are inherently logical and perfectly adjusted.

November also brings weird dreams, messages of wyrd – the weaveress, who spins, weaves and cuts the thread that forms the fabric of a person’s fate or destiny. Noteworthy, is wyrd not only the base word for modern English weird. Today the word weird denounces something supernatural, uncanny or unexpected. But wyrd is also connected to the German werden = to become, Wort = word as well as Wurz = a herb. Originally these terms, to become and to grow (as a plant) and the concept of wyrd (fate) may have been closely linked. Indeed, the wort cunner uses herbs to change a person’s destiny. The shaman or healer uses herbs to drive out sickness and avert death, which increase in the absence of day light.

The weaveress is present in many different pantheons. Sometimes she is part of a triad of goddesses of fate such as the Norse Norns, the Greek Morai and Roman Parcea. Other times she is an ancient mother goddess presiding over the souls of the unborn and the work of women, especially spinning and weaving. Germanic tribes knew her as Holle/Holda, today also identified with Perchta. Slavic peoples knew her as Mokosh or Zorya.

Frau Holle is envisioned to guard a deep well or pool from which she releases the souls of children to be born and into which she receives again the souls of the stillborn. She guards the cycle of life and death, birth and rebirth. Likewise she judges the work of man, blesses those, who finish their tasks in time and punishes those who are late or lazy. In the short month of November we are reminded that the year is in its final quarter and that we too must come to a close with our projects and rituals, but also, that we must take care of ourselves.

November rituals: healing and cleansing rituals, start a dream journal, honor god(desse)s of death and winter, process seeds and herbs gathered earlier, plant bulbs and fruit trees, burn incense for protection and oneiromancy

November 25, 2023

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Samhain, All Hallows Eve and other Holy Days of November

Around this time of the year, the third and final harvest is celebrated. In October grapes and root vegetables are due. It is also global pumpkin season. Herbs gathered after this point were considered bitter and useless. Trees are finished with sugar production and shed their leaves during the wet season, providing less windage to autumn storms. Simultanously, rainwater now pours down unhindered along branches and stems, straight towards the roots and deeper. Trees turn barren, fields turn brown. November brings storms and cold, muddy weather. The nights are cold, and the first hoarfrosts are about to put nature to sleep. Yet, the grayness is lit up by colorful branches and fruits such as the purple beauty berry, orange firethorn, dark blue sloes, black privet or red holly berries, which provide food to overwintering birds.

In spiritual terms, the moon wins over the sun and the earth mother (vegetation goddess) returns to the underworld, where she resides besides Herne, the black hunter, who has captured the sun. It is Samhain, or modern Halloween.

Samhain probably comes from proto-Celtic samoni – meaning “reunion” or “assembly”. This could refer to an assembly of people, an assembly or renunion of the living and the dead. It could also simply refer to an assembly of harvest or the coming together of the months of the year, since Samhain marked the beginning of the Celtic New Year.

Now begins the darkest time of the year.

In need for light, warmth and protection against the dark, lanterns are set up around homes and properties. Whatever has been gathered up to this point and has not been processed yet, is being cooked, bottled up, stored or crafted into useful things. The ancestors are revered and the gods of the underworld are appeased.

On the evening of 31 October, also known as All Hallows Eve and Halloween, the gates to the underworld open and the spirits of the dead are believed to visit the living. The event is luciously celebrated during the Mexican Day of the Dead. The oppulent celebration includes bountiful offerings, music and dance, to welcome the beloved dead and keep the dark dead out.

Christians celebrate and honor their saints and the souls of their dead during All Saints, All Souls and Totensonntag. Candles and lanterns are placed on graves and light up the dark places of the dead, which are in addition covered with evergreen twigs and colorful flowers.

Children dress up for Halloween and play trick or treat. There is also the tradition of St. Martin’s day, when children gather to walk up and down the streets with self-made lanterns, singing songs and reenacting the legend of St. Martin, who cut his cloak and gave half of it to a beggar, who was shivering from the cold.

Samhain is a cross-quarter day on the pagan wheel of the year (and was originally a Celtic quarter day). It is oriented by the moon’s phase and falls on the November or October full moon, respective the full moon that occurs closest to the midpoint between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, and when the sun moves into Scorpio. The October full moon is also known as Hunter Moon, Harvest Moon and Falling Leaves Moon. The November full moon as Beaver Moon and Freezing Moon or Frost Moon.

Main magical practices during this time are: protection magic, banishing magic, necromancy, black magic or nigromancy, rituals with masks and effigies, pact making and pact renewal (due the opening of the gates to the spirit world).

My incense for Samhain contains:

  • baltic amber
  • juniper
  • mugwort
  • oak bark
  • pine resin
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • spruce resin
  • thyme
  • vervain

October 31, 2023

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Samhain Incense

Here comes a another fresh batch of Samhain incense! This blend is was the first I created for the harvest festivals and closes the circle, being dedicated to the third and final harvest feast. At the same time it marks the beginning of the Gaelic New Year. On Samhain the living and the dead assemble and sacrifices are made. The blend is hence both protective and strengthening as well as suited for opening the gates to the spirit world and chthonic realms. It smells woody, herbaceaous and resinous.

Contains: amber, juniper, mugwort, pine + spruce resin from local forests, oak bark, rosemary, sage, thyme, vervain

Please remember my ordering deadlines for Samhain:
18 Oct. ’23 for international shipments
25 Oct. ’23 for orders within Germany

October 14, 2023

Posted In: Feast Days, News & Site Updates, Incense

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Mabon / Autumn Blessing Incense

Mabon / Autumn Equinox 2023

New sigil and new incense for the season!

This incense blend is dedicated to seasonal feast day of Mabon, September feast days and the Autumn equinox in particular. It is part of the Teufelskunst “wheel of the year” incense series and is dedicated to the second of the harvest festivals (the first being Lughnasadh and the third being Samhain). It is all about the rituals of autumn, for example the celebration of the Autumn Equinox and blot rituals / harvest blessing and sacrificial rituals. It smells earthy, warm and sweet, but also resinous. It unifies dark and light aspects. It contains aromatic and warming ingredients, such as cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, precious saffron, storax bark and vetiver root. The resins in this fiery blend are powerful protective agents, such as dragon’s blood, dark copal and pine resin. Sweet myrrh, oakmoss and sticky labdanum in turn revere the scents of autumn and bind the herbs. Fragrant herbs such as mugwort and mullein complete this special composition. Lastly, freshly gathered nettle is included as a reference to the goddesses of spinning and weaving, but also enhances the protective qualities of this magical Mabon blend.

The sigil adorning the blend has been desgined especially for Mabon (read more in my next post).

The incense comes in 30 ml paper bags and is now available in the shop!

In other news, I’ve been switching to paper bags!

I made new designs for them, especially for the qliphotic blends. Step by step I am also re-doing the feast day sigils. It’s a pile of work, but ultimately it will be easier to simply print and fill these than cleansing, labeling and packing up glass jars, which also always meant more packing waste. Also, the production of the silver foil labels wasn’t particularly environmental friendly either. So…

These are meant to be smelled and burnt.

I may still do special editions in glass jars every once in a blue moon. I have in fact been gifted a big pile of small miron violet glass jars…

But for now, it’s paper bags! How do you like them?

September 16, 2023

Posted In: News & Site Updates, Incense, Feast Days, Ritual

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