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).
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?
The autumn equinox marks the second annual harvest celebration. At the same time it is the last of the eight “wheel of the year” festivals. In modern witchcraft the feast day is called Mabon. As one of the four quarter days, it marks a time, when servants were hired, school terms started, and rents were due. The fruits of the season include grains, aromatic herbs, berries, grapes, apples, nuts, acorns, chestnuts and so on. Nature’s cornocupeia is filled to the rim. It is also rut and hunting time.
Though the equinox marks the point when the night wins over the day time, September days are still warm, due to a weather phenomenon known as “Indian Summer” and German “Altweibersommer”. Indeed, we are experiencing the third week in a row with day temperatures above 30°C. Only the lengthening shadows and the dew on the meadow give away that summer is coming to an end. And it is spider season! Sheet weavers aka money spiders, ride upon their silken threads and seem to be flying through the air. As their threads reflect the autumn sun, it was thought they resemble the hair of old women, which might have been the origin of the name “Altweibersommer”. But also, the art of weaving was once known as “weiben”. This time of the year is indeed also sacred to the goddesses of spinning and weaving. The end of the harvest season marks the beginning of the time spent indoors, with processing the harvest, crafting, spinning and weaving.
Now blooms the autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale), or meadow saffron, as it is also called. In German the plant is known as Herbstzeitlose, either because the plant has ‘lost’ its time (pertaining to its unsual time of flowering), or because it foretells (from Old German lose, meaning to divine) autumn and is thus the messenger of autumn. Another name for it is Michelsblume, since it flowers around Michaelmas.
Michaelmas is celebrated in most Western countries on the 29th of September. St. Michael is the patron saint of many holy places formerly sacred to the Germanic Donar/Thor. The archangel is believed to have defeated the dragon (Satan/Belial) during the war in heaven. The vision of Michael riding through the sky in the company of other angels is perhaps a reinterpretation of Wotan’s Wild Hunt and evokes similar associations of heavenly flight and the descent of demons. A British Michaelmas tradition is the preparation of the stubble-goose. Eating the goose was thought to guarantee money in the purse during the coming year. In some parts of Germany the Michaelsbrot is being baked. On this day is also sown the Michaelskorn (grain), from which the next bread will be made. Contracts would be made on this day and accounts closed.
Germanic tribes celebrated September as the blot month, associated with the blood of those animals, which had to be slain before the winter, either because they were too weak or too many in number in order to be fed through the cold season. They were sacrificed to the gods and their blood was used to bless the people attending the blot rituals. The German word blodsian means to ‘make holy with blood’ and is possibly the root of the English words blessing and to bless. According to Wolf Dieter Storl, the blot rituals were considered necessary for sustaining the natural order and ensured the return of the sun.
In September, the color red also becomes present in nature. The leaves of the trees take on an autumn coloring, as the sun light wanes and chlorophyll decreases. Some plants invest extra energy into the production of red pigments, which cause for example the fiery red fall coloring in some maple tree species and on cherry trees. The red pigment is not visible to herbivores, and so, while occuring as a vibrant martial signal to the human eye, is in fact a camouflage for the tree, making its foliage invisible to aphids. In addition, herbivores presented on a red leave are better visible to birds, which now have to eat and gain reserves, either for migrating or overwintering.
Besides, if you ever wonder, as to why there is no or little bird singing during this time; the birds are now resting, as they no longer have to defend their territory.
The connection between the beginning of fall and the Celtic myth about Mabon is relatively new. It was introduced during the 1970ies. The name Mabon may be a reference to Maponos, the Celtic god of the hunt.
Mabon is a figure in Celtic myth and features in the Arthurian legends. Apparently, a son of divine origin, he was separated from his mother only three days after conception. Mabon could only be found again with the aid of Arthur and another hero who was able to communicate with animals, namely a blackbird, a stag, an owl, an eagle, and finally a salmon, which ultimately carries the men to Mabon, who is incarcerated in a fortress. Finally, Arthur and his friends manage to free Mabon, who proves himself by winning the battle against a giant wild boar with the aid of some supernatural dogs. Mabon’s incarceration is sometimes interpreted as a form of initiation into the underworld and an apprenticeship in witchcraft.
Suggestion for a fiery Mabon incense:
Turning to the trees once more, this is also a good time to contemplate the world tree Yggdrasil: nowadays thought to be an ash tree, more likely a mountain ash or rowan, to Germanic tribes an oak or linden tree. Its branches hold the firmament, its fruits form the stars, its stem shapes the milky way, its roots hold the earth and reach down to the world of the dead. The squirrel Ratatosk runs up and down its stem, delivering messages between the realms. Four deer gnaw on its branches (probably they were Germanic star signs) and a giant eagle sits in its crown.
The star sign of September is Virgo. But the stars of Virgo also form the figire of a deer. The star signs of Auriga and Perseus together form the sign of the big deer named Durathor.
The September full moon is also called harvest moon and corn moon.
I went herb gathering on this beautiful warm September morning, as the sun shone bright on the green meadows and trees. Nature is noticeably on the verge of the vegetation period and gives everything before autumn kicks in. Red rosehips and hawthorn berries are ripe, the Cornelian cherries are already bleting. The herbs are now full with aromatic oils and active substances. Hence the last weeks of summer are the best time for gathering herbs.
The tradition of gathering herb bundles and having them blessed by the goddess Frigg/Freya has been adopted into Christian faith. The Virgin Mary is prayed to for blessing the gathered herbs, which are called Kräuterbuschen in German.
The best places for gathering herbs are those that are untouched by humans and their pets; in other words, which are free from pesticides, street dust and pet excrements. If you live in an urban area, it may be diffcult to find such places, the least frequented not seldom being the graveyards. Hence, asking permission from the spiritus loci – in this case the dead and their guardian – is often the best and only option if you want to gather healthy plants. When paying the spirits, avoid leaving unnatural or decomposable offerings. It is much more important that you act respectful and do not disturb the place more than is necessary in order to gather what you need.
September Kräuterbuschen: hawthorn, mugwort, rosehips, yarrow, ribwort, nettle seeds, daisy
Whom to thank?!
When spiritual practice turns into tradition and tradition turns into dogma, gestures become hollow and the forms loose their essence. Hence there always comes a point, when its time to question one’s practice and reconnect to the source. This is when the mind should turn silent and silence and awe are the best means of thanking ‘the spirits’. Contemplation and reconnecting to forms is to follow.
When this point is reached in one’s spiritual practice, it may also be a good time to contemplate the nature of one’s guardian angel.
According to Wikipedia, a guardian angel is a type of angel that is assigned to protect and guide a particular person, group or nation. The belief is that guardian angels serve to protect whichever person God assigns them to. In some faiths, a single person has several guardian angels. In Christianity the guardian angels have their own theology. In modern times the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel, as developed in the order of the Golden Dawn, and which was based on Marther’s translation of the 15th century book The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage by German cabbalist Abraham of Worms, was complemented and popularized by Aleister Crowley. However, the guardian angel already played a major role in ancient Judaism and likewise existed patroni and tutalary beings throughout antiquity. According to the Hebrew bible, angels have been assigned to protect nations. E.g. the archangel Michael is the patron saint of Isreal, but he also became the patron of many Christianized countries.
The favorite deity worshipped by Germanic tribes was Donnar/Thor. His holy places were subsequently transformed into sites dedicated to St. Michael, who became the patron Saint of Germany. On a lower level, this is also reflected in the saint’s personification as Deutscher Michel. The name originates from Hebrew Mi kamocha elohim, which means something like “who is like you, god”. Michael hence embodies the effort to be like god. When the divine order was challenged by Lucifer (the light bearer) and Samyaza (master of weaponry), it was archangel Michael that lead the heavenly hosts and cast the rebelling angels out of heaven and into hell. Michael thus silenced the rebellion in heaven and re-established the heavenly order, while Lucifer (in some sources also Belial) continues to challenge this same order. Michael and Lucifer are arch-enemies, or less dramatically put, dual fighting principles. While Michael protects the divine light, Lucifer aims to bring it to the people. Without judging their respective positions and relevance, St. Michael hence serves as the patron of military and police in many countries and is often featured in heraldry. His feast day is 29 September. On this day begins the accademic new year and it is the time when articificial illumination starts. (Read more about this feast day in my next post.)
An interesting idea concerning the guardian angel appears in Rabbinic literature:
Rashi on Daniel 10:7 “Our Sages of blessed memory said that although a person does not see something of which he is terrified, his guardian angel, who is in heaven, does see it; therefore, he becomes terrified.“
In other words, it is due to the impulse of the guardian angel, who warns us, that we experience emotions such as fear and anxiety in the face of danger, which in turn are physical mechanisms that protect us from harm. In modern physiology this role would be taken by hormones and the influence of micro-organisms in- and outside of our body. Noteworthy, the guardian angel does not simply remove harm from the person but rather confronts and guides the person in dealing with it. So here we have a concept, in which the guardian angel is not simply a benevolent being but it induces fear/negative emotions in its assigned human.
An example for a guardian angel in Rabbinic literature is Lailah, from Hebrew Laylāh, meaning: “night”, associated with the night, as well as conception and pregnancy. Lailah serves as a guardian angel throughout a person’s life and at death, leads the soul into the afterlife (see). Lailah presents a drop of semen to god, who then decides its fate, however, not its character. Hence the decision for good or bad is left to the person’s free will, only the outward conditions are preset.
If one was to seek polar opposites, then Lilith, as a night demon and waster of semen, would be the counterpart to Lailah. Yet in truth, they are rather two sides of the same coin. In ancient Germanic faith, both roles would be taken by Hulda/Frau Holle/Percht, who guards the souls of the unborn children, as well as receives the souls of the dead and both occurs as a benevolent goddess to the diligent as well as as a terrifying monster to the indolent.
Conclusion: it can be exciting and fascinating to explore and look for forms and names for one’s personal guardian angel. There are guardian angels for the nations and systems we belong to (or rebel against), common or mutual guardian angels residing over our time on earth and beyond, as well as individual guardian angels, which may have special names and embodiments and characters. They may be simply there for us, when needed, or challenge us. Their mutual core is though, that they are assigned and not chosen. However their nature maybe transformable and they can be addressed, similar to how we can employ a natal chart and extract the best from it.
Around the 1st of August, the first harvest of the year is celebrated, and it is the best time for gathering fragrant and medicinal herbs since now they are rich in aromatic oils! It is also the time when the bilwis – originally benevolent priests guarding the fields, later envisioned as corn demons with sickles on their feet – cut the first corn. Common festivals held during this time are Lughnasadh or Lammas, which celebrate the ripening of the corn and the baking of the bread from the first harvest. Traditionally, this first bread is offered to the spirits, and likewise, corn dolls are crafted and offered. Altars are decorated in flaming red, orange, and golden yellow colors. Most emblematic of this time are the sunflower, the lion and the cornucopia. But all the herbs and fruits that are ripe during this time of the year can be used to decorate the home and honor the spirits.
It is a time for celebrating Lugh, the Celtic god of craftsmanship and weaponry. Lughnasadh is translated as the ‘killing of Lugh’ in old Irish language, which is an allegory for the end of summer. Wolf Dieter Storl identifies the Celtic Lugh as a god of fire, who imbues medicinal herbs with power and associates him with the Germanic Loki (Lodur), the trickster and fire god. On the same first day of August, the torch bearing bringer of light, Lucifer was banished from heaven. It is hence believed that persons born on the 1st of August would become a witch and a ghost-seer.
My personal incense for celebrating the fire of August:
black, golden and / or white copal
coriander seed (ground)
nutmeg (a pinch)
palo santo or sandalwood
red carnation or red rose flower petals
Aside from the witches’ Wheel of the Year festivals, there are other feasts taking place in August. Romans celebrated the Nemoralia, a festival sacred to DianaNemorensis. Interestingly, the Romans would pay tribute to Diana by honoring the dogs of the hunt and polishing the spears, meaning no hunting or fighting would take place during this time. Instead, the dogs were cared for and adorned, and slaves, warriors, and hunters were granted a time of rest and nurture. Torches were carried to the grove of Diana in Nemi, which offered a refuge for slaves during the hottest time of the year. At the center of her grove stood an oak tree, which was guarded by a priest titled rex nemorensis, who himself was an escaped slave. This priest had to defend the tree and his own life against other slaves, until the next slave would take his place by killing him and breaking a branch from the tree. This unusual ritual seems to have pre-Roman roots.
Diana is identified with the Greek Artemis and also bears references to the Greek Hecate.
My suggestion for a Nemoralia incense:
sandarac or pine resin
Similar to the motive of Lugh as a god of fire, weaponry and craftmanship, the Romans celebrated one of their oldest deities, the fire god Vulcan, around the 23rd of August. Vulcan was worshipped and appeased during the August heat as to be protected from (wild) fires and especially to protect the granaries from fire. During the Vulcanalia, bonfires were lit and grain offerings were thrown into the flames. After the Great Fire of Rome, the worship of Vulcan only increased, and the offerings now also included red bulls. Noteworthy, Pliny the Younger documented the outbreak of the Vesuvius in Pompei only one day following the Vulcanalia festival.
Shortly before the middle of August is also the time of the Perseid meteor shower, during which the trinity of heaven, earth, and the underworld was celebrated in antiquity. Another ancient goddess revered during this time was Hecate, who governed these three realms. The herbs that are especially sacred to her include monkshood, henbane, wormwood, asphodel, mandrake, pomegranate and the saffron crocus.
Incense for Hecate:
myrrh (soaked in red vine and honey)
orris or mandrake root
In August, we also honor the mother goddesses per se.
On the 15th of August, Christians celebrate the Assumption of Mary. Along with it, various herb blessing traditions once sacred to Freya have been adopted and converted into the Maria-Kräuterweihe. Herbs that are traditionally part of the Mariä Kräuterbuschen:
mullein (at the center)
St. John’s wort
The blessed herbs were then given into the food of sick animals, hung in the home and barn, or thrown into the fire for protection from thunder and lightning. The time spanning from the 15th of August to the 8th of September (Nativity of Mary) is also known as Frauen-Dreißiger. The entire time is considered auspicious for the gathering of medicinal herbs.
Likewise, the Germanic Holle/Holda/Dame Hulda, in her role as the ancient mother goddess of neolithic origin, can be honored and asked for maternal blessings during the August full moon. Especially sacred to Holda is the Elder tree, which is now full of ripe fruits.
In Argentina, Paraguay and Southern Brazil the 15th of August (or alternatively the 13th of August) is dedicated to a folk saint, which is not accepted by the Catholic church: devotees of San la Muerte praise the Saint of Death with offerings of flowers, candles, liquor, tobaccco, money, food offerings such as pork and sweets and coffee. My favorite incense for San la Muerte is similar to the August fire blend Iisted above.
Finally, in Japan, the festival of the Dead, called Obon, is celebrated around the middle of August. A key symbol for this liminal time is the cherry blossom, also known as sakura. According to Japanese folklore, the souls of fallen kamikaze fighters (revered heroes) are symbolized by falling sakura petals.
My personal ‘Sakura’ blend for contacting the dead in dream:
silver colored frankincense
Conclusion: the feasts of August both venerate the light and fire of life, the culmination of summer, the bountyful harvest, the vegetation and mother goddesses, as well as the sickle, death himself and the dead. Do you know more feasts of August? Please write in the comments!
Upon request, I am offering here some dried mandrake roots, which I have grown and harvested over the past years. For reference, the leave is ca 12 cm long. These roots are talismans. They are not meant to be made into incense. They can be oiled and/or fed with traditional offerings, such as red wine, milk and honey, herbal essences, bread, incense or tobacco smoke, coins, stones etc. If you purchase one, you agree to stay in touch about your work with the root. I am happy to give you guidance and set up a ritual practice with you based on your personal magical background.
Pricing from top left to bottom right:
93 € top left – sold prices for the 2 small roots are negotiable (they are suitable to wear in a glass amulet with other herbs – a custom amulet can be made for you) – sold 83 € top second from right 111 € top right – sold 88 € bottom left – sold center – sold 108 € bottom second from right – sold 131 € bottom right – reserved
Handdrawn mandrake root phytographs can be purchased along with the roots and start at 100 € per phytograph. If you commission a phytograph together with the root I will give 10% discount.
It’s wonderful to be receiving such feedback! Remember last year`s mandrake post about “Alien Monstress” and “Crippled Astronaut”? Well, who would have guessed that! First photo shows a recent post by obviously blessed and knowledgable David ‘Mr. Mandrake’ Simmons. Second photo is of the same root about a year ago and third is of my ink portrait, now framed and adorning D. Simmon’s wall. Thanks David!
My gratitude goes to the organizers Catamara and Marcus as well as the team of people that made it all possible, especially Kim, Katrink and Prof. Porterfield. Huge thanks also to the people that attended and took part in the workshops, especially David. We made it work, despite catching Covid, despite hurricanes and despite all the other obstacles. I am looking forward to the next point in time when the portals open for communing with the genii of the plant kingdom. Below is a summary of my presentation and workshop.
Creating Magical Images of Plants – Combining Phytography and Ritual Magic
1 hour lecture + 3 hour workshop included the following topics:
methods of ritual magic, sympathetic magic and planetary magic
indepth information on plant pigments
short history of nature printing
alternative photography processes feat. work by Malin Fabbri and Kristina Feldhammer
Datura wrightii flower at Pinwheel Cave California
examples of phytographs created with coffee and plants
workshop guides through the ritual creation of your own magical plant paper talismans
question & answer on anything plant/ritual related
Workshop materials provided to attendents included:
It is only possible thanks to the event being held online again that I am able to participate and share my knowledge. So this is a rare opportunity for people outside of Germany to attend and ask me all the questions that you always wanted to ask me about plants and my art with plants, including my plant sigils.
So what can you expect that will make it worth to purchase tickets?
receive a unique workshop kit with powerful magical plants that have been harvested ritually and are already arranged and pressed for you (to be purchased separately for a humble 12 USD fee)
work creatively in a relaxed and meditative surrounding
expand your ritual routine and connect collectively to the plant spirits
get a unique chance to ask me questions about your favorite plants
at the end you hold a concrete and potentially magical talisman in your hands
In the lecture I will introduce the term “Phytography” and guide you through the history of nature printing, from cave paintings, to medieval herbals, to Leonardo da Vinci, to modern alternative photography, including examples by contemporary artists such as Malin Fabbri and Kristina Feldhammer. We will talk about the “blood” of the plants and their other juices, plant pigments and in how far the coffee based phytographs that we will produce in the workshop can be considered “magical images” of the plants, through the use of sympathetic magic and astrological correspondences.
NOTE: The number of workshop participants is limited to 30!
Besides, there is an annual publication accompanying the event. This year’s book features my essay on Phytography, two illustrations and a lucid experience with the guardian of the witch hazel. The book has just arrived fresh from the print and can be ordered now from Rosarium Blends!
Note: deluxe ticket holders will automatically receive a copy.
Preview of the plants that come with the workshop kits – included among others are: thorn-apple, bryony, bindweed, lily-of-the-valley, forget-me-not, periwinkle, ferns, enchanter’s nightshade, barrenwort, wormwood, mugwort, fennel, various spring blossoms such as violets, daffodils, linden leaves, cherry, lilac, elder, hellebores etc. all carefully arranged and ready for use. It’s been a hell of a work… 😉