The past months were spent crafting and filling another row of Teufelskunst seed boxes. This year’s regular series included again a variety of new and old witch herb classics, while the recent “Black Flowers” edition, which was finalized this week, holds again a little treasury of extravagant, black or near black flowering plants as well as some vegetables with black fruits. Below are a few impressions of the final boxes. All remaining black flowers boxes will be shipped on the 15th of July. Please watch your email inboxes (and spam folders) for shipping notifications.
It has been a cold, mostly rainy and busy start into 2019, but suddenly spring is here! And what I had started a year ago with the – somewhat random – introduction of the “Blessing Seal of Spring”, has now evolved, and sees a new manifestation with the completion of my “Spring Blessing” incense!
As temperatures rose to 17 °C today and the sun warmed up the city unhindered, I could feel the excitement and eagerness in the air and with the birds around our place. So I am happy to present you this new incense blend, which is of course – how could it be different – again my favorite!
So, this brand-new Teufelskunst creation is dedicated all to the rituals of spring, including the celebration of the Vernal Equinox, Easter, the Roman Veneralia and leading up to Beltane. It smells pleasantly sweet and spicy, thanks to fragrant and traditionally spring related ingredients, such as clary sage, dammar, lemon grass, myrtle, violets and sweetgrass. In addition, yellow flowering primrose and amber resin evoke the sun and fire. The return of the vegetation, and pollinators along with it, is honored with precious bee propolis, which adds a warm and earthy aroma. For fertility spells and referencing the very essence of Venus, the blend contains further aromatic apple peels from our own apple tree. Water mint and willow both connect this blend to the element water, evoking Batrachian and ophidian currents.
The old Irish Beltaine is derived from common Celtic *belo-te(p)niâ, meaning “bright fire”. Fire is often part of spring and May Day celebrations, e.g. for cleansing (burning) the old and making way for the new or as a primitive reference to the return of the sun.
Uses: love & fertility spells, blessing rituals, luck, prosperity, dream, veneration of beloved spirits
The meadow saffron, or autumn crocus, as it is also called, is a highly fascinating plant. Its purple flowers look like crocuses, but appear in early autumn, when most other plants are done flowering. This is also reflected in its German name “Herbstzeitlose”, which means “autumn messenger”. From the “naked” flowers may also be derived the English moniker “naked ladies”.
The leaves, on the other hand, show up in spring and have been mistaken for bear’s garlic. A dangerous and potentially deadly mistake, since the entire plant contains the alkaloid colchicine, which acts similar to arsenic, and has no known antidote. In addition it has a long latency period, which makes poisoning with autumn crocus even more difficult to recognize and treat. Colchicine acts as a mitotic poison, by interfering with the reduction division of the chromosomes during meiosis. While deadly, it is also made use of in medicine, for treating certain types of cancer, as well as in plant breeding, where it causes plants to grow larger and produce bigger fruits.
A plant named Colchicon was first mentioned by Dioscorides. The specific name autumnale given by Linnaeus, refers to its time of flowering. The genus name Colchicum is derived from Colchis, the landscape on the Black Sea, most famously known for the witch Medea, who is told to have poisoned her enemies with meadow saffron, but also restored youth with its help. In Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica, Medea rubs a salve on Jason’s limbs, which contains meadow saffron. According to another legend, meadow saffron grew from the blood that dripped from Prometheus’ liver. However, the same story is also related to the Mandrake and both plants are candidates for the mythical plant named “blood of Prometheus”.
Despite a narrow therapeutic index, meadow saffron has been used medicinally for at least 3500 years. It is still a treatment for rheumatism and gout. During the times of the plague the bulb was also worn as a protective amulet around the neck. (You can read more about this plant on my garden blog).
The artwork shown here is one of my more illustrative works, combining symbolism and showing the plant spirit in an anthropomorphic form. It was first show-cased in 2017 at gallery Circle1 in Berlin, as part of the “Bad Intentions” group exhibition. It is drawn with black ink on paper that has been stained with coffee and meadow saffron flower extract. It is signed and dated on the back and comes in a simple black cardboard passe-partout.
You receive the exact work shown here.
Artwork size: ca. 4 x 8 inch, passe-partout size: ca. 6 x 11 inch
This is the first work in the “Sigilla Magica” series representing an ‘animal’ spirit. In this sigil I combine mythology and folklore connected to the honey bee and pollinators in general.
In ancient Cretan civilization the honey bee was part of religious worship and priestesses, the “melissae” were named after it. There are depictions of half human, half bee-shaped spirits and fertility goddesses, hinting at an ancient bee and honey cult. The art of bee keeping was viewed as sacred. Bees were believed to have fed the infant Zeus in the Diktaean cave on Crete. On the other hand bees were also connected to the underworld and the dead, since bees would inhabit crevices in rocks and caves and the bodies of kings and other important persons were embalmed in honey. In Asia existed the practice of preserving the dead in honey for a year and then eating the honey. One superstition holds, bees were (along with lizards and snakes) carriers of ill omen and the evil eye. Hence amulets with beheaded bees were worn to ward off the evil eye.
Since I foster an own witch garden, it was only logical to create an atavistic artwork for the spiritual essence that connects all the insects, which pollinate my plants. After a visit to Crete and the archaeological museum in Iraklion, as well as reading Hilda M. Ransoms book “The Sacred Bee”, I felt all the more inspired to create small talismanic works with my own take on the topic. The sigil itself though is already a few years old and I originally titled it “Regina Bombina”, a reference to the divine and royal nature of the bee.
In 2018 I created 4 drawings with ink on a coffee- and honey infused paper. The paper sigils are signed and dated on the back. They are mounted on a black cardboard passe-partout and come in a black cardboard box, which is signed and numbered. Along with the artwork you also receive a 30 ml bag of “Necroneiromancy” incense.
Artwork size: ca. 9 x 10 cm, passe-partout size: ca. 12 x 12 cm
The third Samhain Celebration combined again both finest black metal as well as exclusive hand-made art fitting to the event. Ybenhain offered resin jewelry and items all made of bizarre forest finds, from crazy colored beetles, weird spiders to plenty of animal teeth, combined with flora and fauna from the forest ground and trees. You can check them out at the Ybenhain Instagram. In contrast, Black Arts of mine creates all things from metal. He contributed the etched copper pendants and pins with the Samhain Harvest Seal for the event. Besides that there were some pieces that drew my attention, such as the precision work on a copper hendecagram pendant (see below). There was also a weird metal chest with a fly engraving, housing a steel cased vial filled with a dozen dead flies. You can view the works in all their morbid glory on the Black Arts of Mine Instagram. Last but not least, I brought with me new art editions as well as an ever growing assortment of incense blends.
The other part of the evening, and a reason for people to travel as far as from the States, were the bands. I could not check out all of them, but at least caught a few snapshots of Turia, the Mosaic feat. Schwadorf set and Fyrnask. I would love to hear about your first impression of seeing Turia live and realizing a female is doing those ghoulish voces…
Signature feature and fundament for the evening’s special atmosphere appreciated so much by the audience is the stage set, annually adorned with reeds, ivy, chestnut garlands, corn dolls, carved skulls and this year’s corn sun. Connecting it all since three years is the Seal of the Harvest in the back, which I once designed for the event.
Initiating the Samhain magic
The Samhain Celebration in Gotha is one of those rare occasions where I can show presence with my work and art and meet people that are on a similar wavelength. It is a unique combination of art, tradition, music and spirit, which both is highly satisfying for the performers as well as the audience. Making it all possible are the people of The House of Inkantation, Eisenwald and a handful of helpers.
A quick reminder, to receive your order in time for Samhain/Halloween/Day of the Dead it must be placed until Sunday, the 21st of October!
Fitting incense blends for both occasions are available in the shop. For the first time I am also offering sample bags with 30 ml of each. Perfect for small budgets and one time use!
Next week I am participating again in the Samhain Celebration in Gotha and after that will travel on to Dresden for 2 weeks, in order to winter-proof the garden and work on new art. So please note, that any orders placed after this weekend may not ship before the 15th of November. Thanks for your understanding!
A blessed Samhain / All Hallows / Day of the Dead or however you celebrate this liminal time!
Or better said, postcards with new “Flower Devils” can now be ordered from the web shop! The new cards feature freshly captured motifs from summer 2018 as well as some of my earliest photographs in this series, including the auspicious “Henbane Devil” on black henbane flower, which initiated and from which the series got its name.
In German folklore, witches and even the devil himself were believed to take on the shape of bumblebees. A bumblebee-wax candle was lit in church, if a witch was burnt at the stake. Evil people were cursed with having to return as a bumblebee after death. The sub-earthen drone sound of a bumblebee signaled the presence of the dead. Instead of consecrated wavers, bumblebees were allegedly served at black masses. Bumblebees were also superstitiously feared as carriers of sickness and ritually buried to drive out plague. On the other hand, a dead bumblebee worn in the pocket, was believed to ensure the purse would always be filled with money. And he, who managed to secretly steal the bumblebee’s honey, was destined to find a huge treasure. Hence bumblebees were both viewed as good and bad omens.
The other new cards are:
“Belladonna Devil” et al – large earth bumblebee entering a deadly nightshade flower, common carder bees on comfrey and viper’s bugloss flowers, wasps mating on our white lavender, bee inside crocus flower after a long winter
Impressions from recent trip to Crete – symbol laden honey bee among the ruins of the Minoan palace in Malia, a small wasp nest on prickly pear, protected sea daffodil flower with Mediterranean sea in the background
Last but not least, cards with unfolding flower of the “Black Devil” datura, blue Aconite and green Henbane “Dragon” and – upon request – myself among the green “devils” in our garden.
New in the shop: postcards with my occult/nature inspired “Plants and Planets“ series from 2018! Available in two formats. The postcards have round edges and the sizes comply with common post standards.
In the past botanists such as Nicholas Culpeper associated plants with the planets, fixed stars and zodiac signs. The attributions were based on an intense study of a plant’s features, which included treats such as a thorny or prickly appearance, the scent emitted by the flowers or the entire plant, the plant’s life cycle, colors, metals contained in a plant, medicinal and other uses and of course plenty of folklore. Today plants are classified scientifically based on their genome, but their planetary lore is preserved and continues to evolve in the books of authors such as Stephen Skinner, Paul Huson, Scott Cunningham, Harold Roth and so on.
I find it inspiring to continue this tradition and to explore its own inner logic. Hence I created these planet themed still life photographs of herbs, that I gathered from our garden and surroundings, many of which are also part of my seed boxes. They are ordered according to the Chaldean sequence. With this series I yet delve deeper into the language of plants and the symbolism and magical properties attributed to them.
Please leave a note with your order, if you wish for the postcard to be signed on the back (no extra cost).