The candles have been lit, the incense has been burnt; my work now vibrates in the rooms of gallery Circle 1 until December 23rd. What started as a vague idea of creating artwork for a list of magical plants, has years later finally taken shape. Now was the point when everything fell into place naturally. It was preceded by searching and researching, trial and error, sowing, growing, loss and gain in the very basic and earth-bound occupation as a gardener and harvester. The first hand study of the actual plants laid the foundation, my rediscovered love for ink became the tool for manifesting my visions.
The installation is hence titled “Harvest” and consists of an earthen altar with dried plants and harvest related offerings: self baked bread, honey from the neighborhood and self-made beeswax candles. The souls and spirits that were contained in the once alive, now dead corpora of the plants, find a new house in the form of fetishistic ink drawings: the “Sigilla Magica” series.
With these new forms I also found an own language, which aims to both entertain and communicate memes to the viewer. 12 ink drawings reference 11 magical plants as well as the ‘queen bee’ – “Regina Bombina” – governing the vital interaction between plants and pollinators. In addition, 2 anthropomorphic drawings depict the Aconite and Mandragora in half-human form, as the armed and poison-dart struck “Wolf Shaman” and beheaded and re-headed “Regina Amandrakina” with her freakish offspring. Lastly, 2 botanical studies of the roots of the Aconite and Mandragora are meant to act as a bridge between abstraction and realism and honor the individual and fascinating shape of each in detail.
I am happy to share the news with you that I will be part of the exhibition “Bad Intentions” at Circle 1 gallery in Berlin, opening November 17. You are all invited to attend and spread the news!
This is a unique opportunity for me to bring my plant inspired art to a new audience. I will be showing ink drawings of my “Sigilla Magica” and illustrations supported, by an installation with different magical herbs from my garden and surroundings.
Important (!) Due to the exhibition preparations now going into its last and hot phase, I will not be able to process new shop orders until then. All orders placed now or later, will be shipped in the week following the 20th of November.
Below a quote from the introduction text, by curator Avi Pitchon:
“Bad Intentions” seeks to modestly contribute a tiny voice to hopefully echo into a massive abyss. The title is a reference to the good intentions of ‘artivism’, and where they lead to: the disappearance of both art and activism. The exhibition does so by staging an absurd tear between art and artist, in the hope that a gaze into the tear might enable a distinction between art and politics. The artists selected for this group exhibition are Jewish-Israeli, Palestinian-Israeli, Jewish, Palestinian and German. However, no artwork in this exhibition forms an explicit mirroring of any social or political tensions formed within the above ethnic/national triangle. The artwork does not ‘speak for itself’; it simply speaks by itself. “Bad Intentions” intentionally ignores the background and circumstance of the artist, in order to destabilise anything that is expected of such a grouping of artists, because all of those expectations are not only tired cliches, they also silence the speech of art. “Bad Intentions” is thus an invitation for the viewer to empower themselves by placing the weight and responsibility of attention on them; by not providing crutches of meaning.
One week ago I took part in the second Samhain Celebration, hosted by the House of Inkantation, at The Londoner in Gotha. I attended bleary-eyed yet exited. I had worked until the very last minute on the artworks and merch, which included ink drawings of my sigilla magica, samples and glass jars with my self-made incense blends, the last Teufelskunst rosaries, postcards and the original art I had done for German doom band Werian.
The House of Inkantation folks prepared again a unique stage design, which was crowned by a horse skull, into which G. Bergfex of Kvlt&Knochen had carved and imbued with blood the official Samhain Harvest Seal. On the stage performed Rim Runa, Werian, Forndom, Sun of the Sleepless and Malokarpathan. Another special treat were the dedicated wooden boxes pyrographed by C. & M. Falkenstein.
My company, the photographer Anne Ida Helmer, has set herself the goal to document me for a photo series – by all means not an easy task. But I was glad to have her around. We spend the whole weekend in Gotha, touching base and forging future plans. It was nice to finally meet some of the people in person, whom I had done artwork for, and to get to know new faces. I was overwhelmed by the support and interest in my work. This made me forget the sacrifices of the past weeks. It was also refreshing to get to witness new music, bands I had and had not heard of before. I come out of this gathering with new art commissions, possible participation in new events and more.
With the arrival of autumn and in view of the last warm weekend for this year, I am delighted to share some seasonal musings and the most recent shop news with you.
As I am typing, my hands smell of fragrant cempasuchil flower… the day before though they were still sticky from the self gathered pine resin. Both are ingredients in incense blends individually dedicated to the season’s various feast days.
“End of Summer”
Samhain means “end of summer”. The Gaelic festival marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Today it is celebrated on the night between October 31st – November 1st. It is also associated with St. Martin’s day, November 11th. Some also connect it with the midpoint between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice (or the nearest full moon), when the ecliptic longitude of the Sun reaches 225 degrees.
Samain is also the name of the Celtic god of death, who from this point on ruled over the land, while the goddess of vegetation was forced to decent into darkness until the coming spring. Her parting is accompanied by the honk of the geese leaving for the South. Any herb harvested after this point would be considered harmful, save for the grey mugwort. During Samhain the doors to the spirit-/ underworld opened, and the spirits that would enter, were not always friendly. In some tales, spirits of darkness and chaos (such as the Irish Fomorians and the Crom Cruach) would be given human sacrifices.
Rural people’s survival depended on the harvest. The fear of loosing the harvest, fierce autumn storms, the long nights etc. was real. It was essential to secure the harvest and protect the home, barn and family. It was custom to cleanse and protect the home by burning herbs. Herbs associated with protection and healing, as well as the opening of the gates to the spirit world, are hence part of my Samhain incense.
From the need to protect oneself may also have sprung the latter-day custom of placing candles in hollowed out objects. Readily available were turnips or pumpkins, then turned into figurative lanterns sporting demonic grimaces. Similar to the scarecrow, the lantern was to ward of the ‘evil’ and at the same time its flame lit up the long nights. This “light in the dark” is embodied by the amber, fossilized tree resin. Amber is called Bernstein in German, from Low German börnen, meaning “to burn”. The Greeks knew it as ḗlektron, from ēléktōr, meaning “shining sun”.
Samhain also marks the time when deciduous trees have shed most of their leaves. The leaves fall to the ground, decay and nurture the cycle of life. The wood keeps men warm, the bark heals. The evergreen conifers deliver in addition aromatic resins with cleansing and healing properties. An important part in this incense is thus the rosy red resin gathered from pine trees in my area, as well as fragrant juniper wood and needles from my own garden.
When burnt, the blend develops a strong white smoke and is best used outdoors or in a well ventilated area. If used indoors, air the room and then enjoy the scent, which will last for days.
Contains: amber, juniper needles and bark, mugwort, oak bark, pine and fir resin, rosemary, sage, thyme, vervain
Use: Use this incense blend for cleansing, healing, protection and communication with the spirits. Its fragrant ingredients evoke in particular the spirits of the wild/ sylvan realm and may aid in re-connecting with the spiritual world of the forests and wilderness. It can also be used on the “Totensonntag“, for contacting one’s ancestors and for protection from “Wiedergänger” (revenants).
“Day of the Dead”
The pagan festivities surrounding Samhain have been substituted by Christian feast days throughout a large part of the Western world. Folkloric customs are a part of marketing schemes. From the pagan Samhain to the Christian All Saints day, the modern world celebrates “Halloween” with plastic skulls, led pumpkins and dressing up as corpses. Everyone can be a zombie for one day and night and feel more alive than the rest of the year. Halloween gives a good example for cultural appropriation gone wild, every year a little more. But I blame none. Because it is part of human nature, both to adopt other traditions as well as to defend one’s own culture and rituals.
One of these traditions that have been sinking into the Western world and heavily influence our aesthetics, is the Mexican Dia de los Muertos. As the festival in Mexico grows bigger and becomes more impressive every year, so grows the fascination with it outside of Mexico. Just like the cult of Santissima Muerte grows in numbers both in and outside Mexico. Death worship is real and prospering. It is nothing extraordinary.
All over the world people venerate their ancestors and spirits of death, with altars at home, at their graves or in temples or chapels dedicated to them. And often there are special festivals dedicated to the veneration of the dead. In some countries these celebrations fall in the months of July and August, such as the Japanese Obon or the Argentinian feast for San la Muerte. In other countries they center around the days and nights spanning from All Hallow’s Eve (October 31st) to All Saints (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd).
A funny exception is Germany, where it is custom to visit and adorn the graves of family members on the Totensonntag (the “Sunday of the Dead”). It falls on the last Sunday before the first Advent (usually at end of November) and, though of Protestant origin, is a protected holiday in all of Germany. And death is no funny affair in Germany, as the day is meant to be spent in silence, e.g. it is forbidden to dance or play loud music in public.
So, for me “Halloween” is not the time to commemorate my ancestors. But it is still a special time of the year, during which I am free to explore and find light in other traditions.
In Mexico the celebration starts on All Hallow’s Eve, when children make altars for the angelitos (the souls of dead children). November 1st is referred to as Día de los Inocentes (“Day of the Innocents”) or Día de los Angelitos (“Day of the Little Angels”), which is when the souls of dead children are honored. On November 2nd, the actual Dia de los Muertos, the graves of dead family members are visited. The graves are adorned with cempasuchil flowers, the flowers of the dead. Between the orange sea of flowers, candles are lit and Muertos (the bread of the dead) and sugar skulls are placed as offerings, along with favorite food, beverages, photos etc. The dead are greeted and welcomed back to the world of the living for one day and night. Dancing and intoxication are welcome and encouraged.
This way of approaching the dead is very different from the official German custom. Since a few years I have joined in the tradition of baking bread of the dead and incorporating some of the Mexican elements in my own worship practice. I can tell it kept me busy! This year I am forced to cut down a bit. I hence created this incense blend for the day of the dead, with favorite ingredients and my own Calavera design.
This incense blend is foremost dedicated to the Mexican tradition of venerating the ancestors, but may also work in the contexts of European ancestor veneration, as it simply pleases and honors the beloved dead. Alternative incense blends for these occasions can be found in my shop.
Contains: cempasuchil (marigold) flower petals, dark copal, myrrh, palo santo wood, patchouli, red rose, rosemary, tobacco, yauthli, yerba santa
Use: celebrating the day(s) of the dead and honoring the beloved dead
As I am typing this, the candle has already extinguished and there are nearly as many tiny air bubbles in the glass of water as dots on the ink drawing in the background.
My little fall equinox altar is made of tokens gathered during the past days. It also features a small glass of self-made hawthorn liqueur. The hawthorn goddess was addressed for empowerment at a time when I am down with flu and need to recharge both physically as well as spiritually.
The drawing is one of three drawings I did last week. It is the second in the small series and titled “Pathfinder”, since the shape reminded me of a creature equipped with plenty of sensors, which seems to be pushing forward against an icy storm. The third drawing is now in the possession of The Witching Veil, together with the autumn mandrake root depicted on it.
The incense burnt was the Black sacra from Luban Frankincense Supplier. It has a deeper, somewhat richer aroma than the green and white frankincense from Oman, and fits just perfectly for the season.
With the passing of the Fall Equinox, Samhain is just around the corner. I will hence begin preparing my presentation for this year’s Samhain Celebration in Gotha, which I am attending for the second time in a row.
The latest addition to the shop will be new autumn mandrake roots, which will go up for sale in the evening. Please also take a look at the new listings in the Sigilla Magica category.
Last but not least I thank all of you, who ordered my Dog Days incense. I have but one jar each left. The coming days I will work on new batches of Samhain incense, as well as restocking incense for Qayin and Lilith.
This special incense blend has been nearly as long in the making as the work on this new website and web shop. Me and a dear friend, spent the past 3 months on building and bringing this baby to you. We have been testing, we have been despairing, we have been trying again and working hard to make everything work. All the invisible background work, that is noticed only when it is not done…
And yet it all serves one purpose: making available to you in a more convenient way my occult art, which you have been knowing me for since the past 9 years and which thus far could only be ordered via e-mail. It is thus with great relief and joy that this new website launches.
I invite you thus to visit the blog and shop. You will find all the old blog posts are there. And you will find new, easily accessible shop categories. By registering an account you can add items of your choice to your personal shopping cart. Or add all your favorite creations to the wishlist and then select those you wish to purchase. Checkout is easy and fast with PayPal.
Some of the categories are still empty or have only one single item listed. This will change during the coming weeks. For now the focus has been on incense creations, the mandrake project and a new category entitled “Sigilla Magica”. In the next post I will say more about this. For now lets focus on my most recent creation: the ‘Dog Days’ incense.
As the name suggests, the incense is inspired by the “dog days” – the long hot days of summer. It is made mainly from baneful herbs gathered from my own garden and surroundings. The black sacra frankincense from Oman lends the blend a deep resinous, almost medicinal aroma. This incense blend is in a way, a true “fuck off” blend and an answer to other people’s negativity. It does not smell nice or pleasant, rather bitter – like a bitter medicine. Yet it has something addictive about it; think of the smell of on a fresh oil painting or the scent in an artist’s atelier.
Btw. the incense blend can be used during any time of the year, not only during the actual dog days. The rare herbs contained therein carry baneful as well as empowering properties, and can be applied in various contexts, e.g. also for referencing the first dead in ritual. It is thus an incense for Abel and the able.
Available now – I made ca. 1,5 liter. When it’s sold out it will not be available again until the coming year.
As Teufelskunst keeps growing it has long been my wish to offer my customers an easier way to order my hand-made artworks and incense blends. This wish is finally becoming reality. The new webshop is on the way!
The next weeks will hence mark a transition period, as we are working on setting everything up. On May 20th/21st, the following changes will take place: