This is my second work representing an ‘animal’ spirit. In this sigil I combine mythology and spiritual lore connected to the Corvidae family.
Ravens and crows both feature extensively in the mythology and folklore of basically all continents and nations. I cannot remember when exactly my own journey with these animals started. But they continue to present me with the most auspicious magic and moments, whenever I open up and notice their ever-presence. Hence, when a friend inquired for a crow skull tattoo, I already felt a deep connection to the animal’s collective spirit. But I was lacking actually knowledge and education. So began my reading and study journey, for which I received wonderful help and recommendations. The sigil art presented here is now the quintessence of this autumnal journey with the crows, ravens, magpies, jackdaws and grosbeaks around me and their universal lore.
In November 2019 I created the first 7 of altogether 14 miniature drawings. The sigils are drawn with ink on imbued paper, which has been infused with coffee and a tincture created from the accompanying incense blend. Each sigil is signed and numbered on the back. The sigils come in a black cardboard box + 30 ml bag of “Raven King” incense.
Incense contains: birch, blackthorn, black alder, black copal, black myrrh, black sacra frankincense, cypress, elder, human bone, juniper, oak, rowan, tobacco, walnut, white sage, yew
Artwork size: ca. 12,5 x 12,5 cm, box size: ca. 13 x 13 cm
This week we had again another “hottest day of the year”. Since June, most of Europe experiences a near ceaseless heat and drought period. These hot days of summer are also referred to as “Dog Days” (Hundstage) and this year they live up to their name.
The Greek called them kynádes hēmérai, Romans adopted it, calling them dies caniculares. Historically the period began with the heliacal rising of the dog star Sirius in the Northern Hemisphere, which Greek and Roman astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck, while to the Polynesians in the Southern Hemisphere the star marked winter and was an important reference for their navigation around the Pacific Ocean.
For my “Dog Days” incense I took inspiration from the paralyzing and deadly weather phenomenon.
The formula has been updated, with field eryngo (Eryngium campestre) being added to the baneful blend. In German language this type of thistle is also referred to as “Unruh” and “Elend” and the occurrence of clusters of broken off stems, similar to spiky tumbleweed carried forth by the wind, are named “Steppenhexen”. This stingy plant is almost impossible to touch or harvest without hurting yourself. Yet, and despite the heat and drought, it is frequented by dozens of bumblebees and other pollinators.
Beside obvious herbal references to the the dog/wolf totem, such as wolfsbane and mandrake, the incense contains also black and white henbane, which have been used in prophecy, baneful spells but also for rain magic. I burnt a good amount of it on this day, both to cleanse and bless a dog skull I found at the flea market, as well as to call for rain and cooling. It may have been simply good timing, but rain came the following morning.
I am often asked about side effects and dangers of burning venific incense blends – I can only speak for myself, I did not notice anything, apart from feeling more focused and empowered. I also sensed a relaxing effect on myself. A slight dizziness I attest to the burning sun and heat, not to the herbs.
Luckily, the worst heat seems to be over now and I look forward to enjoying the end of summer and working on art. In other news, new batches of “Qayin” and “Naamah” incense are now back in stock!
I have shared this with a few customers, so I make it available here as well. This is a short research into the plants that compose my incense blend for contemplative work with the qlipha Thagirion.
Aspects that tie in here are the sun of the underworld and afterlife, the sun’s burning and eruptive aspects, fire of inspiration etc. Here are also references to the ecstasy of the lotophagi. What may need further investigation is the concept of the sin eater, which is addressed in the title illustration, but not discussed in this text.
Keywords: cleansing, renewal, leaving behind the shadow of death, ecstasy, fire of inspiration, arts, collective efforts, destruction/ change of ego-patterns
Scent: deep, warm, sweet
1. Blue Egyptian Water Lily (Nymphaea caerulea) has been used ritually for millennia. The lotus is a symbol of divinity and beauty. In Egypt it rose and faded with the sun and was sacred to the sun gods. An entire cosmogony (rule by the ogdoad) was based on the lotus. The flower features prominently in religious art all over the world and bears associations both with creation myths as well as the afterlife. Both the blue and white water lily contain alkaloids, which act euphoric, narcotic and anti-spasmodic. Extracts of water lily have been used as a substitute for opium during WWI. The lotophagi in Homer’s account of the Odyssey may have consumed this plant. It is said to induce a state of bliss and indolence. In Egyptian art it is depicted in connection with dancing or in key rites such as the rite of passage into the afterlife. Whereas the white lotus would appear on the drinking vessels of the living the blue lotus was reserved for sacred ceremonial ritual vessels. Because of its links to the sun of the underworld, sleep and intoxication I found the blue lotus useful in ritual work with the qlipha Thagirion.
2. Calamus root (Acorus Calamus), or sweet flag as it is often called, is associated with the sun and the male. The root oil is aromatic and part of perfumes, liquors and also cola. The root extract has stimulant, warming (sun) and aphrodisiacal properties. It is a traditional ingredient in ketoret temple incense and may aid in establishing contact with one’s guardian ‘angel’. Calamus can act as a mood elevator and cause mild hallucinations. So here we have another plant that grows in or close to water. The name calamus comes from Greek κάλαμος (kálamos), meaning “reed”, “straw” or “pipe”. The shaft has been used for making writing instruments as well as pipes. Calamari are named after the plant. The Latin name acorus in turn may be derived from Greek άχόρου (áchórou) and κόρη (kóri), referring to the pupil of the eye. The root extract was apparently also a remedy for eye diseases, which cause a ‘darkening of the pupil’. The bittersweet and slightly nauseating scent of calamus root has grown on me. When adding it to any herbal blend I feel it gives it a boost (strengthening) and also adds protective qualities. In addition I found it potent in dream work. I also added it to self-made herbal liquors and it left me with a bit of a headache. Use with care.
3. Wild dagga (Leonotis leonurus) is also known by the name lion’s tail. It was brought to my attention by a good friend. The orange flowers and its name are of course evocative of the sun. The herb is endemic to the Southern Africans and used in traditional African medicine. Its energizing effects have been compared to energy drinks, whilst others say it acts similar to Cannabis when smoked. It is said to induce euphoria and mild hallucinations. In smoking recipes it is combined with water lily to enhance these effects. The species Leonorus nepetifolia is said to act significantly stronger than its relative. Leonorus is used in traditional medicine to cure fevers, snake bites, scorpion stings and other inflammations. So this sunny herb counteracts many physical ailments that deal with too much heat – Mars influences, but also the effects of venturing too close to the sun (burns). Leonotis means “lion’s ear” and is a reference to the shape of the flower crown. I found it a nice signature reference to Sorath, the black lion prince of Thagirion.
4. Hibiscus (Hibiscus spcc.) is another plant associated with the sun. But the red hibiscus flower is also sacred to the Hindu goddess Kali, who is sometimes depicted merging with the flower in form. Hibiscus tea is rich in Vitamine C and minerals, strengthens the immune system and is as such used as a mild medicine during the winter time. It is also pleasant to drink cold during hot summer days. Hibiscus lowers blood pressure. Interestingly, extracts from the flowers of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis have shown to function as an anti-solar agent by absorbing ultraviolet radiation. So here is another ‘sun’ herb that counteracts characteristics of its planetary influence. Hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia, also called Bunga Raya, “grand flower”, representing life and courage. In China it is also called zhū jǐn, “vermilion hibiscus” and is identified with wealth and fame. Otherwise it stands also for the attractiveness of a young female virgin. In South-Korea hibiscus symbolizes immortality. In the Victorian language of flowers Hibiscus translates as “delicate beauty”. The hibiscus flower tea that is sold in Europe is mostly composed of the calyxes from the species Hibiscus sabdariffa, also known as Roselle and the tea is called Karkadeh. I keep searching for the red Chinese hibiscus, though I feel in shape and essence the flowers of H. sabdariffa are also suitable. I find particularly interesting the association with Kali, as an embodiment of adversarial beauty, black, fierce and destructive, destroyer of illusions, demanding bloody sacrifice, yet also bestowing boons to the faithful – favoring the beautiful hisbiscus flower amongst her offerings.
Now we have three different flowers, all powerful and representative of the sun, and we have also looked at inherent adverse or inverse aspects of that planetary influence. In color we range from blue to green to orange to a deep red. To complete the visible spectrum we are yet missing a yellow herb. One that immediately comes to mind is the sunflower, perhaps the boldest representative amongst all ‘sun’ herbs. (Could have started with this one, right?)
5. The indigenous peoples of America viewed the sunflower (Helianthus annuus) as a symbol of their solar deities, which represented life and sustenance. Early Spanish explorers imported the sunflower to Europe. Consequently sunflower became one of the most important agricultural commodities. Sunflower, particularly seed, is rich in nutrients and has a wide range of medicinal properties. It is also a flower chosen by some spiritual movements as a motto and symbol for ‘turning to the light of truth’, based on the sunflower’s alleged heliotropism. True is, the flower buds and leaves turn indeed towards the light and then usually point towards the noon sun, and act thus as a compass. But the stem of a mature flower freezes and remains in its position, usually pointing East. The size of a sunflower does btw. depend directly on the amount of light it receives, meaning the sunnier the bigger.
The second misconception refers to the “flower” of the sunflower, which is actually a “flower head” or pseudanthium of numerous small individual five-petaled flowers, so-called “florets”. The florets can be of varying color, from yellow to green to a dark brown. Ever fascinating is the spiral arrangement of the florets. Each floret is oriented toward the next by approximately the golden angle, 137.5°, producing a pattern of interconnecting spirals, where the number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers. Typically, there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other; however, in a very large sunflower head there could be 89 in one direction and 144 in the other. This pattern produces the most efficient packing of seeds mathematically possible within the flower head. Natural growth patterns are an aspect I have also come to relate with this qlipha and may have subconsciously inspired the title graphic, which builds upon my old sun symbol, employed here in a repetitive pattern to form a more complex structure.
The way, in which the sunflower florets are packed close together does remind me of honeycombs, as if the flower was a mirror to the structures built by bees. Also how bees live in a swarm collective and function together as a single organism, is similar to how the flower head of the sunflower is comprised of myriads of little, neatly organized florets. The florets are surrounded by so-called “ray flowers”, which resemble petals. They help attract pollinators such as bees. We see how the single flowers are organized, each serving its purpose. The individual or the small piece is part of a higher order or collective, which achieves more than the individual alone.
A not so friendly feature are the sunflower’s allelopathic properties: sunflowers emit substances that hinder other plants from growing in their proximity. The sunflower has means to defend itself. This feature would translate also spiritually as a way of self-defense. But more along the line: I grow and prosper here, you may not. Or: for the sun to shine on me, others have to remain in my shadow. This is of course putting it a bit drastic. The sunflower’s biochemical self-defense mechanism reaches only so far, just enough to ensure it can grow and unfold. In my view, this pierces deeply though into that Thagirion complex, where we are confronted with the excesses of ego-worship. It is essentially about balancing ego extremes and finding a way, away from the superficial compensation of inferiority complexes to profound and long lasting changes.
Now on to a herb that is actually more considered a Saturn herb, but which also has some interesting indirect links to the sun. The herb experienced a revival during the hippy era and was consumed together with blue water lily and wild dagga:
6. The wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) sports golden-yellow flowers and spinose green foliage. It goes also by the names bitter lettuce and opium lettuce. Ingesting the plant is said to bring about psychotropic, calming and anodyne effects similar to opium and it is sometimes combined with Nymphea caerulea for that purpose. In herbal medicine it is mainly used as a mild painkiller and for treating nervousness. Whilst heroine and other opiates may initially cause nausea and vomiting, wild lettuce is said to not have such side effects. Either the dried herb or latex extracted from the stem are smoked or added to tea or soaked in alcohol. The dried latex (a milky white sap) is also called Lactucarium and has also been consumed directly. Beside lactucine, the plant is also said to contain the tropane alkaloid hyoscyamine, which is found in most nightshades, such as henbane (Hyoscyamus niger).
The plant is a wild forebear of the garden lettuce, which is widely used in salads. Hildegard von Bingen noted about the herb:
“The lettuces, which can be eaten, are very cold, and when eaten without spice they make the brain of man empty with their useless juice. …But the wild lettuces have almost the same nature. For anyone who would eat lettuces, which are useless and are called weeds, either raw or cooked, would become mad, that is insane, and he will become empty in the core”
Obviously a rather negative review of the herb and its qualities, however the mind altering and emptying attributes fit for the work with this qlipha. In the 16th century, Gerard said of wild lettuce:
“it procures sleep, assuages paine, moves the courses in women, and is drunke against the stingings of scorpions and bitings of spiders. The seed taken in drinke, like as the garden lettuce, hindreth generation of seed and venereous imaginations.”
In other words it kills (or at least decreases) sexual drive. Victorians feared the herb would induce childlessness.
Ironically wild lettuce was sacred to the Egyptian god Min, a fertility deity, god of male sexual potency, crops and also of magical plants. Min was believed to ensure the annual flow of the river Nile and fertility of the land people of Egypt. His depictions are ithyphallic, showing the deity with a large erect penis and lettuce beside him. He was also envisioned to lay on a bed made entirely of lettuce. Wild lettuce was considered an aphrodisiac in ancient Egypt. The milky latex exuded from the stems may have been thought of as resembling semen and the plant’s vertical growth was considered phallic. Oddly, depictions of Min show him as missing one arm and strangely two-dimensional. When still human Min was put in charge to guard and care for the women left behind when the other men went to war, possibly facing defeat and death. But they returned successful. Only to find all their women pregnant. Enraged, they cut Min in two halves. Min was also a god of the desert, lightning and sandstorms. Again we are confronted with ambiguous properties, aphrodisiac and anaphrodisiac at the same time, evocative of male potency, abundance, fertility and prosperity, but also opposite visions of castration, childlessness, destruction and sacrifice (ego death). In ancient Greek manuscripts the plant is btw. referred to as ‘Titan’s Blood’, relating it to the giant gods that battled the Olympians, which links the herb with the adversary of gods and men alike.
Adding wild lettuce means breaking with typical sun herb patterns and euphemistic sun attributes and instead shifting focus further towards other aspects. Wild lettuce also enhances the mind altering qualities of some of the herbs contained herein.
7./8. As for the resins to round up this blend I used storax-soaked charcoal, which adds a sweet warm scent, and Olibanum from Aden, which has a fresh, citrus-like aroma and is overall stimulant. Keeping it simple here.
The above herbs and flowers come from different cultures and regions. When burnt, all of these ingredients will turn black and be reduced to ashes whilst releasing their essence. The ashes may be collected and used in further rituals, e.g. for protection and cleansing.
Update: The first batch is sold out. The second batch will be available February 17th, 2017.
This blend is overall solar, but more the kind that burns hot and makes you feel dizzy and drowsy, as when staring at the sun for too long… It contains herbs with psycho-active properties such as blue egyptian waterlily, calamus root, wild dagga and wild lettuce.
Characteristics: herbs and flowers that represent the sun in shape and color, display the spectrum of visible light and bring out both the fire and light aspect, but at same time are cooling and possess the power of opening the mind and showing gates to other dimensions
Keywords: cleansing, renewal, leaving behind the shadow of death, fire of inspiration
The most exquisite incense blend I may have composed up to this day, contains costly aloeswood, sakura blossoms, white lavender, benzoin siam resin etc. and is my personal “if all else fails” agent. I made it recently for myself and for my dad, who was extremely moved and emotional over receiving it. He does not burn it as incense but simply enjoys smelling on the incense glass.
The blend itself is inspired by a dream of flying – an intense and surreal experience. Imagine you are flying on a magic carpet and find yourself enveloped in a whirlwind of sakura blossoms*, their tender petals gently brushing your face. The magic carpet moves swiftly and carries you further, across endless lavender fields, letting you observe the world from a birds eye view. In an abandoned landscape garden fragrant roses release their sweet scent in the sun’s warmth. At the end you land smoothly, in a familiar place, with both feet planted firmly on the ground. In my dream this place was near a cemetery, I had been visiting so often and there I met and received guidance from a dead friend. Whilst the incense blend does not contain any necromantic herbs, it can still open astral channels to one’s tutelary spirits, which may also include dead friends.
The seal adorning the incense vessel is my “dream gate” seal, which is inspired by the aforementioned dream and which I have used in various contexts and in connection with different deities:
Uses: restful sleep, inspired dreaming, protection, joy, receiving guidance from familiar and tutelary spirits in dream, honoring the spirit of the cherry tree
Contains: aloeswood, benzoin siam resin, cherry blossoms, lavender buds, fragrant rose petals, star anise, styrax-scented charcoal, black and silver olibanum resin
* in Japanese tradition the falling sakura blossoms stand for the souls of the dead
This is a basic incense blend that you can use in daily or weekly offerings on the altar dedicated to the ancestral, beloved and the mighty dead. It consists of equal amounts of myrrh, wormwood and white sandalwood. This blend can easily be adjusted for different purposes, e.g. for “talking” to or “appeasing” the souls of the deceased. Fitting herbs for modifying this blend can be ordered along with it. (see below)
Contains: fresh myrrh resin, white sandalwood, self-harvested wormwood
Available options and pricing:
50 ml violet glass jar – 13,90 Euro (recommended for test use)
100 ml violet glass jar – 19,80 Euro (recommended for regular use)
250 ml violet glass jar – 47,40 Euro (recommended for frequent use)
60 ml brown glass jar – 13,90 Euro (for those, who prefer amber/brown glass jars)
120 ml brown glass jar – 19,80 Euro (for those, who prefer amber/brown glass jars)
Oneiromantic incense of the Dead
This blend is designed specifically for contacting the dead in dream and receiving advice about the future. It contains the same ingredients as the veneration incense of the dead and is enhanced with soporific and oneirogenic ingredients, e.g. sandarac resin, mugwort, jasmine and brugmansia flowers, privet flowers and white rose buds. The blend should be burned an hour prior to sleep, in a calm surrounding. It is meant to help the practitioner find a calm state of mind and enter a deep and restful sleep, which is the premise for experiencing sustained and long dream sequences. The same blend can be used for ritually recalling these dreams. It is helpful to use a photograph and other personal links to the dead, whose presence is sought in dream. These links can be placed for example beside the bed or under the pillow.
Safety advice: Please do not leave burning coals unobserved! Don’t burn incense if you feel too tired to pay attention. Instead simply smell on the jar before sleep and burn the incense, when you are well rested and want to revisit the dream experience.
Contains: brugmansia and jasmine flores, fresh myrrh resin, privet flowers*, sandarac resin, self-harvested mugwort and wormwood, silver frankincense, white sandalwood, white rose buds
This list is far from complete, but gives an idea to which end certain resins and herbal agents can be employed in connection with the dead. The blends presented above are meant as starters for exploring the vast and increasingly complex field of “necromancy”.
This is the third in a series of ritual incense blends designed for working with the qliphoth (or kliffot). It is dedicated to Adramelech, the ruler of the eighth qlipha on the tree of death. The corresponding qlipha is named Samael, Hebrew סמאל, meaning “poison of god”. The qlipha and its ruler are associated with Sha’arei Maveth (or Shaarimoth), the “gates of death”, one of seven infernal habitations.
Adramelech is described as a “powerful king”. He is one of the eleven heads that govern the qliphotic pantheon. Similar to other demonized deities, Adramelech was once worshiped as a sun god. His worship later merged with that of Moloch.
In Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, Adramelech is depicted as a mule with peacock feathers, evoking associations with Melek Taus, the “peacock angel” of Yazidi religion. Melek Taus is worshiped for his independence, since he refused to bow to Adam, the first created human. The story resembles that of Shaitan in the Quran. In Islam this refusal to bow to god’s creation is interpreted as a display of sinful pride. Melek Taus however, reasoned that he was made of god’s own light and could not bow to Adam, who was made of dust. Therefore god rewarded Melek Taus and made him his deputy on earth and leader of the other angels. The peacock’s appearance is sublime and likewise Melek Taus proved knowledge of the sublime in his choice. Besides this the Yazidis view the peacock as a symbol of immortality.
Samael also appears as an independent figure: for once he is described as an accuser, seducer and destroyer and a “chief of evil”. At the same time he occurs as an arch-angel, residing in the seventh heaven, as the chief angel of the fifth heaven and features as the “angel of death” in Jewish lore. In the old testament he appears as the serpent in the garden of Eden, and as a demonic entity and spouse of Lilith.
As the serpent in the garden, Samael seduces Eve to eat of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Similar to Prometheus, who steals the fire from the heavens and, against the will of Zeus, brings it to mankind, Samael delivers the gift of gnosis to the first humans, even though god had forbidden them to partake of it. Henceforth they are expelled from the garden, and the serpent along with them. Samael becomes the consort of Lilith and they breed demonic children.
Eve, impregnated with the seed of the serpent, begets Cain, the son of Samael. Cain slays Abel, and is exiled to wander the land of Nod. But he is protected by a mark, which his father Samael placed on him. This mark is a warning that, whoever attempts to harm Cain, will be punished sevenfold.
The above aspects are of relevance, since the different manifestations of Samael here sort of merge with the qliphotic king Adramelech. All aspects surrounding the qlipha in question are taken into account, before advancing and concentrating the essential links within a single incense blend.
Now let us look at the planetary influence: Adramelech’s qlipha is placed under the influence of Mercury. The corresponding element by the same name is a white-silvery metal, liquid at room temperature and poisonous. Early uses of mercury include the making of divinatory mirror bowls, which were found in elite Mayan tombs. Today it is employed in liquid mirror telescopes. Mercury is also called quicksilver. In alchemy it represents the “spirit” and is attributed with various transcendental properties, due to its volatile nature.
The god Mercury (Greek Hermes), is the messenger travelling between the realm of the gods and the world of humans. In his underworld manifestation, Hermes chthonios, he acts as a psycho-pomp, guiding the souls of the dead through the netherworld.
Of interest in connection with Adramelech and his qlipha are transcendental, transforming and empowering properties that reach beyond the realm of the living and this world. What lies beyond the reflective mirror’s surface? Which herbs help with clear sight and telling the lie from the truth? Which herbs aid in seductions and can confuse or blind an opponent? Which plants and resins assist in opening the “gates of death” and contacting and mobilizing the souls of the deceased? The incense for the work with this qlipha and its ruler is hence complex in nature. The sublime king Adramelech becomes a dark soul-guide, residing beyond the gates of death and initiating the wanderer into the perilous poison path, confusing or leading him/her through his kingdom in the sitra ahra.
Keywords: sublimeness, eloquence and seduction, trickery, exposure of lies and telling truth from lie, knowledge of poisons, communication and problem solving skills, oneiromancy, magical metamorphosis/shape-shifting, necromancy
Contains: black seed, caraway, climbing nightshade, common arum, fennel seed, galbanum, guggul resin, lavender, lily of the valley, male fern, mandrake root, narcissus flowers, opoponax resin, poison hemlock, powdered peacock butterflies, red and white sandalwood, shed snake skin, yew needles
Scent: green, spicy, with floral notes
Details: The first eight 100 ml jars are numbered and accompanied by a peacock eye-feather as well as one hand-stained, emerald green Teufelskunst flyer. The remaining incense comes without extras and is not numbered.
*Contains some venific herbs. Only for advanced practitioners. Or message me for a customised blend.
Only few days left until the Winter Solstice, I am excited to share my next plant riddle with you. This time the herb I’m looking for is not a poisonous one – quite the contrary! It is a classic healing herb, which belongs in any herbal apothecary. A giant in the garden, its name relative is associated with an adversarial hero, who helped man and offended the gods.
The riddle is again accompanied by a new illustration I did earlier in autumn and which may help or confuse…