TEUFELSKUNST Occult Art Blog
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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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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: Feast Days, Incense

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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: News & Site Updates, Incense, Feast Days

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

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Autumn Equinox, Altweibersommer, September Blot, Mabon and other Festivals of September

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:

  • coriander
  • dark copal
  • dragon’s blood
  • nutmeg
  • oakmoss
  • pine resin
  • red sandalwood
  • rowan berries
  • saffron
  • storax bark
  • sweet myrrh
  • vetiver root

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.

September 13, 2023

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September Kräuterbuschen, Guardian Angel Contemplation

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.

September 5, 2023

Posted In: Herbs & Seeds, Feast Days

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