A commission I have been working on for a few weeks and which happened to be completed on the seventh of this month, was the creation of an incense blend for Qayin and his twin-sister/bride Qalmana. The ingredients for these blends are mainly inspired from the workings outlined in Liber Falxifer I and II.
Both blends were completed at the stroke of midnight from August 6 to August 7. At this time Venus was retrograde and at the edge of “plunging” into the underworld. Dark astrology says, “Particularly matters connected with ‘poison’ are accentuated badly”.
I took inspiration from this dark venus aspect and enhanced my Qayin blend with some venific herbs, such as aconite, henbane and mandrake root, which are added in moderate amounts. These address the poisoner aspect and at the same time all have links to necromancy and the underworld. Further ingredients, that count among the more traditional are myrrh, patchouli, blackthorn, sandalwood, wormwood and yew. Cloves are added for fragrance as well as palo santo wood. Tobacco, long pepper and red chili pepper spice up and enhance the blend’s effectiveness. Some rare additions are ebony dust and ironwood shavings, the latter which have been granted to me by a long-time customer. Beside myrrh resin I added also black copal (one of my all time favorites) and opoponax as well as asafoetida. These all possess to links to the dead and necromancy as well as underline the darker aspects of the Qayin. Red carnation flower petals, black and yellow mustard seeds and some more ingredients refine this incense blend, which is suited for special occasions and feast days but also as part of regular offerings.
Scent: earthy, spicy, hot, but at the same time fresh, resembling the smell of a cold grave or crypt, dominant notes of clove, cypress and opoponax
The incense blend for Qalmana in turn, has an overall flowery sweet scent and emphasizes benific aspects of Venus, such as beauty, lovingness and splendor but at the same time also has protective qualities. It contains among others flowers of apple, cherry, elder, lilac and rose. Precious benzoe siam resin, labdanum, vanilla bean etc. combined with spicy ingredients such as coriander and clove yield an exceptional, sweet, floral mystical fragrance. Besides these the blend contains also rosewood as well as whitethorn. The latter is added also to underline the twin/dual aspect of Qalmana towards her spouse, whose incense blend contains blackthorn. A small amount of blue Papaver somniferum seeds reveres the queen of magical plants and adds a dark touch.
Characteristic for both incense blends are woods and resins, as well as fruits, leafs and flowers from thorny trees, such as myrrh, rose, whitethorn and blackthorn respectively, in harmony with the esoteric doctrine pertaining to the path of thorns, upon which Qayin and Qalmana guide their disciples. Protective and baneful, benific and venific elements balance out each other. The blends come along strong and may be mixed in equal amounts with myrrh and frankincense or copal.
Both blends happened to amount to 182 ml each. I am currently not able to sell them on a larger scale. But I consider offering simplified versions better suited for daily usage soon.
On the side, I do not know of any other book dealing as exhaustively with the female counterpart of Qayin as LF II. And it is with some excitement that I see Ixaxaar announce a 3rd and even 4th volume in the series. Looking beyond the controversy surrounding these books they still remain as works of love and devotion to the spirits. They also continue delivering interesting details and pieces in the puzzle to those, who continue searching…
In my part of the world the past new moon occured close to the midnight hour and when the moon was just entering into the sign of Scorpio. In addition friends and followers in Eastern Asia and most of North America could simultaneously witness a beautiful partial solar eclipse. An astrologically and magically interesting time, some would already hold their Samhain celebrations on this night, closing another circle, saying farewell to the old and inaugurating a new year. It is the beginning of a liminal time, when the veil between the world of the living and the other side thinnens. It is believed the souls of the deceased – both beloved or malign, familiar or nameless – come to visit and contact the living, in dream or even physically. Temperatures are dropping, you see your breath in the cold air. The trees are yet aflame in autumn colors but will soon turn barren. Winter is just around the corner.
I felt it sooner this year than usual, perhaps owed to the early arrival of summer, autumn and winter are coming earlier as well. And it feels like its going to be a cold one. I experienced some dark days and nights, where I turned inside and contemplated, what has been done and what can and will be done. I got inspired and wrote these lines:
I feel the change of season
this autumn fire
the nights getting longer
the impending darkness
this cold breath down my neck.
But I am aflame and
burning with passsion
to a degree that it
almost consumes me.
Memories and dreams
the future and the past
they are merging
in a round-dance of autumn leaves
in the yellow light of street lamps
or in the dim grayness of
one drizzly September day.
I am day dreaming
and the world around me becomes
like the surface of a pond
into which I dip my finger
and suddenly the whole picture
starts to ripple and disperse
and the voices of people talking to me are muted
and I hear something else.
The veil is thinning.
I am dreaming of reconciliation.
I hear from a lot of people this year has been their worst by far. Some say they felt a strong negative Saturn influence in their life. Things being stolen or lost, relationships breaking apart, unexpected changes for the worse and in some instances also suicide attempts. There was a lot happening around me and for all I know there is little in life to rely on. Believes and faith, relationships and worldly values are questioned and challenged. And the idea that from loss and pain still something good or even better arises, may infact not always hold true. Yet the quality of conversations improves, deepens. Superficialties don’t suffice any longer. And I still feel lucky. I do have my self, my work, and spirits and friends to turn to. Even if they may be struggeling themsselves; as long as there is a shared will to continue and work towards better times – not sit and wait – there is reason for hope.
What really helps me during times, when there is apparently nothing positive at all, is the feedback I receive from you, my customers and followers. It does indeed mean a great deal to me. It is one reason why I’m doing what I’m doing and why I continue this project. Feedback such as this:
Having received one of your plant sigil card sets, I wanted to thank you for your work and express my gratitude in having received one. It is a beautifully crafted work, with an obvious spine of honesty, experience and exploration. A profound expression of the green, from the veils of the divine. – JR/O.
Thank you and all who write me messages, comment, like and fave! Thanks to over 2000 followers on facebook and 500 on tumblr, thanks to my watchers on deviantArt and elsewhere! Thanks to the loud and silent supporters and the imps and gnomes and wizzards doing ‘magic’ in the background and spreading the word! You know who you are.
And though it is true that this is often a lonely path we do take inspiration from another, consciously or unconsciously. I like to think that the same spirits contact us individually and sometimes they whisper the same and other times different things into our ears. Tuesday I thought about harvesting Belladonna under the waning moon. But the night was cold and rainy and there was no sharp shining crescent sickle to be seen that would have called for harvest. Thursday I read of Harold Roth‘s plan to harvest Belladonna under the new moon. I first thought no, lets leave them for another month or wait for next year’s Walpurgis. But then I gave it a second thought, went outside short before midnight and the conditions were just right.
The midnight hour was the hour of Venus and the dark moon had just entered Scorpio. A fitting constellation for working with the poisonous (scorpio) green (venus), and the darker aspects of the goddess (black moon), of whom the Belladonna is evocative. The Deadly Nightshade also has connections to the Germanic myths of the Wild Hunt, especially the Valkyries, daughters of heaven and earth (Wotan and Erda), who accompany the souls of the warriors that died in battle, to their final destination in Valhalla, which is reflected in the German name “Walkerbeere”. The Wild Hunt is said to begin with Samhain and culminates during the Winter Solstice and following nights. My first abstract vision of the plant’s essence shows her infront of a dark stormy sky with flashes of lightning and blood is raining from black clouds.
I took two roots, grown in pots, and both about 3 years old. The plants have flowered ready and the lasts berries are also ripe. In fact the stems are already slowly dying back and new green sprouts come from the root base. So it was indeed good timing. Especially since the following nights were even colder and the green parts don’t survive freezing. It makes sense that the time around Samhain is traditionally the time for the last harvest, which is then put up in the home for drying.
I also encountered a surprise when digging up the second plant as it had grown a long tap-root. It wouldn’t take an end and I actually could not unearth it wholly. I had to dig much deeper to get to the end of the part still stuck in the ground and it turned out that entire thing was indeed over 40 cm long!
I removed the soil manually, then cleaned them in rainwater and put them on the harvest altar, together with previously harvested roots. I lit beeswax candles and offered libation. I noticed a spicy smell and, though I used gloves, felt actually a bit benumbed from the fumes. I learned that the alkaloids concentrate in the root during autumn and winter. It may well be possible these two roots have a higher potency. They are now drying slowly and I plan to later make fetishes with them that tie together visullay the mentioned astrological and magical aspects. Below are a few pictures to show you their raw beauty:
In September I had already gathered leaves and sprigs, which I put between newspaper pages for drying. What do you read in there? It’s been a Belladonna year for sure!
Yet there are plenty of other herbs (and for that matter also seeds!) and so I find myself again running around the house and garden, collecting, sorting and processing all sorts of green harvest. It will still be a giant task to take photos of everything and make it available for ordering. I am also working on a larger herbal commissions, which includes labeling and filling custom bottles for a client.
At least I am ready now with rearranging our front garden (more about this later) and next is the raised bed. So lots to do this week until the official Samhain date. And I still have a very special interview in the making, as well as news concerning my contributions to the third Pillars Periodical Journal! But all in good time. 🙂
So long, after so much deadly nightshade here is now another plant, which embodies the month of October: the Chinese Aconite (Aconitum carmichaelii), or Herbst-Eisenhut, as it is called in German, is the last of the aconites to flower and brightens up the October month with its lush blue-violett inflorescences. It’s poisonous as hell too and another name for aconite was in fact Scorpio. The aconite, as the ‘king of poisons’ is in different ways to be seen as a counterpart to the belladonna or ‘queen of poisons’, who’s atropine is the physiological antidote in aconite poisoning. Now I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing the test. However I do like to grow them besides each other, for higher inspiration and guidance. In fact, I do have quite a few aconite and belladonna seedlings to plant out yet… Yep, lots do! 🙂
Finally done! Here are the latest sets of cards with my plant-inspired sigils. Wrapped in autumn-colored peacock marble paper, fitting for the autumnal equinox.
As you know I am dedicating sigils to each herb I work with. In March this year I made a first print set of these abstract sigilic emanations, which I brought with me for the London Magical Arte event. The cards were passed around, single motifs were discussed and became the basis for inspired conversation. At the time I had only printed the cards but not yet made a nice packaging for them. Later I made a slipcase with paper bought from my local bookbinder. Thus far two smaller editions have been done for the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, now followed by a 3rd for the Autumn Equinox of 15 sets, the content being:
45 cards with plant sigils printed black on heavy paper vergé
4 colored cards with my ‘soul-paintings’
numbered edition specific title card
list with names of corresponding herbs
introduction to the cards
All cards are hand-numbered on the back. With the help of a list you find the name of the corresponding herb for each card. There is no prescribed method of laying the cards. Possible ways of interpreting and laying them are outlined in the introduction that comes with each set.
Price: 31 Euro for one set + shipping – SOLD
Update: as of September 28 these are all sold. I hope to be doing a larger edition in the future with the help of the funds gathered through the sale of these first editions. If you wish to receive one of the next please message me at [email protected]
This is the first time that I am presenting my plant inspired sigil art in a comprehensive way – in the form of these cards. The sigils on them are wordless expressions of subjective impressions from the plants I work with in my garden and surroundings. Their main purpose is to serve as a visual focus and starting point for contemplation and meditation.
Each card carries the signature of one herb and is hand-numbered on the back. By comparing the number with the accompanying list you find the name of the corresponding herb. The first 22 cards are inspired by potentially venific herbs. The next 16 cards carry seals of traditional healing herbs. They are complimented by 6 further cards, which are inspired by herbs of Meso-American culture and one ‘Joker’ card, represented by the High John the Conqueror root. All herbs are of relevance to different sorcerous lines of practice.
The first 22 cards could also be compared to the Major Arcana of Western tarot, even though that was not my initial intent. And whilst it may suggest itself, comparing these to existing divination systems is misleading as that was not the original impulse for these images.
Part of the motivation behind these abstract depictions is to go beyond the attributions given in magical correspondence tables and written lore and to find new forms of expression. Each ‘sigil’ is the summary of my memories connected to these herbs and condensed into simple line drawings, which are loaded with symbolism. However, what is drawn up in about 20 minutes is the result of a much longer and work-intensive process: I study the plants in different ways, reading, photographing, drawing and writing about them as well as gathering first-hand experiences by sowing and growing and thus observing the plant in all stages, from seed to harvest. This is the task I set up for myself and it is one not always possible to accomplish. But I am getting closer each day, always learning something new about the kingdom plantae.
Making sigils for plants and their spirits, or devas, has been done before. But I don’t think it’s been done in the way that I am doing it and I have already received some very positive feedback: When I showed these cards for the first time to a live audience in London, people would pick out their favorite card and riddle and guess the plant in question. New aspects and meanings were found in these images that I myself had not been aware of. This way the cards became a basis for inspired conversation.
So sit down with your witch friends, take out this card set, sort them or shuffle them and lay them out before you. Let each draw a random card and start brainstorming. Get your herbal book out and read up on the herb you picked and contemplate in which way its characteristics could be of relevance to yourself or your current life situation… There are no limits to how these cards can be consulted and I hope and wish that people find their own ways to utilize them.
Finally a note on the four colored cards that come as an extra with this set: these are paintings based on the seals for Belladonna, Black Nightshade, Thorn-Apple and Mandrake, which have been composed with corresponding plant saps or extracts, blood and red wine. On the cards you are being presented inverse versions of the original paintings. The process behind these is always intense as it is a very direct way of approaching the herbs in question. The resulting paintings feel real and powerful, especially since they are still undergoing transformation as they age and the pigments change in color.
This set may be expanded in the future, as there are many more plants I am exploring. But for the time being, I hope that this first illustre gathering will be a joy to explore for the one who owns it.
Find updated the Herbs & Seeds section with info on Sowing & Growing and lists of herbal and wooden ingredients relevant to our path. Under Art is added a new section Featured Artists. Next the focus is all on the Statues and Fetishes (what we actually specialize in). We will now be offline for the coming 2 weeks. New commission work and orders will be accepted again from 15 January 2012 on.
The Vision Tree, 2009-2011, by X.A.
Fine Art, Photo- and Canvas Prints available on request
Akelarrenlezea, 2011, by Akherra Phasmatanás
The setting of “Akelarrenlezea” shows the Cave of Zugarramurdi located in País Basque, where the infamous “akelarres” were widely celebrated – available for saleSOLD