This project began earlier in 2016, when parting with a few homegrown live mandrake roots and sending them to new homes. Part of the deal for the new owner was to commission a portrait of the very root they were to receive.
Each root is drawn with ink and quill on stained paper. Attention is paid to the peculiar shape and features of each root. The result are detailed portraits, which are not only unique pieces of fine art but which also give the owner a reference, when the roots are planted back into soil.
Examples of roots that have left my own mandrake family and joined new homes:
Available roots (prices including hand-drawn art, excluding shipping):
The seeds have been gathered and new wooden seed boxes are nearing completion. With joy I offer again this treat for the tenders of sorcerous gardens, just in time for the autumnal equinox. Below is a preview of the boxes:
Available are boxes #23-26. They will contain again a fertile mix of seeds from various benific and venific herbs. Four boxes are available, three of which are already reserved. For those that will not receive one this time, I plan to craft a few more until Samhain. If you want to make sure to get your hands on one, then I recommend placing a reservation now.
Good things come to those who wait. I have received many requests for new wooden seed boxes, but it was only during the past month that I was able to finish new boxes. So here they are: stained in the colors of fall and charged with the vibrations of the blood red moon, the boxes are filled with the year’s harvest of seeds coming from 50 different herbs.
The philosophy behind the boxes is to share the seeds, which I gather from my own witch garden, so that other practitioners may grow herbs from them as well. This means, we keep in touch, exchange experiences and compare our results with growing and sowing the herbs under different conditions. I am also giving advice here and on my garden blog, for growing and handling these herbs. Besides this the boxes also contain some seeds from new herbs, that I yet plan to sow and where I wish for others to join in.
Each box is pyrographed with the Teufelskunst Sigilum Maior/greater sowing seal on the cover and Sigilum Minor/lesser sowing seal on the inside. The boxes are stained in a warm red hue and finished with a thin layer of transparent varnish. There are THREE boxes filled with seeds (see the listing of the exact content here). The price for one box is 99 Euro + shipping.
Accepted payment methods: Paypal, SEPA bank transfer inside Euro countries
Update: the boxes are SOLD
NOTE: I have been asked whether these boxes are also available without the seed content. If you would rather have an EMPTY BOX with the same or different decor, please contact me and we work something out!
Art is uncompromising and life is full of compromises.
This quote by German writer and artist Günter Grass (16 October 1927 – 13 April 2015) sums up my past weeks. It has been silent here and, apart from the secondhand book sales, there have not been any updates to this blog. But this ought to change.
Meanwhile I did continue to work with Teufelskunst – on commissions, preparing new items as well as updating the site and re-arranging the list of plant profiles, to which have now been added thumbnails as well as short descriptions. This should make navigation easier and also more attractive. Besides this have been added lots of new articles and the list of herbs discussed in detail is growing. Opening the round for this year are four solar herbs, namely Angelica, Lesser Celandine, Primrose and Rue:
Angelica – The aromatic sun and fire herb has a long tradition of usage as a medicinal “all-heal”. Originally called Kvann, it was well-known in Northern Europe, e.g. the Sami people and Vikings used it as a food source and for flavouring. Hence it is also known as “Norwegian Angelica”. After the introduction of christianity and the spreading of the black death… read on
Lesser Celandine – The herb’s Celtic name “Grian” means “sun”. It has also been referred to as “spring messenger”. The flowers of Lesser Celandine signal the arrival of spring and days getting longer. In German it is called “Scharbockskraut” or “Skorbutkraut” = Scurvyherb. The early leaves are rich in Vitamin C and have been taken on board by sailors… read on
Primrose – In Norse mythology Cowslip was sacred to the goddess Freya, the “lady”, and was also referred to as “Freya’s Key”. Within christianity the flower became dedicated to St. Peter and the Virgin Mary and was referred to as “Our Lady’s Keys” and “Keys of Heaven” or simply “Keyflower”, which all relate to the bright yellow pendant flowers… read on
Rue – In magic and folklore rue is believed to break hexes and protect. E.g it was part of the infamous Four Thieves Vinegar, which protected four thieves from the Black Death. It is also known as Herb-of-Grace. Ritual sowing methods demand the pronouncing of curses whilst scattering the seeds respective a young plant ought to be stolen in order to be potent in magic. In Milton’s Paradise Lost… read on
Rue is often used in tinctures, incense and herbal blends for cleansing. Lesser Celandine and Primrose grow in abundance in our yard. And Angelica I have lately been using in different incense blends. I finished the article about this herb late at night and the aromatic scent of Wild Angelica seeds are the last thing I remember, before sinking into a comatose sleep, which granted me a surreal dream with the Dead and the Poisoner. The dream was so strong and intense that I’m guided to use both, the root of Angelica archangelica as well as the aromatic seeds of Angelica sylvestris in dream and divinatory incense blends.
What is planned for the coming months? I have continued work on new wooden seed boxes. I have also worked on new plant sigils, which are to be revealed later this year. I have further been absorbed into researching the conceptual backgrounds and ingredients for new incense blends, which resulted in three new formulae for the Queen of the Night to be presented soon, as well as one incense blend for the Mother of Man-Dragons.
Besides these I have been commissioned for a solar/fiery incense inspired by norse mythology. I composed two blends, focussing on fire and sun symbolism, and taking into account runic attributions for the herbal ingredients. They are called “Múspell” and “Sowilo” incense respectively. The incense blends are currently not for sale, but I may add them to the shop upon request. The same commission also lead me to working again with the mighty Yew tree, more about which I may share later.
I have also been asked about the third series of my magistelli poppets as well as the next row of sigil cards. All I can say is at this point, please be patient! Pertaining to art, the next will be a small print run of the Regina Amandrakina idol, which was published in the latest and now sold out Pillars journal. And speaking of it, Anathema publishing offered me to sell two remaining copies of the journal through my site. So I’m thinking about arranging a special offer. Again more about this later.
For now I just wish you all a blessed Beltane/Walpurgis night!
During the dark and cold season the body and mind may require additional stimuli that bring positivity and warmth into the home and life. Especially for lofty Gemini creatures such as myself, this can be essential. Mental strength, vigilance, coping with ego matters, removing bad vibes, recreation and vitality are some keywords coming to mind in this context. And to stay with the example, Gemini tend to have a need for being the center of attention, which can easily become a nuisance. Whereas the opposite would be a lack of self-confidence and a deficit in joy of living. Neither is desirable and dealing with such ego problems is part of the spiritual work associated with the ‘sun’. Besides, looking at typical sun herbs, you will find many of them are indeed fragrant and aromatic – so perfect for use in incense and aroma therapy. Now there are plenty of herbs that fall into this category and some of them have in fact several planetary attributions. The past weeks I’ve been researching this topic again, took notes, combined and re-combined ingredients. Throughout this I literally followed my nose (but also my eyes) and the result are three incense formulae that each put emphasis on a different solar aspect, scent and color:
Blend I is the first I created and comes as an ‘all purpose’ incense, containing epitomes of solar herbs. Now the old formula has been modified, adding optionally either Amber or Labdanum to the composition, which further contains Bay leaf, sweet Blood Orange peel, aromatic Calamus root, spicy Cassia bark, Clove, fragrant Cedar wood, Frankincense Aden as well as Safflower and Sunflower petals. This is a warm and glorious blend, unfolding a smooth, balmy, spicy-sweet aroma when burnt. Embodying zest for life, this incense awakens the vital spirits. Burn for positivity, power, strength, lust for life, vitality, wealth and overall wellbeing.
Blend II is aerial, refreshing and somewhat tarter. It contains the precious Gum Mastic resin, which is combined with high quality Frankincense, Elemi and green Lime peel as well as Hops, Rue and Walnut leaf – giving this blend an overall lemony fresh and pleasantly bitter-sweet aroma. Cinnamon adds sweet warmth. Spicy Angelica banishes negativity and sickness. Female & male Mistletoe from various trees are there for luck and invincibility. Use this blend for cleansing and removing bad vibes, for balancing and calming down, healing, protection, rejuvenation and revitalisation, for mental strength, vigilance and sharpening the senses, also for receiving and formulating visions.
Blend III is a special offer, containing a unique type of heterogeneous black copal, which is varying in color from black to blood-red to golden-yellow and unfolds a mind-blowing, pine-like scent that is beyond comparison. Spicy-tangy, wintry fresh and uplifting, yet also warming, combining dark and light aspects. This blend embodies the signs of life shining through a blanket of snow covering the earth, its scent being rather heavenly. Further ingredients are White Copal, Yauhtli, Rosemary, Marigold, Juniper, Clove, Cinnamon, Carnation, Chamomile and Bay leaf. Elevating and unifying dark & light aspects, use this blend for purification, as a ceremonial incense, for meditation and spiritual work dealing with ego matters, transformation, heightened state of consciousness, and also for love, prosperity and protection.
As part of a special offer these incense blends are available in 50 ml Miron violet glass jars with black screw caps (offer good as long as supplies last). Besides this blend I + II are also available in standard 50 ml glass bottles with cork stoppers. If you’d rather like small samples you can also get a 14 ml test bottle of each. View below the details for pricing & packaging. For ordering please write e-mail to email@example.com or, if you prefer, visit the Teufelskunst online shops at Storenvy and Etsy (yes, I’m back there!).
Worldwide: 5,60 € up to 500 g or 9,15 € up to 1 kg (ships with registered mail)
Germany: 4,99 € with DHL or 4,50 € with Hermes (insured up to 500 €)
The above incense blends are meant for burning on coals inside a fireproof censer. An alternative option is to use a warmer, where the herbs and resins are heated over a tea light.
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! 🙂
Tonight I finished another two Sigil Card Sets to be shipped this week and spent the rest of the night with some red wine and a herbal contemplation, celebrating the end of summer and welcoming autumn. The equinox is not yet here but the air already smells like autumn and I am heavily working towards completing the next edition of my card sets as well as harvesting and preparing all sorts of herbs from our garden. E.g. yesterday I collected most of the Black Henbane and plenty of ripe Belladonna. Earlier this week I have been gathering Yew and Bittersweet Nightshade, with which I sat down tonight. These are noisy times, a lot of heated up thoughts are floating around and so I felt the need to oppose all that with the help of these herbs, which are simultaneously marking the start of a new circle… summer passed too fast, but I had some interesting experiences and crossed ways with a wonderful person (a huntress and taxidermist), who sent me some really amazing frankincense of the finest quality I’ve used up to this point… burning this heavenly stuff rounded up the night. Now the altar candle is still burning and the libation slowly drying/being consumed…
Summer is coming to an end and yet I did not even share half of the photos I’ve taken during the past three months. So I sat down with a glass of red wine and made this summary of summer garden impressions for you. Click through the gallery to find a commentary on each motif and feel free to comment!