For the past weeks (and with interruption due to sickness), I have been working meticulously on the set-up for ritually blessing this year’s harvest. Of course it is not possible to pile up all the herbs and seeds gathered over the year. So instead I created a new, dynamic working sigil, which can be adopted and rearranged for different needs. In my own ritual the sigil is constructed from different plant parts and seeds, each corresponding with one of the four elements and esoteric symbolism. I.e. the sickles are made out of fennel stalks and vervain herb. For the stang in the center was used a thorn-apple stalk with pods and thornapple leaf and seed for the triangle symbolizing the spirit housed within the green. Of course you could use other herbs, real sickles, or simply trace the lines in the soil.
My offerings given to the spirits included self-gathered pine tree resin, Samhain protection incense, four beeswax candles, water and rum. The operation can be performed in silent contemplation or you call upon specific crossroad spirits and deities of your tradition. When done, all parts of the sigil can be gathered and employed to different sorcerous ends. Important is, if the ritual is dedicated to a certain spirit or deity you should stick with it.
Now I mentioned this was a dynamic sigil. As you can see in the above picture, the ritual aimed at blessing objects (in this case my seed boxes), which are placed inside the blades of the four sickles. A different ritual setting would consist of placing links to the four elements inside the sickles, e.g. offerings corresponding to each or your main altar tools. The point is, that you can construct and arrange the set-up in different ways suiting your needs. Now here are a few suggestions how to go about it:
Recently someone pointed out that the placement of the four elements inside my sigil was “wrong”. He was reasoning from the viewpoint of Western Mystery Tradition / Tarot. Well, as you can see there are different versions that all can be worked with. It is entirely up to you if you want to employ a tradition-specific succession and which you chose. Important is, if you do, that you contemplate and know why you chose one option over another.
Btw. I am looking forward to use the earth-bound altar again. It was altogether a very powerful experience employing sorcerous herbs and soil in this way.
PS: Please remember, I will process any new orders by the 2nd week of November. Until then I am preparing for my stall and exhibition at the Samhain Celebration on November 4th in Gotha (Germany).
I am preparing my stall at the Samhain Celebration in Gotha (Germany) on November 4. All orders placed until October 15 will ship in time for Halloween. All orders placed after October 15 will be shipped by the 2nd week of November. Shipping times on my etsy listings have been updated accordingly. Thanks for your understanding!
More updates on the event, my stall and exhibition to follow this week…
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.
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
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 incense blend is dedicated to the rituals surrounding the summer solstice, when the sun reaches it’s annual zenith. The ophidian seal adorning the vessels that contain the solstice incense, is inspired by the viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare) herb.
The ingredients for this blend are the herbs and flowers traditionally associated with the summer solstice. The incense blend evokes in particular a vision of a summer meadow at dusk: bushes of blue flowering viper’s bugloss cover the ground and transform into nests of serpents. Plantain, thistle and St. John’s wort grow at its side. Nearby, the fragrant yellow flowers of the evening primrose glow in the evening light and emit their sweet scent into the sweltry air, attracting the most wondrous kind of fairy folks…
Use this incense blend for cleansing, purification and letting go of the old, for protection, renewal, celebrating the night, inspired dreaming and creativity. The blend can also aid in decision making: cast out the serpent as a symbol of “evil” or embrace it as a symbol of wisdom and become a serpent yourself.
Finished the first week of January, moon first quarter: the long awaited second batch of Adramelech incense is here. It is so far my most eclectic and also most tedious incense blend in the making. Deep yet aerial, fiery yet also fresh, repulsive yet also strangely attracting – an incense both for the living and the dead.
The incense includes some rare herbs and complex resins such as elemi, opoponax, guggul and galbanum. The spiritual and magical links to the deity Adramelech have been discussed before. This time I will highlight the ingredients that compose this kaleidoscope of fragrant herbs, resins and woods. This is part I.
Adramelech Incense, January 2017
Keywords: Adramelech (name of qliphotic ruler), Samael (name of qlipha, meaning “poison of god” or “blindness of god”), Shaarimoth (name of infernal habitation, meaning “gates of death”)
Associations: Mercury, cunning, eloquence, wit, seduction, trickery, disobedience to God, intoxication, oneiromancy, necromancy, knowledge about poisons
A blessed seed…
Black caraway (Nigella sativa) is also known as black cumin and blackseed. The small black seeds are aromatic and used as a spice. Their aroma is described as a mix between onion, black pepper and oregano. N. sativa was a traditional Old world condiment. N. sativa seeds have been found in several sites from ancient Egypt, including Tutankhamun’s tomb, though its exact function in this context is unclear. It is mentioned in Isaiah 28: 25, 27, where the reaping of nigella and wheat is contrasted. In Islam it is believed, the black seed heals all except death. The famous Persian physician Avicenna describes N. sativa and mentions in particular its use for dyspnea. The oil is used to treat allergies and asthma as well as gastrointestinal diseases and many other health related issues, and is even capable of suppressing cancer cell growth. In magical literature the seeds are also referred to as “blessing seeds”. As the name suggests, the seeds are used for blessing, but also to bring forth the truth and to ritually banish bad people. The black seed is an essential ingredient in this incense blend.
Caraway(Carum carvi) is a culinary herb, which has been used for at least 3000 years. In folk medicine it is well known as a carminative and galactogogue. In folklore and magic caraway is attributed with the power to be protective of Lilith (particularly pertaining to newborns) and any form of “evil”, e.g. it is thought to protect from sickness and the evil eye. The seeds are carried as a protection against theft. Caraway is a herb ruled by mercury. Harold Roth notes that its aroma has something earthy about it, hence caraway may qualify for psychopomp rituals. Besides this caraway is considered lust inducing and employed in sexual attraction spells. Chewing the seed is thought to help attract the love of the one desired. Truth is, chewing a few caraway seeds helps against bad breath. Caraway is also a natural pesticide. I chose to include caraway in this blend because my attention was drawn towards umbelliferous herbs in connection with this qlipha. It teams up herein with common fennel and poison hemlock.
Bittersweet and soothing…
Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), also known as woody and climbing nightshade, fellonwort, poisonberry, poisonflower, scarlet berry, snakeberry, trailing bittersweet, trailing nightshade, violet bloom, blue bindweed and amara dulcis. This plant is one of my favorites. It is a climber that can take over hedges if permitted and – just like a snake – as long as it finds something to support itself. The branches can get up to 7 meters long. The plant, including its lovely purple flowers, is the stuff that fairy tales are made of. The bright red berries taste bittersweet and are a temptation to try, especially for children. But all parts of the plant, including the ripe fruits, are poisonous. The stems of bittersweet nightshade contain cortisone-like substances. Its folk medicinal applications include blood cleansing teas, treating nausea, vertigo, rheumatism, skin diseases, chronic bronchitis and asthma. The bitter sweetness is a reminder to consider both sides of the story. It could stand for the joys and pains of amorous affairs and romances, or the ‘price to be paid’ when the luxuries of the one are built upon the laborious, literal ‘dog’s life’ of others. In this context bittersweet nightshade may function as a soother as well as a revealer. Harold Roth mentions its magical potential for healing bitter memories and bringing balance. Bittersweet nightshade inhibits immune overreaction and eases stress-related symptoms such as neurodermitis. It may be helpful in stressful periods resulting from heavy work load or pressure to succeed as well as for overcoming loss. As such it shows typical mercury ruled attributes. Contained herein are the bittersweet nightshade’s leaves, stems and fruits.
A sexy and deadly devil…
Another poisonous plant ruled by mercury is the cuckoo-pint (Arum maculatum), also known as common arum, adder’s root, arrow root, lords-and-ladies, naked girls, naked boys, Adam and Eve, jack in the pulpit and devils and angels. Already the plant’s folk names are suggestive of the ‘devil’ and carry plenty of sexual allusions. Its dark green leaves are spade-shaped, with a lustrous surface and sometimes carry distinct purple spots. The shape of the flower resembles a chalice or vulva with a phallus-like inflorescence emerging at the center, which emits a scent imitating decay to attract flies as pollinators. It later transforms into a shiny, bright-red or orange infructescence. Arum grows in shady and damp places. The venific nature, voluptuous appearance and cold moistness connected to the arum are aspects I have also come to associate with the qlipha Samael. The name devils and angels in addition carries a nice link to the ambiguous nature of its ruler, who occurs both as an arch-demon and arch-angel. Common arum is poisonous in all parts, the root though would be roasted and eaten, as it is rich in starch. This blend contains the cuckoo-pint’s root.
The next plant is even better known for its peculiar markings. Scattered across the pale green stems and leaf axils of the poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) are dark red to brownish-purple spots. Due these markings plants are given the specific name, maculatum, meaning “stained” or “spotted”. In the esoteric world these markings are viewed as a signature left by the serpent Samael on the plant in the same way that he gave the Mark to Qayin. This mark is a warning to others and at the same time protects its wearer from harm. In the case of the plant it visually distinguishes the poisonous hemlock from harmless lookalikes, such as Parsley or Queen Anne’s Lace. Hemlock brings a slow, cold death. Socrates, an impudent seeker of truth and opposer of authority, was sentenced to death through the poison chalice, which contained fresh hemlock seeds and opium. For this and other reasons poison hemlock is an essential ingredient in this incense blend in his roll as poisoner and lurer at the “gates of death”, as well as protector of the cursed. By extension the herbs functions also as keeper at the threshold of sleep. This blend contains poison hemlock seed, flower, leaf and stem. Btw. poison hemlock stinks! The animalic odor however is covered by the other fragrant ingredients used in this blend.
The third herb in the umbellifer family is common fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). This herb was actually among the first ingredients and became a main inspiration for this incense formula, when observing the huge fennel stalks in our garden reaching high towards the sky and swaying majestically in the wind. Fennel is a fiery herb, said to strengthen eye sight and attributed with divinatory and overall benific properties. Contained in this blend are fresh fennel seeds from our garden as well as sweet green fennel seed. Its Mediterranean cousin, the Giant Fennel (Ferula communis) features prominently in Greek myth: Prometheus stole the fire from Mount Olymp and delivered it to mankind, carrying its flame in a giant fennel stalk. With his trickery and theft Prometheus brings, not for the first time, the wrath of Zeus upon him, who has Prometheus chained to a rock and his liver eaten out by an eagle (Zeus himself). As the blood of Prometheus was spilled across the land, a new plant grew where the drops hit the soil. This plant is called “blood of Prometheus” and is thought to have manifested either as the poisonous meadow saffron (Colchicum autumnale) or the miraculous mandrake…
Witty tricksters and soothsayers…
I have written about and continue to illustrate my visions pertaining to the mandrake (Mandragora officinarum). It was some years ago that I started to grow mandrake by myself, use it in ritual and make art about it. All along I could watch online prices for mandrake root sky-rocket. You can buy whole roots or pieces for hundreds of dollars. The root, alive or dead, is worshipped and serves as a potent magical tool. As such it appears to fulfill all of a person’s magical desires, whether employed as a poppet, infused in oil or burnt as incense. I remember the first time I did just that: a single piece of mandrake root placed on hot coal as the crowning offering after a long and exhaustive ritual. It was an important working and with mandrake it is best kept this way. It is reserved for “special occasions”. The blend for Adramelech contains mandrake, due to its powerful links to infernal necromancy and other types of divination, e.g. via the alraun or homunculus, which, if fed correctly, would bring fortune, answer the owner’s questions and foretell the future. Secondly mandrake is linked to cunning, trickery and thievery, e.g. through the connection with aforementioned antagonistic hero of Greek myth, but also because it is one of the most forged magical tools in history. Heroic trickster gods embody the darker aspects of mercury perfectly. Hence corporeal links to their plant allies belong in this blend for Adramelech-Samael. This blend contains mandrake root and leaf.
Lending a hand in magic and cunning…
The fronds of the male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) remind of the peacock’s fan. Colonies of male fern plants may be as dazzling to the eye as the peacock’s display of plumage and have been reported to cause vertigo and disorientation in wanderers. It is said that he, who finds himself alone amongst the fern at midnight, will meet the demon Puck, messenger of the fairy king, who will bestow the lucky fool a purse filled with gold. The devil will bestow the “lucky hand” and along with it protection from the fiery element to whoever seeks the male fern’s root on the Eve of St. John. Power of enchantments, riches and overall luck count among the benefits bestowed by this magical herb. The seed is said to make its wearer invisible. Male fern was also thought to repel serpents. Proven are indeed the male fern’s vermicidal properties. Beware though, the whole plant is poisonous. This blend contains fresh male fern root and leaf.