TEUFELSKUNST Occult Art Blog
TEUFELSKUNST
Occult Art Blog

Adramelech Incense, The ingredients – part II

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 II. (read part I)

Adramelech Incense, Jan. 2017
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

Flowers in the valley of the shadow of death…

The sweet scent of the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) tells of spring and the returning of life, yet the plant often adorns graves and is deadly poisonous. As yet another mercurial herb with venific properties it perfectly represents the darker aspects of the planetary influence corresponding with this qlipha. Whether it was this or another “lily of the valley”, we do not know, but legend tells that a flower by such name grew where the tears of Eve fell, when she was banished from Eden. It is also told, the serpent that tempted Eve to taste the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, was either Lilith or Samael in disguise. For disobeying god, man was sentenced to a life of labor and eventually die, only to be granted eternal life after death if… well, you know the story. In the Christian faith the lily features also as a symbol for the second coming of Christ and thus the resurrection of the dead at the day of judgment. From seduction, to sin, to the bitter truth, to the tears that followed and lastly the flower that grew from them; the lily of the valley is an essential part of this incense.

Ophidian emissary…

Shed snakeskin is added herein as an animalic link to the qlipha’s ophidian manifestations. The serpent is also a totem guarding the astral gates to the realm of the dead. I was given shed skins from a red-tailed boa (Boa constrictor) and carpet python (Morelia spilota). The owner of the snakes noted the python is quick and populates trees, whilst the boa resides in the field and is altogether a bit slower. I recommend looking up both species and reading about them. I will share here just one bit I came across and found interesting in this context. The boa features in Mesoamerican myth: it was believed the serpent was sent by the gods (which is expressed in its German name “Abgottschlange”) as an omen of impending doom. It was also believed the boa would hide in the manioc fields and impregnate unwitting women, to spawn a new serpentine breed. This is similar to the esoteric lore about the serpent Samael impregnating Eve, who then gave birth to Qayin. Shed snake skin has a fascinating, transparent, paper-like texture. It crackles when crushed and is surprisingly tear-proof. The color of these skins is a ghostly grayish white to pale golden-red and partly iridescent. When burnt it smells like burnt skin or nails, but this is covered by the aroma of the resinous and herbal ingredients.

Protector at the threshold…

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is one of those herbs, that covers unpleasant odors, including the stench of decay. More conventional applications include the use of lavender oil in relaxing baths and for a calm sleep. Lavender may ease nervous tensions and help focus the mind. In magic it is also thought to aid in contacting spirits, it is used for cleansing and for helping the dead find rest. The flowers are also added to dream pillows. Personally I have found lavender to be a potent messenger between the realm of the living and the dead, especially in dream, thereby being protective of as well as guiding the dreamer. This would be a proof of its association with the planetary influence of Mercury and deities such as Hermes, and particularly Hermes chthonios. This blend contains French blue as well as intensely fragrant white lavender from our garden.

The mirror gates of death…

The daffodil aka narcissus is a bright spring flower with an intoxicating scent. In Greek myth however it features as a flower of death. Persephone was lured by the pale fragrant flowers and they would be the last thing she reached for, before Hades abducted her to the underworld. The banks of the river Styx are described as being covered with daffodils. The flower is named after the youth Narcissus, who committed suicide, after he saw his own reflection in the water. Narcissus was blessed with otherworldly beauty and adored by girls and boys. At the same time he was cursed, as he only was to live long if he would never recognize himself (“si se non noverit“). Obsessed with his own beauty and aloofness he drove one of his admirers into suicide. The young man’s death was revenged by the gods. Nemesis caused Narcissus to see his own reflection in the water and he fell in love with it. Longing for his own reflection he drowns. Instead of his corpse is found a flowering daffodil. The daffodil is hence also a symbol of seduction, unfulfilled longing and obsession with one’s ego, which is popularly known as narcissism..

Another aspect addressed in the story of Narcissus is the delusive nature of the mirror’s surface. In one version of the legend a leaf falls into the water and distorts the reflection of his image, perceived as so ugly by Narcissus that he commits suicide. The mirror here is more than a deceptive surface, it becomes a gate or a trap through which Narcissus enters death. I have mentioned the connections between this qlipha and reflective surfaces as are found in the poisonous white-silvery metal mercury, which is liquid at room temperature and extremely volatile. 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. I cannot include real mercury within this incense blend. As a simple visual substitute and eye candy I use silver-colored Frankincense.

The tears that open the heavens and hells…

Galbanum (Ferula galbaniflua) is the semi-liquid resin derived from a species of giant fennel (not to be confused with the common fennel). The resin has a bitter, green scent and is of a sticky, honey-like consistence. It is one of the ingredients used in the incense of the tabernacle (Ex. 30:34) and features in Agrippa’s spirit suffumigation. It was sacred to Ancient Egyptians, used for divination, contacting celestial spirits as well as communing with the dead. It has strong oneiric properties and is great to burn prior to sleep and dream work. I was looking for a resin complimenting the deep green scent and dark mercurial nature of this blend. Galbanum is a perfect match. Only its sticky-fluid consistence can be a little tricky: I heat it prior to use, then pour the hot liquid into the bowl with my blend and then (wearing rubber gloves) start kneading and kneading…

Elemi (Canarium luzonicum) has similar properties as galbanum but comes along more aerial and lofty, with its intense dill-like scent and fresh coniferous undertones. It also has a sticky consistence and, like galbanum, is somewhat difficult to blend with other herbs and resins. I hence store elemi in the freezer, then crush it for as long as it remains brittle and try to blend it as fast as possible with the rest. The elemi then binds with the other ingredients and forms clusters, which I then knead through, over and over. To prevent the sticky mass from gluing unto my hands I use a plant oil or alcohol, which act as a natural solvents.

This process can take hours and is one of the reasons why this blend is a little more arduous to produce then other incense I offer. But the result is worth it, for when burnt, this blend can boost your awareness and elevate your perception in a quite extraordinary way. It is rather strong and intense in its pure form and hence can be blended with other resins and basic ingredients for a more moderate effect.

Opoponax is also known as sweet myrrh and bisabol myrrh. The resin is typically orange-brown to red in color and has an intense aroma, which can actually be a little sickening. Its scent, when burnt, is sweeter, somewhat animalic and less bitter than that of myrrh. Opoponax is traditionally used to cleanse, protect against negative or parasitic influences and to improve intuition. It cleanses and strengthens a wounded aura, helps fine tuning the senses and inspires creative work. Harold Roth notes that it is especially useful against negative thoughts. The resin used in this blend comes from trees in the Commiphora genus. Opoponax is an alternative spelling for opopanax, from Anglo-Norman opopanac, from Latin opopanax, from Hellenistic Greek ὀποπάναξ, from Ancient Greek ὀπός “vegetable juice” + πάναξ “panacea” = all healing. The original source for this resin may though in fact not have been the aforementioned trees but different plants in the Apiaceae family, such as the Hercules-all-heal (Opopanax chironium). The juice obtained from this herb has an acrid bitter taste, but produces a balsamic lavender-like scent when burnt.

The earthy, sweet, balsamic aroma and strengthening properties of guggul (Commiphora mukul) compliment opoponax and other resins used in this incense. Guggul has a soft consistence and is of a dark brown to near black color but is translucent against a light source, then taking on hues of light-brown to deep blood-red or sometimes green. In Hebrew, ancient Greek and Latin sources it is also referred to as bdellium. It has been cultivated and used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for nearly 3000 years. It is a personal favorite, as it has the best of myrrh and opoponax, both in scent as well as pertaining to its spiritual effects. It is also noted to have impact on the blood flow and circulatory system and is applied to wounds for disinfection. In India it is burnt as an incense for cleansing and banishing bad spirits from a home. It is also burnt prior to sleep, to calm the mind and relax the body. Unfortunately the Indian tree species is threatened due to over-harvesting. Alternative sources are African and Arabian Commiphora trees, which yield a less balsamic but equally potent resin.

Arboreal messengers between the realms…

There are various trees thought to guard the entrance to the underworld or the mythical gates of death, but there is one tree in particular attributed with the special power of not only connecting all the dead but being able to revive them from their graves. This guarding tree of the dead is the yew (Taxus baccata). And whilst the wood or any part of this tree is considered to be blessed with bearing the power of bringing life to the dead, it is a fact, that its dark-green, poisonous, needle-shaped leaves bring the reverse, namely death to the living. The smallest amount can kill a man. Yet shamans would use it to travel to the realm of the spirits (the dead) and return with wisdom and knowledge about curing the sick. Or the lost wanderer would fall asleep under the tree, sometimes never to return. It is fascinating how this dark, slow growing tree would bear such potent quickening powers. It is yet another example for a plant being ruled by both Mercury and Saturn.

Sandalwood (Santalum album) too bears associations with the dead, as it is burnt to please their souls. In Hinduism the dead are cremated on the wood as its scent is thought to appease their souls and help them leave. White Sandalwood is called so because of its white heartwood. It is also referred to as the “Great Receiver”, since the oil extracted from the wood absorbs the aromatic compounds of other oils and because of this is used in traditional attars. The fragrant oil is attributed purifying, relaxing, mind calming, cooling effects and is also thought to induce sensuousness and lust. Interestingly S. album is semi-parasitic, in that it derives nutrients by parasitizing the roots of other trees, however without causing the hosts greater damage. Originally spread across India it is now cultivated in other Asian countries and Australia. The Indian sandalwood is threatened due to over-exploitation and altered land use, its trade and export is regulated strictly by the Indian government. The trade of Australian sandalwood is cautioned as well. Similar scented woods exist, but are considered of lower quality. Commercially available white sandalwood is often adulterated or artificially scented. Real Indian sandalwood is rare and expensive and its trade is banned in some countries. In Germany few sellers carry it. This blend contains natural, fragrant Indian sandalwood, which is not perfumed.

Red sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus) is not related to the aforementioned white sandalwood. It is valued for its red color and used as a natural food dye and also as a paint pigment. It has a neutral, mildly woody scent and is used as a base material for incense sticks and cones. It is attributed cleansing properties. In traditional herbal medicine it is used among others as an antipyretic, tonic and aphrodisiac. Some employ the wood also because of its color in love and martial spellwork. It should be noted that the tree is slow growing, producing a hard red wood, which is sought after by furniture makers. Red sandalwood is listed as an endangered species because of over-exploitation for its timber in South India. Its export and trade require a CITES certificate, yet red sandalwood chips for incense making are widely available. The red sandalwood contained in this incense has an intense vermilion color.

Due to the threatened status of both red and white sandalwood I consider substituting both ingredients with hazel and rowan wood in the future.

European Peacock (Inachis Io)
European Peacock (Inachis Io)

Last but not least, one small but mighty addition, that rounds up our excursion through the garden of Adramelech-Samael, is the dust obtained from dead peacock butterflies. These adorable creatures would frequent my altars for the dead during the cold season of the year, feeding on the offerings given to the dead and their saints. Some say the butterfly or moth is a messenger of the dead, that can guide or lead astray the living. Whatever it is, I leave it up to you to find out…

For ordering write to [email protected]

January 15, 2017

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Adramelech Incense, The Ingredients – part I

Fire within, cold without…

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, Jan. 2017
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.

Spicing up…

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)
Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

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.

Marked…

Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)
Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)

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.

Eye-opener…

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

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…

"Mandramelech"
“Mandramelech”

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…

Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) root resembling a skeletal hand. The fetish made from the root is known as "devil's hand".
Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) root resembling a skeletal hand. It is made into a fetish known as “devil’s hand”.

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.

For ordering write to [email protected]

April 16, 2016

Posted In: Incense, Herbs & Seeds

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