The third Samhain Celebration combined again both finest black metal as well as exclusive hand-made art fitting to the event. Ybenhain offered resin jewelry and items all made of bizarre forest finds, from crazy colored beetles, weird spiders to plenty of animal teeth, combined with flora and fauna from the forest ground and trees. You can check them out at the Ybenhain Instagram. In contrast, Black Arts of mine creates all things from metal. He contributed the etched copper pendants and pins with the Samhain Harvest Seal for the event. Besides that there were some pieces that drew my attention, such as the precision work on a copper hendecagram pendant (see below). There was also a weird metal chest with a fly engraving, housing a steel cased vial filled with a dozen dead flies. You can view the works in all their morbid glory on the Black Arts of Mine Instagram. Last but not least, I brought with me new art editions as well as an ever growing assortment of incense blends.
The other part of the evening, and a reason for people to travel as far as from the States, were the bands. I could not check out all of them, but at least caught a few snapshots of Turia, the Mosaic feat. Schwadorf set and Fyrnask. I would love to hear about your first impression of seeing Turia live and realizing a female is doing those ghoulish voces…
Signature feature and fundament for the evening’s special atmosphere appreciated so much by the audience is the stage set, annually adorned with reeds, ivy, chestnut garlands, corn dolls, carved skulls and this year’s corn sun. Connecting it all since three years is the Seal of the Harvest in the back, which I once designed for the event.
Initiating the Samhain magic
The Samhain Celebration in Gotha is one of those rare occasions where I can show presence with my work and art and meet people that are on a similar wavelength. It is a unique combination of art, tradition, music and spirit, which both is highly satisfying for the performers as well as the audience. Making it all possible are the people of The House of Inkantation, Eisenwald and a handful of helpers.
One week ago I took part in the second Samhain Celebration, hosted by the House of Inkantation, at The Londoner in Gotha. I attended bleary-eyed yet exited. I had worked until the very last minute on the artworks and merch, which included ink drawings of my sigilla magica, samples and glass jars with my self-made incense blends, the last Teufelskunst rosaries, postcards and the original art I had done for German doom band Werian.
The House of Inkantation folks prepared again a unique stage design, which was crowned by a horse skull, into which G. Bergfex of Kvlt&Knochen had carved and imbued with blood the official Samhain Harvest Seal. On the stage performed Rim Runa, Werian, Forndom, Sun of the Sleepless and Malokarpathan. Another special treat were the dedicated wooden boxes pyrographed by C. & M. Falkenstein.
My company, the photographer Anne Ida Helmer, has set herself the goal to document me for a photo series – by all means not an easy task. But I was glad to have her around. We spend the whole weekend in Gotha, touching base and forging future plans. It was nice to finally meet some of the people in person, whom I had done artwork for, and to get to know new faces. I was overwhelmed by the support and interest in my work. This made me forget the sacrifices of the past weeks. It was also refreshing to get to witness new music, bands I had and had not heard of before. I come out of this gathering with new art commissions, possible participation in new events and more.
Impressions from the Samhain Celebration in Gotha, 4th of November ’16
I arrive in Gotha Thursday evening and find the town nearly empty. Having to bridge time and spotting a supermarket nearby, I buy food, water and a pomegranate… Gotha seems to be a place of short distances. At the train station I meet Soth Arts, who will be my comrade for the next 2 days. We could take the tram but decide to walk. Through the park and by the castle; Gotha has its charm, despite or because it feels very much like a ghost town that evening. We check into our hotel, were I am presented the rosaries made for the event: black and ebony wooden beads harmonize perfectly with the Teufelskunst bronze amulets. I quickly put mine on. We have no time to loose…
Out again in the cold night and in a roundabout way we arrive at the pub. There Martin (the organizer) greets us. We find him surrounded by a bustling team of helpers, who are threading up chestnuts, painting banners and applying various green to the stage. One contributor supplied half of his garden to transform the stage into a theatrical scene worthy of an opera production, and 100% in harmony with the Samhain theme.
We quickly join the industrious proceedings and begin stamping and filling little bags with the prepared incense. It gets late and as we finally head back to the hotel, passing by the park again and from the corner of our eyes noticing different interesting trees and crossroads, we plan our spirit offerings for the coming night: I already have the pomegranate and incense; to this we add rum and candles.
The next morning we continue, finishing the last preparations for the evening. Then we have lunch, buy our offerings and pack everything to come with us tonight. It is all damn tight. Even minutes before the pub opens we are putting finishing touches to merch items and set up our table. In the end all is on time, save for my photo exhibition. It turns out the pub is too dark (behold the irony). In addition I face resistance by the pub owners over hanging up the heavy gallery frames, which would involve the hammering of nails into their walls and timber… The darkness wins, I no longer want for my sombre photographs to adorn the even more sombre pub walls. So I improvise and put up the works on chairs and inside windows, where they are still best seen. This serves as a temporary solution for the evening. A better place has yet to be found.
So this is a bummer. I am also starting to feel the lack of sleep and food and the pressure on me, just minutes before the audience begins rolling in. But I am not alone. Soth Arts is there, being an immense support. Erik from Grift, who I meet here for the first time, cheers me up with Swedish lessons and of course there are the many helping hands that are now waiting to see the result of their hard work. I forget to worry about my photos (whoever is meant to see the works will notice them.)
The venue fills quickly and the first band, Vivus Humare, starts on time, followed by Grift from Sweden, MOSAIC and finally Farsot. All four are new to me. Vivus Humare play Black Metal without much add-ons. The 60 minute performance passes in no time. Grift provide a contrast: there is Erik Gärdefors with his acoustic guitar and little singing bowl. He is the special guest of the evening and delivers a beautifully melancholic performance, which convinces the audience and is met with applause. Then comes the time for MOSAIC, the host of the celebration, if you will. Though Martin performs in fact with three bands on this evening, which deserves respect on its own. I watch the MOSAIC performance closely. Martin appears absent, absorbed in his roll of “Inkantator”. His facial expression are grotesque and there is a cold passion in his voice, which seems to echo from a distant glacier world. We spoke of Dame Hulda and her connection to the town of Gotha before – her icy presence is certainly to be felt on this night.
In between and during the gigs I chat with people dropping by our table. For me this is a new experience, as I have not presented my work with Teufelskunst to a live audience before, much less in a metal concert setting. I am used to black metal and the metal audience due to my photography and past-time freelancing for music magazines, but this is altogether a different situation. I was not sure at all if this would work out and whether the audience would accept and treat the hand-made artworks with respect. But it turns out they do, which is partly owed to the solemn atmosphere. On the other hand I also burn plenty of our protecting incense…
Those who are shy or can not relate, do not bother us. Others become curious: metal fans inquire for gardening advice and buy incense. Some communicate their understanding or serious interest in occult symbolism and practices. In the end there are around a dozen people that drop by our table, leave positive feedback and purchase photography as well as crafted items. It is nothing I take for granted and I am thankful for each and everyone one that shows interest. A special thanks goes to Soth Arts as well as Martin and his amazing co-workers. The spirits are thanked elsewhere.
Now I will leave you with these impressions in picture and sound, but not without a hint that you shall prepare for new offerings in November…
Teufelskunst contributes to the Samhain Celebration on November 4th, in Gotha (Germany). Teufelskunst provides the central part of the visual concept in the form of the “Samhain harvest” seal, which is featured on various merchandise articles. Teufelskunst also provides the incense of the night. A sample of the blend comes with each of the 100 merchandise kits. Included in this special offering is also a journal, the “Samhain Herald” featuring my essay about Samhain and the Wild Hunt, paying special attention to the European and Germanic traditions associated with the darkest time of the year.
Support: Soth Arts
Soth Arts created unique qliphotic rosaries for the night, eight of which are adorned with our blacksmith’s Teufelskunst bronze amulet. The rosaries are made of ebony and black wooden beads. Besides this will also be available seven rosaries with sawn-out twin-serpents as well as one rosary with a black Calvary cross pendant:
Date: November 4th
Location: The Londoner – English Pub, Gotha
Entrance: 6 pm
Begin: 8 pm
Esoteric art exhibition and talk event, St. Augustine's, London Hackney, 21st - 23rd of March 2014
This was an unusual art exhibition as well as an unusual occult gathering. This event was different in a number of ways. It was also a personal challenge.
If you would have asked me two weeks earlier about going to London and exhibiting my art there, I would have declared you insane. But it happened. All my concerns, about lacking the funds, health, whatever, and other obstacles magically vanished, just one week before eventually embarking on my journey to London. It would be the first time in seven years.
It felt like a tip on my shoulder, followed by a physical and mental boost. The next few days I was like a maniac, preparing prints, packing art, clothes etc. Everything had to fit into a board case. The woman at the print shop became my best friend. I booked the flights last minute and eventually, after days and nights of no-sleep and few hours of rest, I found myself on the bus to Berlin airport, feeling lucid yet focused, constantly going up and down mental check lists.
“A tower of an event…”
The tower usually evokes a dark and fearsome image. However, my journey went smoothly. When I say smoothly, I mean everything worked out perfectly. I was on time, did not forget a thing, did not loose anything, flights, buses, trains – whatever was needed to get to the place did not let me down. If I was lost for the way, people helped me find it. I was met with so much friendliness that I eventually started wondering whether any of this was real.
“A circular gathering…”
It is the day of the vernal equinox. When I arrive at Andrea Kundry’s place, the other guests are already involved in animated conversation. I know noone and expect to be plutoed as the ‘German girl’. Instead I am welcomed warmly and find myself instantly involved in creatively engaged talk. It is Charlotte Rodgers who takes the initiative; Glen Tomney and Roberto Migliussi join and a couple of minutes later we are talking art and meanings. It will continue throughout the event.
We have no time to loose and soon head straight to the location: St. Augustine’s tower appears as a solitary monument in the middle of London Hackney, medieval and out of place looking, reminding indeed of the tower tarot card. At the entrance, which is locked, we meet a little woman named Paula, who is dressed in hippie apparel. By little, I mean that she is maybe less than 5 feet tall. She has come here for the equinox and to light a candle in front of the tower, which she explains, is situated on the same ley-line as Stonehenge. She also tells us the tower was the oldest church tower of entire Britain and twelve monks had committed mutual suicide in this building. Her words sound like the perfect initiation into the event.
Unlocking the gate, we promise Paula to leave her candle burn, even though I wonder how any candle would remain lit under these conditions. This equinox comes rather as a late come-back of winter than a warm spring beginning.
Then we entered…
The tower’s inside is flooded with day light, shining through tall Gothic windows, illuminating layers of dust collected on cobwebs and the various artworks positioned on tables and hung on wire threads. In one corner, covering a wooden balustrade, hangs resplendent the large image of a black devil dancing on skulls and sticking out its tongue. It is painted by Dolorosa de la Cruz.
Passing art by Andrea Kundry and intricate sculptures by Charlotte Rodgers, we proceed up a narrow stairway and enter a small room that houses the tower’s clockwork. A reproduction of Amodali Zain’s iconic work is arranged alongside miniature paintings by Jezebel Halewood-Leagas, to be joined by various drawings and a goblin-themed assembly by Glen Tomney. In the same room I am later also setting up my long exposure nature photographs.
Crossing a small wooden bridge, we enter a second room with animal sculptures by Charlotte Rodgers. The iridescent black feathers of a winged corvid creature refract the daylight into its single parts. The bird resides over the talks, meditations and musical evenings taking place here.
We climb up to the last floor, the tower’s attic. In a dark corner presents itself an enormous vulvic shrine dedicated to Pomba-Gira. It consists of multiple ceramic and paper pieces, all created and set up by Angela Edwards. Two visitors are leaning thoughtfully over the installation. Later there will be Christian visitors inspecting the tower and wondering about the unusual happening and they will be shocked and confused by Angela’s work. But even esoteric folks visiting the tower for the exhibition will react ambiguous and unable relating to the presentation. It is the first time for me getting to know Angela and her work, and I too have to sort my feelings in regards to its provocative and violent yet strangely beautiful and enigmatic forms. I shall learn later, how much substance there is to it. Angela provides the viewer with candles and incense for paying respect to the spirits. So I light some, the rest remains an inner dialogue. Later I will spend more time chatting with Angela and without knowing or deciding on it, we are to stay in touch for years to come.
The inside of the tower is cold, electricity is not working properly and there are few facilities for hanging up our work, as it is forbidden to hit nails into the walls of the historical building. But somehow we manage by improvising: arranging our works in window frames, underneath timber beams, at the edge of protruding wall stones and on the wooden doors encasing the clockwork. At night we light candles to illuminate our artworks. The natural light and warmth of the candles creates a special and beautiful atmosphere inside this unique location. After three days at the tower none of the pieces would feel quite the same. Amidst cobwebs and dust centuries old they become charged with the special vibes of the place.
The following day we are greeted with storm and hail whilst the sun keeps on shining, creating a twilight mood, which again reminds me of the imagery on the tarot tower card…
Below is the view from the tower’s entrance towards the churchyard with its old gravestones. Rooted directly in front of the tower is a beautiful majestic tree, looking all the more dramatic against the scenery in the sky formed by dark clouds, sunshine and hail. Beneath, see also a sandstone relief mounted at the left side of the tower’s entrance, showing three skulls with triple crossed bones, hourglass and dragon wings – a memento mori, representing mortality, evanescence and resurrection.
Saturday is full-packed with talks, meditations and musical performances. On top of a busy schedule, Andrea, the organizer herself continues feeling (and looking) ill, despite hoping for recovery until the very last minute. As she can not attend her own talk, she asks me to jump in. Suddenly I find myself in the unexpected situation of having to talk in front of a foreign audience, in a foreign language, who are expecting in depth info and insights about the very location of this event, St. Augustine’s. Instead I fill the spot with talk about memes, the symbolism of plants and drawing, handing around my sigil cards for inspired conversation. Somehow we manage and my Sigilla Magica gain the attention of the audience.
Saturday evening ends with a jam session by Roberto Migliussi (vocals), Chris Chibnall (theremin), Gavin Semple (guitar), Mark O Pilkington, Glen Tomney and Freya Black (magic flute). The tower provides amazing acoustics and so we sit there, chatting and listening to the wondrous vibrations.
On the last day it is time to pack and leave. We say goodbye, exchange contacts and return to our homes. Some people I meet throughout the event, are probably of high relevance within the London/UK esoteric scene. But my mind is already overwhelmed with new impressions and my journey is not over yet, as I am invited to check out two esoteric book stores. I need to catch my flight though and so there is only time left for one. We check out Watkins Books, recommended by Roberto Migliussi. I am impressed by the beauty of the place as well as the sheer amount of esoteric books on the shelves. I don’t think something similar exists in Germany. Roberto also purchases the very first of my sigil card sets and simultaneously entrusts me with the task of coming up with a better packaging for them.