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Foetid Devil

8 Mar

Foetid Devil

Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum), on Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) flower

-> Flower Devils

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Beginning of Spring

8 Mar

Snowdrops and Garden Bench Weight of Ice

Meteorological beginning of spring, different perspectives

Schnee von gestern

24 Jan

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I took the photos yesterday, fascinated by the contrasts and white spaces that function as a visual divider in the compositions of the images. Some people are afraid of empty spaces. In visual art, horror vacui (from Latin “fear of empty space”), also kenophobia, (from Greek “fear of the empty”), is the filling of the entire surface of a space or an artwork with detail. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_vacui)

I am thankful for any gap, any empty space. The white of the snow has a calming, purifying effect on me. Sadly it’s already gone. Literal snows of yesteryear.

Mandrake Family

11 Apr

Family
These three were once conjoined as a single root. Sadly after the winter I noticed the tissue at the top had become soft and started rotting away. I decided to dig them out and safe what was left. They’ve been drying for 3 weeks now and thus far looking good, still almost as fleshy as on the photo.

Mandragora officinarum plantlets

Small mandrake plants from a German seller, arrived today. I quickly unpacked and watered them. They currently reside in our veranda, where they have evening sun, and seem to be doing well thus far. The leaves keep growing. I will wait with repotting until they withdraw their foliage.

Mandragora Flowering

26 Feb

Mandrake Flowering

Vernal mandrake shooting forth plenty of flowers, in fact surpassing all previous years. It’s an utterly delightful sight! But still too early for bees or other pollinators. I may have to jump in…

This is my last of the vernal variant, all the others are autumn mandrakes, which flower in autumn and resort to an underground existence after christmas, usually showing no sign of life until the next fall. Even though I saw one of them is sprouting anew… I wonder if that one manages at last to actually flower at a time when the temps and light conditions are suitable.

Me and the mandrakes… an endless story to be continued.

Another photo of the plant in its current state of glory… those fresh leaves that look like salad (but are really very poisonous thanks to a variety of alkaloids) may soon extend to half a meter length.

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Btw. I’m working on Regina Amandrakina prints…

Sunny December Morning

15 Dec

I was told this was going to be a beautiful day. It was so nice to be up early, enjoying a cup of coffee and seeing the flowers and shrubs in the front yard lit up and warmed by the sun.

Christmas Rose

14 Nov

“Then he who is about to dig out the plant turns to the East and prays that it may be accounted lawful for him to do this and that the gods may grant him permission.” – Pliny the Elder

Folklore: East is where the sun rises and considered to be the place in heaven where the good spirits dwell. According to Christian tradition the dead are buried facing East, which is the direction from which Jesus is believed to arrive on the day of the resurrection in order to take them with him into the kingdom of heaven. But already before the Christian custom pagans would bury their dead so they would face the rising sun.

“One part hellebore with as much artemisia placed beneath a diamond gives animosity and audacity, guards the members [of the wearer] and makes victorious over what you wish.” – Hermes Trismegistus, 15 Fixed Stars 15 Herbs 15 Stones and 15 Figures

According to Hermes Trismegistus black hellebore is attributed to the fixed star Algol, together with the diamond. Agrippa connects the plant further to Mars and places it also under the rule of Saturn:

“Hellebore is dedicated to Mars and the Head of Algol.” – Agrippa

In ritual, hellebore may be burnt for consecrating Saturnian talismans and conjuring spirits of Mars. Christwurzel is also a key herb in Faustian rites of exorcism and coercion, along with garlic and sulfur:

“Carry with you Aaronis and also Hellebore, so that he [the demon] cannot delve into you or possess you.” – Dr. Faust, Magia Naturalis et Innaturalis

The name Christmas Rose comes from its auspicious time of flower or from the Christian legend that it sprouted from a young girl’s tears fallen on the snow, when she was sad that she had no present for the Christ child in Bethlehem. Another legend tells of the goddess Freya, who rescued an abandoned child during a deadly cold winter night by transforming it into a hellebore flower. Hellebore is also a symbol of innocence. It was considered holy and believed to ward off evil spirits, help heal the black death and safe pigs from swine flu if a helleborus flower was placed on the animal’s ears.

The name hellebore is composed of the Greek word ellein = to injure and bora = food, whilst the Latin adjective niger = black, may refer to the color of the plant’s root, which is almost black when dried. The German name Nieswurz refers to its use in sneezing powders. In medieval medicine it was a cure against demonic possession. The plant has a long tradition in healing madness and epilepsy (also called the ‘divine disease’ if a person was possessed by a demon): Ovid writes in his Metamorphoses of the three daughters of king of Argos, who had been driven mad by Dionysos and were screaming and running naked all across town, being cured by the healer Melampus of Pylos with a drink of hellebore solved in milk. Hence the herb was also known by the name Melampodium. Alexander the Great on the other hand is said to have died of an overdose of medication containing hellebore. During the Siege of Kirrha 585 BC, the Greek were said to have poisoned the city’s water supply with hellebore and waited until the enemy was too weak to be able to defend it any longer due to the diarrhea caused by the plant’s poison.

Pliny the Elder mentions the existence of an opposite to the Black Hellebore (Helleborus niger), with the ‘White Hellebore’ or ‘False Helleborin’ (the plant referred to is probably Veratrum album).