Archive | spirituality RSS feed for this section

Harvest Seal (or making sure, you reap what you sow)

26 Feb
Reaping Seal

Original “Harvest Seal”, 2011

I am writing this due to recent events. I thought this was yesterday’s news, but apparently it isn’t. So once again:

The above design is my work.

It has been spreading on the internet, which is great.

What is not so great is, that it continues to be mistaken for being in the “public domain” (it isn’t). E.g. it has happened repeatedly that people used it for promoting their events, printed it on t-shirts and other types of merchandise, without knowing that the original design was by me and without awareness of the original context and purpose for which I designed it.

To shed some light (and hopefully to prevent future abuse and misuse), I explain here the concept behind the image and why it would be not particularly smart to employ it out of context.

I created the sigil in 2011 with ink and initially titled it “reaping seal”. I designed it for myself, as I was looking for a suitable sigil to burn on my altar table. It is pyrographed in the center, along with other esoteric glyphs and illustrative elements (the usual “satanic” suspects, serpents, pentagram etc.). Here are some photos of the table with different powerful herbs placed on it (some harvested by myself, others sent to me by fellow practitioners):

My other sigil designs are inspired by my study of and practical work with traditional “witch herbs”. But before that I had been illustrating occult books, where my job was mainly to execute other’s ideas and visions. I literally “inked” hundreds of sigils from another author and this way became familiar with current specific symbolism and its peculiarities. I understood that in order to develop artistically I would have to come up with my own designs, also in my personal ritual work, rather than replicate another’s. This posed a challenge since the illustration job had inevitably left a trace on me and I was stuck in its forms.

The then so-called “reaping seal” serves as an example for a transition period, both in my art as well as ritual work.

The design plays with harvest symbolism, with sickles and quarters (connected to the four seasons, the four elements and returning cycles). It carries obvious references to the aforementioned occult forms employed within said books. (I do not name the book titles here, not because I do not want to give credit, but because the magi of said current do not like to see official links made between real names and their esoteric teachings, which is a rule I generally respect, but which was also the reason why I had to start creating my own designs if I wanted to get more jobs as an artist).

It should be clear now why (due to the aforementioned influence) it would not be smart to use the seal out of context. I uploaded the digital image to my Pinterest account years ago (I do not remember when exactly I pinned it there and Pinterest does not provide such information). I also uploaded (and later deleted) the image to my occult art page on Facebook, as well as a photo of the pyrographed altar table. I changed the title to “harvest seal”, which does not sound as grim.

I always note in the comments that I am the creator of the work and do not wish for my work to be used without permission. Most of the time people respect this wish. But apparently sharing a work on online platforms such as Pinterest means that some people consider it free to use as they please: from changing or deleting the original artist comment, to downloading and re-uploading, this way erasing all traces of the original source. Low resolutions seem to be no obstacle either these days, because there is software capable of vectorizing the smallest images. Due to this (and because the sigil seems to be really popular with esoteric online folks) it has sadly become one of my most stolen artworks. From witches printing it on their products to bands using it on their merchandise or for advertising events – it has happened and continues to happen. Once some band even claimed old illustration work of mine as their “graphic designer’s own creation”. But even individuals that bother doing a check-up and search the original artist behind artwork they find online and would like to use, end up being fooled. The question is not so much, who is to blame, but what to do about it.

No longer uploading my work online cannot be the way. Marking all works with bold ugly watermarks cannot be the way either (especially if the work is already a mark of sorts on its own). Putting a lawyer in charge – sorry, but I don’t make that much money. Contacting google – I have been told this would be the most efficient way, alas I may need help there by someone, who has already been through the process and could guide my step by step.

I am hence thankful that my followers are keeping an eye out and bring art theft to my attention. I am also thankful for everyone that reacts positive and respects my copyright. As it happens to be, once the connection is made, I sometimes end up with new illustration jobs. An example is the altered “harvest seal” I created specifically for the “Samhain Celebration” in Gotha:

"Samhain Celebration" merch bundle, Nov. 2016

“Samhain Celebration” merch bundle, Nov. 2016

With my consent and being compensated, the organizer was welcome to use the design on all merchandise sold on that evening and it was also painted on the backdrop used only on that night:

"Samhain Celebration" Gotha, 2016

“Samhain Celebration” Gotha, 2016

Earlier, I made my own set up with the seal, employing it in the blessing of my seed boxes before they were shipped to customers:

Harvest Blessing, 2016

Harvest Blessing, 2016

In this ritual I constructed the seal with dried plant parts strewn on soil – a meditative and joyful work. I used vervain (Eisenkraut) for the sickle blades and fennel stalks for the sickle handles. The center circle is strewn with aromatic fennel seed.  The symbols for the four elements are made out of corresponding herbs: fire – wormwood (Wermut), water – belladonna (Tollkirsche), earth – mugwort (Beifuß) and air – bittersweet nightshade (Bittersüßer Nachtschatten). The forked stang in the center is a dried thorn-apple stem. The triangle at the base (representing the “fifth” element – spirit) is made from dried thorn-apple leaves and seeds. The wooden boxes placed inside the four sickle blades are my “seed boxes”, which are pyrographed by hand and filled with seeds from different witch herbs – many of which are gathered by myself and then filled into little bags to be contained in these boxes, which are then shipped to fellow practitioners for sowing in their own witch garden.

To quote much admired fellow artist, Harold Roth, I am “working my butt off” on these boxes. And in the same way I am putting a lot of thought and work into all other art I do, and of course I wish to share this work with the whole wide world.

So all I can hope for is, that awareness will grow and that more people know about me and my work, respect it and not trying to take advantage.

Advertisements

Sacred Space

10 Jul

A space, empty. A place for contemplation. A prayer room, a modern “church” if you will. The human is confronted with the present, the past, the future – ultimately the inevitable end of it all – and what will be left. There is a black figure of death, a red candle and behind the figure is a large painted canvas. The painting has a vertical format. The colors are merely shades of dim grays on a muted white. Forms dissolve in white mist. A thorn tree is barely visible in the distance. To the right of the statue is a small potted tree. The statue carries a rosary made of seeds and is mounted on a small reliquary box made of dark wood. There is a censer for burning copal, frankincense and aloeswood. The walls to the left, right and in the back are empty. The individual enters to face himself and the inevitable.

Solstice Serpent Seal

13 Jun

Solstice Serpent Seal by X.A.121

Only one week left until midsummer! This seal is dedicated to the rituals surrounding the summer solstice, when the sun reaches it’s annual zenith. The seal is inspired by the viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare) herb and adorns the vessels containing the solstice incense, which you can order from my etsy shop and which will also go up at the mail-order site in a few hours. Below is a preview of how the blend looks:

Summer Solstice Incense

Summer Solstice Incense

The ingredients 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.

Fingers

5 Apr

I woke up many times last night. The documentary I had watched about the Panama papers, followed me into sleep and seemed to occupy my mind for no good reason, other than that I felt betrayed and somehow sharing into the fears and worries of those people that risk their life and well-being for exposing the truth. So my sleep was already restless and my emotional state was not, what one would consider “sunny”. I got some rest after all, but the dream that woke me up again, was one of the strangest things I’ve ever experienced… I say experienced, because in dream it’s always real.

I am inside a foreign room. Beside me on the table, is standing one of those plastic bowls, inside of which I usually gather my herb harvest. I am holding a pair of scissors and one by one, I am chopping off fingers from a hand, and placing them inside the bowl. It occurs to be the most natural thing to do. The hand, it turns out, is my own. I have grown it, similar to how the comic character Deadpool is able to regenerate hands and other body parts. So, I am standing there, chopping off fingers from my own, self-grown hands, of which there are about half a dozen, and collecting the fingers inside the bowl. When I am out of hands, I continue cutting the fingers of my left hand – the one that’s still attached to my arm and body! I sense no pain, as I cut through the knuckle joints and observe myself doing this with a scientific sort of fascination. The fingers don’t bleed as I cut through them. Instead there is immediately skin overgrowing the cut off part. I wonder if or when the fingers will grow back on my hand. When I realize that this may take some time or not happen at all, I stop and begin to worry. What have I done? I look at my hand: of the index and ring finger are only stumps left. In this moment my mother enters the room. Ashamed I hide my hand from her. But at the table is still standing the bowl full of fingers. Some of them are dirty, as if they had just been digging in soil. Worried, that she may see the bowl any second, I wake up.

The first thing I do, is check my hands and fingers upon waking. They are still there. Then I remember, how I had been chopping off and through the hollow stalks of fennel plants, left from last year. I had been cutting them right at the joint, where once the leaves and sheath grew out of the stem. It was already getting dark and with the sun gone, the temperatures went down as well. But I was standing beside the compost, hypnotized, cutting one fennel stalk after another, until I was done with all. I placed the stem segments inside plastic bowls, just like the one in my dream, and then put them up for drying beside my bed. My plan is to fill the hollow stems with a special incense blend for inducing vision and second sight. Well, it looks like I just have been given but a taste of their potency.

Winter Walk: Sacred Thorn Grove, January’s Mysteries and the Bloody Tears of the Cherry Tree Sisters

14 Jan

DSC_3498_sepia copy

Steady-paced I walk up the hill. The air is pleasantly cold. It clears the mind and disperses my headache. I am not freezing. The road I’m walking up is called Am Kirschberg, literally meaning “by the cherry mountain”. The field to the left is covered with a thin layer of snow. The dark frozen soil is sticking out of the white. Ploughing traces create zen like, eye-dazzling patterns. At the end of the long stretched field the view is clearing up towards town. Over the horizon line a narrow golden band illuminates the sky. Above me are grey clouds. I am planning on a short walk, but my legs carry me in a different direction…

DSC_3516_edit copy

Atop a stone wall by the castle, I find the wormwood has not entirely fallen victim to the frost. Next to fading foliage, fresh silvery green leaves are sprouting forth. I gather a few of them, enough for a small winter herb bundle to hang up at home. When dried, it will empower necromantic incense blends. Looking across the river valley, remnants of snow are showing between leafless trees and dark rocks. The sky is an eyeful and I would enjoy the silence, if it wasn’t for cars flashing past on a mint-green autobahn bridge.

DSC_3511 copy

The Thorn Grove in Winter

The way down is frozen over and I hold onto the rusty handrail in order to not slip and fall. People coming my way do not greet me and I do not greet them either. Halfway down the hill, I arrive at the thorn grove. The path up there leads through leafless hawthorn trees growing in all directions. A jay sitting in the branches looks at me but does not fly off. Cautiously I venture on. The ground is muddy and slippery. Most of the snow at this side of the hill has melted. By the rocks I find another wormwood plant and spot a bird’s nest near where the jay had been. I am looking around, breathing the fresh winter air, trying to focus my myopic eyes on the distance. I think of none. It is a good place for the soul.

DSC_3529 copy

Above, the hawthorn thicket is overgrown by raspberry and wild rose. To the right there are young blackthorn shrubs. Their thorns are long and sharp. The young twigs are flexible and make the best thorn-crowns. Further uphill, there is another areal of high-grown hawthorn trees, partly covered in ivy. It’s bordering at a property and the allotment gardens are close. One is likely to meet passersby here. But a magician knows to use the gaps and at night the place is dead silent. Today, however, I am only a passerby myself.

DSC_3553+ copy

A Thin White Veil upon the Field

I’m on my way home, stopping now and then, intrigued by the formations of clouds and the golden light of the sun further afar. A skein of geese is on its way southwards. Passing by wild cherry trees lining the field, I search their stems for resin and at last find a group of three tall and slender trees, the base dripping with soft, blood-red gum. I memorize the spot and proceed, faster now. I have to watch my steps. The trail is akin to an ice rink.

DSC_3556 copy2

At the birch tree, I stop once more. From here the field looks softer…

DSC_3576 copy2

The birch is a pioneer, a tree of new beginnings and the first to come back after complete devastation. The birch profits from death and desolation, but it also paves the way for others to follow and thrive. Beith is for birch, the tree of January, the door opener.

DSC_3594 copy2

Remnants of snow on the barren field, remind of the birch’s torn bark. It starts raining and continues to do so. The next day the snow will be gone.

DSC_3487 copy2

The Blood-Red Resin Tears of the Cherry Tree Sisters

Returning to the cherry trees, the resin is moist from the rain water and easy to scrap off. I collect a jar full, which I later place on the heat. The resin dries and hardens quickly. In its soft state it is sticky and a yellow golden color. It smells remotely of ripe cherries and of caramel, when burnt. In German it is also known as Katzengold, literally “cat’s gold”, and used for sweetening cough tea. In my worship, I employ the dark red resin tears for Naamah and other female entities. In their harvest, take care to not take everything and leave some behind for the spirits, along with offerings for the guardians of the trees. Physical gifts are symbolical and in order, but they count none without respect and patience. The latter are the true sacrifice. The trees will remember your signature and recognize you next time you approach them.

DSC_3568 copy   DSC_3606 copy

I am thankful. The thought had crossed my mind to scar the trees in order to gather their resin. But I have not done so. Therefor I am blessed.

Concerning the Wood Wide Webhttp://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141111-plants-have-a-hidden-internet

Abandoned Park in Spring – The Fuming Womb

11 Apr

Old ash and yew trees in an abandoned park from the 19th century

The trees grow atop arranged rocks, underneath is hidden a small cave. The park’s landscape has once been planned carefully and in alignment with prominent buildings, such as the steeple of the Auferstehungskirche. Channels once lead water through the protracted park scape, which stretches along the Weißeritz river. Most of the paths and arranged parts are overgrown and the original park’s landscape is only slowly re-emerging, due to the thoughtful work of conservationists. Thus are revealed oddities such as gnarly, half dead – half alive trees and previously hidden pathways…

Herbs such as hollowroot (Corydalis cava), wood squill (Scilla sibirica) and thimbleweed (Anemone nemorosa) are currently in bloom, covering the grounds in purple, blue and white. As the sun was setting, I did an incense offering between the base of the stems of two ash trees, which are merged by their roots, observing the smoke rising from the womb formed between both trees and watching the sun go down…

New Year’s 2015

5 Jan

IMG_0129+

I spent my New Year’s in a church and I liked it.

I’m from Dresden. That’s the town famous for its late baroque pomp and for being bombed to ashes at the very end of WWII. It’s also known as “Tal der Ahnungslosen” due to the geographical location, which made it difficult to receive tv from Western Germany during GDR times. It is also known for people protesting peacefully on the streets, which eventually lead to the events that brought down the Wall. In 1989 the motto “Wir sind das Volk” was used because people yearned for more freedom, equality and unity. It was motivated by positive ideals and hope. 25 years later people are protesting again on Dresden’s streets. They are using the same motto, but the motivation is a different one. People are now driven by fear, frustration and hatred. Interviews with single participants of these “silent protest marches” show how diverse the motifs are. Social injustice ranks high, amongst fears of being outnumbered, underprivileged. People are troubled with various problems. The actual motto of these demonstrations occurs almost secondary to the participants, but it is this motto, which is now being perceived world-wide: “against the Islamification of the Christian Western civilisation”. The main motif, which is carried forth on banners and in news headlines is xenophobia. The individual motivations of the people do not make the headlines.

In other countries people protest for freedom, justice and a better education. The message is clear and unequivocal.

In Germany people are apparently unable to formulate their actual concerns or they feel not taken serious if they do. Instead people now march under the banner of “PEGIDA”. It is a motto that the biggest number of the participants of these protests does not support. Yet they decide to follow it for whatever reason. The message on that banner is clear and there is no way of trying to relativize it. This is tragic and we have seen before where such passive followership can lead.

I truly hope that most of the people participating in these protest will come to senses and choose the right language for their goals. Preserving our values is indeed something to stand up for. But it is even better done by contributing one’s part and being a good example, whether you’re an artist, architect, dental technician, engineer, gardener, hair stylist, waiter/waitress, university professor or unemployed. It starts with yourself and good manners. It continues with being nice to others.

So what did I do this New Year’s? I was in fact still sick with tonsillitis and had been on antibiotics since the weekend. I felt weak and in a situation where help, love and comfort are needed. I’m extremely grateful to have two loving parents and friends that care for me in such situations. I’m grateful there was a doctor on Saturday morning to have checked me and prescribed the necessary medication. I’m grateful also, to have spirits to call upon and pray to in such a situation.

I do in fcat believe in god and a higher cause. I am interested in the essence behind the religious forms of all sorts of traditions, which are a continuous inspiration in my art. I take from all places and I pick out the best for myself. I feel this is the natural way to do in life.

We (that is my parents and me) spent this New Year’s in a small church in Dresden Plauen. This in itself felt like a little miracle and it would have sounded like an impossibility if you would have told me a few weeks ago. But this is another story and here we were. It’s been my dream to see this church from the inside for years. And little could I know of how beautiful its art nouveau interior really was…

The pastor made a very short speech, welcoming the guests, introducing the organist, Andreas Jud, a young, award-winning musician from Switzerland, and then wished us all a Happy New Year. The rest of the evening was music. No talk, no politics, no agendas. Just the organ in full blast, the organist giving his very best. And every attendant was left to his own thoughts and contemplations.

With this in mind I wish all my followers and friends all the best for 2015.

(more photos of the church to follow in my next post)