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Samhain Celebration III

2 Nov

An Evening of Dark Art and Music (originally posted on teufelskunst.com)

The art dealers

The third Samhain Celebration combined again both some of the best black metal as well as exclusive hand-made art fitting to the event. Ybenhain offered their resin jewelry and items 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 out the creations at the Ybenhain Instagram. In contrast, Black Arts of Mine creates all things from metal and bone. He contributed 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 bands

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…

The Stage

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 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.

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Dog Days 2018

9 Aug

This week we had again another “hottest day of the year”. Since June, most of Europe experiences a near ceaseless heat and drought period. These hot days of summer are also referred to as “Dog Days” (Hundstage) and this year they live up to their name.

The Greek called them kynádes hēmérai, Romans adopted it, calling them dies caniculares. Historically the period began with the heliacal rising of the dog star Sirius (actually a star system) in the Northern Hemisphere, which Greek and Roman astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck, while to the Polynesians in the Southern Hemisphere the star marked winter and was an important reference for their navigation around the Pacific Ocean.

For my “Dog Days” incense I took inspiration from the paralyzing and deadly weather phenomenon.

The formula has been updated, with field eryngo (Eryngium campestre) being added to the baneful blend. In German language this type of thistle is also referred to as “Unruh” and “Elend” and the occurrence of clusters of broken off stems, similar to spiky tumbleweed carried forth by the wind, are named “Steppenhexen”. This stingy plant is almost impossible to touch or harvest without hurting yourself. Yet, and despite the heat and drought, it is frequented by dozens of bumblebees and other pollinators.

Beside obvious herbal references to the the dog/wolf totem, such as wolfsbane and mandrake, the incense contains also black and white henbane, which have been used in prophecy, baneful spells but also for rain magic. I burnt a good amount of it on this day, both to cleanse and bless a dog skull I found at the flea market, as well as to call for rain and cooling. It may have been simply good timing, but rain came the following morning.

I am often asked about side effects and dangers of burning venific incense blends – I can only speak for myself, I did not notice anything, apart from feeling more focused and empowered. I also sensed a relaxing effect on myself. A slight dizziness I attest to the burning sun and heat, not to the herbs.

Luckily, the worst heat seems to be over now and I look forward to enjoying the end of summer and working on art.

Wooden Seed Boxes #27-30

11 Mar


Seed boxes #27-30, completed

The boxes contain seeds from at least 44 different venific and benific ‘witch’ herbs. The boxes are pyrographed with the “sigilum major” or “greater sowing seal”, stained and varnished. Then hundreds of little paper bags are labeled and filled with the seeds, which I partly gather by myself and partly purchase from other places. I usually spend at least 40 hours on four of these boxes. It is a tedious but also rewarding process, which gives me the chance to connect deeper with the herbs and it also empties the mind and brings new inspiration. It is my hope that the content of these boxes will bring joy to others and aid them in their own studies.

Update: the boxes are sold. Please write to me at info@teufelskunst.com if you wish to reserve one in the future!

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.

Pillars Perichoresis

19 Feb

Pillars Perichoresis, Anathema Publishing

"The Bleeding Tree", photograph in Pillars Perichoresis

"Regina Amandrakina", essay and illustration in Pillars Perichoresis

"Heqet-Hekate", illustration in Pillars Perichoresis

Several of my artworks and one essay are featured in the now sold-out “Pillars – Perichoresis” anthology by Anathema Publishing, 2016. The book is a compilation of the first three “Pillars” journals and contains additional material that was not part of previous releases. I have contributed to all three journals and look forward to continue working with Anathema Publishing in the future.

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.

Back at the Blackthorn Gate

2 Jun

2016 05 29 Sunset

The sunset that evening

2016 05 29 Meadow

The grass on the meadow in full bloom; everything smelled like summer

2016 05 29 Thorngate

The Blackthorn hedge forms a gate around a beaten path. As the former hedge slowly grows into trees, they begin to wither from within, whilst new blackthorn shrubs grow on the outside. With the years a dense thicket is formed, where birds and other animals find a home.

2016 05 29 Schierling

A poison hemlock plant, found on a meadow. The purple spots on green stem and pungent smell easily distinguish it from other umbelliferous plants.

Blackthorn Crowns '16

From the gathered blackthorn branches thorn-crowns are made. I’ve been working with the blackthorn for over a decade; since three years I am returning annually to gather branches for making these thorn-crowns. This year I gathered material for making four to five crowns. Two are already reserved. E-mail me if you are interested in receiving one as well.