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Antiquarian: Aus dem Reiche der Drogen, 1926

7 May

This book caught my attention a few weeks ago: it was on display in the window of an antiquarian bookshop in Dresden and I swore to myself, to return and I’d buy it. So I did.

The book is from 1926, published by Schwarzeck-Verlag Dresden. It contains information and references to herbals from the 15th century, which – thanks to the invention of letterpress printing – were for the first time available to a larger audience, especially since they were written not in Latin but in German language, so that common people could understand and use them. These herbals were richly illustrated with surprisingly accurate woodcuts depicting the plants. Both pharmacology and botany developed quickly during this time. Soon followed similar herbals in Belgium, Italy and England.

The first chapter gives an introduction to these early herbals, their authors and illustrators. Mentioned are among others: Conrad von Megenberg, Otto Brunfels (botanist and illustrator), Leonhart Fuchs, Hieronymus Bock, Petrus Andreas Mathiolus, Konrad Gesner, Tabernaemontanus. Publishing a book was not an easy endeavor at a time, when there were no laws yet on coyprights. Unauthorized reprints occurred within the same year as the original and neither the original publisher nor author could do anything about it. (Sounds familiar in times of the internet, doesn’t it?) In addition, there was fierce competition among publishers and prices were dumped, once a larger number of a similar book was available… The authors describe all of this quite vividly and so this short discourse, on the first herbals ever printed, is a pleasant read, spiced with examples and quotes from these very first herbals. Simultaneously we learn how the first volumes on botany and pharmacognosy came into being.

I cannot go into detail on each chapter. Instead I list the translated index for reference:

  1. The Herbals of the Middle Ages
  2. The Doctrine of Signatures
  3. The art of distillation
  4. The spice wars
  5. The cultivation of drugs in Germany
  6. The China-Bark
  7. The Liquorice
  8. The tropein-containing Nightshades
  9. The Strophanthus
  10. The noxious and innoxious types of Strychnos
  11. The Elder
  12. The Indian Hemp (Cannabis indica)
  13. The Yohimbe bark
  14. The Guajacum tree
  15. The Sarsaparilla root
  16. The Shepherd’s Purse
  17. The Rhubarb
  18. The Aconite
  19. The Opium
  20. The Cantharides

There are altogether 272 pages. Whenever I skim through, I find something new and interesting, which I have not read elsewhere. This book contains plenty of interdisciplinary references and I am glad to have bought it.

 

Motto for the Poisoner

28 Jul
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Motto for the Poisoner

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Motto Labels for Poison Seed Boxes

The motif was drawn with pencil, scanned, edited and printed on strong laid paper. It is to adorn the next row of Poison Seed Boxes available via Teufelskunst. The paper is by Buchbinderei Dresden.

Letter from the Queen

3 Jul

BIS Letter

Well almost…

Today in the mail a letter from the British Iris Society (BIS), who were so kind to send me their last share of Iris attica seeds. Iris attica is a type of dwarf bearded iris native to Greece. It is mentioned as agallis in the Bouquet of Persephonê.

The seeds are needed for a project I have been working on during the past months together with Melitta Benu. Melitta contacted me while back with the plan to build a seed box for the goddess Persephonê (read more about my seed boxes here). So she was gathering info and sources on flowers, herbs and trees attributed to the semi-chthonian deity, whilst my job was to collect the respective seeds (and bulbs) as well as designing and constructing the box. With the seeds arrived now also the last missing link to be added to that box.

Iris seeds

If you are interested in irises, grow your own or seek to learn more about them you may contact the British Iris Society. More info can be found on their website.

My ‘sigil’ for the Iris:

Iris Seal

Plant Photography

30 Jun
Nostalgic St. John’s Wort, Echtes Johanniskraut (Hypericum perforatum)

Been out on a little herb search today, gathered seeds and foliage and photographed whatever caught my attention… The flowers of the St. John’s Wort were moving in the wind just the moment I released the shutter, leaving a shining signature on the image. The herb used to be hung above religious images on St. John’s to keep evil away from the home. Hence the name Hypericum, from Greek hyper =above and eikon =image.

During the past months (or actually years) I have been photographing a lot of different herbs, flowers, plants and trees, in various aspects, different weather conditions, in their wholeness as well as dissecting details from root to stem to foliage to flower and fruit. A selection of these photos is online at my Photography site wr-photography.com and in addition I regularly post new photos to Facebook, Pinterest, tumblr and Deviantart as well as Behance.

Seeking out, identifying and observing flowers, plants and trees through the camera, close-up as well as within their surrounding, is a way of learning, discovering, documenting and lastly also transmitting various aesthetically pleasing as well as repulsive aspects and sometimes also the visible effects of human interference with nature’s kingdom plantae. This branch of photography plays also a big roll for the Teufelskunst project where at least 50% of all time and work are dedicated to the gnosis of the green. Naturally, it is also a huge inspiration for my visual art, with contents not seldom being codified in and transported through abstract and/or symbolical linear floral forms (my own floriography or ‘language of flowers’).

Depending on the situation, mood and context you will find crisp, natural, slightly or heavily edited images in my plant photography. Some images play with motion blur and focus, others with color and contrast etc.

Below is a selection of some of my favorite recent and past nature shots:

Black Dhatura

Giant Aberrant Foxglove Flower (Pseudo-Peloria)

Her Fruit III (Scopolia carniolica)

Spring Impressions 2013:

Apple Blossoms

Bee on Cuckoo Flowers

Tulip Drops

Belladonna Sprouts

Trees:

Old Linden Alley, Dresden Friedrichstadt

Beech

Beeches and Ginkgo, Strasbourg

Tentacle Tree, Lilienstein

Traces

The Old Hag

Willow Bark

House

Beith

The Bleeding Tree

The Bleeding Tree

Black Poplar of Babisnau

Twogether

Autumn Trees, 2005

A series on Poisonous Flowers and their Pollinators:

Nightflight

Bumblebee, gathering nectar from a Wolfsbane Flower

Bumblebee crawling into a Belladonna Flower

How things got started:

Bilsenkraut Erntezyklus, 2010

Bumblebee on Henbane Flower

Listen to the Silence

To be continued…

Schloßmuseum Karlsruhe

24 Oct

Alte Apotheke, #SchloßmuseumKarlsruhe

Herbs: Isländisch Moos, Huflattich, Hagebutten, Baldrian, Senf, Juniperus, etc.

Perfumes: Jasmin, Nelken, Geranium, Lavendel, Iris, Rosmarin, Petitgrain, Veilchen, Flieder, Maiglöckchen, Patchouli, Calmus, Narde

Spices: Kümmel, Safran, Rosmarin, Salbei, Ingwer, Sternanis, Wacholderbeeren, Pfeffer weiß, Pfeffer schwarz, Fenchel, Liebstöckel, Zimt, Beifuß, Estragon, Coriander, Majoran, Basilikum, Oregano, Pfeffer, Piment, Kerbel, Galgant, Lorbeerblätter

 

Christian artifacts and Vanitas themed art #SchlossmuseumKarlsruhe

Prunk- und Jagdwaffen #SchlossmuseumKarlsruhe

Türkischer Reiter, Pfeile und Bögen, Säbel #SchlossmuseumKarlsruhe