Tag Archives: still life photography

New Postcards: Flower Devils, Plants and Planets and more

6 Oct

“Flower Devils”

In German folklore, witches and even the devil himself were believed to take on the shape of bumblebees. A bumblebee-wax candle was lit in church, if a witch was burnt at the stake. Evil people were cursed with having to return as a bumblebee after death. The sub-earthen drone sound of a bumblebee signaled the presence of the dead. Instead of consecrated wavers, bumblebees were allegedly served at black masses. Bumblebees were also superstitiously feared as carriers of sickness and ritually buried to drive out plague. On the other hand, a dead bumblebee worn in the pocket, was believed to ensure the purse would always be filled with money. And he, who managed to secretly steal the bumblebee’s honey, was destined to find a huge treasure. Hence bumblebees were both viewed as good and bad omens.

Special to me is the photo of a bee among the ruins of an old Minoan Palace in the city of Malia (Crete). In the location was found a massive golden bee amulet, depicting two crowned bees holding a honey drop. Bees and other pollinators played important rolls both in the religion of ancient civilizations as well as folklore.

“Plants and Planets”

Also new: postcards with my occult/nature inspired “Plants and Planets“ series from 2018! Available in two formats.

In the past botanists such as Nicholas Culpeper associated plants with the planets, fixed stars and zodiac signs. The attributions were based on an intense study of a plant’s features, which included treats such as a thorny or prickly appearance, the scent emitted by the flowers or the entire plant, the plant’s life cycle, colors, metals contained in a plant, medicinal and other uses and of course plenty of folklore. The planetary lore of plants is preserved and continues to evolve in the books of authors such as Stephen Skinner, Paul Huson, Scott Cunningham, Harold Roth and so on.

I find it inspiring to continue this tradition and to explore its own inner logic. Hence I created these planet themed still life photographs of herbs, that I gathered from our garden and surroundings, many of which are also part of my seed boxes. With this series I yet delve deeper into the language of plants and the symbolism and magical properties attributed to them.

The postcards have round edges and the sizes comply with common post standards. The motifs are printed on “silk” photo paper and laminated on durable white cardboard, which is pre-printed on the back. For ordering please head over to the Teufelskunst webshop.

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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.

Plants and Planets

13 Jul

In the past botanists such as Nicholas Culpeper associated plants with the planets, fixed stars and zodiac signs. The attributions were based on an intense study of a plant’s features, which included treats such as a thorny or prickly appearance, the scent emitted by the flowers or the entire plant, the plant’s life cycle, colors, metals contained in a plant, medicinal and other uses and of course plenty of folklore. Today plants are classified scientifically based on their genome, but their planetary lore is preserved and continues to evolve in the books of authors such as Stephen Skinner, Paul Huson, Scott Cunningham, Harold Roth and so on.

I find it fun and inspiring to continue this tradition and to explore its own inner logic. And since I spent the past 3 weeks gardening, I took to it and photographed the recent herb harvest according to the planets. The following series follows the Chaldean sequence. Photos by myself. Please share and credit.

Please visit my garden blog for further info on plants and their planetary correspondences: https://pflanzenkunst.wordpress.com/planetary-correspondences/

Gallery

Flowers of Death

7 May

Death Posture (Mortificatio)

29 May

Death posture II

Death Posture

Found a dead hornet on the floor. It looked as if some invisible hand had placed it there. No signs of violence, except for some white excretion around the stinger. A few days earlier I had seen a huge hornet in our apple tree. The presence of such animal, dead or alive, naturally evokes feelings of unease and discomfort. Yet it was fascinating to get closer. I call the photo “death posture”, not necessarily in reference to something esoteric or spiritual. I rather found the position interesting, which the animal takes upon death with legs crossed to a triple “X”. It’s deader than dead, but there is still a cold stare.

Harvest Circles and other Compositions

30 Dec
Fungi collection, 2013

Fungi collection, 2013

Find updated the site’s Art section, to which has been added amongst others a new page for “assemblage” works, which includes old and new pieces.

Assemblage is an artistic process. In the visual arts, it consists of making three-dimensional or two-dimensional artistic compositions by putting together found objects.

Usually this refers to fixed creations constructed from various elements, which may or may not be movable. I am expanding the term as I also group temporarily assembled objects into that category. You find there for example my “Harvest Circle” series and various other loose compositions, which are put together only for the moment of the photo and later re-used for other purposes. E.g. the dried herbs, fungi and flowers may be utilized by Occvlta jewellery in the creation of unique pendants and artefacts. Yet these temporary works have a point and meaning of their own and may talk to the viewer in different ways. Technically these could be considered still lifes, however I feel the elements are literally assembled, and the process and style of the compositions are closer to assemblage than classical still life.

Central to the work are the dried (and dead) parts of plants, from seed to root, from flower to fruit and everything in between. Usually the material is derived from plants I have grown and harvested by myself. Hence another working title for these compositions is “Dead & Arranged”. Below are some more examples.

In the future I consider doing fixed assemblages in the manner pictured, however I am still researching techniques and materials.

Complementary

17 Sep

Belladonna placed between newspaper pages for drying