Just a head’s up for those interested in not only zines, but also herbalism zines, we (Grrrlzines-a-go-go) have a few available for download on our WordPress site.
So the other day, I’m currently house sitting at a friend’s house (incidentally the half of Grrrlzines-go-go) and I’m about to go into our collective “zine room” and behold, a perfectly splayed Monarch butterfly was on the ground in front of the door. Now, my mind you, I am not into ‘woo’ at all, but I do believe in prophecy, omens, other weird Nostradamus shit, hard science climate change AND supernatural divine creatures lurking in the ether of the universe. YES, both plants and animals speak to me, sometimes with cute cartoon voices, but other times, in loud like Zeus thunder and lightning bolts audio. Or even Gandalf. So, I did a quick search and found out what Monarch butterfly might mean to me. I was beaming like a seal on a hot rock when I read this entry.
Life is short. Fleeting moments. Transformation. Internal and external change. Personal change. Looking for sweetness. Herb magic. Flower magic. Celebrating beauty. Travel and migration. Moving to new places. Enjoying the journey. Outside of harmful or negative influence. Rhythm. Reincarnation.
Lessons and Challenges:
The monarch butterfly teaches us that life is short, and that it must be valued. Assuming that we have decades of our lives left (or at the very least, years) is all well and good for things like economic planning, but it is through recognizing the fleetingness of human existence that we come to value every day, even those which get us down or which are hard to appreciate…
You will be helped at this time by the magic possessed in herbs and flowers. It may be through the healing actions of herbs, and consider increasing your use of them in cooking, taking herbal supplements (only if needed and at the direction of a professional) or even just taking the time to enjoy the scent of herbs under your hands. The power of flowers is also present at this time, consider investing in flower essences, or even making your own. Alternatively, look at and enjoy the presence of flowers in your life. Sometimes just taking the time look at and visually enjoy the bounty of the earth is enough to create powerful healing changes.
Like all animal helpers, this animal will only appear when right and appropriate, and cannot be forced to visit you, commune with you, or share messages with you. Butterflies, due to their very nature, tend to have quite fleeting energy and are more common as short-term guides. That said, their presence in the short-term remains profound and presents a potential for transformation, joy and growth.
Butterfly is a gentle teacher, and will try to transmit significant lessons simply through its quiet, unassuming presence in gardens, or even if you simply happen to see one while walking somewhere or going about your business. Butterfly is not highly communicative, letting its lifestyle and way of life speak for itself. Offerings of flowers, bundles of herbs and colourful ornaments are appreciated by butterfly, but the best way to honour Monarch butterfly, I feel, is to find and seek out more joyful, perfect moments within your life.
Numen Naturae: The Magician’s Wand – Exploring the relationship between Herb, Image, and Archetype
[ed. Casanda Johns]
House of Hands
In Michael Maier’s brilliant work on alchemy, Atalanda Fugiens, we see the figure of “Numen” of divine nature leading the way with her light, while the alchemist follows behind intently in her footsteps. The caption speaks: “To him/who is dealing with chymics,/ let Nature be reason / experience and reading/ like a guide/ staff/ glasses/ and lamp” I find myself constantly cradled by this idea of energetic influence in my own work as an herbal practitioner, but also provoked by the archetypes in my life, the scholar, the clairvoyant, and the empath. While esoteric devotees of such spagyrical influence emoted on their once ‘radical’ Renaissance notions of balancing the ether with medicine, in the contemporary, it seems to be sown on familiar lands. I would say, what is difficult is translating the tongues of old without sounding like a musty and antiquated archaic.
In Numen Naturae: The Magician’s Wand, herbalist Casandra Johns collects a selection of voices from the plant and magick community navigating the conscious divinity of nature. The scope is part of a larger gnosis to be continued to investigate the relationship and cognition between our herbal allies and the established praxis of archetypal imagery. Specifically, the essays explore the correlation of the plant yarrow [achillea millefolium] and the archetype of the Magician from the major arcana tarot. Yet, the text is more than just a dissection of the ceremony of opposites and similarities. I’m reminded of something noted herbalist and naturopath Dr. Jody Noé said during a lecture once, emphasizing plant medicine as an “energetic bridge” between the actual plant and the intuitive discipline of our mind and body. Numen Naturae seeks to ‘activate’ our approach to plant medicine and stimulate the need to resonant a practical, spiritual significance in our own environment.
Coming from a strong zine making background, I also feel personal narrative is so important. The stories and rituals of the book complete for me, the trajectory of the Ouroboros. Many times, we in the herbal community we get sided on certain tracks of either clinical and empirical academia or on the verso, unrelenting spiritualism that spends too much time in the ether to prepare us for actual grounding. I suspect, the magick community also grapples with a similar ego. I found the humor and mention of this notion in Eric Purdue’s interview mentioning academia significant. Furthermore, a discussion on any of these aspects that does not mention privilege and cultural appropriation is troubling; in my opinion, so I was grateful to see Jennifer Stickley mention cultural appropriation, as well as Scott Kloos’ bipartisan connection to yarrow. We enter the space humbly, with absolution, a perception gracefully promoted here.
Along those lines, as Katharyn Waterfield reminds us to literally ‘pay attention’ to consciousness, as archetype links instinct and cognitive patterns, we also need to be aware that “archetypes are more than a direction or goal, they also provide profound motivation or drive” (Waterfield, 62). This for me has always important, as practice of intention with herbalism. While I find strength in my own inner Magician, the individualism that drives me, I also would not exist without the collaborative experience of perception and dialogue. While I agree our culture “has become disconnected from our sensory experiences, from our somatic experiences” (Stickley, 8), I also know that not every one shares the same experiences, as I, to be mindful, is also to be wise, but to recognize individual narrative and personal privilege is crucial.
Yarrow is in my experience is a plant of synchronicity like many of the authors mentioned. I love that. I can remember listening to Matt Wood speak of the specificity and action of yarrow and later in the day, tripping and falling into a patch of yarrow in the high desert of Arizona. Michael Tierra’s “Herbal Tarot” similarly speaks of the illuminations of yarrow, but represents yarrow with the divine hand of the cosmos clutching the Ace of Wands. In this representation, yarrow reveals insight and simplicity, and in harmony. Admittedly, I am neither a Jungian nor cartomancy scholar, but think readers of Numen Naturae will thrive on the layers of analysis spent with the Magician. The beauty of the community is valuing diversity and interpretation of divinity. “The wealth of the world’s cultural heritage includes myriad means for answering precisely these questions, including the rich tapestries of myth, various rite of passage ceremonies, and the kinds of sacred games collectively known as divination” (Edwards, 121). I think Numen Naturae leaves many discussions open for analogy and builds upon a continuum of thought many will invoke throughout their own practices and mysteries.
I cannot stress enough the power of story and the power of listening, the power of participating. I have immersed myself with the stories from many herbalists and magick practitioners, but to plunge yourself into the matrix of direction, is the ultimate extension of action. It lifts your heart and provokes your mind, and importantly, for some puts the self into action. Scott Kloos mentions yarrow, as the arrow of love. This is the perfect example of how the plant is metaphor for all things; we must challenge ourselves with knowing the likeness, the narrative, and the action of the plant.
Like the school of thought set in motion by the Arab and Greek physicians, the action of the herb is critical to balance the system (mind and body) of the physiology, as in magick, “May your speech and your words be aligned with your actions and intention” (Ciacchi, 23). Numen Naturae is much like the beginnings of a wondrous ‘alchemical wedding’ to borrow a phrase from a friend. It is both poetically aware and significantly consistent throughout representing variables of intellectualism and practice. We not only need to have the four (or more) sensory relationship with a plant, we also need to embody the experience rationally, respectfully, and transgressively against oppression and with empathy. I am sated with the words permeating the pages in Numen Naturae to cultivate these ideas.
Kim Schwenk [ofoakandash.com]
I’ve updated the shop with the Elemental Black Salt! I’ve been remiss not making any for a while.
There is a gargantuan amount of literature, published material, musings, and narratives on the uses of salt in magick. While I won’t go into an explanation of the actual salt, I will say, I made these salts with the intention to include an inter-connectedness of praxis and exercise. Meaning, I want people to use the salt as an extension of their own practice and connection with and for plants. I will not “instruct” on the uses of the salt, it is not a ‘curio’ either. I will say, while my own extensions are present, my intention allows for individuals to access their own needs and uses.
I want to address and promote the work of a luminary woman, Catamara Rosarium who operates Rosarium Blends. Her products are produced with deep sense of investigation, wisdom, and heightened transgression. I have used her products, as part my process of making the elemental salt [specifically: Air], as I feel she has a particular sensibility for the relationship to the elements of air: love, aroma, and effectual bonding. Please support mindful herbalists!
Please email me with any comments or questions!
Elemental Black Salt [Set of four] also listed individually.
So, I wrote a short story as part of my application to attend the York Antiquarian Book Seminar this year. I wanted to compose something that culminated all of my interests: rare books, plants, cybertech, dystopiana, and rogue female characters. The continuation of the story might even include some alchemical magick! Whole short story is below. I guess I did well, as it was enough, to secure a scholarship! I’ve never wrote anything like this before really, so there are some compositional issues, alas a work in progress. Enjoy!
I wiped away the rain-slicked hair matted to my forehead, just in time to see the midnight Nachtkomme regime change. I teetered on a rail just above my next attempted visit. I don’t think I’ve been dry for millennia. I grimaced between my own teeth, but the cargo is there. Although, I’m wearing an impenetrable woad tunic, plexiweight kaftan, and byterunner boots, I felt the drench. I reached down to my oilskin pack underneath my waterlogged neoprene tunic to feel the small goatskin bound block resting snugly against my side and a small glass bottle of undisclosed liquid. Good… dry paper, no broken glass, but damn, I’m soaked.
Quietly, I cursed for a hot stone in my pocket. Only a few days ago, I was in the underground metroCentre stealing noodle wrapped hot figs when I spotted the white flag barely sticking out between two bricks. Oh fang! I guess the Dealer needed a run and I could use the bitrations. I better snag that blasted flag. Everyone looks suspicious down here, so my raised cowl is both familiar and cautious; luckily for a DarkAge like myself, I blend in.
With spindly reflexes, I slid behind a Tunisian peddler wearing a maille armor apron, wielding a machete, hoping he was stimulating enough of a distraction, so I can snake by and nab the marker. The Dealer pays fine coin for these peculiar jobs, usually involving a delivery of printed goods. Printed; meaning, books, papers, newspapers, journals, letters, etc. anything that the Nachtkomme forbids circulating. Yes, printed text is forbidden, handwriting, even worse. The new regime controls communication in digital form only, anything else is decommissioned, archaic, censored, even destroyed, toppled with the Athenaeum. Thus, the Dealer operates on a level of secrecy, delivering paper goods to “clients,” for reasons, I don’t personally don’t ask. CryptoSmugglers, we don’t ask, we deliver.
Read entire PDF: ExBibliopolist_Schwenk_2016
Biggest update, as of 8/1/2016, I now accept Square for payments! That means credit and debit cards. This will make vending easier. I happen to do a lot of in-person business and this will make it easier.