Viridis Genii 2021
2021 Lectures and Workshops:
Keynote Lecture:The World of Herbal Magick: A Meta-Analysis of Twentieth-Century Ethnobotanical Research
In this lecture Paul will discuss the importance of his work and what led him to this path as an Ethnobotanical researcher. He will discuss the issues in an herbal world that is increasingly modeled after the American Medical Association and why it’s imperative to do this type of research. He will discuss his qualifications as a researcher, the criteria he uses to determine if the data meets the standards for research and discuss what sources he has used in his research resulting in over 1700 herbal monographs.
Workshop: Herbal Sleuths
Wanted: Herbal Sleuths! Join Paul Beyerl in an immersive 3 hour herbal investigation and exploration utilizing two of the richest online sources known for this type of research. During this investigation he will give participants an intimate tour of the ongoing research work he is doing and share some of the tools he uses to sort out the research found and how to make proper use of the material. By the end of this workshop you will have received tools to elevate your research to an academic level. There will be ample time to investigate and try out your new herbal sleuthing skills while reviewing pages from some of Paul’s current books he is writing. **Personal laptops will be helpful but are not required.
Rev. Paul Beyerl has been known as an educator in the field of botanical medicine as well as Herbal Magick since the 1970s. His book The Master Book of Herbalism, published in 1984 is selling as strong as ever today. When his seminal book A Compendium of Herbal Magick was published in 1996 he had documented information on 330 species. Data he gathered for this book had to meet his requirement of being academically sound with documented historical accuracy. Today his research has files on approximately 2500 different species which are used in folk magick, religious ceremony and shamanic practices. His research (about 75% completed) has taken him through research from the subcontinent (primarily India and Nepal), the southern third of Africa, North America and Europe.
Beyerl is the founder of The Rowan Tree Church (incorporated in 1980) with its Mystery School for advanced training in Magick and the Mysteries. His work includes The Hermit’s Grove which is the imprint as a publishing house as well as the umbrella for the botanical programs including The Master Herbalist Program and the new botanical gardens.
With his partner, Rev. Gerry, the Beyerl’s have relocated the Church and Grove’s Administrative and Publishing to a new Retreat Center they are establishing in the hills of the Root River near Houston, Minnesota in the Driftless Area of the Upper Mississippi, untouched by the drift of the last two glacial periods.
LECTURE: Two Sticks and a Gold Ring: The use of plants in Northern Italy folk magic.
The ancient tradition of “Segnature” is a set of magical practices (mostly oriented at healing), that have been kept secret for centuries and transmitted orally only to a few chosen people showing specific signs: in this lively tradition shamanism, herbalism, and local folklore dance with one another, bringing us back to a time and place where body, soul and spirit are one, and secret healing chants are woven in simple kitchens. A genuine Italian folk magic tradition, with roots reaching at least as far as the middle age.
Workshop: The Making of Saint John’s Water.
Making Saint John Water is one of the most widespread acts of herbal folk magic still practiced all over Italy.
Purification, protection and good fortune: the powers attributed to this potion are respected and sought out even today. We will explore the history and meaning of this practice, and discover how to prepare, preserve and use this powerful sacred Water.
Giulia is an Italian witch, High Priestess and teacher in the Temple of Ara tradition (Tempio di Ara, in Italy). She graduated with honors in Archaeology and Ancient World Cultures from Alma Mater Studiorum –University of Bologna and her field of specialization is ancient magical/religious technology and culture. She has been leading circles for the Temple of Ara since 2008 and actively teaching study groups and advanced workshops since 2012. As an artisan, she also creates shamanic and magical tools focused on European magical traditions. Some of her work may be found at Bosco di ArtemesiA.
LECTURE: Cleanin’ the Blood: Ritual Emetics and Purgatives in Ozark Folk Medicine and Magic
“Strong medicine forces sickness down and out. If you ain’t throwin’ up, it ain’t workin’.” An Ozark healer once told me. This lecture covers the often taboo topic of vomit, piss, and poop. We will be looking in depth at the use of emetics and purgatives within the medical and magical tradition of the Ozark Mountain region. This includes medicinal plants like sassafras, mayapple, and blackgum, all used as spring tonics to “clean the blood,” a euphemism for a strong laxative. We will also look at the ritual use of purgative plants in Ozark folk magic to clean out evil spirits, hexes, and other malign work from out of a patient’s physical and spiritual body that might be causing them serious illness or harm. Emetic plants from the talk include: sassafras, dandelion root, burdock, Solomon’s seal, pokeweed, mayapple, tobacco, and more.
WORKSHOP: Methods of Purifying the Body and Soul in Ozark Folk Healing
Working off of themes presented in the lecture, we will be looking at the three major methods of magical cleansing and purifying in Ozark traditional healing: water, fire, and purgatives. Water includes washing the body in herbal mixtures chosen for their quality to remove malign curses. Fire and smoke uses traditional Ozark fumigants like red cedar, tobacco, and asafetida to purify both the body and the environment. And with purgatives we will look at gentle purging plants like sassafras, burdock, and dandelion root, often mixed with soothing plants like horsemint or catnip. Participants will learn a simple and non-vomit inducing cleansing ritual that they can easily replicate on their own. Other methods covered by the workshop include: tying off curses with string, counting down rituals, sweeping off hexes with a broom, and more.
Brandon Weston is a healer, writer, and folklorist living in the Arkansas Ozarks. He is author of Ozark Folk Magic: Plants, Prayers, and Healing and owner of Ozark Healing Traditions, a collective of articles, lectures, and workshops focusing on traditions of medicine, magic, and folklore from the Ozark Mountain region. As an active healer, his work with clients includes everything from spiritual cleanses to house blessings and all the weird and wonderful ailments in between. He comes from a long line of Ozark hillfolk and works hard to keep the traditions that he’s collected alive and true for generations to come.
Brita Wynn Dinsmore
LECTURE:Western Cultural Denial of Plant Sentience and How Shamanic Cultures Interact with Plant Consciousness.
Culture has a strong influence on how we perceive the world around us. Most traditional foraging cultures are shamanic, which means the religious specialist they have is also a healer. Shamans work within many mediums and realities. They use sound and song and sand paintings (Navajo), dreaming and chanting (Australian aboriginals), as well as drumming and chanting (Hmong), and all of them use plant relationships.
When anthropologists asked shaman the world over how they know what plants to use in their healing work, how they know how to formulate them, and how they know it is safe, they all answer the same way: “It told me.” or “It came in a dream and instructed me.” These people are able to communicate and commune with plants. Their cultures consider this behavior not only normal but accurate and important. Talking to plants and spirits in these cultures is viewed as perfectly sane behavior. These people are taught from a very young age that they can communicate with animals and plants and view it as an important part of a healthy, balanced relationship with nature. They are taught that plants and animals have souls, personalities, and wisdom to share. These plants are viewed as capable of communication with us and with each other.
Most of the Western world does not acknowledge this as true or stable behavior. Plants, rocks, trees, and other natural beings are viewed as unconscious things, resources to be used and sold. Fewer people hear them or connect with them, and so we disconnect from the sentience of nature and are oblivious to its consciousness. In fact, Western culture actively enculturates people to believe that nature cannot communicate, is not conscious, and cannot instruct us. It teaches that talking to plants and animals is nothing more than lonely delusional behavior at best, and that plants and animals have no spiritual significance. This makes integration with the natural world difficult to impossible for many.
We learn how to perceive our world through the lens of culture. This enculturative process can effectively blind us to true reality because we believe so strongly what culture teaches us is real. We are taught not to trust intuition, not to trust our sense beyond the limits of those teachings.
So what kind of consciousness do trees have? How do plants communicate with us and each other? How can we train ourselves to be more aware of the consciousness of nature? What tools can help us transcend cultural perceptual limitations? What the is the science of plant consciousness and communication as we currently understand it?
I will discuss the spiritual and scientific aspects of plant consciousness and what tools we can use to access the wisdom that nature holds.
WORKSHOP: Tools of consciousness: How to transcend cultural conditioning and access the wisdom of nature.
This workshop will teach you the tools needed that Shamans use to access plant communication and natural wisdom. Included in this workshop are hands-on activities that will help you access plant teachings and communication, including meditation and herb spirit guide identification
Biography Brita holds a four-field M.A. in Anthropology with an in-depth emphasis in Cultural Ethnobotany and Native American culture. She recently retired from 25 years as a college professor to open The Queen’s Ranch Herb Farm in Shelton, Washington. She has 18 years of experience teaching herbal apprentice course work and currently teaches course work that includes Gaia Conscious Herbal Apprenticeship Medicine Path, medicine making workshops, aromatherapy, and traditional herbal folk magic as well as studies of what she calls “the great green teachers”, plants like belladonna, henbane, and aconite. She also has extensive experience with wortcunning and herbal shamanism.
LECTURE: The Garden of Death: The Herbal Lore of la Santisima Muerte.
Within the traditions surrounding the Mexican Folk Saint, La Santísima Muerte, certain herbs have become increasingly associated with her worship and medicines made under her patronage. The cult of the Holiest Death reflects Mexico herself, rooted in indigenous concepts and practices, and mixed with and dressed with colonial Spanish overlays of culture and religion, now mitigated by globalism and modern trends and personal innovation. As such we must ask the question what makes an herb “of la Santa”? Her herbs are an extension of larger traditions of herbalism and magical theory spanning the oceans of colonialism and time, brought into relevance through historicity, nostalgia, inspiration, and magical politic. What then can these herbs teach us of the saint, and what in their use might put them specifically specifically under the gaze of her hollow eyes? This lecture will seek to explore not only herbs held sacred by her followers, but explore the use of psychotropics and intoxicants in Mexican history and their contemporary use within the cult, and to give a broader contextualized understanding of what may grows in the Garden of Death.
Workshop: Death in my Pocket: Crafting an ‘Amuleto’ and a Service for the Bony Lady.
Continuing in the exploration of plants and other materia sacred to Santisima Muerte, this workshop will guide participants through the crafting of an amulet under her patronage. These cloth bundles can be made for love, money, sex, knowledge or to foster a closer relationship with the dead or to the Saint. Stories and folklore surrounding the ingredients and their uses will be explored and explained. The workshop will conclude in a virtual service and rosary for la Muerte to bless the amulets.**The virtual service will be open to all regardless of workshop participation details of service forthcoming.
SERVICE – For the Bony Lady
“Truly, do we live upon the earth? Not forever on the earth; we are only here a little while!” -Nezahualcóyotl
In complement to the lecture and workshop dedicated to Her, there will be a chaplet and service offered to la Santa Muerte that all conference attendees are invited to attend. Any rosary may be used, although it is not in any way required. The workshop participants will have just finished crafting amuletos and we will ask the Bony Lady to bless the charms made, and to graciously hear the petitions of those attending. Her reputation as a ‘miracle saint’ is well known, and yet also she is a most profound ‘saint of the everyday’, and service and prayer to Her can bring us closer to ourselves and help us to make the most of our precious time in this life.
This service follows a traditional Catholic chaplet: familiarity with the prayers of the rosary are encouraged, but the prayers will be also provided to read along. Come adore la Flakita, godmother of all: may She help us to truly live!
Jesse Hathaway Diaz is a folklorist, artist and performer living in New York City. With initiations in several forms of witchcraft from Europe and the Americas, he is also a lifelong student of Mexican curanderismo, an initiated olosha in Lucumí, and a Tatá Quimbanda.
For the last decade he has been a member of Theatre Group Dzieci, an experimental ensemble based in NY dedicated to the search for the sacred through the medium of theatre. He is half of Wolf & Goat, a store specializing in both Traditional Craft and Quimbanda materia magica and magical art, a co-host on the Radio Free Golgotha podcast, and a co-editor on the Folk Necromancy in Transmission Series through Revelore Press.
Professor Charles Porterfield
LECTURE: Goofer Dust: The History, Use, and Substance of the Traditional Killing Powder of Southern Conjure.
This lecture will examine the origins of the famous and dreaded “hurting powder” from its inception in Africa as “kufwa dust” to its transportation and transformation through the Caribbean and into the Southern areas of the United States. We shall discuss the botanical, zoological, and mineral materia of Goofer Dust, as well as the various means of its use, deployment, and the numerous methods of magical protection against “unnatural poisons” within the tradition of African-American hoodoo and conjure.
Workshop: Dusts, Powders, and Earths in Hoodoo and Conjure.
Join conjure doctor and hoodoo worker Professor Charles Porterfield for a hands-on class on the making of Hot Foot Powder: the traditional hoodoo formula used to send away enemies, remove unwanted people from one’s home or life, and to eliminate troublemakers from various locations. In this workshop Professor Porterfield will discuss the various dusts, powders, and earths collected, compounded, and worked within the Southern African-American tradition of hoodoo and conjure, and the participants will hand compound and be instructed in the use of Hot Foot Powder as well as the methods of combating and dealing with being “Hot Footed.”
Professor Charles Porterfield is a no-nonsense, old-school, Old Testament reader, rootworker, and well known cartomancer. His work has been published in The Black Folder: Personal Communications on the Mastery of Hoodoo and The Red Folder: Private Lessons on the Practice of Hoodoo, as well a the Verdant Gnosis: Cultivating the Green Path, Volume 5. He is the co-author of Hoodoo Bible Magic: Sacred Secrets of Scriptural Sorcery, and author of A Deck of Spells: Hoodoo Playing Card Magic in Rootwork and Conjure and The Sporting Life: How to Help Yourself with Hoodoo from the Streets to the Sheets.
His work includes Biblical and Psalmic magic, prescriptions, rootwork consultations, pendulum, playing card, and Bible divinations, custom-made mojo bags, candle work, spiritual cleansings, laying tricks and work for conditions, interpreting signs and dreams, magical coaching, giving out lucky numbers, lamp making, and good, old-fashioned, plain sense advice. Professor Porterfield writes, teaches, and lectures on hoodoo and conjure to help preserve and pass on the roots of the work.He lives in Denton, Texas, where it is his honor and privilege to offer consultative, prescriptional, and divinational work through hoodoo and conjure.
LECTURE: The Making of Magical Inks.
Magical Inks have been used by magical workers since ancient times. Given the interest in using ink for magical working, where is the practitioner to go? After 25 years of research, I have discovered that old recipe books and manuscripts are rife with misinformation. Even scholars who are unfamiliar with ink chemistry has repeated these mistakes. By characterizing inks known to be of good quality and comparing them to other recipes, one can discern a quality ink that dignifies their work. By preserving the material and color of plants one can elevate the botanical spirt to the next level of their skill and with other materials perhaps bring their work to a new life.
Workshop: Making of Magical Grimoire Inks.
In this workshop I will demonstrate and discuss how to cook up various historical writing inks for magical purposes. We will consider, prepare, cook up and bottle several writing inks. Participants will take away useful information on preparing these ink plus several more recipes that can be made at one’s leisure. Samples of inks we make during this class will be shipped to you shortly after we convene!.
BIO: Richard Spelker is an independent researcher who has been researching the history of artist materials for over 25 years. He has collected over 1000 historical writing ink recipes including many for magical inks. He has given many ink making classes over the years, such as the San Francisco Friends of Calligraphy, The San Francisco Center for the Book and the National Paper and Book Intensive. He has a BFA from the University of Minnesota in studio arts and art history.
LECTURE: The Vegetable Quintessence and ways to prepare it.
An examination of the so called Vegetable Quintessence, the most Noble part of a plant and methods used to prepare it from the 15th century to the present. The Vegetable Quintessence is said to have miraculous effects on the physical and spiritual health of man or beast and can be isolated from plants in concentrated form in many ways . In this lecture we find out what the Quintessence does and see its preparation using several relatively easy methods.
Workshop: Spagyrics 101 and preparation of the 7 basic planetary elixirs.
We will have a short talk on the spagyric anatomy of plants and then formulate a group Spagyric so that everyone sees the steps involved and can apply it to making their own 7 basics at home. If you opt to pay the materials fee a vial of the group spagyric we make in class will be shipped to you shortly after we convene, otherwise its not mandatory.
BIO: Robert Bartlett is a world renown lab alchemist who teaches Alchemy at Spagyricus Institute located in Snohomish, WA. He is student of Frater Albertus and chief chemist at Paracelsus Laboratories.
Catamara Rosarium – Co -Creator & Symposium Organizer
Catamara Rosarium is a Master Herbalist, Ritual Artist, and botanical alchemist. She is the sole proprietor of Rosarium Blends, a business dedicated to concocting various alchemical and talismanic creations to enliven the senses. Her extensive herbal experience is motivated by a deep attraction to plants, scents, and how they impact the senses. She has undertaken numerous unique trainings, apprenticeships and teachings in various esoteric herbalism currents which the culmination has become the foundation and framework of her praxis and work.
Catamara is co-founder, organizer and convener of the Viridis Genii Symposium and co-organized the Esoteric Book Conference (Seattle, WA) for the first seven years after its inception. She has articles published in Sorita D’Este’s Hekate anthology, Her Sacred Fires (2010) , Verdant Gnosis Volume 1 (2015), Clavis, ‘The Green Key Edition”, published by Three Hands Press (2016). She is founder of Viridis Press, a subsidiary of The Viridis Genii Symposium that is now publishing the events ongoing annual printed anthology series which features articles by those who present at each years event. The new series is called ‘Viridis Genii: Explorations of the Green Arte’.
She co-edited the Symposium’s first five volumes of the series ‘Verdant Gnosis’. Her continuous passions lie in esoteric arts, with an emphasis on cross diversification, working to cultivate networking and community based events wherein diverse belief systems and traditional practices may be shared and to offer deeper understanding and education through these communal experiences.
Marcus McCoy Co –Creator & Symposium Organizer
A student of plants since he was a child, Marcus R. McCoy holds a A student of plants since he was a child, Marcus R. McCoy holds a degree in Transpersonal Anthropology with a focus on the ethnobotany of magical plants. He is the progenitor of Bioregional Animism, and has published his works on the subject of plant teacher shamanry in Reality Sandwich. Marcus has also been published in Verdant Gnosis Volume 1, and is one of three editors of the book series. Marcus studied south american vegetalismo for many years, which is where he started his focus on perfumerismo. He is a professional perfumer and proprietor of House of Orpheus and alchemical practitioner, studying with Robert Bartlett. Marcus is also an established blacksmith and metal artist with special interest focusing on the occult art of herbal quenches working within the context of alchemical philosophy and folk magic. His smithy is called Troll Cunning Forge, and he produces custom made occult iron work for the occult community. Marcus is also a teacher of folk magic and has ongoing classes on the Botany of the Dead as well as the folklore of the magical projectile. He lives in the forests of the Olympic Mountain range in Washington with his lovely partner in the cunning crafts, Catamara Rosarium.
Tickets for the 8th Annual VGS are now Available!