Viridis Genii 2022
2022 Lectures and Workshops:
MICAH ABRAXAS NILSSON
Keynote Lecture:Materia Magicka: Planetary Invocation through Herbal Intelligences
Medical astrology has a long tradition of connecting herbs and their healing effects through the energies of the seven classical planets. But above the layers of organ and system, disease and treatment, there is a higher aspect of archetypal intelligence which can be drawn on for magick, ritual and ceremonial practice. The physical attributes of healing herbs reflect their higher nature through such qualities as heating or cooling, drying or moisturizing, and so on. But how does the spiritual practitioner choose from the many plants described as Mercurial in energy, or the disparate herbs of the Sun?
Using commonly-known herb and plant examples for each of the planets, along with some more obscure green allies from my experience, we will discover how to choose herbs as individual, specific carriers of influence- an art that can be as refined and sophisticated as the creation of sigils or angelic seals, the charging of talismans, or the writing of incantations and prayers. We’ll discuss each of the planets’ manifestations in its representative herbs, as well as how the planets and herbs overlap, interact, and modify each others’ energies. You’ll gain insights into the most targeted ways to incorporate the herbs you already connect with, and some techniques for finding new ones for your practice as it grows.
Workshop: Mothers, Bright & Dark: the Moon and Saturn in Magickal Herbalism
At the entrance and exit to the Tree of Life, the Sephirot of the Moon and Saturn act as gates to the intelligences between them. Above, Saturn sits on the threshold between form and the formless; while the Moon is the veil between the waking and sleeping worlds. Both of these energies are catalysts for ceremonial and ritual magick, and many practices invoke their boundary-crossing for magickal workings.
Herbs are potent carriers of these energies, whether we call upon the dream-inducing, visionary plants of the Moon, such as Mugwort or Ayahuasca, or the trickier dissociative initiatics of Saturn like Iboga or the nightshades of flying ointment fame. Other herbs, like Cannabis and the Poppy straddle both worlds, at once dreamy and disconnecting, depending on dose.
In this workshop we will delve into the history, botany, chemistry and magickal uses of some of my favourite herbs of the Moon and Saturn, both through stories of their sacred natures, and through experiential tastings and meditation.
We’ll invoke the bright silver line of Mugwort, connecting us back to ourselves as we travel the subtle planes, and we’ll ride the darker waves of a safe but powerful nightshade associated with dreamwork and scrying. We will also experience the archetypal aspects of more mundane and gentle herbs so that you have a broad toolkit of plant allies to draw on, as well as a deep understanding of which tools to reach for, the next time you work with the Saturnian Dark Sterile Mother and her Bright, Fertile Lunar reflection
Micah Abraxas Nilsson started studying herbs in her teenage years, and is the co-creator of Al-Kemi, a company making Spagyric and Alchemical extracts of herbs and minerals for healing, meditation, spiritual and magickal practice. In her 31 years in this work, her focus has been in connecting directly and deeply with the plant beings, communing with them as both a healing and spiritual path. Weaving together the scientific and initiatic in her teachings, she helps others connect with the green spirit of nature, which surrounds and flows through us all.
LECTURE: The Midnight Barn Dance of 100 Spirits: Ozark Daemonology
Taking the famous Japanese idiom “Hyakki Yagyō” or “Night Parade of One Hundred Demons” as inspiration, we will be focusing on my research into the Ozark region’s own pandemonium. Since 2012 I’ve been categorizing and compiling magical creatures from Ozark folklore as well as my own work as a spirit medium into this Midnight Barn Dance. We’ll all join in on the fun together and look at a number of the creatures, although sadly not all 100. Specifically we will be focusing on plant-spirit daemons, or those spirit entities that inhabit inside or take the form of specific plant species. Field guide information includes the daemon’s habitat in our world as well as designations in the Ozark Otherworld, temperament, diet, characteristics, method of exorcism, and of course, information on how these daemons might benefit a cunning magical worker.
Workshop: Hiring from the Otherworld: Crafting Plant Spirit Helpers
Building off of information presented in The Midnight Barn Dance, we will be looking at how Ozark healers and magical practitioners over the years have used certain plant daemons in their craft. Participants will be able to build their own spirit helpers using native Ozark roots and botanicals as well as receive detailed instruction on caring for their newborn daemon. This workshop offers participants a mixture of both traditional and modern Ozark folk knowledge.
Brandon Weston is a folklorist, spiritual healer, and writer living in the Arkansas Ozarks. He is author of Ozark Folk Magic: Plants, Prayers, and Healing and the forthcoming Ozark Mountain Spell Book. He is 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.
LECTURE: Wedded to Death: The Use of Plants in the Initiation of a Witch
“Ach! My dear child, if I don’t rescue you, you will be lost!” cries the old woman in the Grimm Brothers’ story, “The Robber Bridegroom.” Yet the rescue does not occur until after the violence has taken place, and it is the young woman who must save herself.
The shadowy world of the fairy tale is one wherein evil fabricates traps, well hidden within societal mores and tradition. Here, the horrific happens with regularity, and its victims often have little recourse but to be ensnared. This fate befalls the young woman in “The Robber Bridegroom.” Yet the occult information the tale harbors regarding trauma and its transformative powers has not been explored sufficiently by modern scholars, who have tended to see the story as a warning on marrying outside of one’s clan.
In this presentation, Colleen will analyze the story from a completely different viewpoint, employing the lens of shamanism, and shamanism clothed as witchcraft. Here, she will offer an entirely new perspective on the tale, centering on the meaning of the mysterious three glasses of wine. Combining studies on shamanic rituals and medieval occult traditions related to plants and witchcraft is the key to understanding the secrets this story has held for eons. Hidden in plain sight, it offers a ciphered guide to the use of plants as an integral part of the journey to the underworld and the witch’s initiation by the spirits.
WORKSHOP: Key to the Underworld: Plants and Mediumship
Plants have longed been used to facilitate mediumship, for example, as a means of achieving an altered state more conducive to receptivity to the spirits. They’ve also been used as a means of protecting oneself when traveling to the Underworld to reach the dead. In this workshop, I plan to dive deeper into the ways that mediums have used plants to assist them in connecting with the dead, and I will also discuss how I use plants in my practice as a medium. Finally, I will offer a guided meditation to facilitate mediumship and a Q&A on working with one’s own mediumship abilities.
Colleen is a professional medium who holds a doctorate in Mythological Studies and Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. After studying art history and languages at Purdue University, she continued her academic work at the Sorbonne in Paris and the University of Hamburg, Germany. During almost a decade of living and working in Germany, she developed a deep interest in the old tales of the region and the secrets they conceal. Returning to the US, she trained and apprenticed as a medium, and is in her 13th year of practice professionally. On the subjects of mediumship and mythology, she has been a featured speaker at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Scripps College, and the Fates and Graces Myth Conference. Her study of mythology is deeply informed by her mediumship as she focuses on the ancient knowledge contained within the old stories still told in Germany, and on the witchcraft—or shamanic practices—concealed therein.
LECTURE:Genii Loci: Plant Communities and Wisdom in Place
A genius loci, the “spirit of a place,” classically refers to a patron or protective supernatural spirit of a location or building. In modern usage, this phrase also references a place’s distinctive atmosphere and numinous power. The genius loci of sacred natural places share the gifts of their elemental power with humans who seek to meet such landscapes. Water, Fire, and Air landscapes are dramatic and outsized powers, with gifts to match. In the Earth landscapes of wood and green growing things, questing humans meet their wisdom in sacred groves and magical gardens.
The animist traditions that inform mythology and folklore recognize intelligence in nature, expressed in the logics of landforms and the sentient spirits of plants. Plant spirits are recognized as ancestors and teachers; accessible intelligences eager to ally with human seekers. Expanding upon these ideas, this presentation will explore the notion of the Genii loci, or community of spirits coexisting in an intact landscape; the many voices speaking the wisdom of a single sacred place. By learning to intentionally converse with plant spirit communities, could humans more deeply draw in the intelligence and interconnected power of Earth? Such a modern animism, grounded in listening to plant and place spirit, could correct toxic anthropocentrism. This presentation will discuss how plant spirits and plant spirit communities inform landscapes, and how the spirits of landscape can be a resource and ally in magical practice.
WORKSHOP: Conversing With Genii Loci
We will explore plant spirit communication and landscape connection through the practices of trance and sensory intuition. As we will be working at a distance from each other and the land, we will focus on imaginal journeying. This workshop will offer several short excursions into guided meditation and light-trance inducing drumming, time to integrate with art journaling. These practice exercises will aim to strengthen imagination in service of nourishing our personal relationships with plant and landscape spirits. We will discuss using the symbolism of plant signatures, and the practice of intuitive listening to more clearly hear plant spirit teachings.
Day Host-Jablonski is an EMT, health care educator, and aromatherapist/herbalist from the marshes and forests of the Upper Midwest. She attended Antioch College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Systems and became adept at moving through an interdisciplinary world. Day’s formal studies into Western herbalism, aromatherapy, and wilderness and urban emergency medicine, have been influenced by teachers such as Jeanne Rose, Phyllis Light, David Crow, Stephen Harrod Buhner, Sam Coffman, and Kathy Eich. Her current focus on aromatic herbal medicine-making revolves around field distillation and lab-alchemy preparations. She forages for wild foods and wildcrafts medicinal herbs and fungi as a practice of connection with homeland. She has been apprenticing with the School of Lost Borders, a wilderness rite-of-passage school, since 2009. She teaches practical self-care workshops and hosts ritual bathing excursions through her company, Bright Edge Explorations. Day has been organizing the Madison Psychedelic Society since 2018; this community discussion group focuses on psychedelic experience, and psychoactive plant medicines. Through hosting public conversation about altered states of consciousness, Day hopes to increase cultural agency and ceremonial literacy. Day has spent the pandemic working in emergency medical transport, and hiking in the Wisconsin Northwoods. Looking to the land for stress relief and spiritual nourishment to stay focused for her service, she began to see resonances between her community’s quarantine stories, psychedelic therapy protocols, and the key elements in rite-of-passage ceremonies. The aromatic hydrosols, medicines, and cordials she pulled out of the forest in 2020-21 are the most potent and beautiful she has ever made.
GABRIELA SARNA WIRASZKA
LECTURE: The Sacred Basket – Plants of Power and Magic in Polish Folk Healing
Herbs and flowers are some the greatest weavers and keepers of ancestral wisdom of the Polish people. Many of the oldest remaining charms and songs in Polish folklore are associated with plants and their healing properties and power. Some of these beliefs and practices not only have made their way to the church altar, but also influenced certain aspects of the Polish Catholic faith and celebrated Holy Days, especially those associated with Mother Mary and her representation of Mother Earth.
In this lecture Gabriela will present and explore the magical uses of plants in Poland from earlier history through present day. Various aspects of plant medicine and beliefs surrounding trees and plants will be discussed. Old Polish charms and poems dedicated to plants and their powers will be translated and analyzed for a deeper understanding of particular plant spirits as well as traditional approach to Polish folk healing.
Workshop: Creating a Montanka Doll
In this workshop, Gabriela will share some of the traditions around the creation of a Motanka doll, an ancient doll talisman from Slavic Europe. The name Motanka, comes from the word “motanie,” which means to weave together. There are many varieties and even names for these dolls, Motanka being the most well known. Together, we will go through the process, talk about the lore and intention that breathes magic into the Motanka. We will work with natural fibers, grains, herbs as well as prayers and charms during the creation process.
Gabriela was born and raised in Poland and immigrated to the US in 1989. She is an artist, storyteller and practitioner of Slavic and European Folk magic. She is committed to share, research and help preserve the knowledge of folk healing traditions and beliefs from Poland and Eastern Europe. To find out more about Gabriela’s healing practice, please visit www.allgateswithin.com. Gabriela is also co-hosting a myths and stories called Saga Kraft – https://www.sagakraft.com/.
LECTURE: Oh Come You Back!: The Loss, Return, and Retention of Souls Within Daoism, with Modifications
The goal of this presentation is to provide the listeners and participants were the basis for understanding the role of embodied souls within East Asian folk practices, specifically within the Chinese Taoist milieu. To this effect, we will be examining two particular forms of spirits, both considered souls, one known as the Hun corresponds to a celestial or etheric form of soul, wo the other, the Po is correspondingly attached to the function and maintenance of the physical body. When either of these souls become separated from the body for any extended period of time there are physical and spiritual ramifications for the person. Broadly speaking, soul loss such as this can affect all aspects of life up to you and including the foreshortening of ones destiny or or allotted potential. The good news is that there are ways in which one can call back and reinstall these soul forms within the body. To this end, this presentation will provide both vocative and material means by which to call upon and receive both the hun and the Po souls. To begin, however, we will examine some of the major symptoms and outcomes of soul loss as they are laid out in Taoist texts. Next, using the oldest known materia medica available within Chinese medicine, the Shennong Bencao, we will examine specific ingredients such as ginseng (renshen), poria (fuling), raspberry (pinglei), privet seed (nuzhenzi), buplerum (chaihu), and a host of other herbal and stone ingredients which may be used to calm, reseat, reinstate, and restore the hun and po souls.
Workshop: Ought to Return–Strategies for Reseating the Hun and Po
In this workshop, participants will be provided the chance to compound a pair of small formula one of which is meant to seat the Hun or celestial soul, and the other of which is meant to reseat the po within the body. First, we will look at two variants of a similar formula which are attested to within the Bencao Gangmu, compiled and published in 1593, and which are aimed at returning a lost soul. To this end, we will discuss the strategies at play within these formulas. We will then work to modify these same strategies for a more contemporary setting and mindset centering on approaches which are generally more directly nourishing, as well as less toxic.
The first formula to be addressed here will be Shengmai San, or “Generate the Pulse Powder,” as an accompaniment to the settling and working of the po soul by supporting and nourishing it. Next, we will examine a slightly more complex formula in the form of Danggui Sini Tang (“Four Frigid Limbs decoction with Tangkuei”) the aim of which is to root the Hun soul while allowing it free rein to move at ease within the body.
As part of this workshop, the participants will be presented with the affinities of each herb, their properties, within the formulae and will be asked to “awaken” the herbs according to their own practices before compounding at least one formulae with the ingredients provided. Lastly instructions for cooking of the herbs will be provided, should the participants wish to take the formula. In addition to herbal approaches, participants will also be given access to invocations which are meant to settle the hun and po at night from a group of Daoist texts known as the 云笈七签 “Seven Cloud Satchels” These selections have not been translated completely to English before.
John Anderson has been a practitioner and teacher of several styles of Asian medicine having received his Master’s degree in Oriental Medicine at the Florida College of Integrative Medicine (FCIM) and his Doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM). Dr. Anderson’s formal training extends to the use of herbal medicine from the perspective of Chinese medicine, both classical (ShangHan method) and contemporary (through the Ding/Shen/Hammer lineage). In addition to his formal education in Chinese Medicine, he has had training in Lakota practices and in Eastern esoteric herbal medicine and Chinese folk medicines. As part of his broader learning process, he has worked with plants, stones, and other natural ingredients for the better part of twenty years, beginning with many aspects of contemporary European paganism. This interest evolved and grew to encompass Eastern philosophies and practices. His ongoing research interests include: Gu syndromes, virtue medicine in tradition of Wang Fengyi, Daoist and Buddhist exorcistic practices, and Disability Studies at large.
LECTURE: Magical Plant Images
In this lecture Wiebke will introduce people to her ways of studying plants from different angles and exploring their nature in art and photography. We will look in particular at the roll that plants play in photographic media. We will also look at the phytochemistry of photosynthesis, with a special focus on plant color pigments on the one hand and photographical techniques and photochemical processes on the other – both in which UV light is the determinant.
This will include a short exploration of non-camera processes in photography, altprocesses, photograms, salt prints (talbotypes), cyanotypes etc., which are currently experiencing a revival and which often feature(d) plants as a central subject. We will then bridge over to artistically mimicking these
processes using simple (non-chemical) materials. Ultimately we will discuss abstract conclusions and advanced ways in which these techniques can be employed in the creation of magical plant paper talismans.
Workshop: Creating Magical Plant Images
In the workshop we will emulate the described photographic processes with the help of a few simple (non-chemical) materials – paper, coffee, alcohol and plants. Absorbent paper and plant parts will be provided for an additional fee. Alternatively you can also use own materials, e.g. your favorite root talisman, stones etc. The goal of the workshop is to create plant paper talismans, that evoke ephemeral or spectral effects yet are lasting in nature. These plant papers can at the same time
become the basis for a future workshop, in which magical sigils or other related images would be drawn upon them.
Wiebke Rost is an artist from Germany, working in different media. Her photography and occult illustrations have been exhibited in London, Berlin and other places in Germany. Originally a student and doctorand of human medicine, she has always also been an active artist and contributed written and visual content to different magazines and publications. Her main subjects are man and nature. Her art has been characterized as “evocative” and “capturing the essence”. A certain gloom or melancholia is often present in her work as well as a fascination for symbolism. Besides art and duties pertaining to her occult art project Teufelskunst, she is also a passionate gardener. In 2020 she gave birth to her first son.
LECTURE & WORKSHOP (canceled)
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’.
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!