LECTURE: Ars Moriendi: Verdant Allies Through the Kingdom of Death
In observance of the philosophies of nature, we witness the cyclical seasons of decomposition and resurrection in the natural realm; of plants as they wilt and decay ever so gracefully, only to return evoked by the elements, enlivened by cosmic fire. The plant kingdom is the perfect ally to the human experience of death: our mortal heritage to embrace the metamorphosis enacted by death upon the body, soul, and spirit. In the absence of religious or spiritual beliefs and the rise of atheism in the modern world, our death ritual practices and traditions have waned.
This lecture will serve as an exploration of the plant kingdom’s influence on the afterlife beliefs and death rituals of various cultures and societies throughout history – an exhumation of archaic funerary traditions unearthing the ethnobotany of European, Egyptian, Tibetan and Indian practices; as well as a brief glimpse into the captivating ceremonies of the Indonesian “Walking Corpses.”
This presentation will examine how and why particular plants were and continue to be employed in funerary rites across the globe; the significance of the corpse and ancient embalming practices, and whether the plants used during these ceremonies were chosen for their corporeal actions or magical virtues. A discourse for consciously integrating our verdant allies into contemporary death customs will also be offered.
WORKSHOP: The Funeral Torch
The radiant flames of Mullein Torches have illuminated midnight processions throughout the ages, igniting funeral pyres as ancient floral balefires serve as light blooming beacons for the souls of the dead, while its luminous blaze guards the living from wrathful shades. In this hands-on workshop, we will explore the historical, folkloric, magical and mundane uses of the Mullein plant (Verbascum spp.). Participants will craft their own Mullein candles while learning the significance of the torch in funerary rites and death rituals, particularly of the Greco-Roman era; the apotropaic and necromantic applications of the Mullein plant in magical practice; as well as select medicinal uses and recipes.
Materials Fee: $10 (to be paid to instructor on day of workshop)
Ella von Cosel is an artist, herbal alchemist, and amateur thanatologist; a true death enthusiast channeling her mercurial essence beyond the dark veil. Her introduction to witchcraft and occult philosophy in early adolescence inspired and nurtured her enchantment with death and the afterlife, and she has thus dedicated her present incarnation to the study of death rituals through various disciplines, aspiring to release her forthcoming magnum opus, Putressence: Herbal Alchemy for Death Ritual & Funerary Craft. Ella has studied practical plant alchemy at the Spagyricus Institute and is currently undertaking herbal studies at the Dominion Herbal College. She resides in North Central Washington and is the aesthetic, corpse artisan and herbal creatrix behind Ars Feralis, a wildcrafted apothecary of flesh and bone, flower and root; providing handcrafted ritual tools and supplies for feral folk magic.