—VGS 2019

Lectures | Workshops | Hosts

2019 Lectures:

Karin Di Giacomo

2019 Key Note Lecture: Gnosis, Magic and Alchemy -A Hermetic Perspective
Gnosis as the direct, unmediated connection with the spiritual dimension of creation is an indwelling faculty -like music – of every human being. It is immanent in our Being, an unalienable ability to directly contact the deeper and higher strata of knowing. Gnosis is also calledthe “Knowledge if the Heart” or the faculty of the higher, intuitive mind (higher manas) and it is a pure and direct path to knowing and understanding our world, our Cosmos and the myriads of forms of creation. Gnosis transcends the visible appearances, it moves us into a world of causative energies and forces and the path to their manifestation.
In Magic we work with these ‘occult’ energies and forces’ and the insights we gather in the fruit of the gnostic Tree of Knowledge. We can anchor magic in the visible world of manifestation, and “charge’ or imbue these forces into objects such as charms and Talismans, we can also work witht he sheer forces in ritual and ceremonial magic; we can create spells and charms in written form, in the potent use of fragrance and with true dance, music and art, all of which are upstreamm of the rational, linear mind.

In Alchemy, we are taking Magic a step further, aligning ourselves with the great forces of Evolution, Nature and Spirit. It is a dance between the manifest outer work and the spiritual, inner world – Ora et Labora. Alchemy constitutes an ever evolving balance towards the highest evolutionary expression of a plant Arcanum, a mystery made visible and a cure for all illness. In alchemy we use the gnostic path to applied knowledge and become co-creators through the Art. In this lecture Karin Di Giacomo will delineate the Hermetic system, which offers a simple, powerful map for occult work across all the Kingdoms of Nature.

Biography
Healing for more that 50 years. She holds two Master’s Degrees (Economics and Psychology) and is a Germen Heilpraktiker (Naturopath). Her esoteric work and experience span Mysticism, Gnosis, High Magic and Hermeticism and is deeply informed by Archetypal Psychology, Visionary Art and Mythology.
She has lived and worked in Centers of consciousness like Esalen, ZIST and Crestone and has worked e.g. as an international business consultant, University lecturer and Non-Profit Manager. She has co-authored a book on Herbal Remedies for Children and extensively translated books and articles for an Anthropological Publishing House. In the 1980’s she was a founding member of the American ‘Philosophers of Nature’, making alchemical training available through correspondence courses to American students of the Art. Her translation of a book on standardization or alchemical processes supported that endeavor. For a span of time she worked with an adept to cast Astrological Talismans in the Renaissance Tradition and Memory Seals designed by the Renaissance Magus Giordano Bruno. A few of these seals will be on display at the symposium.

Brandon Weston

Lecture: An Introduction to Ozark Folk Magic and Medicine
A discussion of traditional plant-based and magic-based folk healing methods in the Ozarks. We will be looking at source material provided by folklorists like Mary Parler, Vance Randolph, Otto Ernest Rayburn, etc. and from living healers and folk doctors. With plant-based healing we will look at traditional herbalism, herbal remedies/preparations, and the materia medica of the Ozark people. In the magic-based healing section we will look at practices that do not involve the direct use of medicinal plants and minerals. Examples of these traditions include: verbal charms, prayers, ritual, as well as the repurposing of certain household items for healing.

Biography
Brandon Weston is an Ozark healer, herbalist, folklorist, and writer living in Northwest Arkansas. He’s the owner and operator of Mountain Man Healing (ozarkhealing.com) as well as an active blog on Ozark magic and medicine (ozarkhealingblog.com). He also gives lectures and native plant walks throughout Arkansas and Missouri. Brandon 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

Corinne Boyer

Lecture: Plants and the Second Sight- Piercing the Veil by Oil, Amulet and Smoke.
In what ways are plants able to lend assistance with opening doorways to the invisible world, the enchanted realm, the land of spirits and the guarded portal that Lady Fate herself watches over? In traditional witch lore, one essential skill that is probably least addressed in detail for its tendency to be elusive and therefore problematic, is that of Seeing. The subtleties and nuance required to explain this process make it challenging to give instruction to, however there are simple and rustic formulas that exist in the world of plant magic that can potentially aid one in the process.

The Gaelic term ‘An da shealladh’ translates to ‘the two sights’, which refers to the common sight of everyday living and the uncommon sight of the world of spirits and seeing what is to come. In this presentation, I will set the parameters for both historical definitions of the Second Sight and some lore surrounding it, as well as extrapolate on those parameters based on my own experiences. The focus then will be on plants from Northern and Western Europe that were traditionally employed to enhance ones second sight or ability to ‘See’. The way that these are categorized may come as a surprise, for example including plants that were ‘witch finders’, plants to help one find hidden treasure and plants that had the ability to reveal spirits. I will also attempt to make a loose distinction here between plants used in divination verses those that thin the Seeing veil, with some room for overlap. My personal experience will be incorporated to bring the lore to life, as the question of ‘how did/do these plants work’ will be explored. My hope is that folks will be inspired by the end of the lecture to identify and utilize their own Second Sight materia magica.

Biography
Corinne Boyer is a folk herbalist, teacher, and writer with a passion for traditions surrounding plants and folk magic. She has been studying and working with plants since 1998. Corinne has taught community herb classes since 2005 and teaches weekly classes out of her home with a focus on wild crafting, medicine making, plant lore, folk medicine and traditional magic. She has been published in various journals with articles about plant lore and history. She created a free quarterly herbal newsletter called The Gathering Basket, which was distributed to her local community from 2012-2017. Her books include Under the Witching Tree published by Troy Books and Plants of the Devil published by Three Hands Press. Under the Bramble Arch is near completion and will be released by Troy Books in late 2018. She lives with her family in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Visit her website for more information. http://maplemistwood.com/

Day Host-Jablonski

Lecture: Querencia Perfume: Wildcrafting Whole-landscape Smudge and Meeting the Spirit of Place
Landscapes speak to us through all our senses: the climate and flow of kinetic landforms; the breathing of winds and voices of fauna; the glow and awe of floral and mineral expanse. The sweet and compelling wafts that guide our impulses and imagination. Of all these impressions of place, scent is the sense that most powerfully associates memory; giving us transport not only back to location, but to our own past selves. Aromatics exercise our imaginal connective tissue, giving us access to distant places of power and to our human family tree. Querencia is a love of place, a relationship with beloved homeland that supports our cognition, intuition and well-being. Our knowing and affinity for landscapes aligns us with the logics and intelligences of place, and opens us to receive gifts of interdependent strength. This is a lecture about travel and discovery, about the personality of places and the aromatic plants that embody them. We will discuss ethical wildcrafting in regard of landscape spirits and the use of aromatics in ceremony to bolster access to limbic system space and time travel.

Biography
Day is an Emergence Medic and Radical Perfumer from the wetlands and forests of the Upper Midwest. She attended Antioch College, where she earned her bachelors degree in Sustainable Systems and discovered the deep joy of meeting new places. Traveling with synaesthesia introduced her to the power of aromatherapy; which in turn lead to over a decade of study and practice in aromatic herbalism; which lured her into alembic lab alchemy; which released her out to the landscapes of her homelands to wildcraft edible, aromatic and medicinal plants; which inspired her to train and work in wilderness and urban emergency medicine; where she discovered the completely practical applications of laying on of hands; which revitalized her commitment to modern ceremonial work. She has spent much of the past few years exploring the wildernesses of the mountainous West, forested Northwest and desert Southwest. and writing about what she has seen and smelled.

Daniel Schulke

Lecture: Axioms of Phytognosis
‘Phytognosis’ is a term coined by the author in 1998 to indicate plant-derived expansion of consciousness and sensoria. Using magical, scientific, and philosophical approaches, essential approaches to entheogenic plants are discussed, including the nature of plant divinity, and the refraction of herb numina through the vessel of the body. Angelic and demonic plant congress, and the figure of the Fool will also be discussed. Original research will be presented along with an abundance of fascinating anecdotes.

Biography
Daniel A. Schulke is a writer and herbalist with a background in horticulture, ethnobotany, and western herbalism. His work is focused on emerging paradigms of plant research integrating both scientific and occult perspectives. His written work has appeared in such journals as Starfire, The Cauldron, Fiddler’s Green, and Abraxas.

Ella von Cosel

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.

 

Biography
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.

Julia Semproniana

Lecture: The thorn bush listens to our secrets’,thorn lore in Pyrenean Witchcraft and Folk magic.
TThere are plants which cannot easily be tamed by any gardener or the farmer, they seem to have kept an ancient and primitive connection with its Land; their presence, unexplainable and capricious, obeys no other laws but Nature’s: brambles, nettles, and thorny bushes seem to follow that premise. The mythology surrounding these apparently hostile specimens has undoubtedly nurtured their genii, as they are both revered and feared by common people. And yet, they are given special roles when it comes to folk magic and witchcraft. The spirits dwelling in their branches have acquired a taste for sorcery, for tales, and for blood, which has turned them into powerful tools of the trade, bearers of old secrets and tricks. We will observe the tales, beliefs, and customs revolving nettles, thorn bushes and brambles in the Iberian Peninsula in the Pyrenees so as to try to grasp some of the mysteries which lurk among them.

Biography
Júlia Semproniana is a researcher, teacher, and practitioner of Metzineria and Pyrenean Witchcraft. She is one of the founding members of the Gremi de l’Art, an initiative whose goal is to spread the magical traditions and lore of the Iberian peninsula through academic insight and both individual and collective practice. She is a co-founder of Occvlta, an endeavour focused on crafting high-quality herbal products and artefacts for the alchemist, the poisoner, the apothecary, and the practitioner of Witchcraft since 2013. She now resides in the Pyrenees of Catalonia and the focus of her work revolves around the awakening and remembrance of forgotten Witch and Plant lore.

Professor Porterfield

Lecture: A Hen on her eggs

Bathed in the bright, warm glow of a lamp we are in the world of our ancestors which links us back to the past and grounds us. Not just for light or beauty, oil lamps are also used for magic, prayer, petitioning, and spell casting within the African Diasporic, Ceremonial Magick, and Jewish Mystical traditions. In this lecture, Professor Porterfield will discuss the use of various herbal components in the making of traditional conjure lamps within the hoodoo tradition in the United States of America. The creation, use, and sanctification of conjure lamps will be discussed along with the care and keeping of an oil lamp prepared for spellwork. Come and learn the secret of “the hen on her eggs” and how the humble oil lamp continues to be an enduring token of humanity’s desire to conquer darkness, bring about manifestation, and the Philosophy of Fire.

Biography
Professor Charles Porterfield is a no-nonsense, old-school, Old Testament reader and rootworker. His work has been published in The Black Folder: Personal Communications on the Mastery of Hoodoo. He is also 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

VEX Blòðstjarna

Lecture:Verdant Versipellis: The Arte and Role of Flora and Entheogens in Shape-Shifting

Ritual chanting undulates into a cacophony of whines and howls, echoes between the trees amongst the thicket where the only iridescence looms over clandestine activities like a pale dead eye. Shadows twist and flux becoming something born anew. Throughout history, the utilization of plants as talismans, medicinal cures, or for baneful reasons has been associated with infamy to sorcerers and witches alike, highlighted through tales of pacts with eldritch creatures, bargains with devils and a whole slew of transfigurations as punishments. Very few of these connections occur in literature and lore with as much fervent frequency as those with witches and werewolves. The place of the shapeshifter within most societies often parallels claims of witchcraft and devilry, what social or spiritual phenomena is it that these two concepts are blurred together? Through this presentation, we will explore these historical mentions and applications of shape-shifting by use of plants, oils, devices, and unguents as they have progressed from folktale warnings to avoid the forests at night, to modern animistic cults that employ poisonous practices to better understand the human animal. This presentation will also detail some of the most (and lesser) known plants tied with folklore surrounding shape-shifting, as well as different cultural beliefs, practices, and reasons for changing one’s shape, and becoming more of the animal within.

Biography
Vex Blòðstjarna has been a self-taught occultist for over twenty years, focusing on totemic animal spirits and the Norse mysteries. His practice ties indigenous animism from his surroundings in Eastern Washington and from familial roots of Scandinavian hunting rituals. Vex is a tinkerer, Mead-Brewer, distiller, wild crafter and the primitive theurge and skin carver of Ars Feralis. Vex has studied the Prima level of alchemy at the Spagyricus Institute and is an artist of the bones, skins, roots, and flowers of the animal and plant spirits that he venerates, as well as a crafter of Neolithic stone tools. Vex is well versed in runes and other Northern European practices and is a former member of a well-known rune guild, as well as a 2nd degree Mason. Vex likes fire and spending time overlooking the river, exploring the forests and enjoying the company of his four-legged companions.

Lectures | Workshops | Hosts

2019 Workshops:

Karin Di Giacomo

Workshop:Creating Elemental Remedies-simple,conjugated, potentized and evolved (spagyric)
In this workshop participants will start with an overview of the elemental system of remedies and a definition of terms. We will then create a ‘Simple’, i.e. a one-plant remedy in accordance with the elemental nature of the plant and in view of the desired remedial effect: tinctures, oils/ balms, charcoal and infusions. Conjugated remedies, combining two or more plants will be prepared as we combine the Simples. The next step will be demonstration of a potentized remedy and a clarification of the difference between allopathy and homeopathy. Likewise the separation and cohabation processes Spagyrics will be schematically mapped out and demonstrated. Finally we will transcend the reliance of physical plant material and use the powers of Green Magic in the creation of an elemental closing ceremony.


Brandon Weston

Workshop: It Can’t Do Any Harm: A Workshop on Ozark Magic and Medicine
In this hands-on workshop we will be taking a more in-depth look at the processes and physical items that go along with the magic and medicine traditions of the Ozark Mountains. This workshop will continue the information presented in the “Introduction to Ozark Folk Magic and Medicine” and will include the crafting of some magical items, the brewing of some medicinal beverages, and the telling of some traditional folk tales sure to entertain.


Corinne Boyer

Workshop: Application of Second Sight Materia Magica.
In this workshop, we will look at the practical ways in which plants for the Second Sight can be utilized in day to day life. After going through many personal examples, we will craft a powder to be used for scrying, as well as a fumigation to help enhance seeing powers during ritual work. Folks will leave with these vials and the information in which to apply them. They will also get a deeper insight into my personal working favorite plants for working with Spirits of the Dead in particular. Animal and mineral materia magica will be mentioned as well.

Day Host-Jablonski

Workshop: 5,000 Miles of Smoke: A Travelogue of Scent through the West
Breathe in the aromas of high mesa sunsets, foggy moonlit forests, primordial conifer groves and clear desert horizons. This workshop will be an immersive experience of scent and smoke, and a space to explore the messages and memories of our own limbic system. In a multi-sensory epic poem, we will travel the wild places of the American West through the aromatic herbal smudge and hydrosols ethically wildcrafted from diverse landscapes, and discuss the visions they offer. We will also have a chance to meet the aromatics of the land in which we are gather, and tie small smudge bundles to take with us when we part.

Daniel Schulke

Workshop: The Power of Tannins
Although not predominant among all plants, the powerful chemical group known as tannins, known for their astringency, occur in a significant number of botanical sources. As dynamic compounds active during a plant’s life and even beyond its death, they are of significant economic importance to such trades as viticulture and dyeing. Of relevance to the herbalist they are also a powerful force in the areas of medicine, and aromatic, artistic and culinary expression. This workshop will, in exploring the nature of tannins, integrate both theoretical and practical aspects, including a survey of botanical tannoids and their various esoteric applications.

Ella von Cosel

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.

Julia Semproniana

Workshop: Thorns in Pyrenean folk magic
Thorns were used in Pyrenean folk magic as amulets against maladies of the body and the spirit, as talismans, and also as tools of dominion. We will observe the different Pyrenean thorn bushes, their manifold applications, and will build an amulet with them.

Professor Porterfield

Workshop: Conjure Lamps
Join conjure doctor and hoodoo worker Professor Charles Porterfield for a hands-on class in the art and science of the making of traditional conjure lamps within the American folk tradition of hoodoo and conjure. In this workshop participants will fashion their own lamp for a common condition under the direct supervision of Professor Porterfield and lean the ins and outs as well and hows and whys of making a lamp and setting it work. Following the teachings of old-style workers including Mr. Charles Hanson the noted Georgia worker and others. As a follow-up to his lecture on Conjure Lamps this workshop will take theory into practical application and example.


VEX Blòðstjarna

Workshop: The Animal Masks of the Forest

The act of using masks in a magical setting is to aid in the separation from the mask worn for the world to see and to invoke the strengths of the true face. In other cases, a mask serves as a way to separate the practitioner from their own ego to assume that of another. Some ritualistic acts deploy masks as a way to obscure what is hidden beneath. The process of taking a new shape is as modern as it is old, practices such as the woad based pigments of the Picts, the healing masks of the faceless society of the Iroquois, ceremonial dances that express core elements of belief, and even to the application of modern war paint in preparation to handle daily challenges and interaction. These are examples of forms of masks that are used to invoke alternate consciousness through the concepts of the subconscious and focus to obtain strength or esoteric knowledge from outside sources.

This workshop will offer a discussion about the Norse concept of hamr, hamingja, and fylgja. , and other ideas of merging and expressing the liminal lines between human and animal commonly explored within the constructs of mental shape-shifting. While the hands-on portion will focus on elements of the plant realm gathered from the natural environment to be formed into new faces for use in ritual workings. The workshop will then apply these masks and optional herbal imbibements to explore the practical perceptions of shape-shifting magic through a group chant and reflection.

Lectures | Workshops | Hosts

2019 Hosts:

Catamara Rosarium
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 of has become the foundation and framework of her praxis and work.

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 of has become the foundation and framework of her praxis and work.

Catamara is co-founder, organizer and convenor 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 co-edits the Verdant Gnosis series published by Revelore Press which is an ongoing printed publication anthology series which features articles by those who present at each years Viridis Genii Symposium.

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

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 a student blacksmith 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 folk lore 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.

Lectures | Workshops | Hosts