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So, I’m thinking of getting involved in herbal alchemy as soon as I find time to practice and money to obtain some supplies. I had the good fortune last year to come across pdf copies of a pair of works by Daniel Schulke: Ars Philtron, and Viridarium Umbris. They’re an incredible mix of occult information and scientific fact, easily two of the best occult books I’ve read in a long time and very well researched. They’re written from the perspective of Sabbatic Witchcraft, which is a system I don’t really work in, but the material is highly adaptable.
I really like the way it stresses working with the spirits of the plants throughout the process. It’s a highly shamanic approach to plant magic that I haven’t seen in a lot of modern pagan works on any sort of green magic. And even though the system and its mythology is not one I work with, I’ve been fascinated with it and how it compares and connects with some of the things I do believe.
Anyone familiar with it, or other works that might be similar? (Does not have to be restricted to plant-based stuff. I’d actually love to find a book on a similar level that deals in the animal or mineral kingdoms, or in city magic.)
Ancient of Days
Oo er. I have actual copies of both of the books. I gotta say, I know the problem is that they’re expensive (especially on the secondhand market, where the prices get astronomical; getting on the subscriber list helps, but I understand they’re still outside the range of a tiny budget), but the physical objects tend to the talismanic in the transmisson of the Sabbatic current, and it’s a small press we’re talking about here; I have unauthorized etexts of Harry Potter I don’t lose sleep over (and if they get officially released I will buy them), but PDFs of Xoanon books I do consider to be, essentially, theft, and I would report their posting on doc sites if I found them.
That said, yes, the content is very good, although I don’t have the space or the equipment to put into practice anything that’s in Ars Philtron, especially. Schulke’s work is much more accessible than Chumbley’s (his antecessor as Magister of the Cultus Sabbati), which is saying something as it’s still quite dense.
“Expensive” is a bit of an understatement… by the time I’d found out about their existence, a single copy of Viridarium Umbris was retailing for roughly $1,200 and Ars Philtron was going for $200. Combined, that’s over three month’s rent for me. I’ll grant you that they’re certainly worth more than the average metaphysical book, but their release as extremely limited edition art runs effectively takes them well out of the range I could ever afford to spend on a pair of books, however good. I realize that prevents me from having full access to the talismanic properties of the original books, but I’ve found the information presented in them quite valuable even without that. If Xaonon ever releases its books in a wider print run that would bring them down into an affordable range, I would certainly buy them, even at two to three times the price of an average pagan book. But Ars Philtron alone is nearly ten times more expensive than most pagan books, and Viridarium Umbris is roughly sixty times more. I’m grateful I was able to find them as PDFs, or I literally never would have read them.
Ancient of Days
I think Viridarium Umbris in its regular edition (most of Xoanon’s books are issued in regular, deluxe, and “private distribution only” editions) was something like $60 or $75 on first release. Pricey, perhaps, but possible to save up for (as I said, getting on the subscriber list is the answer; they send you a letter when a new title is forthcoming and you can get it for “cheap”). The secondhand market is unreasonably criminal on these titles (you say VU can be found for twelve hundred dollars; I hear the Azoetia can go for a thousand pounds) and I really don’t know why, even given the rarity and cachet of the books. I can certainly understand the motivation to want to get them any way one can and I don’t mean to harp on you personally.
If I’d known about it when it was first released, I probably would have bought it at that price. Unfortunately, coming across the pdfs was my first introduction to any of Xoanon’s works, and I don’t know if I would have bought it at that price sight-unseen. Until finding the pdf, I’d never heard of Schulke or Xoanon or the Cultus Sabbati. I probably had heard of Chumbley, but only in passing.
If they ever do a reprint at the original price, I think I’d rather happily scrape the money together to buy it just to support them, now that I have read the works. Though I think I’d stick with using the PDF copy for most of my own study, given its portability. I love being able to carry around a literal library of books (occult and otherwise) on my iPad.
And yeah, the secondhand market is definitely criminal when it comes to texts like these.
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