Details of Totentanz – XVI C. Germany (Artist Unknown)

Sacristy painting commissioned by the Observant Franciscans. The catalogue description did not give many details, but I would guess by the costumes that this was made somewhere between 1560’s to 1580’s. The theme of the Dance of Death was hugely popular throughout multiple periods of European history, and saw a particular revival after the 1538 series by Master Holbein the Younger, whose works were widely distributed with the advent of the printing press.





Credit: The dance of death. Oil painting.. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

Selections from The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century

In 1825 Robert Cross Smith, a charlatan, had unsold content from his previously failed magazine The Straggling Astrologer. Its content was “rebranded” into this handbook, The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century: Or the Master Key of Futurity, being a Complete System of Astrology, Geomancy & Occult Science.  The book covers topics from necromancy, charms and incantations, astrology, and a few fun ghost stories. It also includes beautiful illustrations, some of which are copies of earlier English etchings such as the famous graveyard scene with John Dee and Edward Kelley.


Artist Spotlight – Scurvy Drunkard

Shyarn Koenitz, aka Scurvy Drunkard, is an up-and-coming multimedia artist based in Australia. She first attracted my attention with the paintings she makes with her own blood. Everything she produces is deeply disturbing, and I absolutely love it! Her work touches on themes of fear, body horror, consumption, magic, Eros, and so much else. Who knows what twisted and depraved ideas will come pouring out of her mind at any moment?! See more on her Instagram.

Some of my favorite work of hers, featured below.


Flying Witches – Flemish Miniature

Details from “L’Adoration du bouc” (The Adoration of the Goat) from Jean Tinctor’s, Traité du crime de vauderie, ca. 1470. It was during this period that witches and the Waldensian heretics became associated with the stereotype of flying on broomsticks and beasts to their Sabbats. Thanks to the widespread fabrication of false testimonies obtained under torture, priests and inquisitors were able to literally demonize witchcraft, cementing this type of imagery into the minds of the Christian believers with the help of witchhunting manuals such as Malleus Maleficarum and Compendium Maleficarum, among many others.