It was an absolute pleasure doing this interview with the proprietors of Occvlta. They are a great resource and representation of modern traditional witchcraft practice and the Poison Path, supplying various wares for both classical and modern witchcraft practitioners including spirit flight and conjuration.
Poisoner’s Apothecary: How did Occvlta first come to be? There are many occult stores online, but Occvlta sets itself apart. The small selection of well-made products is reassuring; this is not another metaphysical supply store catering to love, money and protection. This is a place for witchcraft. How do you see Occvlta in comparison to other metaphysical emporiums and how does your focus differ?
Occvlta: First of all, thanks for the words you have dedicated to our work and the interesting questions you have asked us, this is the first interview we give, and we are honoured that you are the one behind it. Occvlta is a two-person endeavour that started 4 years ago with a clear goal: to provide serious practitioners of witchcraft, herbalism, and other paths of magic with artefacts that would enhance their praxis. You see, we consider that people enter the paths of witchcraft and magic not to meet their daily needs, but to go beyond all this; practitioners and seekers have elevated goals of transcendence, mystical contact, and spiritual growth. In Occvlta, we wanted to offer what we actually needed for ourselves: adequate components for a valid magical practice, made in magical context with the aid of spirits. Of course our situation is different to where we started, and our path has changed and evolved with us; Occvlta is a reflection of our development. We have clearly evolved since our beginnings, but we still appreciate our first creations because they show we never aimed for quotidian goals.
Poisoner’s Apothecary: Occvlta provides items for the Poison Path and other traditional witchcraft practices, featuring traditional witches’ herbs. What advice do you have for those just starting out on the Poison Path?
Occvlta: Let us paraphrase Daniel Schulke on this: one shall bear in mind a balance between Devotion and Fear. If you think you’re not ready to enter, you are, indeed, not ready to enter: but one shall always be capable to read between the lines, to overcome his/her limitations. Poisons call us, and when they do, their call is impossible to be ignored. This does not mean we must mindlessly run towards them, for one must always be suspicious, and at the same time daring to go beyond. After all, poisons hide the secrets of Life, Transformation, and Death. The only advice I will give you is this: if you hear the call, you must follow that path, but remember that it will always end in Death one way or another.
Poisoner’s Apothecary: I’ve noticed that as some online shops grow the proprietors aim for a more general audience, incorporating traditional medicinal preparations for non-magical purposes. I have witnessed some small companies catering to the magical community go in more of a mainstream direction, which can be seen in the packaging and language. As the name implies, Occvlta caters to magical practitioners. Is this something that you plan on maintaining as your business grows or do you see yourself broadening your demographic?
Occvlta: As you say, there are shops that aim to a general audience, and thus, we have no need to fill that spot. There are lots of high quality medicinal apothecaries that deal with plants harmonically and rationally. We are not looking for this in Occvlta, we are not exclusively governed by harmony or reason: we are ruled by deep intuition and deep illumination. And so, we look for specific customers who are as strongly committed to the Crooked Path as we are. We have never thought about selling medicinal products (even though we make them for our private use) because we consider the audience may benefit much more from our contribution to the Path of Poisons and Magical Herbalism instead of becoming a medicinal apothecary initiative. We want to go deeper into those places where no one dares to go.
Poisoner’s Apothecary: The imagery featured on Occvlta’s home page is rich in colour and detail, displaying many of the symbols associated with classical witchcraft. What do you think about incorporating one’s personal practice, ie; rituals, spells, preparations into artistic images to be shared with others. I find ritual photography to be beautiful and symbolic, inspiring other states of mind. Do you believe there is a certain level of secrecy that should be maintained in documenting our actual rituals versus arrangements for aesthetic purposes.
Occvlta: This is a dilemma we have struggled with for a long a time. We consider that some rituals/tools/altars should be kept private; their power is also dependent on their secrecy. In Occvlta we sometimes take pictures of staged rituals, but the real ceremonies are carried out in private. But Art is, as you say, another form of magic, and we appreciate the symbolism and vibrations that spread out of this. In the end, we think there is a difference between taking a picture of a ritual as something artistic/symbolic/transcendent and taking a picture to show off how cool your tools are, or what a committed practitioner you happen to be. This, in the end, is only known by the practitioner and the spirits.
Poisoner’s Apothecary: What do you say to those who treat the Poison Path and traditional witches’ herbs as a dangerous concept to be avoided entirely? In my opinion, baneful herbs are such a central theme in classical witchcraft, that by avoiding the study of these plants entirely cuts one off from a large body of classical witchlore.
Occvlta: Well, again, this attitude is a sign indicating that those who say so are not ready to walk such path. This doesn’t mean everyone eventually has to be ready, it’s a matter of choice (internal or external, conscious or not) and the lack of calling from that side. However, not feeling such a call doesn’t entail anyone to consider those who dwell in that path as ‘drug addicts’, as we have seen somewhere. As you say, baneful herbs (if there is such distinction in the end) is a pivotal topic in witchcraft. Their taboo is shared with the primary taboo of witchcraft: knowledge is a dangerous thing: knowing poisons is as dangerous as knowing the arts of the craft. Neglecting that is a proof that several things have not been understood.
Poisoner’s Apothecary: What are some of your personal reading recommendations for embarking on the Path of the Poisoner, and classical/traditional witchcraft in general?
Occvlta: Our first recommendation is to get hold of a book on the local flora and natural routes of your local area. Our minds are often clouded by the appeal of exotic poisons, disregarding the plant spririts which are at hand. Once one has familiarized with their surroundings, I would advise a practitioner to get classical works on herbalism, such as Culpepper’s, Hyssop’s, Paracelsus’ or Agrippa’s. Of course, all these books should be considered primary sources, but not “bibles”, they are here to help us create a criteria, and to do so we must follow an organic process of knowledge. Finally, once everything is read and understood, I would move forward to the poison path books per se, such as Pendell’s or Schulke’s. Starting the other way round would be quite chaotic and unproductive. And no reading can outmatch practice.
Poisoner’s Apothecary: It feels as though there is an increase in the popularity of magical practices in mainstream society, however, this also gives me the feeling that there is a growing divide between classical witchcraft practices and modern magical practices in modern society. Is this something that you have noticed as well, or is it just an online community thing?
Occvlta: There is indeed such increase, however, as you say, the appeal seems focused on a much more mainstream view on witchcraft. Nowadays, popular culture has taken the appeal of witchcraft and made it theirs. This is a tricky thing, because it is easier to access knowledge, but at the same time, one must have built a strong sense of objectiveness, being able to discern the charade from the real thing.
Poisoner’s Apothecary: What can you tell us about your future plans for Occvlta. Do you forsee more collaborations in the future?
Occvlta: We are working on many things right now. We are nowadays focusing more on custom made orders, and experimenting with new methods of herbal magic. We are about to release some smoking blends, new incenses, and oils. Apart from this, we are part of a research initiative focused on the witch traditions of the Pyrenean area and the Iberian Peninsula called Gremi de l’Art, and so we put a lot of effort on staying coherent with the results of our research. And finally, we have also started planning new collaborations with other occult initiatives, just see where the road take us.
Poisoner’s Apothecary: What kinds of custom/commissioned orders have you done. I have seen it mentioned on your website and in your last email. What sort of thing to customers request when placing a custom order?
Occvlta: We work mainly on custom incenses for specific goals: spirit work, specific deity worship, we work on custom ointments, and also on talismans and fetishes. When requesting something, we ask the customers about the ritual conditions and settings under which the artefact is to be created, we like it to meet the customers’ needs as closely as possible. We like to know the way the customer works and the needs they have. Sometimes, we advise them on how to proceed or what herbs to employ, but we try to respect the customer’s choice and primary intentions.