A Curious Herbal (1737) by Elizabeth Blackwell: Hand-colored engravings

These hand-painted engravings of healing herbs and garden vegetables are a delight, and I’m sure at least one creative person seeing this will get ideas, download, and do something lovely with these illustrations, so here you go.

They’re from Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal (1737). Below you’ll find a zip file you can download of high-res images from the book. Or view it in the entirety, courtesy of The British Library, Catalogues & Collections.

A Curious Herbal (1737)

Download Zip File

About the Book:

Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal is notable both for its beautiful illustrations of medicinal plants and for the unusual circumstances of its creation.

[It] contains illustrations and descriptions of plants, their medicinal preparations, and the ailments for which they are used.

The first herbal was written by the Greek physician Dioscorides in the first century AD.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Aberdeen in about 1700, but moved to London after she married. She undertook this ambitious project to raise money to pay her husband’s debts and release him from debtors’ prison.

Blackwell’s Herbal was an unprecedented artistic, scientific and commercial enterprise for a woman of her time.

She drew, engraved and coloured the illustrations herself, mostly using plant specimens from the Chelsea Physic Garden.

It was highly praised by leading physicians and apothecaries (makers and sellers of medicines), and made enough money to secure her husband’s freedom, although she later had to sell the copyright as well.

This finely-bound copy of A Curious Herbal is from the collection of King George III, held in the British Library.

British Library 34.I.12 -13

Last SKT III Update for 2020: Revelation

Going in the order of the cards I’ve presented here, I’m ending 2020 and beginning 2021 on the Ten of Swords. Hmm. Yah I’m not going to read into that. =) Moving on.

While the style and approach for the earlier editions asked of you to journey inward, this third edition, which I’m calling The Revelation, asks of you to journey outward. If my earlier editions were about depth, then this third edition is about expanse.

Realm of Sevens

The Revelation Edition can be treated as an entirely different deck from the First and Vitruvian Editions. It’s within the SKT family, hence the deck name remains the same. And while it shares the same DNA, SKT III has really evolved to solidify its own unconnected identity.

Realm of Eights

I cannot wait to share with you the companion guidebook. It’s basically a new Book of Maps, because it had to be. I go into detail explaining the who, what, where, when, and why for each card illustration, and then for interpreting it, the how.

Continue reading “Last SKT III Update for 2020: Revelation”

Selling Art Prints & More Diary Notes on Learning How to Art

benebellwen.com/artprints

I’m now offering my art prints for sale, and if you’re interested, click on the above hyperlinked banner to go straight to the art descriptions page and instructions on how to order. But this is a blog post, so I want to get a little more cas (casual, pronounced “kage,” where “ka” is like “cat” and “ge” is pronounced like “george” omigod why am I taking so much time and text explaining something so stupid) and ramble about that process.

The above banner thing was totally just for fun, to amuse myself. I didn’t bother following any art composition principles, other than, well, the one I made up myself, which is “more is more.” =D Every single feature you see in that banner comes from the illustrations for the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, The Revelation (my name for the third edition of SKT).

This blog post is just to share some of the behind-the-scenes art journeying.

Continue reading “Selling Art Prints & More Diary Notes on Learning How to Art”

Tarot Tag: 15 Questions, via Arwen

This tarot tag is from 2017, started by Arwen, and I’m only getting around to it now. But it’s a fun one!

EDIT: Omg, no, I did do this tag before! Back in April of 2017! See here. That’s hilarious. I totally forgot!

1. What is your current favorite deck?

I’ll start by disqualifying my own deck.

I’m in love with the Majors only Pharos Tarot by M. M. Meleen. It’s Thoth-based and Meleen’s artwork is exquisite. You can learn more about it and order your copy from Meleen here. I’ll be posting an in-depth review of the deck and its guidebook in the near future.

Artistically and theosophically, I see the evolution from her Tabula Mundi Tarot. I love seeing the way Thoth influences this deck compared to the Thoth influences in the Tabula Mundi.

Continue reading “Tarot Tag: 15 Questions, via Arwen”

SKT III Status Update Report

I’ve just finished up the first drafts of the Fives, so I figured it might be a good time to share a status update on SKT III (edition still unnamed). There are some videos up already on my YouTube channel to get a little more into the creator intentions behind each card, though public videos ended at the Threes. I’ve put the videos on pause for now, in terms of releasing them.

Works-in-progress drafts only; final production subject to change

If you might recall, Key 1: The Magus was the very first card I learned digital painting on. The line work was done by hand, scanned in, and the color was subsequently done via digital painting software programs. Then it was Key 2: The Priestess, and so on.

It’s amusing to look back on those first five keys, because it’s painfully obvious how scared of color I was. =) I didn’t know what I was doing. I was winging it. And you can tell.

It’s not until Key 6: The Lovers card that a noticeable improvement happens. Then after Key 7: The Chariot, off I went! =) Now that I know how to color, after finishing the Tens I’m going to return to Keys 1 through 5. I’ve already made notes on how I want to revise them.

The three versions of Key 0 in the SKT (left to right): The Initiate, The Seeker, and The Keeper

You can click on any of these image files for an enlarged view.

Continue reading “SKT III Status Update Report”

What Writing and Publishing a Novel Means to Me + Asian American Kid Problems =)

Sigh. I’m querying a novel that concludes in the time period of the bubonic plague. During the Covid-19 outbreak and global quarantine. And lots of literary agents on social media are posting about how this is really not the time to be sending apocalyptic novels to them because they just want to read something light, fun, and heart-warming.

Like most of you, I’ve been sheltering in place for several weeks now and figured why not document the thoughts that have had quite a bit of time and space to magnify in my head around the trajectory of my novel writing journey.

Continue reading “What Writing and Publishing a Novel Means to Me + Asian American Kid Problems =)”

Novel Writing Adventures & New Vlog Series

So I did a Thing. I completed a novel. I say “completed” instead of “wrote” because I’ve written many incomplete novels over the decades. This is the first one I pushed over the finish line. Yay.

For those interested in following the journey of my novel manuscript, I’ll be sharing the experience by way of a vlog series on my YouTube channel.

Continue reading “Novel Writing Adventures & New Vlog Series”

Elemental Directional Correspondences in Ritual Magic, East vs. West: How Do You Reconcile Conflicts?

One of my favorite personal rewards from launching the Witchcraft Fundamentals course is the Google Group, where all of us are exchanging insights, asking tough questions, trying to answer tough questions, and getting to know each other. To give you a sampling of what that e-mail list-serv group is like, I’m sharing something I wrote on there in one of the threads started by a practitioner of both Eastern and Western metaphysics.

The question presented is, in short, how do you reconcile Eastern elemental-directional correspondences with Western elemental-directional correspondences?

By the way, scroll all the way down for the PDF downloads of this post, which you can then print out and tuck into whatever reference manual for your metaphysical studies you have going on.

IN THIS WESTERN WITCHCRAFT COURSE, you’ll learn fairly soon that there are different systems of elemental-directional correspondences even within the umbrella of Western occult philosophy, and we cover three of them in this course:

Continue reading “Elemental Directional Correspondences in Ritual Magic, East vs. West: How Do You Reconcile Conflicts?”

Preexisting Disadvantages and Reacting to Failure

This is an excerpt chapter from the 2020 Metaphysician’s Guidebook, a 400-page companion guidebook that is included with your custom order of the 2020 Metaphysician’s Day Planner.

If you want to get inspired by someone’s success story to see what tips you might be able to pick up from that individual’s path to success, do not look at the positive steps that led to the success–

Look to how people respond to failure.

When experiencing failure, most people treat it as a personal injury. They attribute their failure to something inadequate in themselves. They take the failure as a sign that they truly aren’t good enough, aren’t worthy.

When I experience failure, I never assume it’s due to my own inadequacy. Instead, I view it rather objectively.

Clearly I did something wrong. I made a misstep. I didn’t exert enough force. I underestimated my opponent. All I have to do is try again but next time, without that misstep.

I don’t experience shame or a reduction of self-worth when I’ve failed. Instead, I think rather matter-of-factly, “Well, I won’t do it that way again!”

I attribute it entirely to an error in judgment—and never to any form of personal lacking.

Maybe that’s egotistical and presumptuous of me, but all through my life that has helped me create my own reality. There’s this tacit doesn’t-need-to-be-said-aloud given in my life—I deserve the best. So I am never fearful, nervous, or insecure about pursuing the best. I have never shortchanged myself in terms of what I feel entitled to, because at that unspoken innate root of me, I just know I’m destined for the best.

In no way am I saying that I actually am destined for the best, or that I always get the best, or that I am anywhere close to being the best. But the subjective, totally personal reality I’ve created for myself positions me positively, in a way that allows me to be fearless, and to shoot for the stars.

Overcoming nurture can be the biggest challenge for many, however.

Maybe all throughout your life you were told you aren’t good enough, that you’re inadequate, or that you’re less-than.

Maybe you were born from a place of disadvantage, so you’ve always had to run twice as fast as everyone around you just to catch up, and if you aren’t running twice as fast as everyone around you, then you’ll never catch up.

No, that’s not fair. But it’s life. It’s what you were handed and you can either deal with it and therefore overcome those disadvantages or you can dwell on the disadvantages and let that slow you down. Remember: you have to run twice as fast as everyone else just to catch up, so dwelling on the injustice is not going to help matters.

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#seasonofthewitch 11 Questions via The Woodland Hag

I’m loving the 11 questions for the #seasonofthewitch tag thing that’s been going around the pagan/witchy YouTube circuits, first started (I believe) by The Woodland Hag, so check that out first before proceeding. I’ve also binge-watched many of the video responses so use the hashtag #seasonofthewitch to find them all.

Here are my responses to the 11 questions, but instead of video form, here they are in blog form.

Divination with seashells.

“1. In what way (Witch, Pagan, Wise Woman, etc.) do you choose to identify and why?”

Although I don’t self-identify as witch (because in my native tongue, within the cultural context of my motherland and native traditions, it doesn’t actually make sense), the way I present, my practices, my interests, and point of view are very witchy as “witch” would get defined in the culture and region I am in right now. So when others identify or label me as witch, I’m perfectly happy with it.

I don’t formally self-identify as pagan because I’ve been told by pagans that I’m not pagan and I’m not all that interested in debating that point. Sometimes I might casually use the reference “pagan” just for convenience of terms.

Empath? Psychic? Highly Sensitive Person? Even if I happen to qualify for any of those identity markers, I wouldn’t use them for myself anyway because I’m not so sure I belong or feel like I belong in the communities that currently hold up those identity markers.

have heard at times that what my mother does is a form of shamanistic practice, but I like to mimic her– she repudiates all labels and just talks matter-of-factly about her interactive relationship, her experiences, and her perspective of Spirit, of spirit worlds, and that’s that. I’ve adopted a similar approach.

I do call myself a tarot reader, however. Because I read tarot cards. I also call myself an astrologer. I’m a feng shui… I refuse to use the word “master.” Consultant sounds a little clinical and dry. I guess I don’t mind occultist.

Stuff you’ll find on the bookshelf in my home office.

“2. What does my daily practice look like?”

My daily practice isn’t about certain forms of devotions I have to do and it doesn’t always necessarily even appear “spiritual” (or maybe more accurately, ritualistic, ceremonial…). It’s not about burning incense, lighting candles, reciting prayers or mantras, meditating, going into ritual space, going before my altar, or my favorite– Instagramming my witchcraft. =)

Continue reading “#seasonofthewitch 11 Questions via The Woodland Hag”