Der Eibenreiter is a small intriguing zine series from northern Bavaria, Germany. Mostly created by two brothers both into folklore, nature mysticism, bushcraft, underground music and art. After discovering the project I immediately felt the urge to contact them and get to know them, which made us exchange thoughts and figure we have overlapping interests and fascinations.
In fall 2020 they invited me to be interviewed and appear in the second Eibenreiter. Eager to contribute to this piece of underground culture I also finished a text of mine called “Wege der Wagnis” (english: Paths of Venture) and did an accompanying artwork of a dark wood scene with a bright glow in the distance.
I had my first contact with your art or you as an artist via your compendium Zine DOAZ, in which you curated, collected and presented 14 different artists, all from darker, more spiritual realms of the visual arts. How did you get there and what criteria did you use to select the presented artists and their works?
I got there through my already intense interest in art, which drives me again and again to look through and collect huge masses of photos and art. Several factors then solidified DOAZ for me: The entry into the Instagram community, the endless nights of browsing, the desire for community in our niche and my need to pass on my discoveries.
A main criterion for the selection was the artist’s body of work and the quality of the craft and the themes / motifs. Nature, darkness, spirituality and the subtle was and is important to me. With a possible next edition, the spectrum will of course be a lot wider, because my list of valuable artists is constantly growing. Many artists have become friends and acquaintances during the process through collegial and personal communication, which is an enrichment in every respect.
Before we get to your works and the worlds that you have created with brush and pencil (digital and traditional), the classic question: What brought you to visual art, especially with regard to graphic novels? To what extent do you feel influenced by your art in your life and your principles?
I came across the graphic novel or comic format through a long period of development. The sequential storytelling has always impressed me. It can depict things that cannot be explained with words. And since my favorite language is pictures, I ended up with graphic novels / comics becoming my ambition.
Initially, the whole thing was a high fantasy worldbuilding project (that is, a deepening in creating your own world with all the trimmings).
Through years of maturation, I have increasingly moved on to pushing the (pictorial) story forward in the course of personal mysticism and leaving worldbuilding as the supporting basic structure for the reader predominantly in the shadows. The old world has been preserved in fractures, but much of it has been melted down. An ongoing transformation that is also reflected and taking place in our world.
Beyond comics or books, I was awe-struck as a child by Dinotopia by James Gurney. An illustrated travel journal about a remote island where dinosaurs co-exist with humans. He designed it and worked it out so well – I was left speechless as a kid. This kind of fascination and curiosity also drives me forward, which is why I work out parts of the storylines in a similar way (example: The Torn Stories).
In order to be able to answer how my art affects my life, I have to address the meaning of art. Many of my pictures are like magic. They contain a charge on my part and are evocatively effective in the viewer. Feelings, visions, insights, impressions and wishes flow into them and form a bridge between my microcosm and the macrocosm. My art is my language and many a shred is picked up by invisible forces and manifests itself in unexpected places.
The real effects of my magical / artistic actions are partly causally not traceable and only reveal themselves much later.
The same principles as with magic (Magick) come to bear in my artistic work and interweave my spirituality with my life and my art. Sharpening of the focus, training of the imagination, inner emptiness in the flow, mastery, refinement of visions and wishes, communication with the other world, exploration of archetypes and own parts, healing and fulfillment.
Portrait of me shot by Johannes of the Eibenreiter
For every big project there are the first steps, the inspiration and the vision. How do you find inspiration? Many of your works seem to be snapshots of hikes, images of nature and impressions from our world, contrary to the dreamy-fantastic parallel universe in which you have settled Aynbath and Masarru.
I spent most of my life as a city dweller in Nürnberg with little contact to nature and its impressions. Fantasy books were a welcome substitute for what I could not really live my whole childhood and youth. Namely a life with gods, spirits and magic. Especially here in the West, unfortunately, everything that is otherworldly is now dismissed as “just fantasy” – most people simply take that as given. By later dealing with the origins of fantasy, i.e. occultism, mysticism, fairy tales and myths, I understood that I hadn’t decided what was “real”. It was inoculated into me from outside. Children normally don’t differentiate between real and fantastic (!), this separation is fatal for our development later in life, as I realized when I started digging into the topic more deeply.
The realization that we have much more power than we are allowed to, that we have more possibilities and that there is much more than the disdainful, rational mapped out world of modern times (if we allow it) had something liberating. That has permanently reoriented me in the direction in which I am currently traveling.
Years ago I moved to the country to live with my girlfriend. In Franconian Switzerland we hiked, explored and photographed an incredible number of rocks and ruins. The photos sometimes serve as a reference, but the quality of the impressions and the understanding remain much more intense and lively. The essence of the landscape has invaded my depths forever and visibly spills over into my pictures. Hiking impressions and natural phenomena are something original and don’t stop to revitalize me again and again.
In the “The Torn” Stories I especially deal with these impressions and the archetype of the lonely wanderer. The feeling of distance. Freedom. There is a lot in the works!
In addition to these weighty influences, I am also inspired by the art of other artists and a wide range of underground music. Just like the pre-Christian, archaic and occult. I come across treasures everywhere, telling everything would go beyond the scope.
Since you just mentioned music: My first step, before I even started reading into the world of Aynbath and your web comic Masarru, was turn on the mixtape you provided and listen to the oriental sounds of ambient and drone-heavy projects . In this case, both branches of art harmonize perfectly and go hand in hand when reading and looking at your illustrations in terms of emotion and atmosphere!
How important is music to you for your art? Do certain sounds and soundscapes provoke a particularly creative stimulus for the creation of your works? If so, which one do you prefer?
Very important. For me, music opens portals to other spheres. It allows me to connect to certain levels that are difficult to describe. That has a lot of influence on my perception and sometimes inspires or guides me steadfastly. There are an unbelievable number of directions in my repertoir – I am a hobby music nerd … particularly influential on my art or what I like to use in a ritual context, is mostly black metal, drone, (dark) ambient, instrumental acoustic pieces but also ethnic, oriental and archaic music.
At the moment I’m finally also looking into creating music myself and have started with an irregular practice, but that’s something different.
A very interesting experience to dive in and treat it as an act of magick as well. Let’s see what will come of it.
You give an interesting explanation about the origin of your logo, as well as the meaning of the word “Aerozopher”. It seems to me that you deal often and intensively with the matter of spirituality, especially with regard to runes and seals, their duality, alignment and sacred geometry. What does spirituality mean to you? How much personal practice is there in your works in terms of symbolism? I would be particularly interested in your view of the archaic and pre-Christian.
For me, spirituality is first of all a mindset and fundamentally a philosophy of life. Because many activities are “magical” in and of themselves. Music is the perfect example here. It is everywhere and evokes feelings and moods. But if I consciously bundle certain energies, call up certain symbols or channel aspects, that’s different. The focus and the intention is what transforms activities. Art also falls into this category. Everything I do in that direction and that includes the type of perception out in nature, where I examine trees and rocks and soak up their essence or pause at certain points in the landscape, because everything that comes together has a special character.
A lot for me is about visualizing, inspirations / visions, observing, sigils. Some of the symbolism in my pictures comes from my practice and reality, but a lot is also a representation of resonating impressions, stories, knowledge and mythology.
Yes, the archaic is especially attracting to me. Because it is wrapped in this veil of uncertainty. It is difficult to relate what people felt and experienced back then.
The pre-Christian is simply the domain for this culture here. Anyone reading this will know that pagan customs were simply hijacked (because they couldn’t get rid of them). Christianity is just a young import of “foreign” culture compared to the history of “paganism” and its shamanic roots. Since world views, cosmologies and mythology have always been based on the living space, it is a natural entanglement for me as a person living here. Inside the native symbols the landscape lives and vice versa.
Imported monotheism turns the divine into an inflated absolute. This absolute light – the origin may very well exist. But good and bad are laughable concepts from the point of view of other cultures and cosmologies, in which aspects alternate in a circular manner. The original local polytheism is a multi-faceted image of reality and therefore more accessible. It makes it easier to address aspects of yourself in order to work with them. We are all ambivalent and diverse, for better and for worse.
In addition, I find the original archetypes and primordial gods fascinating, because they represent the origin of today’s differentiated and fragmented world and its cultures. The associated practices are also shrouded in a dark veil. This is something that stimulates my imagination and inspires me in the classic sense of the word (lat. “inspirare” for to breathe life into sth.).
The traces of the archaic are like whispers in a foreign language that I’m trying to understand at least a bit..
Your acrylic painting series “Interplay” has an unbelievably organic-realistic touch despite its abstract character (Some are still available. Contact Aerozopher here if interested). Your descriptions of these pictures also gave me a little insight into your interpretation and personal perspective on the direction of this series, including social and philosophical topics. What is your current view of society and culture (especially these days), today’s appreciation of art and general mindfulness, empathy?
The general trend is towards collectivism controlled from above. Technocratic traits have also come to the extreme through 2020 and will continue, which I find rather disappointing, looking at personal development and personal responsibility of the members of society. There are areas in which it makes sense to join forces, but wherever there are monopolized nodes, susceptibility to corruption through outside interests is always a problem (best example: global politics at the moment). Socially, I would consider myself a pessimistic optimist. Even if many are immature and let themselves be steered and manipulated by others (governments, big data, big pharma, mass media and pseudo-fact-checkers), there is also an ever-growing movement, global, which is in contrary dedicated to the origin, to spirituality, mindfulness, connection and to questioning prevailing paradigms.
Certain enemy images have been established by the state and media and, interestingly enough, this also includes the esoteric aka “nutcase” (of course “extreme rightwing esoterics”, everyone opposing this totalitarian tendency at the moment is labeled a Nazi, it’s laughable). My explanation for this is that these people are also a thorn in the eye of the classical hierarchies. Because they are increasingly detaching themselves and shaping their own lives. The supreme religion in the West today is apparently state belief and physicalism. Those who oppose this are often ridiculed and labeled evil and bat shit crazy. This crap is like the witch hunts.. you’d think people have evolved since then.. but no.
A short note on materialism and physicalism: It is obvious that these dogmas hinder us in our development – especially crippling for people who turn to mysticism. Why should we accept these when all they do is crushing our reality and leave no room for magic? Do we want that…?
Apprecition of art in general is a difficult subject. Today’s oversupply is sure to dull the senses. To be honest, I can hardly give an answer to the general public. My formative personal experience was when I went to fantasy and comic conventions in 2018 and 2019 and stood there in person, showed and sold people my artwork, had warm chats and found new friends. To see how people react with curiosity and fascination when discovering me in the artist alleys (as an unexpected find) was a joy. That(!) was very fulfilling! Compared to this, likes on social media are simply abstract and worthless.
All images and photos are property of Aerozopher if not marked otherwise.
Inkludiert ist außerdem ein exklusives Gemälde und Text zum Thema #reenchantment, die Wiederverzauberung der Welt.
Grab one of the last compendium zines left in my stock. Other artists did also sell these, but their stock is already empty!