By Frater S.C.F.V.
Introduction – Enter Saint Cyprian
2018 has been, without exaggeration, the most magical year in my life thus far. Not only is our G.D. Order happily thriving, but I have also been very grateful to have been able to go further into the Art of traditional Solomonic magic and more deeply into rigorous esoteric scholarship than I have ever gone before. Perhaps the most unpredictable shift of all to unfold for me in the course of the Earth’s current circumambulation around the Sun, however, has been the commencement of my serious working relationship with Saint Cyprian of Antioch.
This surprising turn of events is rendered all the more shocking by the fact that in the past 30 years, I had never before seen the appeal of working with Saints in the classically Catholic manner, not even at the height of my faith in Catholicism itself. To me, the practice smacked dangerously of violations of the First and Second Commandments from Exodus 20:2-17 to “have no gods but God” and not worship any “graven images.” Moreover, later on, whilst studying Buddhism and Hinduism, I preferred to focus on Sutras than to contemplate the invocation of yogic Rishis and Buddhas. Similarly, while practicing Islam and working the Qabalah, I was too reluctant to risk potential shirk or idolatry to even contemplate the idea of Saint work or veneration. Indeed, throughout all of this time, I had been committed to working with Divine as directly as possible and the notion of working with Saints seemed like an unnecessary addition of a redundant intermediary.
My strongly Saint-aversive history only makes the recent transformation of my life into an adventure set ablaze with a zealous and heartful passion for full-fledged Saint work all the more astonishing. After three long decades of avoidance of the practice as well as the theory behind it, I have found myself inexplicably called to work with Saint Cyprian of Antioch, the hieromartyr of the Greek Orthodox Church who was reputed to have departed from his mastery of the Ancient Mysteries and ceremonial and necromantic magic to embrace a heartfelt Christian faith out of love for his fellow martyr, the pious St. Justina, and respect for the power of the Cross to overcome all of his most formidable demonic Operations (Bailey, 2017).
As the tides of history have shown, with his one foot in the Pagan Mysteries, ceremonial magic, and necromancy and his other foot planted squarely in Christian Orthodoxy, Saint Cyprian of Antioch would come to inspire a paradoxical blend of generations of pious Christians and practical Magicians alike. Indeed, the 4th century C.E. saw the appearance of three principal texts detailing the legend of Cyprian composed by three different authors, namely, The Conversion of Saint Cyprian, The Confession of Saint Cyprian, and The Martyrdom of Saint Cyprian, which collectively came to be known The Acts of Saint Cyprian of Antioch (Bailey, 2017). The legends contained therein, via their cross-continental transmission through very disparate cultural and geographic milieus, would later spark raging fires of magical creativity and devotional passion. The result was a completely distinct vein of grimoiric literature that can be distinguished from the parallel and sometimes inter-influencing streams of the Solomonic and Faustian grimoires (Leitão, 2014; Stratton-Kent, 2014).
After departing from the soil of Antioch, the legend and magico-religious influence of Saint Cyprian traveled to Scandinavia, where they inspired the magical “blackbooks” attributed to him; to the Iberian peninsula, where they sparked Portuguese and Spanish “Cyprianic” grimoires in his name; to Haiti, where they shaped the work of select Vodoun Houngans and Mambos; and finally, to North and South America, where they came to influence a staggering array of Brujos, Quimbanderos, Hoodoo practitioners, Rootworkers, Conjure Doctors, Santeros, and Paleros and Tatas (Ali, 2013; de Mattos Friswold, 2013; Leitão, 2014; Stratton-Kent, 2014; Maggi, 2016). As Jake Stratton-Kent is wont to point out with his characteristic warm and mischievous fondness, Saint Cyprian’s global magical legacy arguably overshadows that of even the great King Solomon himself, the pseudonymous inspiration of the tremendously influential tradition of Solomonic grimoires (Leitch, 2009; Stratton-Kent, 2014).
Gateways through Dreams and Intuition: My Personal Call to the Mysterious Saint of Magicians
My journey with Saint Cyprian of Antioch was at first astounding only in its utterly uneventful blandness. I had encountered his name in passing in the works of Jake Stratton-Kent, Jason Miller, Dr. Al Cummins, and a few other authors whom I greatly enjoy and respect, but I did not at first feel any inspiration to pursue the Cyprianic Arcana or the intriguing historical trajectories of Cypriana and soon returned to my well-traveled journeys with the Golden Dawn and Solomonic systems.
Thankfully, however, this odd tale does not come to an anticlimactic culmination there. To reach the odd zenith of this particular foray into the the mysterious and inexplicable, we must fast-forward to a few months ago, when I abruptly found myself stricken by a deep yearning to swan-dive into the Cyprianic mythos. Seemingly out of nowhere, an obsession with the mysterious Sorceror-turned-Saint exploded within me like a blazing fire.
Before I knew it, texts about Cyprian were nearly all I was reading. At a head-spinning and frenetic pace, I read through the three Acts of Saint Cyprian of Antioch texts, Jake’s two volumes of The Testament of Saint Cyprian the Mage, Jason Miller’s Cyprianic posts, Dr. Al’s articles, works by Humberto Maggi and José Leitão, Alexander Eth and Gordon White’s Cyprian-related podcast episodes, and every single article on Cyprian ever posted in Aaron Leitch’s Solomonic group, of which I am a Moderator, as well as in the history of Jake’s Attendants of Adrasteia. Every time I heard the name “Cyprian,” I felt a mystifying flood of devotional love and awe fill my heart in a totally unprecedented way that was utterly incomparable to any affective response I had ever had towards any other Saint, Angel, or Spirit. The change was so radical and so rapid that I was absolutely astonished by this rapid turn of events. How had I, the most Saint-averse person I knew, suddenly become so enraptured by all things Cyprianic?
At first, I skeptically chalked the transformation up to the dawning of mere intellectual curiosity. After all, the origins of passionate preoccupations were as mysterious to the Ancients as they are to our contemporaries. But then, truly magical events began to unfold, events that would vigorously shake the foundations of my casually blasé skepticism.
A Push from a Dream: Or How Two Lives Collided from a Continent Away
The truly strange events began to unfold when a Facebook friend named Joanne, with whom I had never before had a one-on-one conversation or met in person–as she lives on the opposite side of the continent from me–suddenly appeared to me in a dream.
In this brief, but extremely vivid dream, she did not speak, but instead stood with a mysterious smile, silently gesturing for me to join her, mysteriously beckoning, but to what, I did not know. I awoke feeling utterly puzzled by the enigmatic dream. Why Joanne? And what was her oneiric appearance drawing me towards?
As my interest in Cyprian continued to build, I asked the Saint that if he wished for me to work with him, then he should kindly guide me in acquiring items to build him an Altar for our work. Within a single week, an Altar table was put out by the garbage on the very same street on which I lived, where I would easily find it. With gratitude to Cyprian, I carried the table home and washed, exorcised, and consecrated it according to Solomonic methods. Within this same short period of time, I also ordered a Statue of the Saint and inexpensively obtained all of the items I would require for his Altar. I thanked him for his help and purchased 42 offering candles to gradually give to him over the course of our work together out of gratitude for his help, wisdom, initiatory empowerment, and instruction.
Throughout this process, I spoke regularly with my spiritual brother Chijioke, in Nigeria, who kindly shared various resources on Cyprian with me to help me along on my peculiar new Path. After I told him about purchasing the supplies for Cyprian’s Altar, Chijioke told me that a friend of his had started working with Cyprian a month beforehand and that Cyprian had “guided the hands of my friend to sculpt an image of him. He spoke with her for over an hour. He insisted that she must make a Halo over the head of the statue. Cyprian even knocked down a very securely-placed statue, after she told him “I’m not even convinced you are a Saint!” much to her startled surprise!”
I was fascinated by the story and asked if the friend he was talking about was the same one he had told me about previously, but he said:
“No, this is another friend, Joanne.”
My jaw dropped.
I asked for her last name and much to my surprise, Chijioke confirmed that it was indeed the same Joanne that had appeared in my enigmatic dream, the same Joanne that lived on the other side of Canada from me, both of us an ocean away from Chijioke’s home in Nigeria, Africa…
As the weight of this revelation began to truly sink in, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and chills ran through my body.
Oh Cyprian, I thought, and it occurred to me that I could almost see him smile.
Chijioke and I completely blown away by the fact that Joanne and I had independently started working with Cyprian without either of us knowing it only to be fortuitously brought together by an enigmatic dream in which she had silently beckoned me to join her.
Reflecting on this point, I suddenly came to understand the hitherto veiled meaning of my bizarre and cryptic dream — the astral image of Joanne had evidently been inviting me to join her in working with Cyprian and sharing our experiences with one another. Or perhaps, I wondered, the apparent “Joanne” might have really been the inscrutable Spirit himself appearing to me in her form in the dream in order to bring us into conversation for our mutual growth and edification. As Gordon White once pointed out, “Cyprian’s plan isn’t clear, but he definitely has one.”
Shortly thereafter, I sent Joanne the first message I had ever sent her and told her about this impenetrably curious turn of events. As I unraveled the events of the narrative thus far, she was as floored as I was since she had had no idea that I had been working with Cyprian at all, as I had not publicly shared this fact, nor had I privately shared it with anyone but Chijioke. And yet, the more we talked, the more we discovered we had a shocking number of things in common, not only in terms of our mutual love for Runes and Druidic lore, but also in the way our twin journeys with Cyprian unfolded.
Joanne’s own journey had begun enigmatically similarly to my own. As she explained, “He came on very strong right from the beginning: I found myself obsessively thinking and learning about him and that hasn’t stopped.” How similar that was to my own shockingly passionate and obsessive immersion in Cypriana! She also explained that “apart from the Orishas, Saint Cyprian is by far the most powerful Spirit that I have ever worked with.”
My own experience was conspicuously convergent with Joanne’s. It is clear to both of us that the Spirit that answers to “Saint Cyprian of Antioch,” whoever he is, has a remarkably distinct energy that is unlike any other Spirit we have ever encountered, and that he is a legitimately formidable force to reckon with. Indeed, he remains as enigmatic and mysterious to Joanne as to me. “I have no idea who Cyprian truly is,” Joanne admitted to me in one of our resulting conversations, “but he has held nothing back in letting us know what he is capable of. He has never demanded ‘worship’ from me, but I feel that he is a very old and powerful Spirit form. He’s always with me now but I still retain a sort of spiritual sovereignty: I can choose to ignore him but most often do not.” My sense of Cyprian was precisely the same.
Thereafter, Joanne went on to explain that when she was working on her Cyprianic sculpture, even though she had never sculpted before, “for at least 2 months prior to the night I began, I was receiving visual thought forms of how to proceed with the sculpting. When I would be moved to pick up certain supplies, I would, and often without fully understanding why. And I always got good deals!” How similar her experience with procuring the necessary materials for work with Cyprian was to my own experience of sourcing and acquiring the items for Cyprian’s Altar!
“After initially receiving some help in the process from a Jinn I later came to believe was a subservient of Cyprian, Cyprian himself became my Muse and guide to lend a sense of proportion to the sculpture…,” Joanne told me. “I would ask him questions and would receive intuitive guidance. All I had to do was listen and follow. Once the basic ‘structure’ of the face was done I became aware of Cyprian’s presence. Whenever I would hit a roadblock, I would ask him “what next?”… Then I would somehow intuitively just start modelling the clay! I worked in trance induced by Shamanic drumming nonstop from Friday night until Saturday morning around 1:30 am… Thereafter, Cyprian was very clear that he wanted me to thank both the Jinn and himself appropriately. I poured Cyprian a glass of wine and offered my homemade incense as demonstrations of thanks.”
The resulting statue was stunning in its piercing power and enigmatic radiance, and I share it here with Joanne’s kind permission:
If I am being completely honest, however, I was not without my reservations about working with Cyprian, and I candidly shared these with both Joanne and Chijioke alike. For one thing, I was disturbed by the lack of archaeological evidence to support some aspects of St. Cyprian’s legendary story–the detailed records of the lists of Bishops of Antioch from the period conclusively show, as Dr. Ryan Bailey (2017) reveals, that “no Bishop of Antioch ever bore the name of Cyprian” (p. 52). It was, of course, still possible that a great magician had become a priest of Antioch without ever being consecrated Bishop and that the Bishop detail was later interpolated into Cyprian’s hagiography to increase his Orthodox prestige at a later date. Joanne had found an alternative and very elegant solution to the problem of Cyprianic historicity as an obstacle to practical work with the legendary Magus-cum-Sanctus— she rendered it irrelevant. In her insightful words,
“To my mind, whether “Cyprian” ever really existed [in the way he is legendarily alleged to have done so] is pretty much irrelevant. To me, he is an emanation of Spirit that has chosen to enter my conscious awareness at this time in my Spiritual quest for enlightenment and gnosis. I trust that this is no accident and that the lessons learned will serve the greater Good.”
With these wise words, Joanne deftly and graciously laid my final reservations to rest. After all, if I have learned anything on the Way of the Mysteries, it’s that “Adam,” “Joanne,” and “Cyprian” are all simply characters in Brahman’s dreaming within the play of consciousness. All of these seeming individuals are ultimately appearances of the Divine to itself, which it uses to realize itself (gnosis), to awaken to the realization of its fundamental unity (yoga); indeed, the deepest teachings of Advaita Vedanta, the Kabbalah, and Dzogchen Buddhism fundamentally converge on the idea that the appearance of diversity and multiplicity is only relative and apparent, while nothing is separate in the final analysis.
In this grand process of cosmic awakening, we, the Divine, appear as distinct individuals who have roles to serve in “walking each other Home,” to quote Ram Dass. In this process, we can speak of distinctive functions being played by the apparently distinct Adam, Joanne, and Cyprian to “serve the greater Good,” as Joanne puts it, even though ultimately, Brahman, Plotinus’s One, the Ein of the Qabalah is at once the served, the serving, and the servant.
To quote the great sage Nisargadatta Maharaj (1973):
Questioner: A message in print may be paper and ink only. It is the text that matters. By analysing the world into elements and qualities we miss the most important – its meaning. Your reduction of everything to dream disregards the difference between the dream of an insect and the dream of a poet. All is dream, granted. But not all are equal.
Nisargadatta: The dreams are not equal, but the dreamer is one. I am the insect. I am the poet – in dream. But in reality I am neither. As the Absolute, I am beyond all dreams. I am the Light in which all dreams appear and disappear. I am both inside and outside the dream. Just as a man having headache knows the ache and also knows that he is not the ache, so do I know the dream, myself dreaming and myself not dreaming – all at the same time. I am what I am before, during and after the dream. But what I see in the dream, l am not.
Questioner: Even as a dream you are a most unusual dream.
Nisargadatta: I am a dream that can wake you up. You will have the proof of it in your very waking up.
Within this great mystical context, I came to suspect that one reason that Cyprian had brought the Joanne and the Adam ‘dream characters’ together, to borrow a phrase from Advaita Vedanta, was to enable me in particular to move beyond an imbalanced preoccupation with clinging to academic issues of strict historicity, which would otherwise likely proven a sticking point to my rigorously scholastic and fact-driven mind. Indeed, for Cyprian, as for Joanne, such intellectual debates are besides the point when there is concrete practical work to be done. It was a lesson that was at once humbling and helpful.
Guidance from the Sorceror Saint: How I Mysteriously Came to Acquire His Oil
The second unusual story that I will share in this brief compendia of strange but true Cyprianic tales is an anecdote that lucidly illustrates one way that Cyprian as a “teaching and guiding Spirit” can operate through intuitive nudges and gut feelings. This story took place on the very day of this writing. Early this morning, I was on a bus heading to the agency at which I am doing my clinical social work training when I was shockingly informed by my Supervisor that a gas leak had occurred in our building and the power was out on the entire block. The surrounding streets were in a state of chaotic pandemonium after the police barricaded the street and traffic was being rerouted. The space was sonically awash with horns honking, people getting out of cars, police sirens and whistles blaring, confused and worried phone calls sounding through cell phones held by trembling hands. Because we could not access the files of any of our clients as they were all on the computers which we lacked the electricity to turn on, I was told not to come in to work.
As a result of this startling plot twist in my habitual trajectory to work, I found myself an hour and twenty minutes away from my home with a free day ahead of me. At that moment, I felt an intuitive to do something I had never done before — instead of taking a series of buses and metros to rapidly travel to my university to do my weekly work for that institution, I opted to take a 3-hour peripatetic stroll through three different boroughs of the city to circuitously arrive there instead.
After an hour of walking, I again felt yet another very strong intuitive nudge or “pull.” It later occurred to me that Cyprian often operates through a chain or series of intuitive nudges of this type. This time, however, the cryptic sense was that I needed to walk down a road that was completely perpendicular to the path I would need to take to get to the university, completely out of the way and in a totally different direction. Why, I did not know. All I knew is that doing so felt resonantly “right.” However, I had been studying Cyprian’s history and working with him long enough to know that when such strong intuitive nudges come, it can be worthwhile to follow them and see where they lead.
Thus, I found myself walking down a street on which I had never before laid foot, in a part of the city I had never previously explored. After ten minutes of walking, I was stunned by what I suddenly came upon: an occult store, and one I had never visited or even heard of before…
Intrigued, I looked into the shop window and was swiftly taken aback by the synchronistic sighting of glittering set of purple amethyst geodes. This detail surprised me because I had received yet another Cyprianic nudge towards making an amethyst rosary for use in my work with him, such as my planned upcoming novena leading up to his September Feast Day. Purple, indeed, seems to be his favourite colour, with its rich royal and ecclesiastical implications, as Conjureman Ali (2013) has explained, as well as the colour of the candles and Altar cloth I had purchased for him. Therefore, I made my way into the store to see what curios it might have on offer.
Once inside, I greeted the owners, who were kind and welcoming. Again, I felt a persistent gut feeling or intuitive nudge, this time, to gravitate towards the store’s selection of Oils. Never having been here before, it took me a moment of surveying the different sections of the store before I found the Oils arrayed in a shelving unit behind the counter.
A moment after perusing the Oils, my jaw dropped yet again — have you noticed that this tends to be a rather striking theme in work with Saint Cyprian? There it was, the very item I had been futilely searching in every other esoteric store in Montreal to find: San Cipriano Oil – the Oil of St. Cyprian of Antioch.
Furthermore, I was delighted to find that the Oil was very affordable and bought the only two vials of Cipriano Oil that the shop had in its inventory. Amused by the day’s surprising series of events–which had also included being intuitively nudged into a thrift store in which I found a 1,500.00$ blazer in my size, which I purchased for 10$–I shared with one of the shop’s Owners the story of how I had begun to work with Cyprian and had been serendipitously led to discover her store and buy the Oil by a series of strangely fortunate intuitive nudges that I can only attribute to the mysterious Saint.
She was awed by the story–the usual response to Cyprianic doings–and before I left, she took me aside and told me:
“You know, it’s no coincidence that you happened to come here today. We almost never have this Oil in stock.”
Once again, as through a glass darkly, I could almost see Saint Cyprian smile.
Bailey, R. (2017). The Acts of Saint Cyprian of Antioch: Critical Editions, Translations, and Commentary. Doctoral Thesis. Montreal: McGill University Library.
de Mattos Friswold, N. (2013). Saint Cyprian and the Sorcerous Transmutation. Brighton: Hadean Press.
Conjureman Ali. (2013). Saint Cyprian: Saint of Necromancers. London: Hadean Press.
Leitão, José (2014). The Book of St. Cyprian – The Sorcerer’s Treasure. London: Hadean press
Leitch, A. (2009). Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires: The Classical Texts of Magick Decyphered. Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications.
Maharaj, N. (1973). I Am That. Trans. Maurice Freedman. New Delhi: Chetana Publications.
Maggi, H. (2016). The Book of Saint Cyprian. Timmonsville: Nephilim Press.
Stratton-Kent, J. (2014). The Testament of Saint Cyprian the Mage: Volumes 1 and 2. Brighton: Scarlet Imprint.