A collection of ConjureMan Ali's thoughts about magic, the occult, and spirituality.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Saint Cyprian of Antioch

Ever since the publication of my book Saint Cyprian: Saint of Necromancers by Hadean Press there has been a resurgence of new interest in this wonderful saint. As his name spreads, more and more people are showing an interest in Saint Cyprian and he's quickly reaching a wider audience. Many will find it quite beneficial to develop a relationship with him. That said, he's not a saint for everyone. He tends to draw those people who straddle the boundaries between the infernal arts and and the celestial and his devotees tend to work a blend of spirit-centered folk magic. But while there are many articles and pieces that talk about Saint Cyprian as the unofficial patron saint of sorcerers, magicians, root doctors etc and there are plenty written about how to work all sorts of magic with him, there is a side of him that is rarely talked about and that is his spiritual function as the repository of ancestral wisdom and potency, or the bridge to the ancestral seas.

In the legend of Saint Cyprian, he is reputed to have converted to Christianity after his failure to procure the love of Justina via magical means and he goes on to become the bishop of Antioch. Now, some maintain that he did not convert, but made a pragmatic decision which would allow him to continue working his sorcery under the very nose of the Church. Regardless of the reasons, what is important is that he becomes the figure of the sorcerer who finds his home in the Church and who wields powers drawn from both worlds. As the unofficial saint of sorcerers, he straddles the boundaries between the diabolical and the holy, the sorcerous and the religious, and in this we find something quite unique about Saint Cyprian. He is the force that carries forward the ancestral powers through transformation. Following his legend, Saint Cyprian is a Hellenic sorcerer versed in the arts of the sorcery of his age, but he's also a Catholic saint. In this we see his ability of transforming from sorcerous ancestry into the ancestors of the Roman Catholic Church itself. He is then the retention of the ancestral teachings even as it is transformed under its new robe, that of Christianity.

Turning our eyes away from legend and into the annals of history we can trace how he fulfills the same function throughout the passing of time. After his death and the spread of various books attributed to him, Saint Cyprian becomes the ultimate black magician in the Iberian world. Here he retains his older Hellenic roots as once more he moves forward and transforms into the figure of witchcraft and sorcery found in the Iberian world. With the colonization of Latin America, he rises to prominence as the preeminent Saint of curanderas and brujas alike. Here he represents the witchcraft of Spain as it finds its new home in its colonies in Latin America. He becomes a Latin American saint, but still retains his roots to Spain.

In Brazil he does the same thing, as he rises to prominence as a Brazilian saint, but he brings with him the memory of Portuguese witchcraft, especially through the various books attributed to him. However, in addition to his role as the preserver and retainer of ancestral memory from Europe, he also becomes the stand in for African ancestral memory in the workings of Macumba. São Cipriano features prominently in the development of Umbanda and Quimbanda from the older Macumba. We find that he is delegated to the head of the African, or what was later the Line of Souls (Linha das Almas). Through this and his later association with the Preto Velhos (African ancestral spirits), São Cipriano goes from being a saint, to the preserver of African ancestry in the new land of Brazil. Indeed, this can still be seen through his connection to various Exu like Exu Meia Noite, who is either his teacher or is his Exu form. Exu Meia Noite in turn has a deep connection to other Exu who represent the ancestral African wisdom as it is retained and transformed in the new world like Exu Gerere, Exu Capa Preta, Exu Kaminaloa, Exu Ganga, Exu Curador, and others. Further exploration of the development and transformation can be found in Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold's Saint Cyprian and the Sorcerous Transmutation.

It is in this unique ability of Saint Cyprian to transform while still retaining his roots that one of his misterios or secretos is revealed. For in being the Saint of Necromancers he is holds a unique position as psychopomp and intermediary to our own ancestors. There are a variety of secret workings of Saint Cyprian specifically for the raising of the dead, or the communing of the dead through specially prepared skulls, bones, etc. However, one thing that everyone has access too, is calling upon him to reconnect you to your ancestors.

In today's modern society, many ancestral lines are broken and much of the ancestral wisdom of the past has sunk into the depths of the ancestral sea. This is not surprising given that just a brief examination of history reveals conversions, colonization, imperialism, and so much more that shattered the ties of whole nations and cultures. However, through Saint Cyprian a unique connection to the ancestors can be formed and through that connection any ancestral spiritual practice that may have been lost can be recovered. This is particularly useful if you suspect that your ancestors may have had folk practices or spiritual beliefs that have faded away with the passage of time.

What you'll need to accomplish this is, the name of the ancestor if you know it, if not work with a general descriptor and the following:

Cup of water
Glass of red wine
Siete Machos perfume
9 white candles
Charcoal and brazier
3 chords (white, red, black)
Saint Cyprian Oil (recipe can be found in my book, or you can purchase via Lucky Mojo or Wolf and Goat)

Set up your Saint Cyprian altar with your statue or image of Saint Cyprian in the back and center, the candle to the front and left and the glass of wine to the front and right. This should form a triangle with the image at the top angle.

To the left of this set up your incense brazier or censor and in the center of the triangle place the cup of water. Underneath you may place the name of your ancestor who you are calling or simple a descriptor like "My ancestors." Light your candle and charcoal for the incense and sprinkle Frankincense and Myrrh as an offering. Spend a few moments letting the smoke build and then pray:
"San Cipriano, San Ciprano, San Cipriano,
You whose cloak retains all shades,
To whom demons, devils, and death is obedient;
I call you, I beseech you, come and bring your light.
With your light you break curses and witchcraft,
With your light you illuminate the dark,
Tonight I ask you to illuminate the depths of the seas,
Tonight I ask that you bring from the dark my ancestors.
They have slumbered and been forgotten, but I remember them.
My family must be made whole, our prayers must be made whole. 
San Cipriano, San Ciprano, San Cipriano
Tonight I need your light. Come quickly. 
Amen. "
Recite 3 "Our Fathers"

Tell him from your heart that you offer the candle, incense, and wine to him. Now, take up the three chords one by one and say:

"This white chord represents my unbroken ancestral line. This red chord represents their living blood, me. This black chord represents Saint Cyprian, Saint of the Dark." 

Knot them together at one end and with intense focus and praying from your heart starting to braid them. Once you are done, put three drops of Siete Machos perfume into the water and offer it to your ancestors. Take a pinch of Rosemary and Acacia and put on the charcoal with the resins and hold the chords over the smoke. Let the candle burn down. 

Repeat over the next nights until the ninth night. Each day offer a candle, incense,  fresh water, fresh wine and say the prayers as you make another knot in the chords and then hold it over the incense which you've added Rosemary and Acacia too. By the time you are done you should have nine knots in the chord. 

On the last day and with the last knot you should tie a sprig of Rosemary and Acacia into the chords. Hold this over the smoke, then anoint it with wine, water, and Saint Cyprian Oil and wrap it around the image of the saint. Then anoint your head with wine, water, and oil. Take a sip of the water (before you add the Siete Machos) and say, "The line is made whole once more, their blood flows through mine, their ancestral wisdom flows through me like water, we are whole once more." 

Leave the water by your bedside, light another candle and ask your ancestors to come to you and reveal the ways of your ancestry, the powers, the mysteries, and magics that is your birthright. 


M.G. said...

Very interesting piece and I will have to try out the ritual you recommended! One question for you: I have heard contradictory information about St. Cyprian's relationship with Santissima Muerte, with some sources claiming one should never keep altars to the two of them in the same room and others saying that they work well together and their altars can be kept close. What are your thoughts?

ConjureMan Ali said...

The tension between Santisima Muerte and Saint Cyprian is something you hear quite a bit with varying degrees of details.

I personally have not sensed any issue with them, but I do keep them on separate altars because that was how I was taught. I have not heard about them having to be in separate rooms, just different altars. And in traditional work with Santisima Muerte you *always* work with either Saint Cyprian or Saint Michael to form an amaparo before working with her.