Friday, September 27, 2013

St. Cyprian Novena - Et Prudentia Perfecit

I did my final set of prayers to St. Cyprian last night. The dogs lay like two Anubus statues on either side of me as I intoned my nine Our Father in French. (I am nailing those btw). The atmosphere again shifted, the light dimming and brightening. The dogs did not move nor make a sound. The hair down their backs stood up - quite a feat for a poodle, but they remained silent and alert.

Today feels different. I am focused, calm, centered. I am grateful.  The coming week will be a stress maker for certain. But I feel in control for a change. I suppose too much information can be bad, but this time, I am glad of it. I am preparing for battle - and I will be victorious.

I chose this image to the left, because its one of the few that portrays Cyprian as a young, black African man. I am tired of the Catholic Church white washing saints. Cyprian was from North Africa. He was an African man, dark of skin and black of hair. I love the face and the poise of this image.  Those dark beautiful eyes are powerful, engaging, capable of calling up the Devil and directing him. This is a Cyprian of power, focus and control. Too many images portray Cyprian as a tired old white haired man. Where's the power there?  This image I dig. I choose to make this the image of Cyprian that I can relate to. Ayibobo.

And this afternoon, I will make my offerings of figs and fig wine to Cyprian. As a Mediterranean man, I am sure he will delight in the choice. I will place his offering on the altar of our temple, and keep it lit for all of next week. I received a revelation, but it is for me. I do have something for you though. And that is -- do the Work people.

I want to encourage folks to do novenas to their favorite spirits. It doesn't need to be a Catholic saint. It can be a Lwa, an Egyptian god or a Goetic daemon. The novena is meant to be a method of contacting the energy you want to engage. And it works. Why? Because there is an egregore of doing this work that pulses when you tap into it. Many people participate in Novenas up to this moment. So why not use that energy as a method of contacting the stream you wish to learn from or about.

A friend is currently do a 30 day challenge but it's a novena none the less. And he's getting amazing results. Another acquaintance has done the work and changed his life in the doing. Lost weight, found happiness, gotten religion (sort to say) and joined a fraternal lodge. It's all the result of Doing The Work.

You don't need to dress it up fancy. You may even find it a refreshing change to have a simple means of talking to spirit. You can always make more so if you feel the need. But in this world today, with the hustle and bustle of life, a prayer novena is a tried and true method for making it work.

See y'all round the houmfort.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Day Five - Novena to St. Cyprian

A badji dedicated to St. Cyprian
As is expected of a two headed conjure man, Cyprian was no saint prior to his conversion. Although there is little scholarship to validate the claims of heresy, there is enough antidotal evidence to suggest that the powers of good and evil attested to Cyprian were real enough. This was a man who choose to walk on the dark side of life. Beside the books that are said to have been written by him, we have a few other pieces of evidence that might shed some light on who Cyprian was. 

Pontius the Deacon was Cyprian's Christian biographer, and gives us the usual pious story of Cyprian and Justina being persecuted for trying to get the new religion up and running in Carthage, itself a suburb of Tunisia in North Africa. I find the location of interest.

Carthage in ancient times was a large and busy port of call for many people; with a large maritime industry, a major stop for the Roman army and the jumping off point to Persia, Carthage saw its fair share of shady characters, mercenary soldiers and merchants of every kind and ilk. In any busy port of call, one will also find  wonder workers, mages and sorcerers. These folks are not part of the population in Carthage; they are seekers of wisdom, both of science and religion. They are not unlike ourselves; they travel on ships for work exchange, studying what they can where ever they land. They are us, with no Internet. In that era and place, these seekers travel extensively to search out new experiences and develop new ideologies by which they could ply their trade (hey, even a necromancers got to eat...) With all the coming and going of ships, Carthage would have been a teeming port of peoples, items, religions, philosophies and yes, magic. It would have been a veritable feast of magical ideas, incantations and smoking braziers to choose from. And its into this roiling pot of magic, alchemy and esotericism, we find Cyprian.

Cyprian is said to have been born into a wealthy pagan family, something that would have already placed him high up in the culture, particularly with regard to the Roman ideal of family and service at the time. Rome didn't care who you worshiped; they just wanted you to pay your taxes AND claim Caesar as your god. But there was a lot of trouble in Carthage about that very point, because all the various peoples who came into port and stayed for a time were not interested in claiming Caesar as god, nor did they care to pay any taxes. So there was always upheaval, infighting and of course, strange doings in the capitol.  Enter Cyprian, a bored, privileged youth looking for something to do on Saturday night beside light incense before his family's idol or Caesar's bust. In today's vernacular,  we would say he was a player. Uninterested in court life, and seeking adventure, it's possible he would begin to dabble in the magical realms available to him at the docks and warehouses, learning from a vast array of sorcerers, conjurers and necromancers.

Remember, nothing happens in a vacuum. Diocletian is busy looking to kill anyone who won 't bend to his plan of universal rule. The Roman army is pretty much in command of everyone's lives, and none so much as in Carthage, a port of call for the entire  Mediterranean world. And life is anything but fun in Carthage. A ripe time for an ambitious young man to make a name for himself, as well as a few coins. Enter Cyprian the Mage, necromancer and demonologist. Want the army out of your backyard? Cyprian can call up a demon army to scare off the Legions!  Bothered by the Praetorian guard? Let Cyprian do the job! Too tired to milk the cow? A milkmaid demonic, set in motion by Cyprian can ease your work load.

I would also venture a guess that Cyprian is possibly modeled upon Apuleius, the ancient mage of Carthage and a model for many magicians in that time frame. There are many similarities between them. Both were magical workers and studied extensively across the Mediterranean world. Both chased a female lover - Apuleius got his. And both were accused in court of various nefarious deeds. There are lots of other similarities, but that's not the real point of this blog. For further reading on this ancient wonder worker, try this site: Ancient Carthage.

The rest is simply conjecture on my part - I have no real scholarship to back up any of the above. But in ports throughout the ancient world, it was a common scene to find a sorcerer plying his trade in magical rings (that he could consecrate for a purpose), future predictions (that would give him more reason to take your money) and speaking to the dead -- all for a price, of course. Astrologers and magicians certainly populated the court of Elizabeth I in England. Rudolf II of Hungary had his own cadre of magicians and necromancers to call on from time to time. I would make an educated guess that much the same occurred in Carthage. We know from written history that people traveled throughout the Mediterranean basin, stopping here and there to learn things, trade things and even work a little to pay for the next leg of the trip. So I would put forth the idea of Cyprian taking advantage of this wonderful collection of characters, and through his lifetime learning (he had time and money to do so) to became an expert in magic, particularly of demons. 

Interior of the St. Cyprian badji
I did my own evocation again last night. Five candles now burn on Cyprian's altar. I evoked him with my call, and then went into the Pater Noster.  Just as I began, Bodhisattva began howling outside, at the window of the altar room. I kept going, but as I did so, the howling increased in volume and pitch. Bodhi was running from side to side of the house (our altar room has two windows, one on the south side and one on the east side). Finally, the howling stopped and the frisson of energy glided down my arms and retreated, and I stepped quietly back out.  Later, Don said Bodhi was just sniffing, then looked up at the window of the altar room, and began to frantically bark, charging at the side of the house. He seemed to have stopped just as suddenly. Obviously, Cyprian's presence had set him off.

I also consecrated a beautiful badji or spirit shrine that I built for him to reside in. I used his colors (gold and purple) and I filled it with his image, gold and violet roses,  sigils for his Goetic friends and other occult goodies that would make him feel very much at home.

But in case some of Cyprian's old demonic buddies have followed him, I offer this prayer of protection. Make a sign of the cross at the end of each line. Light a purple or yellow candle as you do, and keep the prayer beneath the candle. Allow the candle to burn down completely. Then toss the prayer and the candle stub into a living body of water. Don't look back.

Invocation Prayer: [Make the sign of the cross at each "+"]
Saint Cyprian of Antioch, I beseech you +
that those who are bound by maladictions, +
sorcery, +
and possessed of evil, +
that you unbind them, +
that you unensorcel them, +
so that the rabid wolf will not have dominion over them. +
Saint Cyprian, I pray, preserve me from all evil intents, +
evil arts, +
and evil deeds; +
guard my vision and my thoughts; +
may those who attempt against my life, be filled of confusion +
may my enemies be confused and driven away, +
keep me triumphant over them eternally. +
Amen. +

Then recite nine Our Fathers, allowing yourself to be fully absorbed in the slow recitation and enter a trance state. Let the candle burn down, and allow the energy to settle into your system, to get the greatest effect of your work. As we approach our own magical event horizon, I find great comfort and energy in this work. I look forward to my evocation tonight.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Four Circles Fall Semester is registering Now!

Our Four Circles is now taking registration for the first class - Z'anset-Yo. This is the introductory class on the history of vodou, it's role in Haiti, it's theology and a short overview of the main Lwa. Your registration get syou 3 hours of proprietary video, 15 essays, three books, three CDs and membership in the Sosyete du Marche Yahoo group, where I and other members of thehouse engage in conversation, teachings and general discussions on anything and everything Vodou.

Class and materials is $150.00 payable through our website here: Four Circles. We just graduated the Spring semester, and as this one rolls out, I am working on the Winter Semester of Class Two - Serving the Lwa. More video, more essays and more interaction. So please do join us as we engage for another round of lively discussions, interesting questions and magical forays into the realm of the Ancestors.

Day Four - Novena to St. Cyprian

I have been doing my novena in the evenings, after tucking all the boys and one girl into their beds. It's set in our personal altar room - apart from the Vodou altars and in a special space that is consecrated to the Great Work. I am taking my time with this space. I still need to paint the walls, but that is a fall project after next week's events complete themselves. I love painting - ti's very meditative, so I am going to use the recuperative time to heal the boy and myself, metaphysically speaking.

But I did find a gorgeous round table that can be made taller - so it's a nice 40 inches high, with a shelf beneath for my things. I ironed out a deep violet satin cloth and set it with my best gold embroidered runner from India. Bought it years ago and finally have a use for it. I placed our three humogous golden globes in the triangle of the Arte and set them with blue candles. And I am lighting a new seven day candle each night for the Novena. I've placed nine gold coins as offerings on the surface and that's it. There is an incense burner off tothe side, but I am keeping the surface pristine.

The first three nights, nothing really happened. I evoked St. Cyprian, did the novena (three Our Fathers, two Hail Marys and one Apostles Creed), stood for a few minutes in meditative silence and then departed.

My St. Cyprian Offering table, prior to service.
Note the glow over the table
Last night was...uh...interesting. Lit the new candle like Mambo Shakmah taught us: Light it, say Legba open the door, and pinch out the flame. Light it again, repeat the Legba statement and again, pinch out the flame. Light it a third time, invoke Legba, and pinch out the flame. Now light with the intent of the novena - which in my case, is communion with St. Cyprian.

I set the new candle in place, evoked my prayer to Cyprian and then was doing my trois Pater Noster, when the room shifted dramatically. I thought I had a window open, but when I looked, the drapes were firmly shut. Back to my novena, I was on the second Salue Marie and the room shifted again. When I opened my eyes to look, a vague form was hovering in the triangle. I kept to my prayers, and went to the Credo, which I intended to do in Latin, but the French just took over (thank heavens for muscle memory or I'd been done in by the shift of power) and kept my eyes on the triangle. The form lifted over the table and then, slowly dissapated. Ayibobo.

As always, when I experience Divine presences, I was crying by the end. I sniffed my thanks, and backed out slowly. The candles continued to waver most of the night, lending a soft movement of light and shadow to the hallway. The dogs seemed content, and so I slipped into bed with all the family (husband, two standard poodles and a shih tzu on my head) and drifted off.

This morning, I woke to find both Uriel and Bodhisattva laying like two sphinx at the door, staring into the room across the hallway. Even an offer to go out did not dislodge them from their post. I got dressed, and when I rattled their leashes, they finally got up, but not without another look over their shoulders. Our house is haunted, so possibly it was the local spirits teasing, but it was an interesting coincidence.

I'll see how things go again tonight. I am sure St. Cyprian is getting lots of juice from all the sorcerers invoke Him. It will be interesting to see where this goes from here. Keep y'all posted.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Novena to St. Cypriano - Day Three

(sorry been a bit off lately - major surgery will do that to a person...we're fine, thanks all!)

I've been doing the Novena of St. Cyprian for ten years now. He's apparently gained some serious cred recently - especially with the sorceress crowd. I keep finding blog posts about him and folks doing his novena. Thought I'd share my own experience with you all for the nine days of his work.

A bit of History:
There are two St. Cyprians out there. The first (and slightly better documented) was Cyprian of Carthage. He is endorsed as the true Cyprian by the Catholic church.  Born in Carthage in north Africa in the early 3rd century, he worked throughout North Africa for most of his adult life and was martyred in his own villa in 258 AD. Beheaded, actually, with his own sword. In true Catholic idiocy, his body was buried, disinterred, reburied and moved - twice. Supposedly, it now rests in both France and Rome. His bones are also distributed across four cities and several churches. The poor man is in worse shape than Osiris - no wonder he continually resurrects - he just wants to be whole again.

The second (and more interesting one) is Cyprian of Antioch. He was a bishop, but also a renowned Pagan conjurer, sorcerer and magician who dealt in shadows and dark magics.  He seriously lusted after St. Justina, and sent demons to bring her to him. When she dispelled his demons by the sign of the cross, he converted on the spot to Christianity.  However, he retained his magical prowess and continued to use a powerful book of spells he had written. Hey, once a sorcerer, always a sorcerer. He and Justina (who was now his bestie) were beheaded together, after a few rounds of torture. This Cyprian is considered to be the patron saint of witches, conjurers, root doctors, magicians, sorcerers, occultists, demonologers, necromancers, spiritualists, and spiritual workers, both good and evil. Needless to say, he's a busy guy.

His biggest devotional gang is on the Iberian Peninsula. Here is a link to a wonderful site with lots of prayers in both English and Latin: Prayers to St. Cyprian.  Although they tend to be skewed toward his Jesuit manifestation, they work, trust me on that one.

There are many books attributed to St Cyprian. The most well known is the  El Libero Infernal. St Cyprian's books have the reputation for having been quoted in the trials of the Spanish Inquisition, though none have survived in trial papers - at least none that have been found. Demonology would gain quite the foothold in Spain. The French priest and writer Helinand of Froidmont observed that "one could seek liberal arts in Paris, the Law in Bologna, medicine in Salerno and demons in Toledo." Cyprian's books played well with the underworld and its denizens.

For a well written examination of Cyprian's magical books, check out Dan Harm's blog on the many books attributed to this great wonder worker - Cyprian's Magical Discourse

The Novena - Nine Days of Magic and Recourse
A novena is simply a set of prayers offered (or spoken) for a specific number of days. You can dress it up from there. Don't have a lot of time or space? Then just say the prayers at the same time each day and head off to your life. Have the time to devote to a larger working? Then spend it at your altar with proper accoutrement for the saint.

Cyprian's Feast Days begin on September 19th and finish on the 26th. That's because the 19th is the date observed by the magical world as the Feast of Cyprian of Antioch, while the Catholic's observe the 26th for Cyprian of Carthage. Smart mages do well to work a novena for the entire 9 days as a complete Feast of Cyprian, just to hedge their own bets in the underworld.

I dress our personal altar in gold and purple, the colors shown in the above chromo of Cyprian. I strew 9 gold dollars on the cloth as an offering, and light purple candles in his honor. I place my own magical books on the altar beginning with my father-in-law's Masonic bible, my liturgy of Vodou and my Egyptian Book of the Dead. I light frankincense and myrrh incense and then say the following prayer to Cyprian:

Glorious Martyr,Saint Cyprian of Antioch,
who by Divine Grace converted to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ,
you who possessed the highest secrets of Magic,
build now a refuge for me against my enemies and their evil deeds.
For the merit that you obtained before God, Creator of heaven and earth,
cancel out all evil spirits, products of hate,
the spells that hardened hearts have cast or will come to cast
against my person and against my home.
With the permission of the All Powerful God,
answer my prayer and come to my assistance,
through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.
 Light the candles, then offer 3 Our Fathers, 2 Hail Marys, and 1 Credo
Remember, Cyprian was a Christian sorcerer, so use Christian prayer to work with that particular stream. I am also a Vodouisant, and we use Catholic prayers for everything, both magical and mundane. It fits very nicely into my world purview.
Do this for nine straight days. Cyprian was said to straddle two worlds - the red realm (this one) and the black one (the underworld). See if doing this ignites your magic with a power and grace you've not felt before. I believe for me, it does. Let me know how you go. I'll keep you posted.