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.

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