Cypriano: A Modern American Cyprianista's Perspective
San Cypriano, or Saint Cyprian of Antioch, is one of the most unique Saints in the Catholic canon and has a long history of work with occultists (technically St. Cyprian was removed from the Bishop roster in 1968 when the church determined that there was never a Bishop Cyprian in Antioch [wrong Antioch]). Modern times have seen a significant increase in his cult, and he is found in more and more works by modern Occultists. He’s a personification of both traditional as well as formalized ritual work. A canonized Catholic Saint, yet a Patron Saint of Necromancers. A Christian bishop, with the secrets of ancient magic and undisputed sorcerous power. Preserving the secrets of his pagan childhood which gave him the practices of traditional Greco-Roman Magic and Occultism. An arguable poster child for religio-magical syncretism, hiding oppressed or disfavored traditions under the guise of more accepted practices.
The Legend of Saint Cyprian, Bishop of Antioch
San Cypriano and San Cypriano
Saints Cyprian of Antioch(purple) and Carthage
Many texts have been written on the history and myths that have been built up around San Cypriano. So coverage if his history would be far outside the scope of this short work; a brief summary of what is roughly confirmable will have to do.
For clarity to the reader coming to San Cypriano for the first time, there are at least two Saint Cyprians in the Catholic Cannon: Cyprian of Antioch and Cyprian of Carthage. The one that we are concerned with is Saint Cyprian of Antioch. However, the division is not so simple. The stories of their lives are often transposed and there are some that see the two Cyprians as being different sides of the same being. Cyprian of Carthage (born 249) representing the repentant sorcerer who is forced to concede that Christ’s power exceeds his own, causing his conversion to Christianity. While Cyprian of Antioch represents a cunning sorcerer who ascends the ranks of the Catholic priesthood to gain access to even greater powers than his sorcery alone provided. The two Cyprians were basically contemporaries and even traveled to and performed miracles in the same places. It can be quite confusing trying to separate the two.
The Early Life of San Cypriano of Antioch
San Cypriano was born in 260 into a pagan family in Antioch (Syria). From early childhood to age 30 he studied magic in the greatest schools in the world, the centers of magical wisdom at Olympus, Argos, Memphis, and Babylon. Having the discovered the secrets of conjuring demons, it is said that he looked upon the Devil himself and was given the gift of demon familiars.
Eventually Cyprian ascended to the priesthoods of these magical traditions and was consecrated as a master of the Black Arts, beloved of the people of Antioch for his many magical solutions. Spells, curses, potions, and demons were all part of his craft as a respected sorcerer.
As a young man Cyprian performed magic for hire and was much sought after for his philtres. It is said that he was a student of the famed Witch of Evora, and that it is from her that he gained his infamous book of magic.
In many European cultures, and in particular Iberian and Scandinavian, Cypriano became synonymous with a book of magic. So much so that the word Cipriano was used to mean a grimoire or book of magic. In Scandinavia the svarteboken (black book), is often called a Cyprianus.
The Virgin Justina
Justina was a local of Antioch and a Christian convert. This put her at odds with many in her community, but it is said that her beauty won most over.
Justina was known for her unflinching devotion to Christ, and the church. In fact her entire life was completely consumed with her faith.
The legends differ on several points, but the general idea is that Justina became the object of affection for either Cyprian himself or a young man named Aglaidas. When Justina was propositioned for marriage she refused, as she wanted to remain a virgin and serve as a faithful wife of Christ (the nunnery).
Angered and offended, Aglaidas sought out Cyprian for a magical solution. Cyprian was tasked with causing the young virgin Justina to become enamored with her would-be suitor, using whatever magical means would be necessary.
After a lengthy series of failures, culminating in the Devil himself trying and failing (It is said that Justina had only to make the sign of the cross to dispel every effort to enchant her.), Cyprian conceded to the power of the cross and converted to Christianity.
The Bishop of Antioch
Cyprian, outdone by the power of Justina’s faith, presented himself to the bishop and asked for baptism, renouncing his Sorcerous Intrusions. He even brought his magical library to be burned before the bishop to prove his devotion to the church.
Cyprian quickly rose through the ranks of the clergy, receiving ordination within a year of his conversion, and finally becoming the Bishop of Antioch.
Cyprian is renowned for his ability to convert pagans to Christianity. The legend states that he converted so many people in his community that the pagan temples had no one to give regular offerings to the gods. This got the attention of the Roman Emperor Diocletian who had both Cyprian and Justina arrested and brought to Nicomedia.
Cyprian the Martyr
After much torture, and many refused opportunities to earn his freedom by honoring the Roman gods, both Cyprian and Justina were martyred together at Nicomedia in the year 304. Some accounts claim that they were boiled alive in tar, while others hold that they were beheaded, and their bodies fed to dogs.
A Semi-Inspired Interpretation of the Legend of Cyprian the Excellent
Since we are discussing a magical benefactor of such great importance to not only to the occult world, but to myself personally; I would like to share my personal retelling of the story of St. Cyprian. The highlights of this story came to me in contemplation at the altar of Exu Meia Noite. The rest of the story is the product of my intuition and my interpretation of the various legends and myths of Saint Cyprian.
Though largely incomplete, it is my honor to offer this short story of love and mystery. Perhaps the Patron of Necromancers will gift you with the next chapter.
Cyprian is of such incredible importance and personal significance to my own work and my life in general. I proudly work in his name and sing the wonders of His Mysteries to all who choose to Hear the Call. He is Teacher, Tutor, and Tata in my life.
Excellent Cyprian, as always, I thank you again, and then once more.
Obrigado Santo Pai!
Obrigado Poderoso Patrono!
A Magical Prodigy
Cypriano was born under the banner of the Roman Empire in Antioch Syria (not Pisidia which is approximately the area of the modern-day Turkish Lakes Region).
A psychic prodigy, he quickly gained the attention of his parents who were able to identify his gift and give him the proper educational foundation. Cyprian was consecrated to Apollo from a young age (tender talons) and received the initiation of the Python Slain. From there his magical career is a whirlwind of sorcerous initiations and magical experiences. The following list describes the highlights of his magical education:
- Baptized a servant of the Mysteries of Apollo
- Mithraic Initiation (United by Handshake)
- Bearer of the Torch of Demeter
- Served the Sorrow of Kore in white robes (Ephepi robes while traditionally black, white was used later)
- Initiate of the Mysteries of Athena (as the serpent Pallas) at the Acropolis
- Received Daemonic Communion (the mysteries of echo) at Olympus
- Received knowledge of psychedelic plants
- Learned elemental weather sorcery
- Learns spirit vision (Beholds the great multitudes of infernal spirits and natural spirits)
- Receives Chaldean initiation (29 days of dietary restriction are the hallmark)
- Age 15: Initiated into the magic of the Celestial Bodies
- Learns the mysteries of the elements, magical herbs, and daemonic correspondences with the same
- In Argos receives elemental mysteries as related through the secrets of Hera and Zeus (and Zeus Cthonios)
- Receives the mysteries of Artemis in Elis
- Learns divination from the Phrygians (vivisection and interpretation of animals)
- Learns the voice of the dead
- Learns blood magic (or more likely vampirism)
- Learns medicine, isopsephia
- Receives the secrets of malediction, disease, and their spiritual consequences
- Gains access to unknown numinous knowledge
- Learns of the written spell
- Receives initiations in Egypt at Memphis related to the stellar gods
- Learns astrology
- Learns the Egyptian mysteries of Kekui(t) and of the Powers of Darkness
- Receives the mysteries of earthquakes, storms, and torrents
- Has vision of the Titans which Zeus has imprisoned under the Earth
- Learns of the manner in which sorrow is seeded unto man
- Receives the knowledge of the Dragon and the machinations of the Powers of Darkness
- Learns the methods of using demonic offerings
- Learns the methods of metamorphosis
- Learns the wisdom of dualities, opposites, and reconciliation
- Learns of the symbolic spiritual manifestations of human vice
- Receives the mysteries of formal philosophy
- Learns the Chaldean Oracles
- Age 30: Is granted an audience with the Prince of Darkness who recognizes him as a great Magus and bestows upon him command of an army of Infernal Host
- Is granted title and a position of rulership in the Undying Realm
- Masters the wonderous occult potencies of shadow and night.
- Receives the Powers of Darkness.
- The Dark Lord teaches him the mysteries of eternity, permanence, and potency in all realms.
A Sorcerous Career
At age 30 after his court with The Devil, Cyprian returns home a favored son of Antioch. From here he embarks on a career in magic. Magic for hire, magic for entertainment, and most certainly magic for profit.
As is common with non-magical people, knowledge of an actual sorcerer in their midst brought them compulsively to Cyprian’s doorstep, eager to pay for magical solutions to their problems. The eventual result of this is easy to predict; everybody has commissioned so much magic against each other that a state of chaos ensued. Cyprian frequently resorted to bringing down famine, earthquakes, and other disasters to demonstrate his displeasure with wide-spread incivility. The people of Antioch learned quickly to behave themselves as much as would be possible.
Aglaidas the Persistent Suitor
At the height of Cyprian’s fame/notoriety a nobleman arrived at his door with a most dubious proposition. The nobleman Aglaidas had set his sights upon a local girl; Justina, however, she had refused his proposal. Justina claimed that she would not marry as she wished to preserve her virginity for christ jesus. This rather infuriated the young man, who, being of noble parentage, was quite used to getting whatever he wanted. Therefore, he turned to Cyprian for a magical solution to break her will and force her hand in marriage. Cyprian had performed countless successful magical operations of just this sort, and accepted the job without so much as a second thought.
Damnable Love at First Sight
The following day Cyprian set out some of the familiar demons to retrieve a link to Justina that could be used for his magic (probably a lock of hair). When the demons returned empty-handed and confounded by their own failure, Cyprian was enraged. He went to see what the problem was himself. Making his way through the town, guided by his demons, Cyprian found his way to river. There were several young girls washing clothing and bedding in the fast-running water. This was common and nothing remarkable at all. Cyprian asked his familiars to point out Justina, who was at first obscured by another girl standing in front of his line of sight. As the obstacle to his view slowly moved out of the way, the vision he beheld stole his breath: Justina. Cyprian in all his travels all over the world never beheld such beauty. Surely this was a voluptuous archangel or perhaps the goddess Aphrodite herself, this was no mere mortal woman.
Stammering to make words, he asked his familiars to confirm her identity, which they did immediately. Cyprian also noticed that Justina’s beauty was such that the demons were dumbstruck, frozen in her beauty, just like himself.
Cyprian’s loins stirred as his heart swelled, and in that moment, he knew love. Composing himself by looking away from Justina, Cyprian rushed home to consider what had just happened to him.
A Very Human Feeling
“Could this be?” Had some witch from a neighboring town exacted revenge for some long-forgotten, or totally unknown slight? No, and yet he was bewitched. Was this possible? Could Cyprian fall in love? The answer felt heavy in his heart, and immediately sank into the pit of his stomach like a leaden orb, for he knew the implications of this misfortune.
Cyprian walked among the people of Antioch as a divine being. The faith of the people was vitally important to his continued fortunes, as were the efficacy of his spells. He knew that he could never turn that effervescent creature of divine beauty into the love slave of that wretched brat! And for this there would certainly be consequences. Furthermore, for Cyprian the Great, the Magus-Philosopher, wielder of the might of the gods, to couple with a “simple” village girl; this could be quite a nasty scandal, and just the kind of political leverage his many enemies have been praying for.
Reeling from the chain of disturbing thoughts, the silence of the moment shattered. There was a pounding at his door and a loud obnoxious voice announcing himself: “Good Cyprian, are you in there? What has happened? It’s Aglaidas! What of my virgin Jusitina?”
Cyprian felt nauseous, cornered, and uncomfortably human in this moment. And then a series of sounds echoed in his mind drowning out the furious pounding at the door. “…my virgin Justina?” He felt the rage well up in his chest, spreading through his face like fire. “Your virgin Justina?” “Your Justina?”
Cyprian’s thoughts turned dark. He was no stranger to the murderous arts, and for the first time in his life he just may have a real reason to use them. He quickly snapped out of his trance and advanced toward the door. He composed himself and opened it with a smile on his face.
“Aglaidas my boy! Come in.”
Is This Real?
Cyprian knew that he was in a serious situation. The boy Aglaidas would at minimum ruin his reputation if he did not deliver Justina. However, this was unthinkable now. On the other hand, if Cyprian were to attempt to make Justina his own, the boy would be enraged and would certainly bring the full force of his family’s wealth and power down on Cyprian.
After much reassurance that Justina would belong to him soon enough, Cyprian was able to send Aglaidas off and buy himself some time. But not very much.
That night Cyprian sat at his desk and considered many scenarios, as his demons whispered to the darkest parts of his soul. Forgetting about Justina was impossible, as was making good on his commitment to Aglaidas. Would Justina even have him? She was a devout convert of the monotheistic religion of Christ jesus. So much so that she has committed her virginity to her religion.
Before he could decide how to proceed, he would need more information. He was going to have to meet Justina face to face and carefully observe her reaction to him. Hoping to find even a glimmer of what he felt for her when he saw her earlier that day.
Star Crossed Lovers
At this point in the story I have yet to intuit very many details, and I am left with the legend above all else to help me fill in the details. Briefly, I believe that this is what happened:
Cyprian introduced himself to Justina, who indeed reciprocated his intense desire, but she was prevented by her faith from pursuing a life with Cyprian.
A period of attempted courtship takes place where a multitude of forces are contending in convoluted ways:
- Cyprian is trying to earn Justina’s hand.
- Cyprian is keeping Aglaidas at bay by pretending that his magic is ineffectual against Justina’s faith.
- Justina finally capitulates to Cyprian’s advances but only under the condition that Cyprian renounce his sorcerous ways and convert to Christianity.
From here Cyprian is going to have to at least give the impression that he has adopted Justina’s faith. So, he goes all in and eventually receives ordination and then becomes bishop. Symbolically this has very interesting implications as Cyprian becomes the legend of the Magus who exists with his feet in the Infernal and his head in the Celestial. A symbol of supreme and transcendent power. This legendary image represents man evolved by his own Will to become a Master of both the Powers of Darkness and the Powers of Light.
It is also interesting to note that the clerical rank of bishop roughly correlates with the black magical grade of Magister Templi/Magister.
The Magister has indeed pierced the veil of the causal world and is actively operating the underlying machinery.
It seems to me that Cyprian and Justina almost certainly carry on a love affair in secret (as Cyprian has now taken a vow of chastity to receive the cloth).
I believe that Aglaidas returned to his family’s estate where he rallied his family’s support in a campaign against both Cyprian and Justina. That eventually he secured the support of the emperor Diocletian, who had Cyprian and Justina arrested and executed.
Did Cyprian convert to Christianity and give up not only his magical power but his exalted position in the Infernal hierarchy? I would tend to say no, but modern day Cyprianistas have conveyed explicit information from Cyprian that strongly indicates a Christian magical current as being tightly bound not only to his own work in the world but that of all other saints as well. I think it may well be that Cyprian was a man who learned to transcend arbitrary dualities and grab hold of the source of true power that is beyond such human constructs.
Delving further into personal speculation: I have toyed with the idea that the manifestation of spirit is largely a function of the observer of the entity. In this concept the individual’s ideas about the entity build for it a constrained temporary “container” in which to manifest.
Further I think it’s entirely possible that this goes beyond just appearance and even dictates what the composite disposition, personality, and capabilities of the entity will look like within the denser causal layers of the Universe.
The observer builds the body, character, backstory, and efficacy as a unified “template” for manifestation, and then the (at least) partially resonant entity is “forced” to interact with the observer through this template.
I’m operating under the idea that the actual “spiritual” universe(s) is so far removed from and even alien to the physical, that they are largely incapable of natively operating within one another in their natural state. Hence the need for these generated manifestation “templates” fueled by expectation, lore, testimony, and possibly a collective unconscious phenomenon.
Therefore, by calling SAINT Cyprian, certain conditions might come to bear that would otherwise be absent without the reference to the catholic high clergy. Like for example a mingling of Christian currents and other spiritual elements to provide the correct subtle-energetic raw materials to “build” a proper Saint.
I like to think that Cyprian’s legendary meeting with the Devil was in fact a christianized account of Cyprian finding “the only god that is” and becoming his worthy ally in the workings of the cosmos alive.
The Patron Saint of Necromancers: From Brazil to the US
In this modern era like those of the past, San Cypriano is the patron Saint of Necromancers and Occultists. The cause of this exclusive and forbidden role is staggeringly simple, and makes perfect sense through the utilitarian lens of the magician (past and present): there were and are persisting rumors that San Cypriano continued his work and eventually left a spell book that contained all of his secrets. There are several books, or collections of books that claim to have been penned by San Cypriano. However, the evidence is dubious at best and none of these books have been traced and found to have originated from San Cypriano.
While some literary traditions come from places such as Norway the most well-known one comes from Spanish speaking countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain. While maintaining his roots in Spain and the Greco-Roman traditions, San Cypriano became the patron Saint of Brujas and Curanderas.
Beyond this in Brazil San Cypriano takes on the role of the preserver of ancestral traditions and memory. This function, which is drawn from his abilities as a Psychopomp, can be seen in how he has become connected with a number of Quimbanda Exu’s such as Exu Meia Noite and others such as Exu Gerere, and Exu Capa Preta.
In the US and other English-speaking countries there has been an increase in interest and work with various traditions coming from places such as Mexico and Brazil. Each practitioner will have their own reasons for being interested in these traditions, however, with the increasing disconnection from ancestral traditions, San Cypriano makes for a compelling figure to work with to rediscover lost traditions from our collective past.
I would venture to say that Cyprian IS in fact the conduit that can connect the modern Western practitioner with the full force of their ancestral line and its associated teachings, wisdom, and secrets.
Jake Stratton Kent has made tremendous headway in rediscovering/uncovering and restoring the truly Western spiritual tradition, veins of this noble pursuit can be found in most of his works, all of which come highly recommended. The Geosophia volumes however are actual treasures in this area of occult pursuit.
The Modern American Workings of San Cypriano
Interest in San Cypriano was given a boost in 2011 with the publication of the book Saint Cyprian: Saint of Necromancers by ConjureMan Ali and then again two years later in 2013 with the publication of St. Cyprian & The Sorcerous Transmutation by Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold. These books, while short, began to give the English-speaking world a look at new traditions and information that had previously been locked behind a cultural and language barrier.
While many can benefit from working with San Cypriano in many ways there are some things that you should be aware of. San Cypriano is very much a Saint of those who walk the boundaries between traditions and “tends to draw those people who straddle the boundaries between the infernal arts and the celestial.” As ConjureMan Ali puts it.
There are many things that San Cypriano can do to help you in your work. One of the most common is to help you develop a stronger connection with the traditions of your ancestors. At his Blog ConjureMan Ali outlines a ritual to help accomplish this.
Another area that San Cypriano can assist with is the ability to scry and contact spirits. In another post on his Blog, Conjure Man Ali details how you can ask for San Cypriano’s help in scrying .
Finally, another point that San Cypriano can assist with is the removal of curses or other obstacles in the way of you or your work. The method for doing this is outlined again by ConjureMan Ali on his Blog here.
Beyond these specific ideas, there are many other things that San Cypriano can assist with, such as helping with your magical work in general. Cyprian is a master of the magical arts, and can gift the sincere seeker with tremendous inspiration.
Fellow Sorcerer and Cyprianista, Jason Miller, offers us beautiful prayers to San Cypriano on his website.
Teacher, Tutor, and Tata
On August 22 of 2021, I completed an operation to install Saint Cyprian as my Patron. This is a lengthy process (With preparations and the ritual work itself taking about 2 months to complete). However, if approached with great sincerity and the momentum of many magical interactions with Cyprian, it can yield a spectacular array of spiritual experiences, numinous deep-dives, and magical wisdom.
In fact, I would list this deeply personal initiation as one of the most significant of my 30+ year magical career.
A Word of Warning: Prepare thyself magician, as great upheaval dwells in the offing.
In my own particular experience, the 9 days of the ritual proper held experiences, abrupt life changes, and dramatic transformations of both friend and foe that are among the most disruptive I have ever experienced. This ritual is appropriate if you are ready for a serious realignment of your life to support your initiatory progress. Nine days following the completion of the rite, I was flush with additional resources, had a beautiful new home that afforded me the space to pursue my more complex experiments, but I was also alone. The very abrupt end to a long time love affair and engagement that was deeply important to me but was slowly becoming an obstacle to certain aspects of my magical work.
If you are not a dedicated practitioner of these arts with clear initiatory goals, maybe leave this operation alone.
The details for this operation can be found in Exu and the Quimbanda of Night and Fire by Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold.
Frisvold is in many ways the primary conduit through which the wisdom and knowledge of the Brazilian religio-magical traditions finds its way to the English-speaking Western world. We are forever grateful for his work; and ask the mighty legions of night and fire to bless him and keep him.
Saint Cyprian, Patron of the Black Magician
Hopefully you have found this brief introduction to San Cypriano useful as an introduction to his legend and his work. Cyprian is very much a Saint from the European, Old-World traditions, and yet finds himself right at home with the magical neo-traditions that are coming into being around the world.
Cyprian transcends culture, language, custom, and climate. He forges powerful bonds to the magical momentum of our blood line, entrusting us with the dignity of our ancestry, and empowering us to transform ourselves, our communities, and our world.