All posts by Kal

A Few Notes on St. Cyprian

The Sorcerer Saint
The Sorcerer Saint
Someone recently posted some questions on the blog in response to my previous article on St. Cyprian. Instead of simply answering the question, I decided to write an essay to be posted on the blog, since others may find it of interest. St Cyprian of Antioch was on the rolls of officially venerated Saints until a few decades ago. Like many other folkloric saints such as Saint Barbara there is little actual evidence that they ever existed.

Folklore has it that Saint Cyprian was a Magus or Magician until his conversion to Christianity and later martyrdom. Part of the folklore has it that he never completely gave up the practice of magic. It is said that he continued to practice the magical arts in secret. If St. Cyprian did exist ( and I suspect that the legend is based on an actual individual or individuals), then what he practiced was likely some form of Theurgy and/or Hermeticism. Those who are looking for a good overview on this subject should see the book Hermetic Magic by Stephen Edred Flowers.

Assuming he did exist, I have I have serious doubts as to whether he had “dealings with demons” or he was “working with Lucifer” as one poster worded it. This perspective was simply Church propaganda, which tended to smear any type of involvement with magic, spiritual healing and divination as “demonic” or “Satanic”. Lets face facts, the church still labels any spiritual entities outside of official Church dogma as being of demonic or fallen origin. Thus they continue to label the Beings that we routinely work with in the ATR’s, such as the Orishas, the Lwa, the Mpungo, Nkisi, Eggun etc as being “demonic”.

The ancient peoples such as the Romans, Greeks, Chaldeans, Egyptians etc. tended to not make such hard and fast distinctions between “demons” and “daemons” unless the entity in question was overtly malevolent. The entity Lucifer historically was not identified with either Satan or with demons. The Church however was quite eager to do so and for it’s own reasons, which was to extend it’s control over the minds of all people everywhere. It could not tolerate any other forms of belief outside of it’s control. A good book that delves into how the myth of the Devil was created and developed over time is Elaine Pagel’s work The Origins of Satan. For the record I do not believe in the existence of the Devil, although I do concede that it is a powerful Jungian psychological archetype.

Getting back to the subject at hand – St. Cyprian, I believe that he can be regarded in Lucumi terms, as a type of Eggun, a “Muerto” or form of Spiritual Guide. Even if he did not actually historically exist, he could still be seen as a useful spiritual entity, falling into the category of “Egregore.” This is a mass thought form which has been energetically empowered and sustained for centuries by continuous prayers and devotions. Either way, St. Cyprian represents a vibrant spiritual entity.

In folklore, St. Cyprian was seen as the patron Saint of diviners, magicians, spiritists and spiritual workers. He therefore is appealed to and petitioned to increase one’s knowledge and abilities in such areas. One person on the blog asked me if I thought it “would be positive/beneficial to communicate with this Saint?” My answer is that it depends. As the old saying goes “if i do not know you then why are you calling me?”. I see no reason for just anyone to attempt communication if he or she has no direct business with this Saint. In other words, if an individual is not a spiritual worker of some type and does not have a strong affinity for this Saint, then the communication should not be attempted. A second instance would be in those cases in which the Saint himself has initiated contact. A third instance would be if during the course of a registro or reading it came down that one should start working with this or any other entity.

In my case, it appears that it is St Cyprian that attempted contact. I was not even thinking about him when this occurred. It was an out of the blue occurrence. As to why he contacted me, well I have my suspicions, but I will keep those to myself for the moment, and continue to slowly work with him over the course of time.

Kal Continue reading “A Few Notes on St. Cyprian” »

A Dream about St. Cyprian Patron Saint of Sorcerers

St. Cyprian of Carthage
It was a long and tiring day yesterday, and I retired to bed early. In the small hours of the morning I had a vivid, semi-lucid dream. In it, a figure appeared and informed me he was St Cyprian of Antioch (known as San Cipriano in Spanish). He then struck up a conversation, in which among other things; the figure promised spiritual gifts and continued communications in the future. Then the Saint vanished and the dream ended. I woke up immediately afterwards and was left with a very pronounced feeling of just having had a spiritual visitation. I noted the time, which was 3 a.m.

I decided to pull out my notebook and jot down some observations about the dream. I then turned to the internet to get further information about this little known (at least to me) Saint. According to the information I found, he was born in Carthage between the years 249 to 251 A.D. Allegedly, he was taught magic, astrology and necromancy as a child, but later converted to Christianity. Legend asserts that he never completely renounced the old ways, but continued to practice and teach in private. There are a number of Grimoires that are attributed to him, and which bear his name. These are quite popular in Latin America and Brazil. Evidently he is the unofficial patron Saint of those who work magic and traffic with spirits, visions and prophecy.

At the close of my research I noted his feast day- September 16. I have been traveling the past few days and had lost track of the date. I got up from bed and walked over to the calendar. I was shocked. Today is Sunday, September the 16th. Today is his feast day! The visitation was indeed on the very start of the day. This I decided is indeed a sign. Me thinks I will be hearing again from this St Cyprian of Antioch.


Second Thoughts on working with Spirits

Are all spirits trustworthy?
Interest in spirits, ghosts, Spiritism and spiritualism has been on the upswing the past decade or so. There has been a torrent of books, films, websites all about these subjects. But, we need to pause and ask ourselves if trafficking with spirits is always a safe and beneficial practice.

There is a tendency these days to assume that spirits (with a little work) are eager to help us and that contact with them is a necessary and beneficial process. For example, I have seen many instances where an individual visits a spiritist, santero or palero. The individual is told they have a “spirit close to them” such as a gypsy. The person is instructed to pay attention to the spirit, giving it prayers, candles, coffee, etc. But what no one may realize, is that yes, the spirit is indeed close to the person, but that it is not a good thing the person is giving attention to the spirit.

In the instance of the gypsy spirit, she in life may have had a difficult upbringing that pushed her to be conniving and rather resourceful in obtaining goods or thieving. By working with that spirit, one is strengthening it. The person is giving it energy to be able to intervene in this world, and to influence thoughts and behavior. Soon the person is experiencing problems in his or her life. The person may even start to exhibit behaviors the spirit was partial too in life. The spirit may even drag down and ruin the person’s life.

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First Anniversary of The Mystic Cup

The Mystic Cup Celebrates its 1st Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of the launching of the mystic cup. During this past year we have seen a steady and rapid growth in our readership. We have also experienced a growth in the number of contacts with both individuals and groups. We have been encouraged by the many instances of positive feedback from readers. Our aim has always been to write about spiritual experiences, and most of us who are on the Mystic Cups writing crew are in some manner involved with African Traditional Religions (ATRs). Thus, most of our articles reflect this involvement. We also work towards connecting with other members of the broader ATR community and to discuss our shared issues, opinions, gripes and things learned along the way. We have also striven to provide clear and truthful information about the ATR experience so that people outside that community can get a better understanding and a sense of the flavor of practicing an ATR.

We have been especially pleased to see an increase of readership from outside of North America and the Caribbean. We have noticed an increase of interest in ATR’s and Spiritism within Ceremonial Magick, Wiccan and Neo-Pagan circles. We hope that our articles have been informative, thought provoking and entertaining.

In the coming year we will tackle some topics that we initially envisioned writing about but have not yet addressed, some will be rather hot and volatile so be prepare for some healthy debates, after all…the unexamined life is not worth living and certainly spirituality deserves careful and constant examination.

We would also like to see more submissions of articles from others about their own spiritual traditions and experiences. In closing, our core team Janus, Omimelli and I, would like to say thank you for your support and readership. Stay tuned… there is more to come.

Olo Obatalá

P.S. Since Omimelli is our main writer, I want to post one of her favorite songs as a little present for all the long hard hours of gathering and preparing materials for The Mystic Cup.

Into the Mystic by Van Morrison

An Extreme Threat to Your Boveda Practice

Spirits, spirits everywhere...

There are many mysterious forces at work in the world of which we are unaware. Some seem to take special delight in throwing up obstacles, setbacks and creating general mayhem. The objective appears oriented towards obstructing progress in both our spiritual and mundane lives.

On the face of evidence, it would appear that there are classes of entities such as gremlins, fairies- call them what you will, which are malicious trickster spirits that bedevil our existence. I have long been convinced that there is indeed a specific instance of where these spirits take on material form so as to carry out acts of wickedness more effectively on the material plane. I am speaking here of the dreaded Felis Domesticus: The common house cat.

This entity perhaps offers the greatest threat both to your sanity and the sanctified spiritual space known as the Boveda. Inexplicably, these creatures are drawn to your shrine, at first simply to investigate, later to return and wreck havoc.
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My Awakening to Ritual Magic

Easy access to grimoires like this jewel, The Grimorium Verum, by Jake Stratton-Kent was impossible to find when I started my path in Magic decades ago.
Ritual Magic has held a powerful allure for me for many years. I  have personally spent a great deal of time over the years researching, studying  and experimenting with this system of Magic. My first exposure to it was in stories and film, as well as books which covered the subject of occultism. From quite an early age the idea of the grimoire (or magical spell book) has fired my imagination. It was many years however before I actually got to read one. Just how did I get interested in this subject? 
My whole life I have been fascinated by esoteric topics. Some of my friendships when I was a teenager were based on such mutual interests and consisted of a continual discussion about esoteric spirituality. We were always reading some book about Native American practices, shamanism, spiritualism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and many other such subjects. While I was very eager to study the topic of Ritual Magic, it was quite difficult to come across any book that went into depth about the subject (this was back in the 1970’s). Books detailing methods of practice were virtually unobtainable where I lived. The inner core techniques were simply unavailable. What I could find were mainly books of affirmations and Positive Thinking. While useful, those techniques did not really lead to the results I was looking for. 
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Core Techniques of Ritual Magic

Mysticism and Magic are two sides of the same coin. However, many people wrongly assume that Magic is less spiritually elevated than Mysticism. As many adepts have pointed out in the past, the two paths of Mysticism and Magic tend to meet in the end. In other words, ritual techniques can be put to use not only for practical ends but also for the attainment of higher states of awareness (spiritual enlightenment). Certainly this was the goal of such systems as Hermeticism and Neo-Platonism among many others. Most of the world’s religions tend to have an esoteric or mystical component, for example Islam has Sufism and Judaism has the Kaballah. When you examine and compare these esoteric systems with one another, both the practices and the descriptions of the resulting mystical states that are evoked through these practices will be similar as well. These mystical systems will have as their core the same set of techniques that underlies Ritual Magic.
Ritual is a set of practices (a spiritual technology) that are universal and are designed to alter consciousness as well as manipulate events in some manner. I especially enjoy researching and experimenting with these techniques as well as comparing and contrasting them with the various practices found in other systems of magic throughout the world. Nearly all of the different magical systems found in various cultures draw upon and indeed are based upon contemplative techniques very similar to Raja Yoga,  a form of Yoga that focuses exclusively on the manipulation of mental states.
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On Ritual Magic

Illustration by Alex Grey

We live in a Magical universe. The Magic that drives the universe exists within us. We are magical beings, a link in a vast chain of Magic.  Magic as a practice is a set of techniques that when performed correctly allows us to access or tap into a source of power that can cause internal and external changes. Every culture in the world has some system or form of Magic. In many cultures Magic has been prohibited, marginalized or scorned. In many cases, individuals who practice magic have been persecuted, sometimes to the point of death. Magic therefore tends to exist as an underground movement or subculture.

The form of Magic that is indigenous to the West is Ritual Magic, which has it’s roots in ancient Mesopotamian forms of magic and spirituality. Ritual Magic hit it’s high point in the form of Hermeticism and Neo-Platonism around 100 to 500 Common Era, after which it went underground due to persecution by Church and government.  Historically, Magic has been divided into two general practices: Theurgy and Goetia. Roughly speaking, Theurgy is concerned with using ritual and magic as forms of mystical practice (inducing higher states of awareness). Goetia focuses on working with spirits and using material objects such as stones, herbs and such to bring about changes in the objective world.
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Spiritual Masses: A Door to the Other World

Selected Prayers
The Spiritual Mass is a reunion of mediums in search of contact with non-corporeal entities. A series of variations on spiritual masses are observed in the Caribbean and in the United States, but some common elements include the use of a white candle, a large glass bowl filled with water, a cross, florida water, and a book of prayers. Additionally, white flowers or plants associated with spirits are also used for cleansings during a spiritual mass.

Holding a spiritual mass is not unlike a séance, as it requires that mediums and expectators are concentrated and have a sole purpose: Spirit communication. To that extent spiritists take pride in working for the good of people, in seeking to do charity by helping others elevate their spiritual knowledge, learning about their ‘cuadro espiritual’ or their assigned guardian spirits, and by lifting negative spiritual influences or helping to improve physical conditions.

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