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”

The orisha does discriminate and so must we!

One Elegua tells the other..."Let's add a little chaos into the registro to see if the diviner is awake!"
Years ago, I was at a Batá to Oyá and while she mounted my godfather and dispensed advice to those at the event I was pleasantly surprise to hear her assert her discriminatory powers upon those who are part of the ilé. I remember quite clearly that she said to the crowd, “In this household there is one door to come in and two doors to leave.” There was no question in my mind that she sets the rules as the head orisha of the house. She made it crystal clear; those who do not conform to the rules of the ilé can expediently leave. To come in the house, there is a filter, one door, to leave…don’t let the door slam on your rear end…whichever door you choose. If I was to further analyze the implications of her statement, one could say that even leaving a household has a procedure. Either we leave in disgrace or we exit properly and following procedures.

Procedures are precisely what will save us from making mistakes. I am glad to see that the first post strokes a nerve on many who were inspired to post a response. I will address some of the points made by readers on this second part, starting with divination and its role on the discriminatory process of initiation.

Divination is not an absolute

The role of divination in the process of admittance to an ilé is never an absolute; it should not be the only guiding principle or the litmus test to admittance. Here is why. Divination in itself is an act of selective discrimination on the sharing of knowledge applied to a situation through the energy of Oddu. Meaning, for divination to be effective, it must first encounter an imperfect filter, the diviner him or herself, who is only human after all.

The diviner must not only be well versed in the oddú and its meaning, but also learn how to discriminate what information to apply and share with the person seeking advice. Of course, I have seen very good diviners advising someone to make osha and giving them a step by step approach on what to do to prepare. I have however, seen with more frequency the Spiritual Terrorism approach to induction into the Santeria ranks. You will find more often those diviners who warn of tragedies, illness and chaos if the person does not run right away to make kariosha.

Continue reading “The orisha does discriminate and so must we!”

Is there a Future for Santeria?

One Elegua tells the other: "Yeah let's bring some riffraff with money seeking Kariosha to see what our Omo does. Betcha a Jutia he won't examine the situation as we would like him to do."
Over the last 20 years profound changes have taken place in the way in which humans communicate and interrelate. The advent of the Internet and the creation of blogs, websites, forums, and finally, the emergence of on-line social platforms created a double edge sword for our Afro-Caribbean religions. The power of enhanced communications and the availability of all sort of information without a system of check and balances has created the perfect breeding grounds for merchants of the religion and con artists to flourish and prosper. Before finding shysters was limited to the communities they inhabited and perhaps to the occasional ad to be found on newspapers or word of mouth communications. Now, any so called initiate can set up shop on the Internet, troll on sites like Facebook looking to insert themselves as experts in conversations and forums, establish a blog or a website and drum up a hefty Santeria business.

How do I know this? I get to sift through piles of emails from people wanting help and advice after they have had a really unsavory situation thanks to having met the so called ideal godparent on line. I get to see a bit of everything, from those who find exploitative godparents who see their godchildren as meal tickets, to those who get really screwed with poorly done initiations. Overall, the feeling most people manifest is one of hurt; they feel deceived, damaged and abused. I have to say that one of the worse ways in which a human being can be abused is by having someone mess with their faith, with their spiritual being and thus with their development. If that is not akin to spiritual rape, then what is?

Under the premises of availability of quick information on line, some may argue that Santeria should not have any secrets and that initiates must share all of their knowledge without questioning to whom they entrust it and how they disseminate the information. I have gotten belligerent arguments from many on this regard; I make no apologies for being in complete disagreement.

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Santeria 101: Keeping Records of Your Readings or Registros

Some of my libretas have notes on more than just advice and readings...
There is absolutely no reason to live a life of strife and heartaches, particularly when one follows the Way of the Orishas or in short, practices Santeria. Perhaps it is partly because I do not trust memory to be perfect, or because of the years I spent pursuing a career in journalism, but I value greatly the art of record keeping for posterity. Thus, you can find in my orisha room a catalogue of readings done for me, from the very first one to the most recent one. They are all compiled in notebooks, organized by ceremonies and they include notes of results from the ebbós or workings prescribed from those readings.

This trail of notes is not a meandering one, it tells the story of my life and of the many stages and transformations in this spiritual journey, pretty much like this blog in a way weaves moments of my spiritual journey with the spiritual journeys of family, friends and anyone who is willing to spend a few minutes of their life here, reading along and sharing as they see fit.

As I was saying, there is no reason for living a life of frustration. Most of the answers to life’s challenges and to our very own shortcomings are in the readings we seek. Even the poorest of readings may yield a nugget of wisdom, a flash of divine inspiration passed by Olofi to the diviner. It is up to the person seeking that advice to listen with an open mind and heart, to understand that message and apply the advice diligently.

How do you go about keeping good record of your readings? The answer is simple. Select your recordkeeping method of choice. Perhaps you are one of those people who love to take notes on a portable computer, smart phone or you may be traditional, like I am, and find a certain amount of peace and reassurance in practicing the art of penmanship on a plain old composition notebook. Whatever you choose, know that the right decision is to keep notes, and plenty of them.

Continue reading “Santeria 101: Keeping Records of Your Readings or Registros”

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.

Kal