From Sorcerer to Saint: The Arcane Life and Magickal Times of Saint Cyprian
Of all the saints of the Christian church, one of the most anomalous must surely be St Cyprian who, after his martyrdom in the early 4th century AD, became known as the patron saint of sorcerers. Even more curious is the fact that some 1,700 years after his death, the name of St Cyprian is still invoked in rituals by some practitioners of black magick. How did this strange state of affairs evolve?
Saints Cyprian and Justina (honored in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy as Christians of Antioch Pisidia who in 304, during the persecution of Diocletian, suffered martyrdom at Nicomedia (modern day İzmit, Turkey) on September 26, the date of their feast). ( Biso/ CC BY-SA 3.0 )
St Cyprian, the bishop of Antioch, should not to be confused with St Cyprian of Carthage, another early Christian bishop who was martyred about 50 years before this article’s St Cyprian.
Essay on the mysteries of Eleusis; (1817) ( Public Domain)
Early Life and Training of Cyprian
The life story begins with Cyprian who, confusingly, also seems to have been born in Carthage where, as a pagan child, he was dedicated to the service of the Greek god Apollo. He then entered the mysteries of the Roman god Mithras at the age of seven and was entrusted to the care of magicians to study sorcery. His studies would take him all over the ancient world to gather occult knowledge. Or as one account puts it; he participated in the Eleusinian Mysteries where: “he carried the torch of the Greek goddess Demeter, wore the white garments of Kore (otherwise known as Persephone, the daughter of Demeter) and served the serpent of Pallas (one of the Greek Titans)”, before being sent to Mount Olympus where, living only on fruits and acorns, he learned to control the weather and the seas.
At the age of ten - quite an unusual education – he learned divination from the movement of animals, the sound of trees, and from ‘the whispers of the dead’. At the age of 15 he lived in Argos and served the goddess Juno, where he learned the arts of deception. He then lived in Taurapolis (on the Greek island of Icara) where he served the goddess Diana, and then Sparta, where he mastered necromancy and incantations on how to commune with the dead among the graves there.
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Charles Christian is a professional writer, editor, award-winning journalist and former Reuters correspondent. His non-fiction books include Writing Genre Fiction: Creating Imaginary Worlds: The 12 Rules
Top Image: Ancient Sorcery: Antique witch book, black candle and ritual objects. ( Fotolia)