Friday, September 20, 2013

The Days of the Cyprians, Fourth Offering

Continued from The Days of the Cyprians, Third Offering

A Quimbanda working with São Cipriano, performed and photographed by Madame Nadia
Between the candles can be seen a vial of the oil (made by Wolf & Goat),
 traditionally used to enliven the images and tools of São Cipriano within the cult,
and his ponto riscado drawn as the field of working.

The Days of the Cyprians
Fourth Offering
(continued from Third Offering)

While popular devotion has waned in the urban terreiros and tendas of Quimbanda (as have most of the Quimbanda Saints- Catherine, Francis, Anthony, perhaps in favor of a "purer" African practice), São Cipriano is deeply entrenched within the cult's history. As one time head of the Line of Souls, and for a time the African Line, as different Umbanda and Quimbanda houses reorganized the spirit hierarchy, Cyprian's role changed and adapted as his followers needed. Sometimes still visibly a Saint, sometimes becoming an Exu (Gato Preto), sometimes informing other spirits, like the preto velho Pai Cipriano – Cyprian is truly a complex figure. For a more detailed examination of this, look to Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold's Saint Cyprian & the Sorcerous Transmutation.

While in popular Catholicism, bonds with certain Saints form in less formal ways, in lineages (both familial and ritual) that have certain devotional practices to specific saints, a formal ingress into a Saint's cult may be desired. Rooted in the practice of novenas of devotion to petition a saint for intercession, Frisvold presents a working to secure the patronage of the mighty Saint Cyprian:

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A Ritual for making St. Cyprian your Patron 
This procedure involves a nine day dedication for installing the saint. Obtain an image of him, be it a figurine or picture. You should also have at your disposal red and black cord, two white candles and one black together with St. Cyprian oil that must have been prepared beforehand. The working must be done at midnight every day, starting on a Friday at the waxing moon, ensuring that the full moon is overseeing the completion of the work. You will use as a nightly prayer the following:
Salvé!
Most Holy St. Cyprian
I beseech you as my Patron
May you work upon me and keep me steady
May you lend me your powers
As I take you on as teacher, tutor and Tatá
Bless my house and my life
As you close up the minds and mouth of my enemies
Make my eyes double in vision
As my adversaries will be doubly blind
Great One, Blessed One
Most Holy St. Cyprian
I beseech you as my Patron
I beg and pray
Heed my call

Amen! 
While the prayer is said, anoint a one foot length of the cords (both red and black) with the oil and tie it to the effigy or picture with three knots. On the ninth night you will make sure that the image is reflected in the full moon and with prayers bathe the image or picture in oil and red wine adding the last strand of cord. Then place leaves of Acacia and Laurel between the cords.  
Watch carefully during this period. If parts of cat, toad, snake or bat come to you in some way, these need to be placed in pouches of black cloth and tied to the effigy or picture with black cord. These can also be added over time as the relationship matures. 
This being done St. Cyprian is given water, bread, black beans and red wine as you burn incense of frankincense and myrrh before him. 
(from Exu & the Quimbanda of Night and Fireby Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, Scarlet Imprint, 2012)  
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Ponto Riscado of
Saint Cyprian Quimbandeiro
The ritual actions themselves are not unlike many other saint devotionals- a battery of prayer over many days, draping of a Saint in offerings or items to be blessed. This last practice, whether using cord, herbs, cloth, jewelry, rosaries- is in effect binding the Saint to you, and you to the Saint.

It is the particular flavor of Saint Cyprian however that is revealed in the animal mysteries (a hint of the metamorphic skin-leaping he is said to teach), the use of acacia and bay laurel (both powerful necromantic herbs and themselves representatives of the Saints Cyprian and Justina, respectively), and in the food offerings (black beans are a favorite food of the Caveiras, the Skull-weilding and Skull-faced legions of Quimbanda).

But beyond all this- it is the oil that is the carrier of his unique grace and axé. Frisvold gives the recipe for this oil in the same passage in 'Exu':

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St. Cyprian Oil

Olive oil
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium
Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis
Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
A pinch of bone dust
A pinch of sulphur
A pinch of goat horn filings
A pinch of copper filings
Pine or Cedar resin 

In addition you need to remove the Book of Revelation from the bible, draw his ponto on each page, leave a black candle on it and wait until it has burned down. You will then burn the pages and add to the oil. Once made, this oil should rest with the image for seven days with a seven-day candle prior to use, or with Exu Meia Noite. (ibid)
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Oh, this oil. Blood of the Saints, Strength of  Martyrs – Liquid Cyprian. There is a benefit to making oils correctly and knowing where everything comes from, sourcing and taking pride in the process itself. Harvesting the plants in the name of Saint Cyprian while making offerings to the Land and angel of each plant; invoking the same angels as the oil is made and prayed over; ritual bathing, fasting and prayers to the Saint while preparing to make the oil and while gathering ingredients; the process itself should be indulged and celebrated, further engaging the spirit of this work.

The use of these specific plants as well hints at the nature of this oil- wormwood is long attested in necromantic works since ancient times, dog's mercury is a bluing plant- a hint of the sacred axé of indigo of Candomblé and Quimbanda as well as maintaining its own unique properties, and pennyroyal- like most mints, sacred to the Bom Povo of Quimbanda.

Of note too is the use of bone dust here- while any bone dust will connect the menstrum to the land of the Dead, choosing well can really allow this oil to do its job. Human skull is most prized, if possible at least one male and one female - or increments of 3, 7, 9, and 21 skull powders. Powdered bone of cat (especially black), bat, toad, and snake are all of benefit.

Truly the oil itself is a cauldron of the transfigurative powers of Cyprian himself. Having put this before Meia Noite as directed to there be worked upon and crossed by his axé as mentor to the Saint, and then using it to wash idols and images of the Saint – it is one of my favorite oils. It flows with the grace and axé of this sorcerous ally and Mestre.

San Cipriano, ruega por nosotros...

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For any who may be interested, the Oil of Saint Cyprian is available for purchase from Wolf & Goat, to the benefit of any with a special devotion or need to petition the Saint.





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