A Simple Hermetic Prayer Rule

I’m not sure what a Hermetic parallel to Christian primitivism would be, especially given how little we know about actual Hermetic practices on-the-ground in the early part of the first millennium, but maybe something like this could be considered.

Like how I recently introduced a new prayer, the Praise of the Invisible and Invisible God based off Book V from the Corpus Hermeticum, I’ve been combing through other parts of the classical Hermetic corpus to come up with other prayers to recite.  What survives is largely philosophical, but there are occasional praises of God, exhortations of praise or prayer, and other exclamations of faith that dot the Hermetic literature.  We already pointed out a lengthy one from Book V not too long ago, but there are others, as well, and a few outright prayers, too, like the famous prayer from the end of Book I from the Corpus Hermeticum to the Prayer of Thanksgiving from the Asclepius, or the Perfect Sermon which also makes an appearance in the Nag Hammadi texts.  I’ve been experimenting with the explicit prayers that appear in the Hermetic canon, but I’ve even been coming up with others only based on it, even making my own kind of “Hermetic Mass” based on Book XIII (which talks a lot about the tormentors and blessings of the various spheres of the cosmos).

So far, as far as raw material to come up with new prayers goes, Book I is probably among the most fruitful.  It’s this very book of the Corpus Hermeticum that is named after Poimandrēs itself (though many translate this to “Shepherd of Men”, following Ralph Marcus, I favor a Coptic interpretation of this as “Reason of Sovereignty”), a testament of Hermēs Trismegistos himself when he obtained the divine vision of the creation of the cosmos and passage of souls, and how to achieve henosis both in this life and in the afterlife.  It’s at the end of this that Poimandrēs exhorts Hermēs to go forth and save the human race from the torments of their mortality (Copenhaver translation, and also note my italicized text in that last paragraph):

As he was saying this to me, Poimandres joined with the powers. Then he sent me forth, empowered and instructed on the nature of the universe and on the supreme vision, after I had given thanks to the father of all and praised him. And I began proclaiming to mankind the beauty of reverence and knowledge: “People, earthborn men, you who have surrendered yourselves to drunkenness and sleep and ignorance of god, make yourselves sober and end your drunken sickness, for you are bewitched in unreasoning sleep.”

When they heard, they gathered round with one accord. And I said, “Why have you surrendered yourselves to death, earthborn men, since you have the right to share in immortality? You who have journeyed with error, who have partnered with ignorance, think again: escape the shadowy light; leave corruption behind and take a share in immortality.”

Some of them, who had surrendered themselves to the way of death, resumed their mocking and withdrew, while those who desired to be taught cast themselves at my feet. Having made them rise, I became guide to my race, teaching them the words—how to be saved and in what manner—and I sowed the words of wisdom among them, and they were nourished from the ambrosial water. When evening came and the sun’s light began to disappear entirely, I commanded them to give thanks to god, and when each completed the thanksgiving, he turned to his own bed.

Within myself I recorded the kindness of Poimandres, and I was deeply happy because I was filled with what I wished, for the sleep of my body became sobriety of soul, the closing of my eyes became true vision, my silence became pregnant with good, and the birthing of the word became a progeny of goods. This happened to me because I was receptive of mind—of Poimandres, that is, the word of sovereignty. I have arrived, inspired with the divine breath of truth. Therefore, I give praise to god the father from my soul and with all my might:

After this, Hermēs recites his famous prayer itself, which has been a staple of mine and many other Hermeticists’ practices, a beautiful bit of devotional speech and supplication.

It’s the latter two paragraphs there that I took another look at, and considered that those would be excellent to base a prayer on.  Consider: Hermēs reaches out to those who seek after Truth, and “sowed the words of wisdom among them, and they were nourished from the ambrosial water” (i.e. water of immortality), after which those same people give thanks to God.  And after that, Hermēs himself gives thanks for “what [he] wished” (or prayed) for: his bodily sleep became sobriety of the soul, his eyes’ closing became true vision, etc.  And then, because of all that, he gives his famous “Holy is God…” prayer, a kind of “Threefold Trisagion”.

So I sat with this a bit, extracted the important bits, compared the translations of Scott, Copenhaver, and Salaman along with the original Greek given in Scott, and, after a good bit of writing and rewriting, I came up with the following prayer:

Sow in me the words of wisdom, and nourish me with the water of immortality.
By this, for this, and for everything, I give unto you my thanks.

May the sleep of my body become the sobriety of my soul.
May the closing of my eyes become true vision of Truth.
May my silence become pregnant with the Supreme Good.
May my birthing of the Word become the generation of true wealth.

Let me be receptive to the Nous, the Sovereign Knowledge,
that I may be inspired by the divine breath of Truth,
that I may praise God with all my soul and all my strength.

This actually works fairly well, in my limited experience trying it out, as a prayer in its own right, especially before using before the Threefold Trisagion.  The thing is that it’s very much directed towards being used before one retires to bed at night, what with the references to sleep and closing one’s eyes, as well as the original context of the content being used before people “turn[ing] to [their] own bed[s]”.  If this is a prayer that would best be used in the evening before sleep, what about one in the morning when one rises from sleep?  Easy; note the italicized parts below:

Sow in me the words of wisdom, and nourish me with the water of immortality.
By this, for this, and for everything, I give unto you my thanks.

May the rousing of my body become the awakening of my soul.
May the opening of my eyes become true vision of Truth.
May my speech become fruitful with the Supreme Good.
May my birthing of the Word become the generation of true wealth.

Let me be receptive to the Nous, the Sovereign Knowledge,
that I may be inspired by the divine breath of Truth,
that I may praise God with all my soul and all my strength.

This also works well as a morning prayer unto itself, but again especially so when followed by the Threefold Trisagion.  But there’s something else we can add, as well: the Prayer of Thanksgiving from the Asclepius.  Note how in that penultimate paragraph above from Book I that, after Hermēs gives his teaching to people, he “commanded them to give thanks to god, and when each completed the thanksgiving, he turned to his own bed”.  This means that, after the first two lines of the two derived prayers above, we could recite the Prayer of Thanksgiving, then continuing with the rest of the prayer, then finished by the Triple Trisagion.

On top of all this, we can take inspiration from the last part of the Asclepius that gives instructions on prayer (Copenhaver translation):

As they left the sanctuary, they began praying to god and turning to the south (for when someone wants to entreat god at sunset, he should direct his gaze to that quarter, and likewise at sunrise toward the direction they call east), and they were already saying their prayer…

My big issue with this is turning to the south, since the Sun doesn’t set in the south, yet the Asclepius says to face the south while also saying one “should direct his gaze to that quarter” where the Sun is setting.  My guess would be that the use of “south” here was a mistranslation or mistransmission in the text, and it should say “west”, maybe “southwest” to reflect a more realistic setting of the Sun for places in the northern hemisphere, especially between the autumn and spring equinoxes—yet in Book XIII of the Corpus Hermeticum, Hermes tells this same thing to Tat before he imparts the Secret Hymn, the Initiatory Hymn of Silence (note the italicized part):

Be still, my child; now hear a well-tuned hymn of praise, the hymn of rebirth. To divulge it was no easy choice for me except that I do it for you, at the end of everything. Hence, it cannot be taught; it is a secret kept in silence. Therefore, my child, stand in the open air, face the south wind when the setting sun descends, and bow down in adoration; when the sun returns, bow likewise toward the east. Be still, child: …

So, yeah, we really should be facing the south for sunset/evening prayers.  In this light, keeping in mind the Egyptian context here of Hermetic texts, it makes sense: the Way of Truth of Hermēs Trismegistos is also a Way of Life, and the direction of the West was the direction of the lands of the dead, and so inappropriate for prayers of immortality to the immortal God.  (Why, then, the direction of North wasn’t used, the direction of immortality itself, is not something I’ve puzzled out yet, but I’m tired, so it can wait.)

In either case, let’s take inspiration from this for our prayer routine above.  In the morning (ideally at sunrise), we’d say the morning prayer (with Prayer of Thanksgiving in the middle and Threefold Trisagion at the end) facing the east, and in the evening again (ideally at sunset) with the evening prayer (again with the Prayer of Thanksgiving and Threefold Trisagion) facing the south (though, if one is in the southern hemisphere, one should probably face the north instead).  Following the practice given in Book XIII as noted above as well as in the Asclepius, prayers are best made “in open air” (cf. “as they left the sanctuary” in the Asclepius), starting from a standing position, and bowing during adoration (e.g. the Secret Hymn, the Threefold Trisagion, etc.); prayers with words should be said aloud, audibly if not in a low voice, while prayers without words would be said in silence.  If standing is not possible, kneeling would be fine, prostrating instead of bowing at the appropriate times; which is my own personal preference, especially if indoors, and even more so if meditation, contemplation, readings, or other prayers are to be said either before or after this.

So there’s that: a simple prayer rule for devotional Hermetic practice, derived entirely from the classical Hermetic canon.  Short, elegant, straightforward, earnest; what more could one want, even if only to start with as a seed for extended or more elaborate prayer practices of Hermetic theurgy and henosis?  It’s something otherwise detached from any other religion or spiritual practice, and, perhaps most importantly, uses the actual words of Hermēs Trismegistos for our own prayers, and to repeat those same words (or to use them in a similar way) for following the Way of Hermēs is a powerful practice, indeed.

Speaking of “following the Way”, there’s something else I was considering.  We used that excerpt from Book I of the Corpus Hermeticum to create those evening and morning prayers above, but we focused on the latter two paragraphs of the excerpt for that.  The first two paragraphs, on the other hand, take a distinctly different tone: that of a call to wake up, a call to the Way of Truth that Hermēs Trismegistos began to teach at the instruction of Poimandrēs.  Like Buddha going around from town to town with the call of “Anyone for the other side?” or the Islamic adhān calling Muslims to prayer, similar language could be used as a preliminary…perhaps not “prayer”, but reminder of what it is to follow the Way and why we should do so.  Though I doubt there are many communities that would need such a grand call, it could be useful before both individual or group practice before any major Hermetic theurgic undertaking, even (or especially) those that rely on heavier PGM-style magic and ritual.  To that end, I figured I’d end this post by sharing my rewrite of Hermēs’ original call, based again on comparing the older translations of Scott, Copenhaver, and Salaman amongst each other:

O all you children of mankind, o all you born of the Earth, o all who you have given yourselves over to drink and sleep in your ignorance of God! Make yourselves sober, cease your drunken sickness, end your bewitchment by unreasoning sleep! Why have you given yourselves over to death, since you have the power to partake of immortality? You who have wandered with Error, you who have partnered with Ignorance: think again, and repent! Be released from the darkness, take hold of the Light, take part in divine immortality, leave behind your corrupt destruction! Do not surrender to the way of death by your mockery or distance, but come, rise, and be guided on the way of life!

Summer update: Jailbreak the Sacred, the Salem Summer Symposium, and more!

I hope everyone’s been enjoying the Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration posts that have been going up lately!  There are still a few more to go, but in the meantime, I didn’t want you all to think that I was just relaxing taking a vacation (as much as I might want or need to).  Rather, things have been as busy as ever, between commuting and working and Working and writing and Writing and this and that and the other, and I wanted to take a quick moment to fill you guys in on some of the things that have been happening lately.

First, a few updates about the website structure.  I decided to go through my blog archives and make things a bit easier to navigate for some of the more fun or interesting posts I’ve made, and while there’s too much to outright do a whole highlight reel of posts, I have made a few new pages for ease of navigability and readability, including adding a few goodies to the Rituals pages from old posts that discussed some rituals I apparently forgot about.

  • The About page has been updated with links to all the different categories of posts (which are also accessible on the right side of the blog page, at least while using the desktop view of the website blog).
  • Several new pages have been added to the top navbar:
    • About → Geomancy Posts: an index of all the important posts I’ve done about geomancy, geomantic divination, geomantic magic, geomantic spirituality, and divination generally.
    • About → Post Series: an index of all the different multipart series of posts I’ve written about over the years, with a summary of each series and links to each of the individual posts in each series.
    • Rituals → Candle Blitzkrieg Blessing: a ritual that utterly fills a house or dwelling with divine light for the sake of blessing it.
    • Rituals → Dream Divination Ritual: a ritual to be done while the Moon is in your ninth house for dream divination, lucid dreaming, or other forms of dreamwork.
    • Rituals → Uncrossing of the Mouth: a ritual to uncross, unbind, and free the mouth from any maleficia, cross, or curse that has settled upon it so that you can speak freely and easily once again.
  • The page Rituals → Classical Hermetic Rituals → The Headless Rite has been (finally) updated, with much of the Greek being corrected, a full transcription of the Greek provided, and more information provided on carrying out the ritual itself.

Second, I was on another podcast!  The wonderful, amazing, and handsome astrologer Nate Craddock of Soul Friend Astrology started a podcast earlier this year, Jailbreak the Sacred, where he sits down to talk with leaders, thinkers, practitioners, and activists about the intersection of mainstream religion and alternative spirituality.  After all, as he says, “spirituality in the 21st century is only getting weirder from here on out, and there’s no better time to team up with people who have walked that path before”.  It’s a wonderful and refreshing thing to listen to, and there are some great speakers already in the lineup, and it’s an honor for me to be included among them!  We spent a good hour and more talking about the intersection of my magical and religious practices, what it’s like being an orisha priest in the Afro-Cuban tradition of La Regla de Ocha Lukumí, and how that impacts my philosophy, ethics, and morality in how I approach my life and Work.  Head on over to JTS and take a listen!  And, if you use iTunes, be sure to subscribe to JTS through that platform, too!

Also, for his patrons over on Patreon, there’s an extra bonus episode of Nate and I talking about geomancy, where I give a very rough-and-fast explanation of the origins of geomancy, and I read for Nate on the air and give a full explanation of what a geomancy reading with me is like on the spot.  You’ll also be able to listen in on a special prayer I’ve written for divination, what I call the Praise of the Lord of the Unseen, which has hitherto not been published anywhere (yet).  If you’re interested, help Nate with his podcast, pitch in $10 a month, and get access to this and all sorts of other goodies and bonuses Nate has for his subscribers!

Third, I’m really super excited to announce that I will be in Salem, Massachusetts in early-mid August this year to attend, present, do readings, and generally have fun at the Salem Summer Symposium!  This is the first major event of its kind hosted by the good folk at the Cauldron Black, with the main show of events lasting from August 7 through August 11, but with other activities occurring around the city of Salem as early as August 3.  I’ll be teaming up with the wonderful Dr Al Cummins for a Double Trouble Geomancy Power Hour on Friday, August 9 from 10am to 12pm, and later on that day I’ll be presenting on my own about my recent development in geomancy-centered theurgical practices from 4pm to 6pm.  Tickets are still available, and I heartily encourage those who are able to attend to do so; there’s a massive list of fascinating talks, presentations, workshops, and other delights for the eyes and heart and mind to partake in, and that’s besides just the social fun to be had in a spot of great renown in old New England!

Last but not least, I mentioned a bit ago that the Russian occult website Teurgia.Org is working on translating some of my writings and works into the Russian language.  They’ve done it again, this time translating my old post on Ancient Words of Power for the Directions (April 2013) into Russian on their website.  If you’re a speaker of Russian, go check it out!

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say for now.  I hope the weather is treating you all well, and that the upcoming summer solstice (or winter solstice for those in the Southern Hemisphere) is blessed and prosperous for us all!  And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

On the Nine Offices of Saint Cyprian

Recently, as part of my effort to get off my fat, lazy ass and get myself into gear again, I started off with a novena to Saint Cyprian of Antioch, the patron saint of magoi and sorcerers and necromancers and all kinds of occultists.  I pretty much winged it, and I wasn’t going off any particular novena rubric; I would say a few of his prayers I commonly use followed by his chaplet, but I did make it a contemplative novena.  To explain how I did it, it would help to back up and explain one of the short invocations I make for Saint Cyprian of Antioch, which goes like this:

Holy Saint Cyprian of Antioch!  Mage, martyr, and mystic; theurge, thaumaturge, and theophoros; saint, sorcerer, and sage!  Pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

It’s a short prayer, but it encapsulates a lot of Saint Cyprian’s presence and symbolism.  Besides, as one of the sacred symbols of Saint Cyprian is the number nine, I figured it would be a decent structure to use nine “offices” or “aspects” for the good saint, hence the threefold division of three offices, one for each letter.  Plus, with nine offices, I figured it would be good to meditate and contemplate on the mysteries of Saint Cyprian of Antioch by focusing on each one of his offices each day of the novena.

Well, on day five of the novena (halfway through), an annoying thing happened.  I wear a bracelet made of bone and precious stones dedicated to Saint Cyprian to keep his influence around me, and I took it off to take a shower in the evening before doing my novena (a little later than I had planned on doing because I was tired and engaged in conversation with other people).  The bracelet snapped and scattered beads all over my bedroom, and I had the hunch that it wasn’t a mere accident.  During my novena prayers that night, I did a bit of confirmation divination with the saint, and yes, it wasn’t just an accident; Saint Cyprian was miffed at me for being tardy with my prayers, and made the point that not only was I to shape up and act right in the future, but the bracelet could not be remade until an offering was made and the beads cleaned off.  Moreover, as part of my “punishment” (or education, same diff really), he instructed me to keep better track of what I had been meditating on and what he had been teaching me.

Hence this blog post.  I wanted to discuss some of my thoughts, in an abbreviated, short way, on the nine offices of Saint Cyprian of Antioch that make up his invocation I use.  These were some of the thoughts and conclusions, sometimes spontaneously said aloud or sometimes silently passed on, that I think would be good to keep for records as well as for others to learn from.  Yes, I’m aware that much of this is quite explicitly Christian or Gnostic in many aspects, but that makes sense, as Saint Cyprian is, well, a Christian bishop and hieromartyr.  Dear reader, if you don’t much care for that kind of talk, you have been warned ahead of time.

Mage
The word “magician” comes from Greek μαγος, from the ancient Persian astrologer-priests, who managed the celestial forces as they achieved contact with the Earth as well as our own powers and prayers that rose to the heavens.  A mage is an intermediary, in many ways, between the spiritual and physical, the celestial and terrestrial, the terrestrial and subterranean, the personal and impersonal, the internal and external.  However, just as the magoi were seen as “foreign” the Greeks compared to their own goes, or goetic sorcerers or “shamans” as some people make them out to be, mages are always “foreign” to wherever they may be found.  In some way, they do not fit: they are on the fringe, the outside, the external, always looking in and playing with things in a system that does not completely accept them.  Magicians, by definition, are in the world without being of the world, for some definition of “world”.  It is this stark differentness that is ostensibly a curse, but also its own blessing, when recognized for what it is: we must link being in the world without becoming part of it, and in doing so link what is with what is not.

Martyr
The word “matryr” is Greek for “witness”.  The good Rev. Dn. Strojan had this to say to me about the word:

…primarily is concerned with living in a manner consistent with Gospel teaching and nurturing a relationship with God. Martyrs are said to be witnesses of the faith by the fact that they are presumably killed for their beliefs.

The word is used based on what Paul said in Acts 22:15, that “you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard [of Christ]”.  Indeed, Cyprian the Mage had no idea what he was up against when he tried to seduce, enslave, and eventually slay the virtuous maiden Justina, who defeated every single thing that Cyprian threw at her.  Indeed, Cyprian saw firsthand the power of Christ and, even without being baptized or believing in Christ, made the sign of the Cross and drove back the Devil.  Cyprian, as a mage, knows power when he sees it, and he had never seen any power like Christ before; Cyprian truly witnessed the power, grace, and saving strength of Christ.  And, add to it, where there is such power, there is indomitable truth, and Cyprian could profess nothing but the truth he had seen, and he could never deny it, either, even in the face of certain death.  That is where the word “martyr” comes in: martyrs are those who witnessed the power of Christ and professed it, even when they knew it would lead to their death.  Cyprian would never budge from his position because of the true power he knew.  What would it take for me, I wonder, to do the same?  I am far weaker, and would naturally prefer to save my own neck than repeating truth, yet…truth is greater than I am, and Christ is greater than death.  It’s not that Cyprian gave everything up for Christ, but quite the opposite; in Christ, Cyprian had everything, so death could not take anything away from him.  A side effect of martyrdom: it truly is a crowning in its own holy way, a gifting of all power, that one may never be diminished after suffering the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Truth.

Mystic
A mystic is an initiate in the mysteries, and Saint Cyprian was initiated into them all, first to the god Apollo, then to the cult on Olympus, then the cabals in Argos, then the covens in Tauropolis, then the clans in Sparta, and on and on until he became a master of all gods, religions, and practices in his day, including ultimately the mysteries of Christ, greatest of them all.  But what is a mystery?  It is a truth, something true and mythic that lives on in the world outside us as well as the world inside us.  In all mysteries, there must also be a mystagogue, a “leader into the mystery”, and Saint Cyprian is both mystic and mystagogue.  He leads in a way not unlike Hermes, and in doing so, helps shine truth upon us; this was evident both when he was Cyprian the Mage as well as Cyprian the Saint.  I sought his aid in leading me into his mysteries, as well as to those in which I am fit and made for.

Theurge
The origin of the word “theurge” is from Greek, literally meaning “god-worker”.  Yes, work is part of this word, but it’s a special kind of work, as this is a special kind of magic.  Theurgy is magic that goes upwards, and I kept seeing an image of a double-sided Cyprian, one side facing me in his normal guise of old man in rags, but the other ennobled and enrobed facing away from me with arms outstretched towards the cosmos and all its stars and planets and lights.  A theurge is no normal magician, but a “priest to the gods”, as in one who acts not in service to the gods but who acts on behalf of and ministers to the gods.  In only approaching the gods as equals (God became man in Christ that man might become God in Christ), we help the gods and help ennoble and empower the gods above even their own rank, that all might approach the holy glory of the One.  However, this is difficult as mankind, because we’re so trapped down here that we cannot see the cosmos in all its infinite glory.  The body, especially, is something that is a tool, yet hinder us since we usually cannot use it well.  We treat the body too well, or too lazily, or too softly, and in effect the body traps us.  Yet, we cannot destroy the body, as it is our only tool in this world, and so we must treat it well enough that it lives well yet not so well that it becomes an obsession for us.  This is much akin to the Buddhist notion of the Middle Way, which to an outsider would seem incredibly ascetic yet from its own system makes perfect sense as moderation; it just goes to show how far obscenely extreme we are in our indulgences that the Middle Way seems extreme in and of itself!  In treating the body right, we can then, slowly, turn away and up from this world and engage in the right practice of the gods.

Thaumaturge
NB: this was the night that my bracelet broke, and I first asked Saint Cyprian about it.  I had been lying on the couch, delaying going to my temple room for my novena, and chatting with friends before deciding a shower would be nice before making my prayers, and then my bracelet broke.  Saint Cyprian firmly reminded me of our chat the previous night, about not overly treating the body well, which is exactly what I had been doing.  Thus, a bit of a wonder had to happen in order to catch my attention, and this is where the role of thaumaturge comes in, literally “wonder-worker”.  Little meditation was done tonight, instead to be replaced by an injunction to make my own wonders happen in the world.  Cyprian showed me an image of his cauldron, and taking power out of it to cast death on this person, healing on that person, wealth on this person, poverty on that person, and so on.  What is my cauldron?  What is inside it?  What is its fire?  What is my hook?  What is my spoon?

Theophoros
The office of “theophoros” was originally chosen on a whim, but it turns out to have been highly appropriate.  Coming from Greek meaning “bearer of God”, the word “theophoros” was originally applied to Ignatius, student of John the Apostle and the third Bishop of Antioch (!).  Saint Cyprian was not originally Christian, but born to pagan parents, dedicated to the god Apollo as a child, and initiated into countless mysteries before finally coming to Christ.  In all these things, God was still present, and Cyprian took on more and more paths of God, taking a very roundabout way to his eventual ultimate initiation.  In every work, every ritual, every spell, every tool, every initiation, and every step, Cyprian the Mage carried God around with him, though he did not know it; it was only during the climax of the Mage’s life and conversion into the Christian that Cyprian dug through all the detritus, muddled darkness, and clutter of practices that he found God at the center of each and every thing he had ever done.  When he cleared all that away, Cyprian no longer had any burdens to bear, as God was, crucially, weightless; indeed, instead of bearing God, once the Mage became the Christian, God bore Cyprian, turning him from the Bearer of God into the Borne of God.  God is in everything we do, from the smallest to the greatest, from the most mundane to the most spiritual, but we may have difficulty seeing him; that difficulty, that blind distance and rejection of grace, is our burden to bear.  It is meant for us to bear, and it is eventually meant for us to one day put down our burden, cut to the heart of it all, and not only find that we have little to truly carry, but also to become carried by that which once we carried.

Saint
A saint, according to Catholic doctrine, is anyone who has holiness and grace enough to be granted access to Heaven, whether in life or in death.  Saint Cyprian, obviously, is such a person, but it’s amazing that he could do so, given that almost for his entire life he was raised counter to everything in Christianity.  He was part of every pagan path, every mystery religion, every magical order of his day; he worked with, worshipped, and worked upon countless gods and all but fought God himself.  Yet, despite of and because of the spiritual darkness he lived in, he had grace and holiness enough to become a saint in his own, unpredictably magical way.  Yet, moreover, he was human, like you or me.  All of humanity possesses the ability to become saints, showing us that this is not something reserved for the elect or the blessed few, but that sainthood is open to all of us, each and every one of us.  How do we become saints?  It’s not that we stop sinning, for we can never really do that; even Saint Cyprian repented and shit and ate, although certainly his magical training gave him discipline enough to keep his sins at bay more than most.  We become saints by enjoying grace, and grace…really isn’t that hard a concept to grasp.  All we have to do is to keep looking at God and not look away.  Much how Cyprian had everything when he converted to Christ and thus couldn’t lose anything, we don’t become blind to other things if all we look at and look for is God, because God is all and all are in God.  It’s when we look at other things for their own sake that we lose sight of God, and that is when we turn our back on grace, but if we can just keep that Light in our eyes, it illuminates everything.

Sorcerer
The word “sorcerer” is largely interchangeable with the word “mage” or “magician”, though it’s usually had something more of a sinister connotation.  It ultimately comes from Latin sors meaning “lots” or “fates”, like the throws of a die or pulling of pieces of paper from a hat, by means of Medieval Latin sortarius “teller of fortunes by lot”.  In a sense, it could be seen that mages work with the forces of the cosmos at their disposal to attain particular fates, while sorcerers manipulate the fate of the cosmos itself.  This is kind of true, but also kind of not true; all sorcerers are magicians, but not all magicians are sorcerers.  In some sense, sorcery is more difficult, yet also more popular, than magic meant in its stricter senses.  While I thought that sorcery could be thought of as magic with a heavy bent on divination, given the emphasis on lots, it’s more that mages are the processors and implementors of the cosmos, while sorcerers are the engineers of the cosmos; we hack the systems at work themselves to change how they work, as opposed to putting them to work as they are.  As for fate, well, if you consider destiny a destination after a long road, while magicians can make certain parts of the road easier or more difficult, it’s when you change the path itself or even the ultimate destination that sorcery is involved.  Sorcery is the deception of the nature of reality itself.

Sage
Saint Cyprian showed me a vast city full of different types of buildings: some modern, some classically Greek, some Chinese, some simple mud-brick huts.  This is the City of God, he said, and he asked “who built it?” It is the work of not God, but man; mankind brought each brick about, and each brick was inscribed with Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.  Respect of God, who gives life, who gives grace, who gives guidance, is the key to wisdom, as it is by respecting the the Creator that we respect and know Creation.  In recognizing our true power above, not a temporal or mundane power above us but a being that is actually greater than us in every way, we recognize the structure and harmony of the cosmos, and by respecting God, we inherently align ourselves with our purpose and plan in life.  The world is meant to be lived in and manipulated to our good ends, not for our selfish or mundane ends, since it is by harmony with the created universe around us and all its creatures that we show God in ourselves as creators, yes, but also as maintainers and stewards and caretakers and inhabitants of it all.  Why do we seek wisdom?  We all have that flame of Sophia in our hearts, after all, but why do we let it burn, why do we want it to burn greater?  There is no speakable answer; the only correct answer is by God, and it is by respecting God that we come to know God, and it is by knowing God that we come to knowledge of all.