Review – The Book of Saint Cyprian: The Sorcerer’s Treasure

We’ve recently seen two new books attributed to the third century bishop Cyprian.  The first was The Testament of Cyprian the Mage, which included a mostly complete translation of a Spanish work of ceremonial magic.  The second, from Hadean Press, is The Book of St. Cyprian, a translation of a Portuguese work of folk magic from José Leitão.

If one looks at the article on Cyprian editions written by Félix Francisco Castro, the text should correspond with item 6, the Livraria Económica edition from the National Library in Lisbon, along with some additional material and changes in organization of its heterogeneous contents.  We have chapters on divination using cards, palm-reading, and phrenology, and multiple lists of the major hidden treasures of Iberia.  Those interested in folk magic should not fear – there are numerous rites for a magician to compel obedience, find those abovementioned treasures, or bring about love (or lust) between two people.   My personal favorites are the rites aimed at creating a miniature devil or homunculus to serve the caster.  Scattered among these are various and sometimes conflicting narratives regarding Cyprian and how he made use of one rite or another for his success.

What Leitão provides in addition are an extensive introduction and notes, some of the latter of which practically constitute minor essays in and of themselves.  It’s not quite as systematic and well-documented as some might like, but nonetheless, these are very interesting, especially for readers of English who might have little understanding of the folklore and beliefs of Portugal.  The only omission I noticed was a reprint of the Portuguese text, for those who want to delve into the original.

In terms of the many grimoires out there, I’d say this rises slightly over many of the others, largely because of its unfamiliar content that might be more difficult for Anglophone readers to find.  The main obstacle for US purchasers will be the exorbitant shipping rates from the UK (not Hadean’s fault, I hasten to add).  I’d suggest looking around on their website to see if there’s anything else you might want, so that you can take maximum advantage of any order.



Published in: on August 4, 2014 at 8:32 pm  Comments (4)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Dear Dan: Yes the text correspond with the Livraria Economica edition. You can see and have in pdf format the original book directly from the Portuguese National Library at this address.
    When I saw it when I went to Lisbon it wasn’t available in internet. Although it seems to be a late XIXth century edition, from the 1870s or 1880s, I told to Mr. José Leitao that I have read advertisements of editions by the Livraria Económica from 1850s, then probably it was printed much earlier in shorter editions.
    Portuguese Inquisition disappeared earlier than Spanish Inquisition and perhaps it had some influence in printing occult literature before in Portugal than in Spain.

  2. maybe i’m missing something. i purchased this Testament of Ciprian the mage which you describe as a mostly complete translation. and other than a few extracts form sulfurino’s opening. i can find nothing else related to cipriano. it does go on at length about the testament of solomon and other theurgic and goetic subjects. i generally find everything you post to be of the greatest value. but this book disapoints.

    • I haven’t been able to compare it to the original Spanish, admittedly, but the book does contain most of a particular Cyprian translation. I think the text is not always clear on where that Cyprian work ends and the commentary begins, and both are interspersed throughout, so the reader has to work to pull the two out. If you continue through, you’re likely to find more material.

  3. […] José Leitão return again to the Portuguese Cyprianic corpus that informed his previous releases, The Book of Saint Cyprian and The Immaterial Book of Cyprian. That one can fill up nearly a thousand pages with barely any […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s