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The Testament of Cyprian the Mage

Reviewed by Al Cummins

The Testament of Cyprian the Mage is the final part in the Encyclopaedia Goetica series by Jake Stratton-Kent. It is at once a remarkable conclusion to this series, and an outstanding work in its own right. It is a two-volume set that analyses grimoires, acting as both a reader and commentary on such texts. Yet it also appears, in a comely form of course, as somewhat grimoiric itself. It is also a book that cites peer-reviewed research, eruditely synthesising and contributing to academic discourse, and bequeaths a veritable trove of a bibliography. It stresses the importance of personal eschatology, totems, spellwork and agreements when interacting with spirits in serious magical praxis. It spins from gods of time to the spirits of the decans to demonic kings and queens to sylphs and gnomes through geographically diverse and ideologically distinguished occult philosophies and practices. Such an exploration is remarkably nimble-footed, and leads us treasure-seeking to magical lore concerning plants, animals, and folk.

The author reveals that the Testament of Cyprian can be read as the treasure search between the grimoire study of the True Grimoire and the argo-ride through ancient Greece (and a modern necromancy) of the Geosophia. It starts with an ancient spirit catalogue, tracing roots down to the powers and myths of time, the dead, stars, and markings. Petitioning its namesake, Cyprian of Antioch, brings to light these ancestral rhizomatics of Old and New World traditions, in a manner that itself seems both time-honoured and innovative. Those who see those two approaches – of the “rooted” and the “branching” – as mutually exclusive will almost certainly struggle with this text and the sanguine approach that enlivens it.

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