¶ A considered review of JSK’s The Testament of Cyprian the Mage has been posted by Frater Acher on his Theomagica site, an excerpt from which is given below:
Jake Stratton-Kent’s (JSK) Encyclopedia Goetica comes to a phenomenal end with this double volume. As he puts it himself, the first volume on The True Grimoire provided a map of the Goetic universe, the second double volume Geosophia took us on a vast journey into the actual territory. It allowed us to re-encounter much of our magical origins in the West, of the ancient myths and stories required to initiate a modern revival of ‘conjure magic.’ The third and final installment, TOCM, introduces us to the hero of this tradition, the trickster in disguise, the goetic saint who best embodies this underworldly tradition of the West and whose mythical blood preserves the myriad of spirit voices that live and thrive within it.
In a not at all metaphorical sense JSK’s final double volume is an expedition into the ancestral blood-ties of this famous sorcerer-saint. To embark on it is to encounter Cyprian the Mage. Not only as the hero of an ancient polemic against the last surviving pagans, but more importantly as a still present inner contact, a powerful spirit in its own right. Cyprian in this regard is the literal end of the Western occult Ariadne thread, woven unknowingly into the gown of the Christian church. It is this thread that JSK picks up and follows masterfully – and thus leads us back through millenia into the chthonic temples of our past. Following his book with head and heart is an act of magic in itself, of conjure magic, of raising the dead from the shadows. Reading this book, remembering our own Goetic past, thus turns into a necromantic act in itself.
By the time we finish the second volume, if we took a family photo of the spirit-ancestors TOCM helped us reconnecting with, we’d see a vast crypt filled with relatives: closest to the front we’d find the majestic four kings and queens of the cardinal directions, right behind them the rows of the 36 spirits of the decans, followed by the 28 lunar mansions. Behind these still we’d make out slightly less familiar faces: we’d see humanoid forms wearing the heads of dogs, of lions and dragons. Or none at all, like the ancient headless one, the Akephalos buried deep in the past of our lineage.
JSK calls these spirit ancestor the ‘dramatis personae’ of the goetic myths. But maybe we should begin to think of them as family again? Not only because this is precisely how the hagazussas, the old European witches thought of the ‘familiar’ spirits they held long-lasting relationships with. But because the idea of ‘family’ evokes so much of what was lost in Western magic over the last centuries.
Let’s do a little experiment. Just think of your own family for a moment: Chances are it is a rather small circle when you only think of the ones who live with you on a daily basis. Yet the circle expands as soon as you include more distant relatives. And it truly opens up into a vast ocean of lives once you think of all the dead who walked before you and who are still remembered in your blood. – Truth be told, many of the people you think of right now might piss you off just as often as they amaze you, they might be as much a burden as a source of love, as much pain as gain. And yet irrespective of these bitter-sweet connections, we are all tied to them for good by the lines that run deep through the story that unites us. That is the story of our ancestors and family…
The full review can be read here: http://theomagica.com/blog/jsk-testament-of-cyprian-the-mage
The Testament of Cyprian is available in hardback and paperback editions here