25 augusti 2010

Folk magick and Saints - Musings

After offering some advice on working with a saint to a friend I started musing. As I have been busy lately, I thought I post this little tidbit.

Orthodox Christianity has a very interesting definition of what a Saint is.

The 3 main things needed for canonisation are

1 Person had to be a pious Christian with knowledge of the mystery of God (gnosis anyone?)

2 Person needs to have perfomed miracles through God / died a martyr and in death or after death a sign should be exhibited

3 After death, there needs to be proof that the person is still around (in heaven) and continues to interceede on the behalf of the faithfull. This includes continuing to heal or causing signs to appear around the relics.

The more theology oriented of you might be aware that there have been revisions in the catholic church about which saints are encouraged to be petitoned, and which ones aren't.

To make a long story short, this is due to the fact that some of the saints popularly venerated were not saints at all. These were sometimes local deities or spirit beings that received a saintly covering by the locals who venerated them, and sometimes they were something else entirely.

For example, St Expedite was a statue of a saint that arrived at a nunnery. On the box it said Expedite, and since usually, statues of saints had the name of the saint written n the box, the nuns believed it to be the name of the saint.
Is Expedite a spiritual entity that took up residence in the statue and was worked with? Probably something along those lines, yes.

In reality a saint can be a
1 canonised ex-human as per the rules of sainthood,
2 an entity that was converted to a saintlyness by the locals who venerated it
3 an entity that took up residence in a consecrated image/statue.
4 a semi-mythical entity that was part of the older religion and still canonised such as the three saints Mikel, Gbriel, Rpal, and, or, entities that were created and have no historical link. The less pious of us might here think of the Madonna or Joseph...

However, all the requirements set out above should still be in effect. The "Saints" are ok with working in some form of christian context, they handle church trappings well, they have to continue to perform miracles/intercede.
No wonder that saints were so popular that the churchfathers were worried that Christianity would, as they said, degenerate into idolatry and saint worship, instead of veneration.

Today we have saints added in the orthodox churches who comply with the rules set out above. we have semi-divine ex-humans, artifically created myth personae, entities from older religions, canonised, entities that have entered folk veneration and accidental, newly created entities.

I don't want to be rude to anyone now, but doesn't this remind you of religion all over the world?

Some Lwa are dead ex-humans. Some have become lwa of the dead. You have egyptian godforms used by ritual magicians, sigils in grimoires written by people who never did a second of ritual magick, yet the sigils have living entities in them.

The reason people use saints is because they WORK. They do what is on the tin. St. Cajetano helps people in unemployment as that is what he did in life and still does, that is why he is a saint. St. Nikolas helps sailors and prostitutes and children.
Working with a saint is really as close to western spirit magick as you can get. It involves aspects of necromancy, angelology, and astral work. However you do not even need any skills whatsoever in order to work with the saints. They have fairly clear likes dislikes, have been worked with for centuries and are reliable to just do what they usually did, for a price.

In hermeticism there is a technique for an immortal body that you can transfer your mind indo once the body is dead. The same concept exists in certain strains of Buddism tantra and even in jewish kabbalah. If you're a man, over 35 and want to learn kabbalah, go to a tomb in a jewish cemetary belonging to a kabbalist and meditate on the tombstone and then note your dreams.

if some saints do not work anymore, does that mean they have passed on or are they just not interested in helping in that specific instance? (as, based on their job description as saints they do need to work)

I think that a saint should do his or her job, and if not suffer the consequences of no poundcakes, no money given to charity and no prayers of the poor! :)

So any saint reading this, thanks for your hard work, please keep it up.

3 kommentarer:

  1. LOL, well some saints just don't vibe off some people. Some saints *love* others. I had St Joseph come to me in a visionary episode one evening as I was retiring to sleep - entirely unsolicited. I had never even thought about working with him. Yet, now when I petition him - he can move mountains for me. Other saints I thought would be fabulous to work with ignore me entirely. In terms of the african traditions, it's obviously not that surprising that the saints became so big because they were the mighty dead - a class of dead that africans are quite familiar with. Also the statues, prints and other devotional paraphernalia of the sainted are rather ecstatic forms of art lending themselves well to magical methodologies and thinking. What's not to love! Also, as spirits go the saints are fairly safe to work with - although some can get a little tricky too, its not quite the same as an angered lwa or orisha.

  2. Totally agree. It seems saints vibe well with christian values, so even if they get tricky, like taking away what they gave you if you dont hold your end of the bargain, they're nowhere as scary as lwa/orisha.

    My greek friend reminded me that during baptism one should always get the name of a biblicak character/saint as well and that is meant to be one's saint. Guess thats a good one to work with.

    I wonder why some saints ignore one fully though...

  3. I think it has to do with their personal likes and dislikes - perhaps there is something in the way you appear to them that is not of interest, perhaps they are assigned to work with a certainly class of human. Some saints, it is said, only work with practising catholics and whilst I am not the most conventional catholic I have noticed since started going to weekly mass, there seems to be even more interest from them than usual.

    Interesting question, though.