The following excerpt comes from José Leitão’s translation of O Grande Livro de São Cipriano ou thesouro do feiticeiro, The Great Book of St Cyprian, or Treasury of Sorcery. It comes from Chapter V of the translated book sections, pages 26 through 29. This section discusses the souls in Purgatory, how to distinguish them from demons, and why they come to haunt the living. The aspiring sorcerer is then taught how to pray for these souls, so that they may receive absolution for their sins and be granted entrance into Heaven. This is one of the many things from this book that amazed me, as it is actually a really accurate description of what can happen to souls in need of elevation, usually those of one’s ancestors. What may often be mistaken for a negative or evil spirit may be a good soul pining for attention. I highly recommend the use of the accompanying orison in ancestral elevation work, as it is very effective.
While this section, indeed the entire book, is soaked in Christian Catholic symbolism and beliefs of Portugal, this masking covers essential truths. The concepts of Purgatory and absolution are metaphors of real spiritual states. When one dies, one may linger in a state of bewilderment, anger, shame, sorrow, hate… Baggage from life that is clung on to in Death. The Dead can often not be able to shake this off on their own, and require the sustenance of sincere prayer from the living to be untangled from their spiritual mess. This state of being can be referred to as “Purgatory”, a place where those not evil enough to go to Hell and those not good enough for Heaven must be interred in order to make right their sins on earth in Catholic doctrine. Absolution is when those sins are paid for; the soul is purified and allowed to enter Heaven. The way a soul can be absolved of sins is from prayer, especially through novenas or special rosaries. This makes an interesting connection to the Anima Sola prayed to in Folk traditions of Latin America, a figure who represents the loneliest soul in Purgatory. Thus, the spirit is not just one spirit, but changed over time as one “loneliest spirit’s” debts are paid for by devotees. In any case, the bottom line is that Purgatory and Absolution are Catholic manifestations of real spiritual states. Thus, the catholic practices associated with relieving souls of their sufferings in Purgatory can be applied to practical ancestral work (and also general necromancy). That’s my little intro to this piece, and now without further ado…
Regarding the Ghosts that appear at Crossroads, or Souls from the Spiritual world, who by commandment of God come to this corporeal world seeking prayers and purification from the mistakes they committed in this world against God Our Lord, and are thus sent to mortify its creatures and appear to them as Ghosts so as to be prayed for; however, instead of prayers some men banish and curse them; a great error of humanity! Read and study well what follows, so as you may be of service to these unfortunate spirits.
What are ghosts?
These are visions that appear to certain individuals, possessors of a weak spirit and a strong belief that the souls of those who have ceased to exist still visit this world. For ghosts only appear to those who believe in spiritual beings and not the incredulous, for they would have no advantage in doing so; on the contrary, they would receive only curses.
Ah! What will become of he who thus acts in this world, poor fool, if he does nothing but mock the servants of the Lord who come to this world to seek relief and instead find punishment? Their torments are doubled!
Ah! What will become of you on the day of your sentencing, if you don’t have friends to petition on your behalf to the supreme Judge? If you have no friends, you will be punished with the whole rigor of Justice.
Then, nurture, nurture good and true friendships, so as on that terrible day you might have some good friends to pray to the Creator on your behalf; do as the farmer who, so as to reap many good fruits by St Michael, casts upon the earth all the good and proper elements.
Take heed, my brothers, these words do not come from the tip of my pen, but rather inspired from the depths of my heart! When a vision appears before you do not banish it for it will curse you, it will damage all your businesses and all in your life will go sour; however when you feel such a vision resort to the orison in this book entitled Orison for the Good spirits, for you will immediately relieve that beggar who asks for alms from all the charitable people.
Know, my brothers, The Devil seldom appears as a ghost, for demons used to be angels and as such do not have a body to clothe themselves with; as such I do recommend that when you see a ghost in the form of an animal, being it certain that such is a demon, you should banish him by making a + (Sign of the Cross). But if the ghost has a human figure, it is not a demon, but truly a soul seeking relief from his sentences. You should the immediately make the orison in this book for you will surely not lose anything in doing so, for that soul, which you just released, will be with you always should you call upon it. Do not take my word for it; do the experiment and you will see.
Pray, pray for those poor spirits, and call upon them in all your dealings and in everything you so choose that you will always be successful; this I swear.
Fortunate is the creature that is pursued by spirits, for it is certain that this is a good person and spirits pursue her so that she will pray to the Lord on their behalf, for she is worthy to be heard by the Creator. It is for this reason that some are more pursued by ghosts than others. Many other spirits do not adopt this system of appearing as ghosts, but rather appear in the houses of their relatives, making noises during the night, dragging chairs, tables and all other things throughout the house, all because of the lack of intelligence of its inhabitants, for if they immediately resorted to these orisons they would be free from the spirit and would also perform an act of charity, and, on the last day of their life, the doors of Heaven would open for them. Mote these words my brothers, and consecrate them in your heart, for my intention is that, with this work, many souls may be saved and no more absurdities committed.
Orison to petition God on behalf of the good spirits who come to this world seeking prayers so as to be purified from the evils committed in this world, or restitute some debt or robbery.
(Original footnote suggests praying the Creed and Act of Contrition afterwards)
Leave, Christian Soul, this world, in the name of God the Father Almighty, who created thee; in the name of Jesus Spiritual Son of the Living God, who suffered for thee; in the name of the Holy Spirit, who copiously communicates with thee. Be gone form this body or place where thou lingers, for the Lord now receives thee in His kingdom; Jesus, hear my prayer and be my support as thou are the support of the Saints, Angels, and Archangels; of the Thrones and Dominions; of the Cherubim and Seraphim; of the Prophets, the Saintly Apostles and the Evangelists; of the Saintly martyrs, Confessors, Monks, Religious men and Hermits, of the Saintly Virgins and wives of Jesus Christ and of all Saints of God, who may now give thee a place of rest and enjoyment of peace in the hoy city lf celestial Zion, where thou may praise Him for centuries. Amen.
LET US PRAY
Merciful God, Clement God, God who according to the greatness of thy infinite mercy forgives the sins of this spirit who bears the pain of having committed them, and give him full absolution of past guilt and offenses. Look down with thy eye of mercy in this servant who roams this world pining; open for him, Lord, the gates of Heaven, hear him and grant him forgiveness of all his sins for full-heartedly does he ask this of thee through hi humble confession. Renew and divide, O Merciful Father, the faults and ruins of this soul, an the sins he made and contracted, either by his weakness or by the cunnings and trickeries of the Devil. Admit him and take him back into the body of thy triumphant church. As a living member of it, redeemed by the precious blood of thy son, Feel compassion, Lord, for his moaning; let his tears and his sobbing move thee; let his, and our, supplications soften thee. Support and succor he who places his hope in nothing other than thy mercy, and admit him in thy friendship and grace, by the love thou hast for Jesus Christ, Thy Beloved Son, who lives and reigns with thee for all the centuries of centuries. Amen.
O Soul, atoning for thy faults, I commend thee to God All Mighty, my dearest brother, to him who I ask to support and favor thee as His creature, so as, having paid with death the dues of this life, may thou see the Lord, the sovereign artifice, who from the dust of the earth created thee. When thy soul leaves its body, may the luminous army of Saints come to greet thee and accompany thee, defend thee and celebrate thee; the glorious college of the Saintly Apostles favor thee, being judges for thy cause; the triumphant legions of the Invincible martyrs support thee, the most noble company of the illustrious Confessors receive thee in their midst, and with the soft fragrance of the lilies they carry, symbols of the softness of their virtues, comfort thee; The choirs of the Saintly Virgins, joyful and gay, receive thee; may all of that blessed celestial and courteous company with open arms of true friendship give thee entrance into the glorious bosom of the Patriarchs; may the face of thy redeemer Jesus Christ be appeasable and merciful to thee and may He give thee a place amongst those who are always in His presence. Never will thou taste the horror of the eternal darkness, or the crackling of its flames, nor the sentences that torment the condemned. May Cursed Satan surrender with all his allies, and, when thou passes before them, accompanied by the Angels, let the miserable tremble and flee fearful into the thick darkness of his shadowy residence.
Go, Soul; let thy martyrdom end, for thou no longer belongs to this corporeal world, but rather to the celestial! Thou art free, for if God is favorable to thee, all the enemies who bother Him will be routed; let them run from His presence; vanish like smoke in the air and as wax in the fire, these rebellious and cursed demons; and the joyful just, happily with thee sit at the table of their God. Let the infernal armies be confounded and run, and let the ministers of Satan not dare stop thy path into Heaven. Let Christ, who was crucified for thee, free thee from Hell; let him free thee from those torments thou suffered in this world, tormenting other and being tormented.
Christ, who gave his life for thee, may Christ, Son of the Living God, place thee amongst the meadows and forests of Paradise, which never fade nor wither, and as a true shepherd may he recognize thee as a sheep of his flock. May he absolve thee of all thy sins, and may He sit thee by His right hand among the chosen and predestined; Let God make thee so happy that always assisting in His presence, may thou know with blessed eyes the truth manifest of His divinity, and in the company of the courteous of Heaven may thou enjoy the sweetness of His eternal contemplation for all centuries of centuries. Amen.