Cyprianism tells us to achieve mastery of, and over, the seven Vices of an Artist, considered the Masculine elements of the pursuit of the Beautiful Life. The Knights of Paphos called them the Passions; “The Passions bring clarity to the world” (The Rosarium). Passions are part of the Poetry of humanity. Without them, we would be purely animal.
Unlike the Virtues of a Courtesan these elements lie in all of us. They are to be explored and enjoyed, but always under a “Watchful Eye”, a combination of our own reasonable circumscription and the reliance we have on other Cyprians to help us keep from going too far. This is why we call them the Vices. They howl at us and if we do not answer, we are dead, yet if we are not careful they will injure, even kill us. A full and proper exploration of the Vices can be the source of your finest moments.
In The Rosarium we find that, “In the garden, all is permitted save harm.” This includes the free exploration of the Vices, always staying short of causing harm to yourself or anyone else. But remember, that the garden is not the entire world. Your garden has walls and boundaries.
It should be noticed that these Vices are identical to the “Seven Deadly Sins” codified by Pope Gregory I in the Sixth Century. Consider this: the Greek word “hamartia”, commonly translated as “sin” in the Christian Bible means only “missing the mark”. And our missing of the mark as we explore the Vices can result in spiritual or physical death. These seven Passions then, are quite the only ones with this power, but they also contain within them the power to impart true Life – a Beautiful Life – to us.
Note: Each poem describing the Passions contains a reference to a color and an animal traditionally associated with the corresponding “deadly sin”.
The first and chief Vice is Pride. Its exploration defines all the others that follow. We tend to think of Pride as the thing that comes before a fall, but that would be arrogance, something that shares similar appearance but is wholly different.
The root of the word is from the Old French “prud” and meant “brave, valiant.” It speaks of a bravery and confidence built upon an honest assessment of one’s self and unabashedly working toward excellence.
Why do we think Pride comes before a fall but we also wish to take Pride in our work? It is because we are confusing Pride with arrogance. Is Pride the opposite of humility? It is not. Humility is being modest and reverential which is possible while maintaining a fullness of Pride.
Pride is tethered to the Virtues of Timing and Brilliance and the Overarching Principle of Abandon. By interlacing Timing with Pride we can achieve Brilliance, being brighter than that around us with Abandon.
Envy is often confused with jealousy, but Cyprianism shows that this is not true. Jealousy is a fear of losing something. It requires a “taking away”. Someone must remove something from you to fulfill its fears. Envy, on the other hand, is a desire for something you don’t have. To fulfill its desire something must be added to you. When explored in the right manner, under the “Watchful Eye”, it can be life giving.
When Envy is explored without connection to the Current it can become spitefulness, narcissism and even vandalism. We end up trying to keep others from having something because we cannot have it. But Envy can also spur you to something good. It can embolden healthy competition and progress. Once you are living in the power of Cyprianism, you become the Envied as well. In this way, Envy is tethered to Beauty, Charm, Liberty and Privilege.
There is another important aspect of Cyprian Envy, which is the compersion of the Pleasure Principle. When you find ultimate joy in exploring the joys of another, you end up Envying them, wanting to be them, being as excited as they are and spiritually sharing their connection with the Current. It is a concept as complex to unravel as it is intoxicatingly powerful. Fortunately, we can use our understanding of the Erotic to inform us. When thought of in Erotic terms, it is easy to understand how fully Knowing another and indulging their most hidden Pleasure can stir Envy in us, the fire that drives a Pleasure of our own. The Rosarium says, “There is either, there is or and then there is Poetry.” Most of those outside the garden consider themselves one or the other. But where we as Cyprians thrive is in the third thing. This is true S-xual Poetry.
Cyprians are encouraged to desire; to Envy and to be Envied. All is permitted in the garden – save harm. To desire to add things to your self, your life and your art is acceptable, so long as you are doing so by actually improving and not destroying.
Anger is an incredibly powerful Vice. It can give us strength beyond measure and it can destroy us from the inside. Anger is the fire that warms us when we are cold, and yet it can rage and consume us in unchecked conflagration. The candle itself, lighting our way under the Moon, is fire in our hands. And fire can beget fire without diminishing itself.
Properly focused Anger can help us identify injustice and motivate us to action. It can spur us to seize moments in pivotal ways. And it can also cause us to lose focus, misinform our decisions and miss moments. Unchecked Anger can cease our capability to learn and adjust. It can make us ignorant. In the other direction, where Anger is suppressed, it can burst out in uncontrolled rage.
Anger is tethered to the Principle of Mirrors and the Virtues of Timing and Cheek. Remember always that we are candles and the mirrors that reflect them. We have the ability to set fire and sometimes should. Anger can drive our Cheek, releasing it in small “battles without casualties”, but only when connected to the Timing of the Current and resonating with truth.
Though we inherently understand the concept of rest, a full grasp of Cyprian slothfulness is more difficult to attain. In The Rosarium we find that, “Slothfulness is the instauration of the spirit as sleep is to the body.” Just as we need physical renewal, we need to restore our spiritual beings as well.
An understanding of the Laws of Resonance and Mutuality, the Virtue of Gaiety and the Principle of Hunger are necessary to fathom the depths of this important Vice. Resonance says that nothing is still; that everything moves. Mutuality is that vibrant oscillation between two perceived opposites wherein each is actually an integral part of the other. Hunger shows us that when we have been sated, it is healthy to relax and digest. Sloth, being that Vice that pulls us out of the false pace of the world and drenches us in the Current, is made possible by the virtuosity of moments that Gaiety can achieve.
It is quite easy to miss Sloth’s mark. Too often we can be simply lazy, shirking our responsibilities in the name of renewal. Yet we find that this exercise rarely results in the type of restoration for which we were hoping. True Cyprian Sloth is that which leads to enhanced creativity and better work. It is the ritual of spiritual renewal; a time to be intentional about resting our spiritual selves.
The Erotic Force gives us a perfect example of Beautiful Slothfulness. S-x is one of the most important slothful activities. Surely it can serve a reproductive purpose, but most often does not. And in these times it is best when those involved have disconnected from the furious pace of life and fully entered into the timeless Present that S-x inhabits. It is then that S-x restores us and makes the rest of life possible.
One of the most misunderstood Vices is Greed. The Westernization of culture has been both built on it and the first to decry it. We are taught that it works contrary to selflessness and yet it seems like it is the chief factor in most successful people. We laud those that show no signs of it and are jealous of those that use it to get everything they ever wanted.
Why is Greed such a volatile concept? Because most often the pursuit of more than one needs can become rapacious and predatory. On this path others are not considered, and often great harm is done. It is built on fear; a fear of the future and the arrogance to believe it can be conquered. This type of Greed is its own driving force and does not allow us to enjoy it.
But like the other Virtues it can be explored with a Watchful Eye. Wealth and power can be an enormous resource for good. When one has more than one needs, there is often enough to share with those who lack. In Renaissance Italy, when the Medici funded a Knights of Paphos-like group called the Magdalanté, the wealthy were obliged to financially support art. The world’s best museums are Greedy in their collection and their guests are the better for it. The Liberty of Privilege also shows us a proper application of it. So, then, Greed as a Passion is necessary in Cyprianism, though its spoils are to be shared.
Before Gluttony became defined as “eating too much” it meant simply to “enjoy one’s food”. Much can be written, and has, about how this concept evolved over time. As the Privileged, we are mandated to enjoy Life, to “sharpen our senses only on precious stones”. It is important for Cyprians, to partake in the full spectrum of amazing food, drink and other similar experiences with ritual and Abandon, always in view of the Watchful Eye. How can we live deliciously, how can we create exquisitely without elevating the enjoyment of all we take in through our senses? This is the Abandon required of Gaiety and the Privilege of Liberty.
As Charm is the enfoldment of all the other Virtues, Lust is the gate into the Temple of Beauty that is only achieved by applying Knowledge learned in mastering all the other Vices. Our Beautiful Life and all great art admits Lust.
As a Passion, Lust has more power to inspire than any other. It also has more potential to be hidden than any of the other Vices. For this reason it can often be pursued along unhealthy paths and lead to destructive consequences. Our culture also turns a judgmental eye toward the honest pursuit of Lust, causing many to explore it in dishonest ways. Lust is simple and pervasive in its lowest form, but Cyprian Lust requires connection with the Current to pursue incredible heights of Eroticism.
The Latin term for Lust is “luxuria” where we get our word “luxury”. At its root is “lux” the Latin for “light”. You can see how the concept of light was closely tied to Lust before the sixth century. “Lust is a candle. It must receive light to impart it,” says The Rosarium. The light we all Seek is Lust. Being vulnerable and allowing it to penetrate you deeply will bring incredible richness to your life and art.
The sorcery of Charm is its mystery. The initiation of Lust is that it lifts the veil and enlightens. Lust that is explored in connection with the Current, that is executed without shorthand, that is honest and creative rather than destructive is true magic.
The important thing to explore and understand is that our Cyprian Lust is made up of all the preceding Passions, all of the Virtues, all the Laws and Principles. It is both the path to and destination of the Current, for the Current is Lust.