The Virtues of a Courtesan

In Cyprianism there are seven characteristics that we are encouraged to strive for in fullness. These are the “Feminine” aspects of a Beautiful Life. They are gleaned from characteristics that made courtesans who they were and elevated their craft to the sublime. Some people are born with varying degrees of these aspects, or have natural tendencies toward them, but often we lack much or all and need to dedicate ourselves to their attainment. The Virtues admit the Erotic. This is their tether to courtesans. For more information on the Virtues of a Courtesan, read The Book of Courtesans, a Catalog of Their Virtues, by Susan Griffin; a book to which these seven poems are lovingly dedicated.


Timing is the most important Virtue. All the others depend on it and work best when properly synchronized with it. In each of the successive Virtues, you will find that they cannot be achieved in fullness without first having developed good Timing.

Contrary to our cultural belief, Time does not move in one direction and at one speed. Time has tendrils. It ebbs and flows … pulses with interconnectivity. All systems and cycles, all things have a timing that is unique to them. But we can resonate. We can sync with other timings.

There is a natural cadence to Timing. It is wild, raw and basically unpredictable. But by connecting to it and resonating with it we can create the Poetry of the Beautiful Life. We can refine ourselves on the wild pulse of the Current.

The Current is ageless and present. It is, in fact, the Presence. Thus our lives and our creativity must have the confidence to be present. Being so frees us of obsessions with the past and worries over the future, but it also has a healthy relationship with them. The tendrils of time and Current reach out into the past and into the future. They extend even to other “right nows” that we cannot experience ourselves. But always from a place of being brazenly present.

Having good Timing gives one an unapologetic confidence and creates work that matters, both now and later. These works are replete with an understanding that they exist within a framework of all that has come before and will come after. They respect history while creating its future.

Timing offers perspective, but will often put you at odds with the rest of the current culture. This happens because most people subject themselves like slaves to the onward march of their perceived time. They only react to what is handed to them, either agonizing over the past or having anxiety about the future. By being present in a Cyprian sense one understands that all things – both good and bad – are temporary. This allows the Privileged to operate with a fullness of Timing.

Remember that time is always in motion. Build into your life a respect for its crests and troughs, the ever present and often changing aspects of the Current. Affect the world around you by being present.


What is Beauty? This is a difficult thing to answer. The true answer, in fact, lies toward the end of a journey that changes the question itself.

Beauty is Pleasure. It is that Poetry that is created when elements become more than their intrinsic values. There is something spiritual in its creation. And it exists on fragile planes.

But it is also complex and often dark. It is not simple and there are no short cuts to its creation. Beauty is not prettiness alone, but a richness that involves much more than meets the eye. It requires a mastery of Timing and makes people risk, forgetting for a moment to calculate and throw their plans out the window.

Cyprian Beauty, the thing we are sworn to serve, create and defend, is three things: invitation, permission and inspiration. When all of them work in tandem and come from a place that resonates with the Current, there is true Beauty.


To have Cheek is to wield a rare power. In centuries past, the symbol for cheekiness, for wit, was the poniard or dagger. Just like fighting a battle with a dagger would require skill, cunning and nuance, so too does Cheek.

To be clear, while Cheek often offers humor, it is not purely funny. It is typically used to lance tension, to take down the “elephant in the room”. For most people society’s rules and the situations that arise from them don’t make sense and a courtesan was a walking example of this. The best courtesans used their Cheek to bring attention to it and then dismantle it.

Cheek offers comfort to others because it puts us all on the same team, so to speak. It is also tethered strongly with Truth so that a Cheeky person is allowed to say the truths that others cannot bring themselves to say. And if done so with Cheek, there are no real casualties in the process. It is akin to a playful slap that brings a little heat to the skin but doesn’t cause any real pain.

Cheek is also a sign that lets others know that “truth can be found here”. It is essential to the art of courtesanry and to us as The Privileged to let others know that we provide truth in ways that come without intimidation and hurt.


Brilliance is simply being brighter than that which is around you. A brilliant thing stands out. Consider the definition of “enlighten” which is to help others to understand, to shed light upon. Brilliance is closely tethered to the Principle of Knowledge and also the Principle of Mirrors. First we strive to Know and then reflect it brightly.


When our lives are resonating with Timing we have an incredible opportunity to become virtuosos of the moment. We have the chance to take Pleasure in life while embracing its complexity. This, the art of admitting desire and savoring every detail of its being satisfied, is Gaiety.

It requires the subtle courage to be fiercely loyal to the present and an understanding of its fleeting nature. Our tendency with joy and Pleasure is to hold on to it for dear life and not let it pass. Gaiety is tethered to the compersion of the Principle of Pleasure and the necessary cycles of the Principle of Hunger.


What makes a thing extraordinary? The ritual of Beauty that we call Grace. It is practiced and intentional but appears effortless. It is the simplicity on the other side of complexity, the appearance of ease in the face of labor.

Grace’s predecessors are first vulnerability then practice, skill and mastery. Only when those have been thoroughly explored is Grace possible. Consider the art of ballet, once a vulgar pursuit and populated by women who sold their sexuality. Years of murderous practice goes into the elegance that is put on the ballet stage. When a ballerina performs a promenade, the effect is airy and effortless, but the sheer power that underpins it is incredibly intense and athletic.

In this way, Grace is also the blurry line between Masculine and Feminine. This makes sense as we move towards the fullness of the Virtues – the Feminine – toward Aretic Androgyny: Areté. The same is true as a mastery over the Vices works the Masculine toward a Feminine underpinning. When we have attained a fullness of the Virtues and a mastery of the Vices we are, in Cyprian terms of the Law of Gender, androgynous. This is Areté. It does not apply to our actual human gender, but to a meta-gendered Life and art.


When you have resonated with Timing and found the fullness of the next five Virtues placed upon it, there is a Poetic sorcery born which we call Charm. Just as Timing is the foundation of all the other Virtues, Charm is their paths all enfolding upon each other to create the enigmatic and mysterious properties of a truly mastered Life.

Charm has definitions that include both an “incredible ability to please” and an “amulet that possesses magical powers”. A person who has been Charmed is both pleased and enchanted.

Charm liquefies you. It melts away the world. It is somewhat like enjoying a complex wine, something that is difficult to do until you have been initiated into an understanding of it through practice, knowledge, experience and more.

Consider also a third important use of the word. We refer to the sexual organs of a woman as “her charms”. This is not by mistake. “Her charms” are mystical, inviting and powerful but inaccessible without initiation.

So then Charm, the enfoldment of all the Virtues in their fullest, is the magic of Pleasure attained in initiation. It will touch others like a tuning fork. Its resonance will carry with it explanations of things otherwise unexplainable, pulling someone beyond themselves and allowing them to fully experience a moment.

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