​An Undying Love

Tomorrow on February 14th an innumerable amount of chocolate, flowers, and cards will be spent among lovers all over the Western World. Our current customs today reflect little of what the ancient feast day meant to Christians of the early Roman Empire. Not much is known about the historical saint Valentine and as usual, folklore fills in where facts are few. The saint was said to preform weddings for Christians, which was outlawed at the time and was later martyred for his faith after attempting to Convert Emperor Claudius the 2nd. Do not worry your broken heart though, if you wish to make personal supplication to the saint for his intercession on your love life, you can visit the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome where his skull is still exhibited adorned with a crown of flowers.
Through the ages since Valentines ascension into Sainthood, tales have arisen to fill the hearts and minds of the simple folk throughout history. In Norfolk, a man named Jack was said to leave sweets at your back door for children. In Slavonia Saint Valentine is seen as the bringer of springs and is also said to give good health and watches over Pilgrims to Holy sites. The connection of love, the joy of giving, the desire of pleasing your partner often brings out the best in many of us but has brought out ostentations display’s of love. I’m sure my listeners could tell a few stories about the cycle of appeasement we go through each year for those we care about. But let me ask you this, have you ever loved someone so much, you brought them back from the dead?
In the small town of Wegrow, Poland, hidden away in the Church the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saints Peter and Paul there rests on a wall in the vestibule a shattered mirror around which are etched strange runes. Legend says that it could foretell the future and in the right hands could even raise the specter of the dead and was shattered by none other than Napoleon Bonaparte on his march to Russia. The Mirror for told his inevitable defeat at the hands of the Russians and the eventual dissolution of his Empire. In a fit of rage Napoleon struck the mirror creating the cracks you can still view to this day. And in defiance of fate, he marched on anyway.
The Mirrors original owner, however, was a one Pan Twardowski a known Necromancer and wizard, whose history is as enigmatic as the Mirror itself. Some think he may be the Polish version of John Dee, who traveled the area in those times. Others say he was a Nobleman of Nuremberg who sold his soul to the devil for secret knowledge. Either way it happened, he soon became famous after weaseling his way into the Court of the greatest Polish King that ever lived-Sigismund Augustus, the 2nd.
Sigismund the 2nd came from the Jagiellonian Dynasty of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which had a long history of dealing with wizardry going back to its founder King Jagiello, likely recipient the mysterious Prayer Book of King Ladislaus, a manuscript that fused Christian prayer practice with Middle age crystal magic which many scholars thing was written by Henry of Bohemia, yet another Sorcerer of ill repute.
Sigismund is renowned today as the King to saw Poland through its golden era. His father had worked to secure the boarders of the Empire and the son worked to insure its internal growth. Taking his que from his father, Sigismund also neglected to peruse religious wars like that of the other Nations around him, and offered a safe haven to Jew and Gentile, Catholic and Lutheran saying he was “not the leader of their conscience” He focused on curtailing the power of the nobility and advancing the legislature. Perhaps his greatest achievement came later in his life, with the permanent union of Poland and Lithuania into the Republic of two Nations.
While Sigismund was one of the greatest statesmen of his time, his personal life always seemed to be in turmoil and married a total of three times throughout his life. When he was just twenty-five his first wife died, poisoned some say, by his wicked Italian mother. Sigismund may have not been as distraught as one might think. It was well known among his courtiers that shortly before the death of his wife, Sigismund was begun a passionate love affair with the daughter of a Lithuanian noble by the name of Barbara Radziwill.
All contemporary accounts of Barbara acknowledge her as a great beauty. She was tall, with straight white teeth (a rarity in those days) she was strong willed, could speak several languages, and adorned herself with the latest make-ups and perfumes. Sigismund fell for her hard and fast and knew he had to have her. Rumors soon spread of their secret rendezvous and some historians take jabs at the young Widower for spending 223 days in the year of 1546 “Hunting”. He even ordered construction of a secret tunnel from his Royal Palace to the Radzille Estate nearby so that he could enjoy her company while maintaining a veneer of respectability.
While the young couple played, the old planned Sigismund’s next wedding, the daughter of French King, Margaret and the future Queen of England-Mary Tudor were offered as candidates. But Sigismund could have only Barbara and scorned all other marriage plans. A myriad of legalities stood in the way of this, Barbara being twice widowed for one, and the fact that she was not royal blood, she was the Kings subject at best, it was not proper. They married in secret anyway, the whole world be damned if they stopped them. The marriage took place sometime in July or August after it was found that Barbara was with child. Soon after Sigismund headed off to Krakow to tell his father the news. Barbara went back to her family estates to rest and prepare for her new child and life as Queen.  Unfortunately for the young couple, because of the prolonged and difficult journey, Barbara miscarried. It was to be the beginning of their many sorrows.
Back in Krakow Sigismund announced his marriage to his family and the Senate who roundly condemned the actions of the young king and demanded an annulment. His mother being the most outspoken of these critics. She complained that the marriage had driven her husbands health into a decline, not surprising, only a few months later, Sigismund’s father, Sigismund the old passed away. Polish nobles meanwhile began a whisper campaign against Barbara, saying she had bewitched the young king with sorcery. Derogatory pamphlets of the time accuse her of poison and promiscuity as her means of penetrating the royal bedchamber. After the funeral of the dear old king a session of parliament was called which quickly descended into madness with shouts and cries from all sides. One segment threatened to revolt if the King did not listen to their pleas. Sigismund stood with his wife and openly speculated if it might not be better for him to abdicate the throne. The session ended with a stalemate, the nobles not wishing to invite civil war which would surely come in a power vacuum.
Two years of back-biting, bribery, threats, and back ally dealing, even selling out his sister, and making a supplication to the Pope for support, and finally Sigismund had secured no single opposition to his marriage to Barbara save one. His dear old mother, the dowager Queen Bona Sforza was sent in virtual exile to the North East. In December of 1550 Barbara Radziwill was crowned Queen of Poland, it was certainly the happiest time in all their short lives. But fate, or some mistress of fate had other plans. Barbara took ill not long after being crowned and soon became bed ridden with sudden afflictions of stomach pain and fever, her appetite dropped off and an abbess formed on her stomach. A frantic Sigismund did everything he could to help her, sending for known healers to come from all over the kingdom. He would tend to her personally despite her condition causing her great pain and likely smelling foul from the constant diarrhea and nausea that plagued her. When talking with his engineers about a way to transport her south to a more moderate climate, the engineers noted that the size of the carriage needed to safely transport her would be to large to fit through the city gate. Sigismund ordered the gate be demolished immediately. It was of no use though, she died five months after her unknown ailment, and many again pointed a finger at the Queen mother.
The loss was a permanent blow to the young King. History tells how he followed the procession of her coffin on foot, avoided parties ever after, and liked to dress in black to the end of his days. He went on to marry again, as was expected of him. This time was a purely political arrangement, his first wife’s sister, Catherine of Austria. No heirs were produced though, largely, it was whispered, due to neglect in the royal bedroom. Catherine was sent off to her homeland and died in disgrace.
Sigismund on the other hand sawt a way to see Barbara again, and perhaps he took hope from the strangest of places 1st Samuel 28:7-25

“7 Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.
8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.
9 And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?
10 And Saul sware to her by the Lord, saying, As the Lord liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.
11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.
15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
16 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
17 And the Lord hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbor, even to David:
18 Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the Lord done this thing unto thee this day.
19 Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.
20 Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night.”

It is here that legend and history blend, and the sorcerer Pan Twardowski was likely summoned to bring back his lost love forever to his side, though a scrying mirror was their only means of communication. Though to see and hear but not touch his dearly departed must have been an agonizing ordeal, it is perhaps the only way he could find solace, in the Occult. Perhaps it was the only way he found to soften the pain of the world. He went on to do great things for his country but his fascination with the Occult led him to keep more and more unsavory Sorcerers around him. On a trip to his favorite retreat, an imperial estate in which he kept a room entirely draped in black for his lost Barbara, his health began to fail. The finger of the plague stretched out its boney finger to meet him as he left the city of Warsaw and dogged his progress to his retirement. By the time he arrived he was nearly dead, and as he expired the wizards around him began to strip him of all possessions and leave him to pass this thin coil of this world utterly alone.
It is not known if the wily Pan Twardowski was with him when he died. Legend states that he finally had to pay his dues for selling his soul. When the deal had been struck, Twardowski and the Devil had agreed that the Devil would only get his soul when Twardowski set foot in Rome, a city he never planned on visiting. The poor man thought he had eternally outwitted the Father of Lies, that is until one dreary night, he spied a Tavern in the darkness. Having travelled all day and yet another full day of travel ahead of him, Twardowski decided it best to rest up a bit before moving on. As soon as he set foot in the Tavern however, he felt his demonic gift leave him and a strange tugging from behind, dragging him slowly out of the door, as he sailed away into the dark abyss carried off by the Ancient Serpent, he noticed the sign above the tavern entrance read-ROME.  
 In 1897 Samuel L MacGregor Mathers, founder of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Translated a fascinating book with the title The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage. In it Abraham of Worms notes just such an operation in which one can call forth the shad of the dead. In order to do this however, Abraham says the practitioner must summon, subdue, and bring under his control the Four Princes of Hell. For those not magically inclined, the Four Princes refer to Lucifer, Leviathan, Satan, and Beliel. It could be said that the spell was not for the faint of heart. Abraham mentions that he was only able to complete the feet twice in his life, once for an unknown Saxon Duke, and the other time… was for a Emperor Sigismund, to bring back a woman he loved.

Fate Magazine January-February 2009

The  Book of  the Sacred  Magic of Abramelin the Mage

Witchcraft Mythologies and  Persecutions  by Gabor Klaniczay

The New King James Bible

The Realm of the Vampire: History and the Undead
by Daniel J Wood