Maria Padilha and The Book of Saint Cyprian

In 2014 we published The Book of Saint Cyprian: The Sorceror’s Treasure, a translation of and commentary by José Leitão upon a Portuguese edition of the infamous Book. In it we took note of the power of Maria Padilha, known in life as Maria de Padilla, and so when Humberto Maggi and Verónica Rivas sent us their manuscript, Maria de Padilla: Queen of the Souls, we were thrilled by the opportunity to offer our readers a further glimpse at this mysterious queen. In their book, they follow her transformation from a woman of court intrigue called Maria de Padilla to a figure of great power known as Maria Padilha, one who can be petitioned to intercede on our behalf, one who — with her attendant family — responds especially well to those who suffer in matters of love.

Maria de Padilla by Paul Jean Gervais (1859–1936)

For example, in our edition of the The Book of Saint Cyprian: The Sorceror’s Treasure, the Sorcery that is made with a bat so as to make someone love you is done with the aid of Maria Padilha and all of her family. Of course, she and her family are also invoked in the Remedy against the hunchbacks, which has nothing to do with love and everything to do with self-protection.

We find her again in the Magic or sorcery that is made with two dolls, to do harm to any creature, a spell in which one uses five nails to achieve one’s end. Whilst using the fourth nail, one says (NN), I, (NN), swear to thee, under the power of Maria Padilha, that, from this day forth, thou will be possessed by all sorcery.

Another magic of the black cat and the way of generating a tiny devil with the eyes of a cat includes the phrase My black magic, I give to Maria Padilha, all her family…. Here the author has translated Maria Padilha e toda a sua familia, which he suggests is an incantation that perhaps should not be translated at all.

In the Sorcery which is made with five nails taken from a dead man’s coffin, that is, when it has been dug up from its grave we have another spell in which five nails are used, and again on the fourth nail, we have another instance of magic being done by the power of Satan and Maria Padilha and all her family.

Maria de Padilla: Queen of the SoulsMaria de Padilla: Queen of the Souls by Humberto Maggi & Veronica Rivas also includes a selection of spells taken from Inquisition processes in which the queen appears, this time with her cuadrilla, and alternative translations of the spells in which she appears in the Great Book of Saint Cyprian. As well, Humberto offers a fascinating look at Maria’s cuadrilla and what exactly it might be, which is critical to any workings with her.

What we find interesting about Maria’s appearance in the Book of Saint Cyprian and elsewhere is that her name is mentioned alongside those of the most powerful demons: Satan, Barrabas, Belcebu — and their wives. She ranks, in these spells, as highly as they do, and yet in the literature of the English-speaking world she is practically non-existent. By publishing Maria de Padilla: Queen of the Souls we hope to remedy that, and will look forward to reading any works by those of you who might take up her torch and bear it.