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Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)

Chapter 23: Superstition and the aspects of this false devotion,   pp. 1-5

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Chapter 23
Superstition and the aspects of this false devotion                I: 1\Sl
Superstition is a vice which denies God his true honour, or gives
false honour; or when it gives Him true honour, does not do so the correct
way. To take an example. When the honour due only to God is given to his
creatures, such as the devil, the Sun, the Moon, and so on, then this robs
Him of His honour and denies Him it.   A further example.   False honour
is l
given to God when the sacrifices of the Old Law are offered to Him, because
they no longer have meaning since the death of Christ Jesus. The same
applies when attempts are made by infidels or by any (heretical) sect
whatsoever to offer Him ceremonial devotions; or even to offer any      
exaggerated form of devotion or honour contrary /f.106v/ to the customs of
the Church.   Superstition of the first kind has pestilential aspects and
  L i
derivatives, which can be reduced to five in number : the first, idolatry;
the second, magic; the third, forecasting the future or divination; the
fourth, vain observance; the fifth, maleficium or evil cursing. Let us [Iv
discuss each in detail.
Idolatry is giving to a false god the honour due to the true God.    So ,j
idolatry is worship of an idol.   Magic is an inordinate power to perform
supernatural things.   Supernatural actions can be performed two ways, with
Godts help or with.the devilts.   The latter way constitutes magic.   To
it clearer, it must be noted that no man, however much of a magician he is
can bring about by himself the results of this art.    All the results are
devilts work, at the request of the magician. Magic has no power over
demons, however much magicians may pretend it has in order to deceive the
ignorant.  It is true that among the malign spirits are those who are
controlled by other spirits and required to obey humans. The magician
makes two kinds of pact or agreement with the devil.   In the first, a
solemn one,ithe enemy of the human race appears, seated on a throne, (befo4[\
the magician himself or anyone else who because of this spirit has lost
anything. But normally, as we learn in the Histories, intermediaries are
used here.   The agreement involves a negation of the divine precepts and
sacraments and of all respect for God. When the man has done his part, the
devil makes his offer, promising favours, riches, etc.    The other special
agreement is by tacit invocation, as they call it, when the magician
attempts to do something by modes and means which cannot bring about the
intended effects, either by their own (natural power) or by any supernat-
ural power.   For instance, by pronouncing strings of meaningless words.
when they trace shapes and letters, making not a cross but ovals, squareso
triangles.  Again, when they make mixed-up statements, such as that Christ
had fevers.  Or again, in imposing conditions which have no connection nitjI


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