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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

Page 3

him to reveal things to the devil. He is able to say what illness you are
going to have and if you will die from it or what building is going to fall,
biecanse he knows /f.107v/ from the inside the causes of misfortune and its
secrets. He knows the timbers and stones of palaces and the faults they
have and he reveals what must be done about them, and he can warn us about
plagues, eclipses and storms, through his knowledge of science and astrol-
ogy. In each way that the devil is invoked, there exists a special form of
divination.   Prestigio is to invoke the devil through images.  When we
hope to learn about secrets in dreams, this is called divination by dreams.
Necromancia is when the evil spirit enters into a dead body and speaks
through it.  If he enters into the body of a living thing, that is Pitonisa
(pythonisso). Divination by the stars and celestial bodies is Geomancia;
by indications which appear in water, Hydromancia; by indications in the
Aeromancia, in the fire, Pyromancia, and in the entrails of animals,
Auspicio. Anyone who consults these evildoers, these diviners, is excommun-
icate. Astrologia is divination by the movemeats and locations of stars;
Augurium is by the howling and calls of athiralsr            Auspicium by
the calls of birds. Omen is divination by what another man says by chance
or for some fortuitous reason; Guiromancia is by body marks and shapes.
As for Astrologia, it cannot be denied that by it one can learn about
natural effects, such as eclipses, rains, etc; and also the humours and
inclinations of men, since the stars influence our human bodies. In three
aspects its use is forbidden. First and above all, to gain knowledge of
the mysteries of Grace and matters which depend on the divine will. Secondly,
to gain knowledge of matters which depend on the free will of the individual,
by assuming that certain things are bound to happen. This is untrue, since
neither the heavens nor any other created element can constrain the free
will of man, and what comes about can be altered by many factors. However
it is not evil in itself for anyone to wish to gain information about a
contingent matter or one free to change, provided that it is recognised
that there can be no certainty. But if the assertion of an astrologer.
based on the system he follows, is taken as a certain forecast, that is
evil and corrupt.  In these instances, one is tacitly invoking the devil,
by employing a means' of gaining knowledge which is (without his aid)
incapable of providing it.
Augurio and auspicio are sometimes licit if they relate to matters
that animals and birds predict naturally, as when bats flying far from
houses announce fine weather, or when diving-birds leave the sea to signal
a storm. However if the matters are outside their power or beyond their
instincts, then it is illicit. /f.108/


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