Soothsaying in Christian Times
Soothsaying In Christian Times.
Although Christianity was a professed enemy to soothsaying and its kindred practices, yet the remains of such superstition continued in the minds of many in the Church. The Church was therefore obliged to make severe laws to restrain them. The Council of Eliberis (can. 62) makes the renunciation of this art a condition of baptism, and a return to its practice was followed by expulsion from the Church. This was the rule in the Apostolical Constitutions (lib. 8, cap. 32), and the councils. of Agde (can.
42), Vannes (Conc.Venet. can. 16), Orleans (Conc. Aurel. 1, can. 30), and several others. A peculiar sort of augury was condemned by the French councils last named, under the name of sortes sacroe, divination by holy lots. It is also known as sortes Biblicoe, Bible lots. The practice of the Romans in opening a book of Virgil and taking the first passage that appeared as an oracle was imitated by many superstitious Christians. These used the Bible to learn their fortune by "sacred lots," taking the first passage that presented itself to make their divination and conjecture upon. This was also called "The Lot of the Saints," and was practiced for gain by some of the French clergy; but it was decreed by the Council of Agde that any who "should be detected in the practice of this art, either as consulting or teaching it, should be cast out of the communion of the Church." The custom of using the Bible in this way still lingers in England, Scotland, and other countries, more, however, as sport for children. See Bingham, Antiquities of the Christian Church, bk. 16, ch. 5, § 2. SEE SUPERSTITION.