chapter  VI
8 Pages

Of the Soothsayers and Aoutmoins

I WILL not call (as some have done) by the name of priests them that make the ceremonies and invocations of devils among the West Indies, but inasmuch as they have the use of sacrifices and gifts that they offer to their Gods, forasmuch as (as the Apostle saith [Reb. viii. 3J) every priest or bishop is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: such as were them of Mexico, the greatest whereof was called Papas, who offered incense to their idols: the chief of them was that of the god whom they did name Vitzilipuztli, although nevertheless the general name of him whom they held for supreme Lord and author of all things was Viracocha, to whom they attributed excellent qualities, calling him Pachacamac, which is Creator of Heaven and Earth, and Vsapu, which is admirable, and other such like names. They had also sacrifices of men, as them of Peru have yet, which they sacrificed in great number, as Joseph Acosta discourseth thereof at large [lib. v., chs. 20, 2 I J. Those may be called priests or sacrificers; but, in regard of them of Virginia and Florida, I do not see any sacrifices they make, and therefore I will qualify them with the name of wizards, or masters of the ceremonies of their religion, which in Florida I find to be called J arvars and J oanas ; in Virginia, V uiroances ; in Brazil, Caribes; and among ours (I mean the Soriquois), Autmoins. Laudonniere, speaking of Florida: They have (saith he) their priests, unto whom they give great credit, because they be great magicians, great soothsayers, and callers on devils. These priests do serve them for physicians and chirurgeons, and carry

always with them a bag full of herbs and drugs to physick them that be sick, which be, the most part, of the great pox, for they love women and maidens very much, whom they call the daughters of the sun. If there be anything to be treated, the King calleth the Jarvars and the ancientest men, and demandeth their advice. See moreover what I have written heretofore in the sixth chapter of the First Book. As for them of Virginia, they are no less subtle than them of Florida, and do procure credit to themselves, making them to be respected, by tricks or show of religion, like to them that we have spoken of in the last chapter, speaking of some dead men risen up again [Acosta, Bk. vi., ch. 19]. It is by such means and under pretext of religion that the Inguas made themselves heretofore the greatest princes of America. And them of these parts that would deceive and blind the people have likewise used of that subtlety, as Numa Pompilius, Lisander, Sertorius, and other more recent, doing (as saith Plutarch) as the players of tragedies, who, desirous to show forth things overreaching the human strength, have refuge to the superior power of the Gods.