Abstract

Abstract:

This paper uses the writings of the Jesuit Joseph-Francois Lafitau (1681-1746) to draw attention to the role that missionary encounters played in the shaping of early Enlightenment attitudes toward magic. After spending five years among the Iroquois converts of the Sault Saint-Louis mission near Montreal, Lafitau developed important insights into the shamanic practices of the New World. Buried in his Moeurs des sauvages comparées aux moeurs des premiers temps (1724) these insights have yet to be read through the history of magic. They reveal how ceremonies witnessed in America and interpreted as curious remnants of Neoplatonic theurgy served Christian apologetics in eighteenth-century France. Lafitau's case suggests that, while the practice of magic was "waning" in some European circles, concerns about its existence and efficacy persisted both as a reality in distant lands and as an object of antiquarian inquiry

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5111
Print ISSN
1556-8547
Pages
pp. 331-361
Launched on MUSE
2018-02-09
Open Access
No
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