I'm posting this in Religious News because what I find fascinating is how the earliest Christianity, as practised in Ethiopia, blended harmoniously with magic. And that this is a pointer to how it was only in countries governed by the Roman empire that magical practises were stamped out and demonised, for political and not spiritual reasons. In Ethiopia, the Christian priesthood got round by this by appointing themselves the only ones that could lawfully disseminate magical amulet texts.
Abstract: The article is devoted to the Ethiopian manuscript amulets or “magic scrolls”, their origin and function in the Christian tradition of Ethiopia. The texts of Ethiopian amulets are written incantations; their comparison to other products of magic literature, evangelical plots and apocryphal legends allows us to assume that they did not take place locally and were borrowed through literature from the Near East in the first centuries AD as a part of Christian magic tradition.
Introduction: One of the notable features of everyday life among Ethiopian Christians — and for that matter Falasha Jews and Muslims in the country — is the widespread practice of wearing amulets containing pieces of manuscripts which are supposed to protect the wearer from harm and bring him or her good fortune. It should be observed that, although the Ethiopian Church has always forbidden the wearing of these amulets and condemned it in the same way as it does any other magic practice, the clergy, as the only literate stratum of society, has been uniformly responsible for copying the texts concerned and disseminating the amulets containing them.
Hence, B. A. Turaev felt able to write: in Abyssinia, which is a Christian country, but also a backward one from the point of view of civilised values, there is no obvious boundary between belief and superstition, between religion and magic. The clergy and members of the church hierarchy make money by copying and selling bogus prayers that have the same hold upon the faithful as canonical ones, which canonical prayers, along with the Holy Gospels themselves, may be used for magical purposes, when read aloud in a mechanical way, worn as necklaces, or even simply carefully stored.