Divination by means of a hatchet or a woodcutters axe. Diviners
predicted the ruin of Jerusalem with axinomancy (Psalm
74). Francois de la Tour-Blanche, who remarked upon this,
does not tell us how the diviners made use of the hatchet, but
it may have been related to one of the two methods employed
in ancient times and lately practiced in certain northern countries.
The first is as follows To find a treasure, find a round agate,
heat the head of the axe until red hot in the fire, and place it
so that its edge stands perpendicularly in the air. Place the
agate on the edge. If it remains there, there is no treasure; if
it falls, it will roll quickly away. It must, however, be replaced
three times, and if it rolls three times toward the same place,
there the treasure will be found. If it rolls a different way each
time, one must seek about for the treasure.
The second method of divination by the axe is for the purpose
of detecting robbers. The hatchet is cast on the ground,
head downward, with the handle rising perpendicularly in the
air. Those present must dance around it in a ring until the handle
of the axe totters and it falls to the ground. The end of the
handle indicates the direction in which the thieves must be
sought. It is said by some that if this divination is to succeed,
the head of the axe must be stuck in a round pot.