Divination by means of a hatchet or a woodcutter’s 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.