Axiomancy or axinomancy is a form of divination that makes use of hatchets.
From Latin axinomantia, from ancient Greek axine 'an axe', also 'an axehead'.
A mode of divination much practised by the ancient Greeks, particularly with the view of discovering perpetrators of great crimes. An axe was poised upon a stake, and was supposed to move so as to indicate the guilty person; or the names of suspected persons being pronounced, the motion of the axe at a particular name was accepted as a sign of guilt. Another method of A. was by watching a red-hot axe. It is by this form of divination that the diviners predicted the ruin of Jerusalem, as is seen from Psalm LXXIII. Francois de la Tour-Blanche, who remarked upon this, does not tell how the diviners made use of the hatchet.
An alternative method consists in placing an agate stone, piece of jet, or some other precious or semi-precious stone upon the axe-head and heating the metal, the signs being read from the movement of the agate.
The first is as follows: When it is desired to find a treasure, a round agate must be procured, the head of the axe must be made red-hot in the fire, and so placed that its edge may stand perpendicularly in the air. 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-downwards, with the handle rising perpendicular in the air. Those present must dance round it in a ring, till 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. Another way is to suspend a hand ax or hatchet from a string attached to its handle, start it twirling and see to whom it points when it stops.
Some said this method would never work unless the ax was thrown into a round pot. De Blanche countered with the question as to how could this be done. How could a round pot be patched and sewed after an ax smashed it to pieces?