Ever since the beginning of time, humans have been concerned with what Tomorrow will bring – whether for practical reasons like ploughing and journeying or more significant ones related to births, illnesses and deaths. Gradually many cultures developed various forms of divination with the help of which seers could read what the future holds and one of more obscure forms of this practice is Axiomancy.
Axiomancy or sometimes known as axinomancy is a kind of divination that uses an axe, hatchet or even a saw to foretell the future. According to this, an axe or hatchet is swung into the bark of a tree, a wooden table or thrust on the ground. The quivering of the blade of the axe or hatchet is then observed by the seer and interpreted as a portent of the future. Axiomancy was predominantly practiced by the ancient Greeks as a way of divining the future.
In some versions of axiomancy, along with the quivering of the axe blade, the direction of the handle as the implement is swung can also be taken as an indication of the future. Another method of axiomancy reports heating the axe-head in a fire until it is glowing and then interpreting the colors and shapes as having symbolic meaning.
Yet another variantion of axiomancy involves the balancing of a spherical piece of agate on the edge of the axe as it is held sharp edge up. The direction in which the agate rolls over is then read as an indication of what the future holds. According to ancinet cultures which practiced this form of axiomancy, this method was espeically helpful in finding buried treasure. After the head of the axe is made red-hot in the fire, a round agate is so placed that its edge may stand perpendicularly in the air. If it remains there, there is no treasure; if it falls and rolls away, the direction must be noted. The method must be repeated three times, and if the piece of agate rolls each time toward the same place, the treasure will be found there. If it rolls a different way each time, one must seek about for the treasure.
A variant of axiomancy was also employed to identify a thief in a group. According to this 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.
According to some enthusiasts of axiomancy, the reference to ‘upright axes’ in Psalm 74 can be interpreted as a prediction of the fall of Jerusalem. However experts believe that the phrase is not specifically for divination and has been used in another context.