Thursday, November 22, 2012


Meaning: what it says on the tin - divination by axe.  Various methods are suggested: swinging the axe into something and interpreting the quivering that results; heating an axe-head and interpreting the colours; and the method mentioned in G&P, heating an axe-head with a stone of some sort on top and interpreting the motion of the stone.

Usefulness: 3 (It's rather difficult to think of a figurative use for this. There are extended uses - Rabelais himself has one, quoted below - but they all require having or being around an axe.)

Logofascination: 3 (I wonder who on earth came up with this method, and why they used a perfectly good axe-head for it. Why not heat up random stones and observe them?)

In the wild: Not really; I might resurrect it as a sideline for weekends.

Degrees: 1

Connections: n/a

Which is used in: the -mancy chapter, G&P, Book the Third, XXV: How Panurge consulteth Herr Trippa. (There are about seven or eight -mancys to go, and a few other divination techniques that are not -mancys.)
By axionomancy*; we want only a hatchet and a jet-stone to be laid together upon a quick fire of hot embers. O how bravely Homer was versed in the practice hereof towards Penelope's suitors!
Rabelais is referring to the test Penelope gave her suitors - shooting an arrow from Odysseus' bow through twelve axe-handles. I'm rather pleased to find Rabelais also stretching these -mancys beyond their literal applications.

*Sir Thomas has copied Cotgrave's spelling to arrive at axionomancy - one of Cotgrave's rare errors, as in both French and English this is axinomancy.

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