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incharmed and inchanted amulets under water, or burying them under a stone in a grave in a churchyard."
Among love divinations may be reckoned the dumb-cake, so called because it was to be made without speaking, and afterwards the parties were to go backwards up the stairs to bed, and put the cake under their pillows, when they were to dream of their lovers. See Strutt's Manners and Customs, iii. 180.
["Dumb-cake.-A species of dreaming-bread, prepared by unmarried females, with ingredients traditionally suggested in witching doggerel. When baked, it is cut into three divisions: a part of each to be eaten, and the remainder to be put under the pillow. When the clock strikes twelve, each votary must go to bed backwards, and keep a profound silence, whatever may appear. Indeed, should a word be uttered, either during the process or before falling asleep, the charm is broken, and some direful calamity may be dreaded. Those who are to be married, or are full of hope, fancy they see visions of their future partners hurrying after them; while they who are to live and die old maids are not very sanguine of obtaining their errand, seeing nothing at all."]
We read the following in the Gent. Mag. for September, 1734, iv. 488, from Bayle: "There's no prescribing against truth from universal tradition, or the general consent of mankind; because, so we must receive all the superstitions the Roman people borrowed from the Tuscans, in the matter of augury, prodigy, and all the pagan impertinencies in the point of divination as incontestible truths."
John of Salisbury enumerates no fewer than thirteen different kinds of diviners of fortune-tellers, who (in his time) pretended to foretell future events, some by one means and some by another. De Nugis Curialium, lib. i. c. 12, p. 36. Divination by arrows, says Gibbon, in his Decline and Fall, x. 345, is ancient, and famous in the East.
The following compendious new way of magical divination, which we find so humorously described in Butler's Hudibras, as follows, is affirmed by M. Le Blanc, in his Travels, to be used in the East Indies:
"Your modern Indian magician
Makes but a hole in th' earth to pisse in,
DIVINATION by the rod or wand is mentioned in the prophecy of Ezekiel. Hosea, too, reproaches the Jews as being infected with the like superstition: "My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them." Chap. iv. 12. Not only the Chaldeans used rods for divination, but almost every nation which has pretended to that science has practised the same method. Herodotus mentions it as a custom of the Alani, and Tacitus of the old Germans. See Cambridge's Scribleriad, book v. note on line 21.
I find the following on this subject in Bartholini Causæ contemptæ a Danis Mortis, p. 676: "Virgis salignis divinasse Scythas, indicat libro quarto Herodotus, eamque fuisse illis traditam a majoribus divinationem. Et de Alanis, Scytharum gente, idem memorat Ammianus Marcellinus: futura miro præsagiunt modo: nam rectiores virgas vimineas colligentes, easque cum incantamentis quibusdam secretis præstituto tempore discernentes, aperte quid portendatur norunt.""
In the manuscript Discourse on Witchcraft, 1705, written by Mr. John Bell, p. 41, I find the following account from Theophylact on the subject of rabdomanteia, or rod divination: "They set up two staffs, and having whispered some verses and incantations, the staffs fell by the operation of dæmons. Then they considered which way each of them fell, forward or backward, to the right or left hand, and agreeably gave responses, having made use of the fall of their staffs for their signs."
Dr. Henry, in his History of Great Britain, tells us, ii. 550, that "after the Anglo-Saxons and Danes embraced the Christian religion, the clergy were commanded by the canons to preach very frequently against diviners, sorcerers, auguries, omens, charms, incantations, and all the filth of the wicked and dotages of the Gentiles." He cites Johnson's Eccles. Canons, A.D. 747, c. 3.
The following is from Epigrams, &c., by S. Sheppard, Lond. 1651, lib. vi., Epigr. 1. p. 141, "Virgula divina:
"Some sorcerers do boast they have a rod,
[The earliest means made use of by the miners for the discovery of the lode was the divining rod, so late as three years ago the process has been tried. The method of procedure was to cut the twig of an hazel or apple tree, of twelve months' growth, into a forked shape, and to hold this by both hands in a peculiar way, walking across the land until the twig bent, which was taken as an indication of the locality of a lode. The person who generally practises this divination boasts himself to be the seventh son of a seventh son. The twig of hazel bends in his hands to the conviction of the miners that ore is present; but then the peculiar manner in which the twig is held, bringing muscular action to bear upon it, accounts for its gradual deflection, and the circumstance of the strata walked over always containing ore gives a further credit to the process of divination.]
The vulgar notion, still prevalent in the north of England, of the hazel's tendency to a vein of lead ore, seam or stratum of coal, &c., seems to be a vestige of this rod divination.
The virgula divina, or baculus divinatorius, is a forked branch in the form of a Y, cut off an hazel stick, by means whereof people have pretended to discover mines, springs, &c., underground. The method of using it is this: the person who bears it, walking very slowly over the places where he suspects mines or springs may be, the effluvia exhaling from the metals, or vapour from the water impregnating the wood, makes it dip, or incline, which is the sign of a discovery.
In the Living Library, or Historicall Meditations, fol. 1621, p. 283, we read: "No man can tell why forked sticks of hazill (rather than sticks of other trees growing upon the very same places) are fit to shew the places where the veines of gold and silver are. The sticke bending itselfe in the places, at the bottome where the same veines are." See Lilly's History of his Life and Times, p. 32, for a curious experiment (which he confesses however to have failed) to discover hidden treasure by the hazel rod.
In the Gent. Mag. for February 1752, xxii. 77, we read: "M. Linnæus, when he was upon his voyage to Scania, hearing his secretary highly extol the virtues of his divining wand, was willing to convince him of its insufficiency, and for that purpose concealed a purse of one hundred ducats under a ranunculus, which grew by itself in a meadow, and bid the
secretary find it if he could. The wand discovered nothing, and M. Linnæus's mark was soon trampled down by the company who were present; so that when M. Linnæus went to finish the experiment by fetching the gold himself, he was utterly at a loss where to seek it. The man with the wand assisted him, and pronounced that he could not lie the way they were going, but quite the contrary: so pursued the direction of his wand, and actually dug out the gold. M. Linnæus adds, that such another experiment would be sufficient to make a proselyte of him." We read, in the same work for Nov. 1751, xxi. 507: "So early as Agricola the divining rod was in much request, and has obtained great credit for its discovery where to dig for metals and springs of water: for some years past its reputation has been on the decline, but lately it has been revived with great success by an ingenious gentleman, who, from numerous experiments, hath good reason to believe its effects to be more than imagination. He says, that hazel and willow rods, he has by experience found, will actually answer with all persons in a good state of health, if they are used with moderation and at some distance of time, and after meals, when the operator is in good spirits. The hazel, willow, and elm are all attracted by springs of water; some persons have the virtue intermittently; the rod, in their hands, will attract one half hour, and repel the next. The rod is attracted by all metals, coals, amber, and lime-stone, but with different degrees of strength. The best rods are those from the hazel, or nut tree, as they are pliant and tough, and cut in the winter months. A shoot that terminates equally forked is to be met with, two single ones, of a length and size, may be tied together with a thread, and will answer as well as the other."
In the Supplement to the Athenian Oracle, p. 234, we read, that "the experiment of a hazel's tendency to a vein of lead ore is limited to St. John Baptist's Eve, and that with an hazel of that same year's growth."
There is a treatise in French, entitled La Physique occulte, ou Traité de la Baguette divinatoire, et de son utilité pour la découverte des Sources d'Eau des Minières, de Trésors cachez, des Voleurs, et des Meurtriers fugitifs; par M. L. L. de Vallemont, prêtre et docteur en théologie, 12mo. Amsterdam, 1693, 464 pages.
At the end of Henry Alan's edition of Cicero's treatises De
Divinatione, and De Fato, 1839, will be found "Catalogus auctorum de divinatione ac fato, de oraculis, de somniis, de astrologia, de dæmonibus, de magia, id genus aliis."
With the divining rod seems connected a lusus naturæ of ash tree bough, resembling the litui of the Roman augurs and the Christian pastoral staff, which still obtains a place, if not on this account I know not why, in the catalogue of popular superstitions. Seven or eight years ago I remember to have seen one of these, which I thought extremely beautiful and curious, in the house of an old woman at Beeralston, in Devonshire, of whom I would most gladly have purchased it; but she declined parting with it on any account, thinking it would be unlucky to do so. Mr. Gostling, in the Antiquarian Repertory, ii. 164, has some observations on this subject. He thinks the lituus or staff, with the crook at one end, which the augurs of old carried as badges of their profession, and instruments in the superstitious exercise of it, was not made of metal, but of the substance above mentioned. Whether, says he, to call it a work of art, or nature, may be doubted; some were probably of the former kind; others, Hogarth, in his Analysis of Beauty, calls lusus naturæ, found in plants of different sorts, and in one of the plates of that work, gives a specimen of a very elegant one, a branch of ash. I should rather, continues he, style it a distemper, or distortion of nature; for it seems the effect of a wound by some insect, which piercing to the heart of the plant with its proboscis, poisons that, while the bark remains uninjured, and proceeds in its growth, but formed into various stripes, flatness, and curves, for want of the support which nature designed it. The beauty some of these arrive at might well consecrate them to the mysterious fopperies of heathenism, and their rarity occasion imitations of them by art. The pastoral staff of the church of Rome seems to have been formed from the vegetable litui,' though the general idea is, I know, that it is an imitation of the shepherd's crook. The engravings given in the Antiquarian Repertory are of carved branches of the ash.
'Moresin, in his Papatus, p. 126, says: "Pedum episcopale est litius augurum, de quo Livius, i."