sieve and shears

sieve and shears
   A well-known form of *divination, akin to the *Bible and key method, normally used to name a thief or find something which has been lost. Descriptions vary little, and the following is from Aubrey (1686: 25):
   The Sheers are stuck in a Sieve, and two maydens hold up ye sieve with the top of their fingers by the handle of the shiers: then say, By St Peter & St Paule such a one hath stoln (such a thing), the others say, By St Peter and St Paul he hath not stoln it. After many such Adjurations, the Sieve will turne at ye name of ye Thiefe.
   The only significant difference is that others maintain that you read out loud 'a certain chapter' from the Bible. This method is mentioned regularly in England from the 16th century onwards, including *Scot (1584: book 12, chapter 17) and *Melton (1620) and many later folklore collections. This antiquity pales into insignificance, however, against the earliest reference given by Opie and Tatem, in Theocritus' Idylls (c.275 bc).
   ■ Opie and Tatem, 1989: 356-7; Henderson, 1879: 233-6.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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