Traditionally the forked branches of the Hazel, Willow, Pomegranate, Apple, Beech or Alder have been used in divining, although there have been reports of the fruit being used. Divining is the universal art of revealing something that is hidden or concealed. Most often people have been looking for water or treasure in some cases.
In ancient times only those who understood the consequences and power of using a divining rod actually used it. These were sorcerers, or learned mystics, who were thought to have associations with Elves and Pixies. Pixies were thought to be always present in Cornwall (UK) and able to guide the person to the water or treasure.
‘Since the eleventh-century we find mentioned the use of the divine wand for
discovering springs and treasures. It is a forked branch of Hazel, Alder, Beech, or
Apple. This is how it should be held. One of the forks of the branch is held, not too
firmly, with the palm of the hand turned up. By holding the other fork of the
branch in the other hand, the main stem will be parallel to the horizon. The
holder advances gently towards the place where water is suspected to be. When
he arrives there, if water is below, the rod turns in the hand and bend towards the
earth like a needle which has been magnetised. Such is the account of those who
believe in the virtue of the Divining Rod. They add, that it has also the property of
discovering mines, hidden treasures, thieves and fugitive murderers.’
M. Cheruel : Dictionnaire historique des institutions, moeurs, et coutomes de la France
The ‘divining rod’ is thought to have associations with the ‘staff’, the ‘wand’ and also the ‘royal sceptre’ symbolising rank, order and discipline. (See Mystical WWW Main Index Divination)
Hazel nuts were also believed to possess mystical powers and could be used in divining. (See Mystical WWW Trees : Hazel).