The story about how this divination method came into popular use is this: during the French military incursion into Egypt in 1801, a manuscript containing this divination tool was discovered in one of the royal tombs of ancient Egypt. A curious Napoleon Bonaparte had a well-regarded German scholar and antiquarian translate it from Egyptian hieroglyphs into the German language. Legend has it that from that time forward, Napoleon ‘never failed to consult it upon every important occasion.’ It is credited with having been the stimulus for Napoleon’s riskiest and most successful moves, and he reportedly regarded it as one of his most treasured possessions.
When Napoleon was defeated at Leipzig in 1818 C.E., he had to retreat so quickly he was tragically forced to leave this ‘Book of Fate’ behind in a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ which was found by a Prussian officer. The identity of the Prussian officer is a detail known only to the truly-curious, but the fame of Napoleon’s Book of Fate, as it came to be known, spread far and wide. Of course, Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig and the fact he had possession of this oracle method begs the questions, “Didn’t he consult this thing before the battle, and if so, didn’t it tell him he would face defeat? Did it tell him he would face defeat and he decided to enter into the battle anyway? And if so, of what value is this thing?” Good questions all, and we may never know the answer. It brings up a crucial point about divination–it can’t make you do anything. It is merely an advisor. You may disregard its advice or not consult it altogether.