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Molybdomancy is a technique of divination using molten metal. Typically molten lead or tin is dropped into water.
The method was invented in ancient Greece, and today it is a common New Year tradition in the Nordic countries and Germany and Austria. Classically, tin is melted on a stove and poured into a bucket of cold water. The resulting shape is either directly interpreted as an omen for the future, or is rotated in a candlelight to create shadows, whose shapes are then interpreted.
In Finland, shops sell ladles and small bullions in the shape of a horseshoe for this express purpose. Originally made from tin, now they are made from cheaper low-melting alloys based on lead. The practice is known as uudenvuodentina. World's largest uudenvuodentina, 41 kg, was cast by members of the Valko volunteer fire department in Loviisa, Finland in New Year 2010.
The shapes are often interpreted not only literally, but also symbolically: a bubbly surface refers to money, a fragile or broken shape misfortune. Ships refer to travelling, keys to career advancement, a basket: a good mushroom year, and a horse: a new car.
Set of lead pieces and spoon.
The lead after dropping into water.
- de Givry, Grillot (1931). Witchcraft, magic & alchemy. Courier Dover Publications. p. 303. ISBN 0-486-22493-7.
- Cosman, Madeleine Pelner; Jones, Linda Gale. Handbook to life in the medieval world. Infobase Publishing. p. 434. ISBN 0-8160-4887-8.