Molybdomancy (from ancient Greek μόλυβδος - molybdos "lead" + mancy, probably after Greek μολυβδομαντεία - molybdomanteia or French molybdomancie) is a technique of divination using molten metal. Typically molten lead or tin is dropped into water.
The method originates in ancient Greece and it became a common New Year tradition in the Nordic countries and Germany (German: Bleigießen, "lead pouring"), Switzerland 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. Molten lead is also poured into water in a ritual in Turkey used when people have been affected by the evil eye, and a similar traditional practice is used in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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 Originally made from tin, now they are made from cheaper low-melting alloys based on lead.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. The world's largest uudenvuodentina, 41 kilograms (90 lb), 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 to a good mushroom year, and a horse to a new car.
Ceromancy - an easier method to achieve the same goals, using wax rather than metal.
- μόλυβδος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- Molybdomancy, Oxford Distionaries
- "New Year's Tin". tin-mhjk.blogspot.com. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
- pp. 233 ff., Healing Secular Life: Loss and Devotion in Modern Turkey, Christopher Dole, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012, ISBN 0812206355.
- "Traditional Medicine in the Pristine Village of Prokoško Lake on Vranica Mountain, Bosnia and Herzegovina", Broza Šarić-Kundalić et al., Scientia Pharmaceutica 78, #2 (2010 June 30), pp. 275–290, doi:10.3797/scipharm.1003-06.
- "Maailman suurin uudenvuoden tina valettiin Loviisassa". iltalehti.fi. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
- Valkon VPK valoi maailman suurimman uudenvuoden tinan 41 kg. YouTube. 1 January 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
- 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.
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