Alternatively Molybdomancy, and Molubdomancy.
From the Greek molubdus ('lead') and manteia ('divination'), it is the art and practice of divining the past, the present and the future with the aid of molten tin or lead. It is believed that this method of divination resulted from alchemists' attempts to transmute these base metals into gold.
This method of divination was used in the Middle Ages primarily for illness, sickness and medicinal prognostications. It should be mentioned that lead is traditionally the metal of death, and also it is associated with the planet Saturn.
Witchfinders, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, also practiced Molybdomantia to learn whether or not an ailing individual was the victim of bewitchment.
One popular method of Molybdomantia was to get the omens from interpreting the noises and hisses of molten lead when dropped into a large cauldron filled with cold water.
Another system reads futurity in the shapes formed by the molten metal solidifying in the water. A bubbly water surface referred to money, a fragile or broken solidified shape meant misfortune. If a ship is formed, it means travel in the near future; a shape resembling a key, or keys, signifies career advancement; a horse, a new car, and so forth.
Yet another technique involved the observation of to which directions spilled liquid metal on a flat surface would flow.
Even though Molybdomantia practices initiated in Greece, today the method is widely used in Nordic countries, specially Finland and Germany. In a common New Year tradition, tin or lead is melted on a stove and poured into a container of cold water. The resulting hardened lump of metal is then rotated in a candlelight to create shadows, whose shapes and silhouettes are then prophetically interpreted. In Finland, small bullions in the shape of a horseshoe are sold for this express purpose. Originally made from tin, bullions are now made from cheaper low-melting alloys based on lead. The practice is known as Uudenvuodentina, and the world's largest one, weighting 41 kilograms, was cast by members of the Valko volunteer fire department in Loviisa, Finland, in New Year 2010.
In Ireland and Wales in the nineteenth century, Molybdomantia was used to divine the profession of one's husband. If the formed shape resembled a ship, it meant the future husband would be a sailor; a book indicated a clergyman; a lancet (a small double-edged surgical knife) signified a physician would be their future husband; a hammer, a carpenter; a sword, a military man; and so forth. This practice, very popular among young maidens, was usually carried out on Midsummer's Eve and/or All Hallow's Eve.
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Sources: (1) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (2) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (3) Pickover, Clifford A., Dreaming the Future: The Fantastic Story of Prediction, Prometheus Books; (4) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group.
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