Monday, 2 January 2012

Bleigießen 2012

Following my dad's principle that anything you do twice immediately becomes a tradition, steeped in its own solemn and uncontestable lore, yesterday we did Bleigießen on New Year's Day for the second year running, thus initiating a new annual custom. ('The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?' 'The same procedure as every year.')

Bleigeißen (lead-pouring) is a German form of molybdomancy practiced at New Year, in which small lead shapes are melted down in a spoon over a flame, then quickly tossed into cold water, where they harden instantly, often into unlikely, surreal shapes. These are analysed by means of the shadows they cast under candle or torch light. These are checked against a list of official interpretations in a booklet provided with the Bleigießen set, although other online lists are available.

Many of the shapes carry the sort of open-ended, generally positive messages that we associate with horoscopes. For example, a bottle-shaped shadow simply indicates 'happy times to come', which is nice, but rather unhelpful. Other shapes are astoundingly specific. A frog says 'You will win the lottery'. You must leap into action if the shadow looks like an eagle owl. This means 'Someone is breaking into your house'. If you see a cradle, it is confidently predicted that 'You will become a Baptist'.

Because there is a strong element of personal interpretation at work, both in the making sense of the predictions and in the finding of the shadows, Bleigießen makes for a superior method of fortune telling, along with dream reading and tarot. I am unable to back up this assertion with scientific proof, as unfortunately I can't remember what last year's shadows were shaped like, or what the predictions turned out to be. Accordingly, I am making a record of this year's Bleigießen predictions here, to test their accuracy. Revisit the blog in twelve months' time for the results.

I used three pieces of lead, in the shape of a bell, a pig and a crown. On being poured into the cold water, No 1, the melted-down bell, split into two pieces, which I interpreted as representing two facets of the same destiny.

1a, viewed from one angle under torch light, gave a shadow that looked like two people on a boat or gondola, which predicts a long journey. From another angle, I think it looked like either a parrot, which means 'short fickle luck', or a goose taking flight. The goose means 'love bears fruit'. 1b was the smaller piece, resembling nothing more than a twig. Fortunately, 'twig' appears in the accompanying booklet. Its interpretation seems to contradict that of the parrot in 1a, as it signifies 'faithful luck', whatever that means.

No 2, the pig, produced this unusual shape, whose shadow seemed to me like a marching soldier. I couldn't find an interpretation for this in any of the Bleigießen literature (I will keep searching). From another angle, however, I was able to turn the molten lead into a laughing dog puppet with flappy ears and a big jaw that went up and down. Although the booklet doesn't offer a prediction specifically for 'laughing puppet dog', under the general heading 'dog' it says 'unbelievable news'.

The crown, No 3, turned into this magnificent complex shape. Again, when I held it from different corners, and at different angles, it offered up a wealth of interpretative possibilities. Most obviously, it was a long-nosed animal – an aardvark, dromedary or kangaroo – for which I looked under 'camel', and read that this meant 'new duties', doubtless relating to my job. From a slightly different angle, the nose became a beak, and the shadow took on the shape of a dodo or pelican. The pelican shape means, apparently, that I will bring something to a successful completion, possibly an restatement of the goose in 1a. Holding the lead from the opposite corner, I was able to discern a monkey, which, according to slight variations in the angle, appeared to be engaged in a series of sophisticated activities: fishing, reading a book, hailing a taxi. Again, the flimsy booklet didn't have an entry for 'sophisticated monkey', but under 'monkey' it said 'be cautious about being tricked'.

There we have it. My Bleigießen predictions for 2012. New duties, a long journey (I would very much like to visit Toronto this year) relating to luck of a flighty/faithful nature, or unbelievable news. Perhaps I shall be fortunate enough to avoid being tricked. Without doubt, however, the most startling and unlikely prediction is that I will successfully complete something. This runs counter to my normal way of doing things. In fact, my reputation for leaving projects unfinished is so well established that, if by some strange chance I should successfully complete something by the end of the year, that alone would constitute irrefutable proof of the amazing predictive powers of the Bleigießen.

I am keen for the Bleigießen to be proven correct. I'd better get started.

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