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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Advice from 1862: How to Tell Your Fortune for the New Year

I'm not sure whether it makes sense to generalize on the basis of this one example, but going by this there was not any thought in 1862 of shaping your own future in the sense of making New Year's resolutions - you just got what the world threw at you.

"The evening which of all others is the most adapted for witchery, is New Year's eve. It is a very ill practice to spend this evening at a ball, and it is an acknowledged fact that ill luck, more or less, follows a person throughout the year, who has danced the old year out and the new year in. You should spend New Year's eve with a small circle of near and dear friends, around a punch-bowl, while you seek to inquire what the future has in store for you. In the first place this may be done with melted lead or wax... Take a good-sized piece of lead or wax, (the former is better,) place it in a melting ladle, and dissolve it over the coals, or over a spirit-lamp, into which you have poured a little alcohol. You must then take a vessel full of water, (a bowl is best, that is not too deep nor too shallow,) and pour into it the lead or wax, and from the various figures which it forms in the water you endeavor to tell your fortunes."

Felix Fontaine, The Golden Wheel Dream-Book and Fortune Teller

From Ask the Past
Forget the dancing: your best bet for a safe and merry New Year's eve involves molten lead and witchery. No instructions are provided for interpreting the lead forms, so I'll predict in advance that your 2014 will be kind of formless and globular.

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