This ancient form of divination derives its name from the Greek carro, meaning waxen, and manteia, meaning divination. Soothsayers would use melting wax to divine the future.

Ceromancy is an ancient art, developed by the ancient Romans and Celts. It was once common in Britain, Sweden, and Lithuania. In its earliest form, wax was melted as the Druids kept watch. The resulting wax was cooled and studied for omens.

In the most common form, the wax would be melted in a brass bowl. Once all of the wax had turned to liquid, it was slowly poured into another container filled with cold water. The hot wax cooled and hardened in the water, creating shapes and patterns, letters and numbers and symbols. The diviner would then interpret these symbols to foretell the future. Over time, these interpretations were compiled into larger volumes. Because of this, ceromancy is easier to learn than other systems.

In an alternate version, the melted wax is poured into boiling water. The shapes are not read until the water cools. Still another method requires the diviner to watch the bubbles which are formed when the melted wax is poured into the water.

Other practitioners believed that ceromancy could be practiced with an ordinary candle. By studying the dancing flame and melting wax, the past, present, and future could be more clearly understood.

Although this form of divination is very old, it is still popular in some cultures. Mexico and Puerto Rico have long traditions of ceromancy, which is also used as part of voodoo rituals in Haiti.

According to custom, the diviner first listens to the questions being asked and ruminates on them for a while. He then speaks the question loudly as he melts the wax or paraffin. The wax is melted in a double boiler. Open flames are never used, as they may ignite the fumes and cause an explosion. Once it is all melted, the wax is poured into cold water to congeal. The resulting shapes are then interpreted.

This candle holder uses a spike to keep the candle up. Courtesy Wikipedia.