New Years is a popular time to plan for the coming year. If you’d like a glimpse of what awaits you in 2014, this peculiar German tradition might just do the trick.

In what Germans call Bleigiessen, would-be fortune tellers pour molten lead into cold water with a spoon, and then examine the surreal, abstract shapes to guess their meaning.

Gesine Krätzner, a native German living in Portland, Oregon, spreads the tradition to his friends with an obligatory blowtorch and spoon. “They were all blobs, pretty much. But with a bit of fantasy, you imagine they were hearts, or plants or whatever,” Krätzner says.

Whether you believe in fortune telling or not, the tradition serves a purpose in helping people confront and discuss the big issues of life and death, love and fortune—according to Peter Tokofsky, a researcher of German folklore at UCLA.

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