A Touch of Tyromancy – Part 1

Did you know cheese isn’t just delicious, it has another practical use as well? I say practical, its a bit more esoteric than that. You can also use it to tell the future.

Tyromancy is derived from the Greek tūros (‘cheese’) and manteia (‘divination’), it is the art and practice of divining the past, the present and the future by interpreting omens found in cheese. In the Middle Ages, the shape, number of holes, the pattern of the mould, and other characteristics were used to foretell a person’s fortune in love, money and could even predict a death. Omens could also be drawn from the patterns and designs formed by the coagulation of cheese.

Cheese was also used to identify thieves and murderers. A blessing would be said over the cheese: ‘May his mouth be cursed and full of bitterness, under his tongue pain and labour. If he is guilty, he will eat in the name of the devil. If he is not guilty, he will eat in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ It would then be fed to the suspects. The culprit would be unable to swallow their piece of cheese, thus admitting their guilt.

Next week I will introduce you to a very special Scottish cheese that was made specifically to tell the future …….

Featured Image: Anonymous (14th century)-‘making cheese’ Wien-Codex Vindobonensis 2644, folio 60