Divination Tools; Tasseomancy
Reading the Tea Leaves
“Tea does our fancy aid, Repress those vapours which the head invade, And keeps that palace of the soul serene.”
— Edmund Waller
Tasseomancy is a divination or fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in tea leaves, coffee, and even wine sediment. The word Tasseomancy comes from the Arabic word ‘tassa’, meaning cup and the Greek word ‘mancy’ meaning divination. It also goes by Tea Leaf Reading, Tasseography, Tassology, and Teomancy. Tasseomancy is believed to have originated in Asia, but also the Middle East, Ancient Greece. Modern tea leaf reading sprung up in the 17th century when tea was exported from Asia to Europe by Dutch merchants.
Loose-leaf tea used to be a luxury only available to the wealthier upper class but as it became more readily available, it was used to read from as a parlor or salon game. People noticed that while discussing topics over a cup of tea, the loose leaves reflected images, similar to cloud reading.
Throughout the 1800s, nomadic Romani people, called ‘gypsies’ would go door to door and offer their reading services, which included the use of tea leaves. This form of divination became so popular that in the 1800s, the Romani and others would be invited into tea parlors and tea rooms to offer readings to guests.
During the time, tea parlors were also gaining popularity in the U.S. Around WWI, women opened tea parlors to create a sense of community. Readings were also part of the parlor culture and soon began to be passed down through generations of women.
How to Read Tea Leaves
There are many methods of reading tea leaves. Some use the cup and some use the saucer. Also, there is a method of dividing the cup or saucer up into sectors representing different aspects such as past/present/future and problem/solution.
Traditionally, tea leaves are read according to a set of symbols and patterns. Readers prepare loose leaf tea in a pot and serve it in light-colored china cups. They do not strain the tea. The readee is asked to think of their question or concern while drinking. The idea behind reading tea leaves is that while drinking, a person’s movements affect the leaves swirling around so that when they settle the shapes are unique to them.
Nearing the end, when there is a little tea left, swirl it around one last time. The reader may take the cup and read it directly or turn it over while tapping to move all the leaves onto the saucer. If reading directly from the cup, it is divided into three parts. The rim designates the present; the side, events not far distant; and the bottom for the distant future. The nearer the symbols appear to the handle of the cup, the nearer to fulfillment will be the events foretold.
If reading using the saucer method, start from the rim inwards, with current events and immediate future on the outer perimeter and symbols at the center to show the distant future. For any method chosen, you may rotate the cup or saucer to see the images that appear.
A Few Tea Leaf Reading Symbols
- Angel: Good news
- Circle: Wedding or love
- Crescent moon: Changes
- Cross: Addition
- Bird: Travel
- Waves: Unity
- Star: Good luck
- Spiral: Creativity
Psychic View of Tea Leaf Reading
Most professional psychics do not typically read tea leaves. As with any tool for divination, it is possible to simply use one’s psychic abilities to read. The external tools are not necessary, but provide entertainment and interest in the history and tradition behind the method. Meditate and use psychic tools to get into a clairvoyant space. Conduct the tea ritual and when the leaves are ready, tune into images or information that arises. You may say it or write it down to hand it to the readee after the reading. Some readers like to write out what they see in poetry or prose form for an added flourish. So how does it work exactly? There is a lot of speculation on the accuracy of tea leaf reading to actually predict the future, but even if you’re not a believer then it’s still a really fun thing to try over afternoon tea.
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