Divination – Reading Tea Leaves

For those interested in divination, or the art of telling the future, there are many methods that can be used. Some are common, like divination by tea leaves; others require more enigmatic methods. Chresmomancy, for example, seeks to tell the future through the ravings of lunatics. But what can you do if you have no lunatics available, and would like to know what the future holds? Read on for some easy divination techniques using common household items.

Tasseography, also known as tasseomancy, is the ancient art of divining the future by reading tea leaves. In the Middle East, this term is also used in reading coffee grounds, while other cultures have read the sediments of wine. However, tea is linked closely with alternative healing practices, and is thus most popular.

To perform divination using tea leaves, first make a pot of tea. Use loose tea, not tea in bags. Let it steep, then pour the tea into a cup without using a strainer. At this point, most readers will ask you to drink your tea and then swirl the cup.

The reader will then look into your cup. They search for symbols and images in the dark tea leaves, and may seek clues in the white spaces between the leaves. Present events are shown along the rim near the handle of the cup. Following the symbols downward allows you to see further into the future.

For traditionalists, a simple white cup is best. Loose tea should be used, though you should try to avoid cutting open a tea bag and using that. Tea in tea bags is too finely cut to be of any use in divination. Likewise, avoid symbol dictionaries to interpret your results. The symbolism in tasseography is different than the symbolism of dreams, and may cause poor readings.

Beginning in the 19th century, especially-crafted fortune telling teacups were produced. I like the plain white cup, these fortunetellers cops contain symbols meant to help define the future. There were dozens of styles, though three were most common. Zodiac cups contained symbols of the zodiac, combining astrology and tea reading. Playing card cups included a deck of cards, adding the art of cartomancy, or card reading. Symbol cups include a number of the most common tea leaf symbols, often numbered and with a booklet of explanation.

If you prefer a strong cup of Java, you may be more interested in coffee reading. Traditionally, Turkish coffee is used, though you may substitute any coffee whose grinds sit at the bottom of the cup. The coffee is drunk, leaving the sentiment behind. The drinker is not permitted to read his or her own cup.

The saucer is placed over the coffee cup, then the cup is flipped upside down. In some traditions, the settlements must be swirled to cover the inside of the cup; other traditions eschew the swirling, but insist your cup be turned towards you in order to reflect your fortune.

A reader will then inspect the grounds once they settle and dry in the cup. They seek symbols that can provide guidance for the future. A drinker may be asked to “open the heart” after a reading. This is done by placing the right thumb in the bottom of the cup, then twisting slightly clockwise. The resulting thumb print will reveal the drinker’s emotions and inner thoughts to the reader.

Spring Pouchong tea leaves that may be used for tasseography divination. Courtesy Wikipedia.