Table of Contents
- Chapter 1 - Introduction to Divination
- Chapter 2 - Preparing and Opening the Mind's Eye
- Chapter 3 - The Diviner's Tool Box
Tasseomancy, also known as Tasseography, is the art of reading tea leaves. While the term also includes the use of wine sediments and coffee grounds, these other materials have since separated into their own type of divinatory art. While it is certainly common to find any of the three used, as beginners you will be working primarily with, and learning about, the uses of the tea.
The significance of the ubiquitous, cross cultural and historical pervasiveness of tea, coffee and sediment reading may be related to the primal human desire for understanding the self. Just as muggle psychological analysis grew prodigiously during the Victorian era, tasseography became popularized as a parlor game in both magical culture and muggle alike. But the practice distinguishes itself from amorphic fortune telling, mystical, occult or other magical activities. Specifically, tasseography is not an application of magic, but rather a tool for tapping into the subconscious by applying meditation to pattern recognition and symbolism.
Unlike many of the magical methods you will learn at school, Divination often differs in that it does not use active magics. What this means is that there is a far more subtle process being engaged. Tools such as tea-leaf reading are designed to relax and open your mind, so that you are able to see the images in the leaves that you need. Being halfway (in difficulty level) between the Tarot and the Crystal Ball, the leaves will often offer nothing at all of use if one is not mentally attuned to their own intuitive processes. This is, once again, illustrating the importance of meditation. In fact, the very act of drinking the tea is meditation in itself. Have you ever felt more calm, or relaxed, or even sleepy after drinking tea? This is a form of meditation, and part of the natural properties of the herbs you are using. Remember, these tea leaves are just as much herb as any herb in your herbology garden. Many of these tea leaves come from plants that can be used, and are used regularly, in potions. If we then think of our tea as a sort of potion, rather than a tea, we can begin to see where the 'magic' comes in to play. Subtle, and going unnoticed until you find the answers you seek.
Tasseography can be a powerful meditative tool providing insights into the reader's subconscious, and connecting one to their own internal magics whilst opening them up to the potential ambient magics around them. From a modern standpoint procedures such as drinking from the opposite hand (as opposed to your dominant hand), may coordinate left and right brain activity to stimulate creative problem solving (I.E.: changing routine can change your perspective and help you see things in a new light). Common sense indicates that slowing down to focus and organize one's own thoughts is an effective problem solving methodology. The process of tasseography stimulates the imagination to create individualized interpretations and solutions. Tea leaf reading is a fun, healthful and creative way to listen to yourself and open yourself up to the ambient energies of life, allowing you to both perceive the answers you already know and find those you do not. Not every question you ask is one you have no answer for. Sometimes, the answers you are looking for are there already, and you simply have to be willing to look at and accept them. Tasseomancy is one of the better ways to help yourself find these answers by both opening you up and then directing your focus through the meditative and calming practice of drinking tea.
The first inklings of Western tasseography can be traced to medieval European fortune tellers who developed their readings from splatters of wax, lead, and other molten substances. This evolved into tea-leaf reading in the seventeenth century, a short time after Dutch merchants introduced tea to Europe via trade routes to China. Although popularly attributed the the Romaj, or 'gypsy' folk, the true origins of the practice come to use from Asia, the Middle-East and Ancient Greece.
Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England have produced a number of practitioners and authors on the subject, and English potteries have crafted many elaborate tea cup sets specially designed and decorated to aid in fortune-telling. Cultures of the Middle East that practice divination in this fashion usually use left-over coffee grounds from Turkish coffee, Lebanese coffee, or Greek coffee turned over onto a plate, though it is worth mentioning once again that the practice of using coffee grounds for readings has developed into its own separate practice in the field since the mid 1900's.
Theory; How it works
At it's core, Tasseography is the art of relaxing one's mind and energies to the point where 'opening' and connecting (whether it be to your own intuitive powers, or something greater) is an unconscious move. Every part of the tea 'ceremony' takes place and utilizes ancient methods to induce this open state. Just as the ceremonial tea experts of Japan have found a whole art from in the ritualized brewing, serving and drinking of teas, we too have found a similar art for a similar reason.
The 'magic' in this practice happens based on a few things. Firstly, the act of brewing the tea, the frangrance of the tea and the drinking of the tea, are all very important parts of the process. It is during this pre-reading time frame that the reader asks questions and the seeker meditates on the reason they are there (while drinking up the tea, of course!)
This process of meditation, opening and relaxation allow the energies to mingle inside of the cup so that once it is ready to be read, it can be more successful. The best readings done seem to be those where in the reader and seeker were both at ease, merely enjoying in their evening tea!
Tools, Care & Storage
There are, actually, a wide variety of choices for which tools to use in the art of Tasseomancy. Generally, as long as one has a tea pot to brew the tea in (Note: do not use straining device for tea), and a tea cup and saucer to use for the reading, that is all that is needed. However, due to the wide-spread popularity of the practice and the many years in which this has been done, there are some options to consider.
Cups, Pots & Saucers
Although many people prefer a simple white cup for tea leaf reading, as used in your classes at school, there are also traditions concerning the positional placement of the leaves in the cup, and some find it easier to work with marked cups. Beginning in the late 19th century and continuing to the present, English and American potteries have produced specially decorated cup and saucer sets for the use of tea-leaf readers. Many of these designs are patented and come with instructions explaining their mode of use. Some of the most common were those that were given away with purchases of bulk tea.
The type of dishes used for this practice depend on personal tastes and how you, as a reader, prefer to conduct your reading. The type of cup (tea cup, coffee mug, even wine glass) will affect your reading only in the sense that the lines are different on each dynamic shape of the cup. So, when new to the art it is best to go with a standard white china teacup, as this most closely matches the diagrams in your textbooks. Once you know the art well, however, it is possible to accurately use any cup at all. That said, some segments of leaf readers prefer to use the previously mentioned special forecasting cups painted or inlaid to particular effect for their readings. These special cups come in a few different forms, and offer benefits. One type of cup, for example, has a series of varied symbols painted inside of it, and the reader uses the location of the leaves in the cup to determine which symbols are read, rather than reading the symbols formed in the leaves themselves.
Another type of cup may be painted with lines describing time periods or segments related to elements or the zodiac, which help the reader to distinguish not only the symbols in the leaves, but also what elements of life and the cosmos are being related. These can be more direct for quick readings, but are also more limited than the free-form reading. These specialized cups also add more layers of complexity to the learning process, which is why you will find only the general sort of every-day-use teacups in your introductory lessons on the craft.
|Zodiac cups||These sets contain zodiacal and planetary symbols. Typically the interior of the cup contains the planetary symbols, while the saucer has the astrological sign symbols, but there are many variations and exceptions to this common pattern. The placement of these symbols allows the reader to combine astrology with tasseography.|
|Playing card cups||These cups carry within their interiors tiny images of a deck of scattered cards, either 52 cards plus a joker, as in a poker deck, or 32 cards, as in a euchre deck. Some sets also have a few cards imprinted on the saucers, or the saucers may contain brief written card interpretations. The playing cards permit the reader to creatively relate cartomancy to tasseography.|
|Symbol cups||These sets are decorated with between a dozen and fifty of the most common visual cues that can be found in tea leaves, often numbered for easy reference and supplied with an explanatory booklet. The symbols are generally displayed inside the cups, but there are also sets in which they decorate the outside or appear in the cups and on the saucers.|
Caring for your tools is fairly simple. For the pot, spoon, cup and saucer simply wash them each in warm water with a soft soap, as you might do for any fine china dish. Note: It is vitally important that you do this without magic, as using magic on these tools will imbue them with energy that may alter your future readings; using magic to clean your tools defeats the purpose of cleansing them at all! For your teas, simply make sure all the containers are sealed up and put away in a safe, secure, dry location.
The tea pot, cup, spook and saucer can call be stored on a shelf, as you might store any other dishware. For added protection, in case you are travelling or staying in a place that has an over-abundance of energy, store your dishware in a secured, padded wooden box made of dark woods. Your teas should always be kept in individual canisters, sachets or baggies, preferably organized or stored in a secured cedar wood box. The tea should be kept dry and at room temperature at all times.
Herbal teas can be a wonderful thing. We know from our study in Herbology that herbs have many uses. In Potions, we can use them to have specific effects (such as making us sleep without dreams, or counter acting poisons). Drinking teas made with these same herbs can have plenty of positive effects, and the natural properties of some tea leaves make them equally as useful to the art of Divination as they are to our health.
When preparing to do a tea leaf reading, the selection of your tea is just as important as anything else you will do. Since different herbs have different effects, it is paramount that we select a tea that is in line with what we want to accomplish. There are many types of tea out there, some are suited to divination, and some that are not. In the following sections we will discuss what makes a tea good or bad for readings, what teas are best, and how to pick your tea - remember someone is going to have to drink the tea so when doing a reading for someone else, always make sure to show them the teas you have to offer, so that they can choose what they want to drink. It's only polite, after all, and the idea is to impart the other person's energy into the cup as they drink, so it isn't a case of simply gulping back the tea!
Choosing Your Tea
The best tea for Tasseomancy is, of course, loose leaf tea. Green, black, white or oolong teas tend to do best so, as you can see, there are plenty of choices to make, depending on taste. We do not use tea leaves from bags because the leaves tend to be too broken down in processing to easily read. If you're desperate, you could open a tea bag and use the contents (loose, not contained in the bag) to use for your reading... but you'll be much better off using a true loose leaf tea because the images are clearer and easier to read.
Just as tea bags have too fine a leaf to read, you will also want to avoid using tea with extra large leaves or non-tea-leaf additives, like sugar cubes and bits of fruits. Gunpowder Green Tea, for example, has leaves that are far too large to get an accurate reading, since none of the leaves will stick in ways that make identifiable shapes. With teas that have leaves that are too big, instead of images you will only end up with large leaves plastering themselves around the cup.
The leaves don't need to be uniform in size. Teas like Keemun have a variety of shapes and sizes, and these teas with non-uniform sizes of leaves tend to do best for readings, as the different sizes of leaves inside the tea mix will over lap and create more clear and dynamic images and arrangements.
If you do choose to use a tea with additives such as dried fruit, cinnamon pieces and other such things it won't make it impossible to read your leaves; however it should be noted that the added bits need to be similar in size and shape rage to the rest of the tea. If you use a tea with large chunks of orange, and smaller leaf sizes, you will encounter some problems. As a beginning it is best to use a straight, natural loose leaf tea, such as a standard lavender, chamomile or oolong tea.
Whichever tea you pick make sure it's one that's safe to drink since, after all, you or the person you are reading for will need to drink it down!
Preparing Your Tea
How to Read the Leaves: Step-by-Step Guide
A Simple Symbol Dictionary
- At the top means success and gain
- At the bottom means good health.
- if broken means danger of accident
- can also mean a rise in position
- at top rest; stability, constancy
- at bottom; clouded, inconstancy
- if at top; overcoming of difficulties
- if at bottom; difficulties may stick around awhile and/or be difficult to overcome
- birth of something new
- birth of a new family member (distant, near, pet)
- variable fortunes
- unpredictable outcome
- spiritual awakening
- unexpected news
- good news
- message incoming
- good fortune
- life-path (note size and speed of boat)
- visit from a friend
- you will find your answer by something written
- if open it's easily seen and possibly good news
- if closed you need to investigate more deeply, or the answers may be hard to find
- Butterfly Effect
- Endings paired with a new beginning
- sacred light
- creation flame
- help from others
- a false friend
- Cat Headed Beings (such as the sphinx)
- a wedding
- chain of linked events
- if occupied; a guest may be expected
- if empty; may indicate someone who was, or should, be there but who is not (or will not be).
- If unbroken; success, completion
- If broken; disruption to normal cycles and patterns of life
- 'circle of life'
- alchemy of time and consciousness
- better health
- Relativity of time
- counting up or down to an event
- 'on the clock'
- change in financial status
- faith, belief, spirituality
- Element: water
- danger from self or others
- power being abused
- celestial connotation
- Egyptian god Anubis
- the Grimm (if large, dark and in the 'near future' segment of the cup)
- opening (to something new)
- closing (old issues and relations)
- spiritual (portal as opposed to standard door shape)
- money coming
- a man named Bill
- get your 'ducks in a row'
- good omen
- creation of new beginnings
- trunk up indicates overcoming obstacles
- trunk down indicates problems and poor luck
- message coming
- could be positive or negative
- open (awakening)
- closed (something not seen)
- hand held (pleats; how many? Use numerology)
- rotary (the mechanical kind of fan, usually has 4 propellers)
- 4 (numerology)
- Element: Air
- usually represents the state of the spirit; higher on the cup means closer to enlightenment, lower means opposite.
- limitations, blocks
- minor setbacks
- Depending on which finger (if identifiable)
- Thumb: The control of the thumb occupies a huge part of our brain; therefore the thumb is extremely important to our personality. It relates to self-control and will power. For instance, if we consult Palmistry, a woman with a long thumb – in comparison with the rest of her hand – will control her environment and take charge of her life, but if her thumb is short, her environment will control her and she will often feel overwhelmed. Each of the two thumb phalanges has a specific role to play: the phalange closest to the palm represents our logical thinking, while the nail phalange denotes our willpower. Variations in size and shape of each phalange indicate how the person uses will and logic to make decisions and control her environment.
- Index Finger: Next we have the index finger or Jupiter finger. Jupiter stands for guidance and ambition. This is the finger that shows the direction our life is taking and our sense of purpose. In Palmistry, for example, a short Jupiter finger may reveal a lack of purpose or a feeling of inadequacy in social settings, while a very long one could show that we identify too much with the role we play in society.
- Middle Finger: The middle finger, or Saturn finger, is the serious and wise one of the five fingers. This is the finger that forces us to ask tough questions, such as “Since we are all going to die, what’s the sense of living?” It compels us to be structured and disciplined. (Palmistry) With a short Saturn finger (i.e. shorter than the palm width), we may lack discernment, be thoughtless and say the wrong thing. With an extremely long finger, we may lack spontaneity and warmth and be too rigid.
- Ring Finger: The ring finger, or Sun finger, allows us to shine and share. It is the finger of passion, courage and charisma. When it is short, we lack passion and may feel shy or insecure. When the Sun finger is particularly long, we will do anything to attract attention and may use our charisma to manipulate others.
- Pinky: The little one of the five fingers is called Mercury. It stands for communication as well as sexual expression. People with a very small Mercury finger – compared with the size of other fingers – is very often naïve and may display a lack of interest in their surroundings. The bearer of a Mercury finger that is proportionately very long could be an excellent communicator, but may also be inclined to lie or cheat.
- Depending on direction finger is facing (if identifiable): Check out the Advanced Compendium chapter on symbology, specifically the section on 'cardinal directions'.
- sacred flame
- at top achievement
- at bottom danger of haste
- acting recklessly
- high passion
- highly charged romance
- Vesica Pisces (Astrology)
- Amphibious Gods
- good fortune
- Higher Consciousness
- return of the soul to higher frequency
- denotes nationality; importance based on nationality or ethnicity
- circumstances of birth, or current country of residence
- unity of peoples in a location
- domestic annoyance
- being overheard (fly on the wall)
- Note: It is not a fork if it has three (3) tines - that is a trident. The fork must have four (4) tines.
- speak with false tongue (lies)
- false flattery
- Someone is not being honest.
- decision; choice between two or more options
- Uncertain, outcome based on choices made between the options offered
- planting something new (an idea, a new project, a garden..)
- future success
- ancient civilization
- portal, doorway
- be careful of enemies
- hard headed
- adapt to unfavoured situations
- hard work needed
- getting a point across
- of 'god' (creation)
- if open means friendship
- if closed means an argument
- creational harmonics
- head; Psychological state, intellect
- Element: Air
- Horus (Egyptian God)
- Keen sight
- True Sight
- if galloping means good news
- if just the head means a new love
- Wild/free spirited
- good luck
- Earth's magnetics
- Omega or Leo (Astrology)
- time running out
- need to decide quickly
- Time as illusion
- create your own future
- visiting others
- dangerous blockage
- planetary meltdown; ice age
- consciousness frozen in Time
- Progression halted by cooling of desires or outside influences
- Can present as: Pearls, Diamonds, Star Tetrahedron
- incoming gifts
- Prosperity given by outside sources
- harmony at home
- wishes coming true
- if untethered (no string); flying free
- dreams coming to fruition
- good life flow
- broken relationship (friends, family, lover, other)
- hidden enemy
- a rise or fall in life (depending on position in cup)
- social advancement
- if sideways or horizontal; stagnated progress, halting halfway up/down, arrested momentum
- turned on means enlightenment
- at the top means a feast
- at the side means secrets revealed
- at the bottom means postponement
- new life
- fresh beginning
- return to nature (return to basics)
- if straight means progress
- if wavy means uncertain path
- Omega/Leo (Astrology)
- influential friends
- obstacles if closed
- new information unfolding if open
- If appearing with a Key nearby: May symbolize the creation of something new, a new change.
- loops of time and creation
- avoid impulsive actions
- Cyclical chain reactions in life
- something hidden
- someone is concealing themselves
- Defense through hiding the self
- may relate to the masks we wear when in public
- obstacles to be overcome
- a specific area to which you may travel has mountains in it
- prey-like behaviour
- unwelcome visitor
- at top means journey or moving home
- near bottom means rapid growth
- if reversed means frustration
- May also predict immanent danger from poisoning
- if broken means danger of losing someone loved
- long life
- tree of life
- 8 (Numerology)
- Infinity (the number 8 on it's side is the symbol for infinity)
- not seeking a truth
- Wisdom (act on your wisest thoughts)
- Travel to a place were they grow (Florida, California, Tropics)
- Open (you will glean insightful information)
- Closed (something is hidden from you)
- Raining (water; creation, cleansing)
- May simply be a warning to take an umbrella with you.
- repeating something
- a twin (or twins if relating to a birth)
- a journey
- people talking but saying nothing
- Over indulgence
- Desires unchecked
- Bowing to Temptation
- at top means profit
- at bottom means lose
- Need for caution
- The Future is often Unknown
- need for bravery
- time and illusion
- watch the details
- planting seeds
- reap what you sow
- bad news
- Endings which lead to new beginnings
- phone call
- coming full circle
- near the top means marriage or the offer of marriage
- at bottom means long engagement
- if broken means engagement broken off
- Rose bloodline
- flower of life
- may be accompanied by a fragrance in the room
- tear apart
- something viewed
- legal issues
- if balanced means just result
- if unbalanced means unjust result
- possibly separation
- Good fortune
- Part of an established unit
- good news
- golden ratio
- sea of creation
- condition of shoe is important
- Steps needing to be taken
- if the snake is attacking; an enemy
- Web (weaving together, woven, intermingled, intertwined)
- health and happiness
- Isis (Artemis, other goddesses related to femininity and purity)
- female energies
- social gatherings
- outside the box
- hidden truth
- changes at home
- criticism (usually beneficial)
- Slow movement (either you are moving slow, or should move slower)
- Turtle Island (Earth)
- (tree) of life
- book of life
- your life path
- Something unexpected
- 3 in a relationship
- 3 (Numerology)
- wealth and happiness
- a friend needs help
- Harmful emotions
- A wedding
- Wagon wheels (wheels within wheels; cycles, patterns repeated)
- Romantic problems
- Prosperity (Good things are about to overflow onto you)
- If complete means good fortune
- If broken means disappointment
- Messages (incoming or out-going)
- Winged beings (Birds, butterflies, etc.,)
- Desire for Control
- Domination (Being dominated, subjugated, put in a place of limited control)
- Adventure (Overseas, distant, far away places)
- Black and White (Opposites, Dichotomy in thought or action, two opposing choices...)