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form of fortune-telling by reading tea leaves. It is also known as tasseography. Tasseomancy
originated in the Middle Ages stemming from ceroscopy and molybdomancy. In the 17th century, the West Dutch Indies merchants
introduced tea from the Orient. Tea drinking became a popular custom which
gave rise to the divination of tea leaves that remained in the bottom of
Tasseomancy is largely dependent on psychic intuition. Tea is poured into
a cup without the use of a strainer. The one seeking psychic help, the inquirer,
consumes all of the tea in the cup. If any moisture remains it is shaken
out onto a napkin.
The leaves remain in the bottom of the cup which the diviner observes to
see what patterns are formed. A letter, heart shape, or a ring might be
observed. There are some standard symbolisms which are observed when interpreting
the patterns: snake (enmity or falsehood), spade (good fortune through industry),
mountain (journey or hindrance), house (change, success).
Another method is to leave a little moisture in the cup. This allows the
leaves or dregs to be swished around. The cup is the upturned into the saucer.
The reader picks up the cup and begins examining the formation of the dregs.
As in the above described method, the dregs can form patterns such as letters,
numbers, geometric designs, straight or wavy lines or shapes which resemble
animals, birds or objects. Again, various symbols have particular meanings:
straight lines indicate careful planning and peace of mind, while a cup
shape indicates love and harmony. Time frames are also indicated by estimating
the proximity of the leaves to the rim. Dregs closer to the rim and handle
represent the immediate future, while those at the cup's bottom indicate
the far future. Some diviners say they can only predict twenty-four hours
into the future.
Due to technical modernization tea bags have arrived, but readers have circumvented
this by cutting the bags and dropping the leaves into the cup. In some instances
coffee grounds are used, but the practice is less common.
Italians, in the 18th century, claimed they invented the coffee-ground form
of the divination. Also, they believed the prophecies came from demons so
the diviners recited incantation during their practices such as: "Aqua
boraxit venias carajos," "Fixitur et patricam explinabit
tornare," and "Hax verticalines pax Fantas marobum, max
destinatus, veida porol." It was believed that if such incantations
were done incorrectly, the reading would be inaccurate.
Tasseomancy is currently conducted in England, Ireland, and Europe. In the
United States it is primarily practiced in larger cities in "Gypsy
tearooms" and in restaurants and other establishments which furnish
back room fortune-telling services. Some occultists practice it too. A.G.H.