At first sight the interior of the cup will show the leaves scattered
about apparently haphazard and with no arrangement; just a jumble of
tea-leaves and nothing more. In reality they have come to their
positions and have taken on the shapes of the symbols for which they
stand, by the guidance of the subconscious mind directing the hand in
the turning of the cup.
The various shapes and the meanings to be attached to them will at first
be puzzling to beginners. A good deal of practice is necessary before
the tea-leaf symbols can be accurately interpreted at a glance. That,
however, will come later, and in time it will be as easy as reading a
If you wish to be a proficient reader of the tea-leaves, practise
constantly this interpretation of the shapes and positions of the
leaves. Take a cup and follow out the simple instructions for the
turning and draining of it, and then carefully study the result.
It is an excellent plan to make a rough copy of the leaves as they
present themselves to you in each cup, making notes of the various
Do not feel dismayed if, when you begin looking at the tea-leaves, you
are unable to discover in them anything definitely symbolic. It is
certain that nothing will be found if the seer is feeling nervous! Keep
a calm, open mind, and do not be in a hurry, for it is under such
conditions only that a clear reading of the leaves will be possible. In
some cases the symbols are more easily read than in others. Much depends
upon the consultant.
The gift of imagination (by no means to be confused with invention) is
of the greatest possible importance in discerning the symbols which are
of such endless shapes and variety. The seer has to find in the forms of
the tea-leaves a resemblance, sometimes it may be but a faint one, to
natural objects, _e.g._, trees, houses, flowers, bridges, and so
forth. Figures of human beings and animals will frequently be seen, as
will squares, triangles, circles, and also the line of fate.
These signs may be large or small, and the importance of them must be
judged by their relative size and position. Suppose, for instance, that
a small cross should be at the bottom of the cup, the only one to be
seen, the seer would predict that a trifling vexation or a tiresome
little delay must be expected; but not for the present, as it is at the
bottom of the cup. An alphabetical list of symbols is given later on, so
it is not necessary to define them here. The various points of a more
general character, however, must be studied before it is possible to
give an accurate reading.
It will constantly be found that the stems, isolated leaves, or small
groups of leaves, form a letter of the alphabet, sometimes a number.
These letters and numbers have meanings which must be looked for in
connection with other noticeable signs. If an initial "M" appears, and
near to it a small square or oblong leaf, both being near the rim of the
cup, it would indicate a letter coming speedily from someone whose name
begins with an "M." If the initial appears near the bottom of the cup it
shows that the letter will not be coming for some time.
If there be a clear space at the bottom of the cup devoid of tea-leaves,
it shows water, and that, in all probability, the letter is coming from
abroad. If the symbol of the letter comes very near to a bird flying, it
shows a telegram. If the bird is flying towards the consultant (the
handle), the telegram has been received. The news in it is to be judged
by other signs in the cup. If flying away from the handle, the telegram
is sent by the consultant. A single bird flying always indicates speedy
In a cup with various ominous signs, such as a serpent, an owl, or many
crosses, the news coming is not likely to be pleasant. In a cup without
bad signs, it can safely be said that the news is good.
As a general rule large letters indicate places, whilst smaller ones
give the names of persons. Thus a large letter "E" would stand for
Edinburgh and a smaller "E" for Edwards, for instance. To all rules
there comes the occasional exception, and this principle holds good with
regard to the letters in the tea-cup. It is said that these smaller
letters always point to the first letter of the surname. Usually it is
so; but I have constantly found from experience that it is the first
letter of the Christian name, or even a pet name, to which the letter
refers. It is well to keep this possibility in mind, otherwise the seer
may give misleading information to consultants.
Sometimes numbers mean the date for an event to be expected, a "5" for
instance, very near the brim of the cup, or the handle (the consultant),
means in five days; or five weeks if it come on the side, possibly as
far off as five months if the figure be at the bottom of the cup.
As dots around a symbol always indicate money in some form or another,
according to the character of the symbol, a figure beside the dots would
signify the amount of money to be expected. If the symbol were that of a
legacy with the figure "90" near, it would show that a little legacy of
ninety pounds might be anticipated.
Clearly defined symbols that stand out separately are of more importance
than such as are difficult to discern. Clusters of shapeless leaves
represent clouds marring the effect of an otherwise fortunate cup.
Journeys are shown by lines or dots formed by the dust and smaller
leaves of the tea. The length and direction of the journey may be known
by the extent of the line and, roughly speaking, the point of the
compass to which it leads, the handle in this case representing south.
If the line of dots ascends sharply to the brim of the cup, a journey to
a hilly country will be taken.
Supposing the consultant to be at home, and the dots form a line from
the handle all round the cup and back to the handle, it signifies a
journey for a visit and the return. If the line were to stop before
reaching the handle again, with an appearance of a house where the line
ends, a change of residence might safely be predicted. A wavy line shows
indecision as to arrangements. Crosses upon the line indicate that there
will be vexation or delay in connection with the journey. Large flat
leaves some distance apart along the line stand for important stations
to be passed through.
For some consultants there seems very little of interest to be read in
their cup. There are no events, merely trivialities. It is therefore
difficult to find anything that could be considered as "future," when it
seems to be just a dead level "present," the daily life, nothing more.
It is sad for those who have such a dull life, but there is usually some
sign, a small happening such as a parcel, or a visit from a friend.
These must be made the most of. The pleasure of anticipation will add to
A confused looking tea-cup, without any definite symbols, just a muddle
of tea-leaves, is useless for the purpose of divination, beyond giving
an indication of the state of the consultant's mind, so vague and
undecided in its character that it obscures everything. Tell such a one
the reason for the failure of divining, and recommend a more reliable
state of mind. Then let them try their "fortune" again in a few months,
when it may be found quite different.
It is of course a great mistake to be always "looking in the
tea-leaves," as some foolish people do twice a day. It is sure to lead
to contradictions though there is no harm in the habit of "looking in
the cup" each morning as others do, for finding the events likely to
happen in the course of the day. This is as permissible as the reading
of the cards each morning for the day's events by those who consider it
a safeguard, remembering that to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Some people use the tea-cup simply for the purpose of asking a definite
question, such as, "Is the sum of money I am expecting coming soon?"
When this is the case, the consultant should be told before turning the
cup in the hand to concentrate the thoughts on this one point, as in the
case of wishing while shuffling the cards for a definite wish. Then the
seer must look only for the signs that will give the answer to the
question, ignoring all other points. This is necessary for the giving of
a satisfactory answer to the question asked.
DIVINATION BY TEA-LEAVES AS AN AMUSEMENT AND AS A MORE SERIOUS STUDY
The need for patience cannot be too strongly impressed upon those who
are beginning to learn the language of tea-leaves. Some of the most
interesting symbols are very minute, and will certainly be missed by the
seer who is in a hurry.
When tea-leaf reading is indulged in merely as an amusement to while
away a few moments after a meal, a hasty glance at the cup, or cup and
saucer, will suffice. The seer will just note the chief features, such
as a journey, a letter, a parcel, or news of a wedding, and pass on to
the next cup. But this is far from being a really interesting method of
divination by tea-leaves, wherein so much knowledge is to be found, and
so much useful information gained.
Those who closely study this fascinating subject will certainly be well
rewarded by a deep personal interest, in addition to the pleasure they
give to others.
It is wonderful how rapidly converts are made to this form of
divination. Some who in the past have been heard scornfully to assert
that they "have no belief in tea-leaves," become the most regular
inquirers. Moreover, these sceptics have proved to be very efficient
There is always a satisfaction in persuading another to one's own point
of view. The more obstinate the opposition, the more glorious the final
It is a rare occurrence nowadays to meet with three people in the course
of a day, and not to find that one at least is deeply interested in
fortune-telling in some of its various forms.
Quite recently I had a letter from a girl who has gone on a visit to
British Columbia, asking me if I would "do the cards" for her, as she
could not find anyone in her vicinity who was particularly good at
divination. She went on to say that "there is a perfect rage for
fortune-telling out here, and everyone is keen on it." Another instance
of this universal popularity was given to me by a friend who had
recently been to America. She was amazed at the numbers of women whom
she saw absorbed in the reading of their tea-cups each day of the
The male sex holds aloof and leaves us to "perform these follies." Some
ascribe it to man's superiority. Or as briefly summed up by a delightful
member of their sex, who when declaiming against the possibility of the
future being made visible, said, "With all apologies to you, I must say
I am not so profoundly stupid as to believe in these things; it cannot
be anything more than rot."
It is remarkable how such protests die away when clairvoyant evidence,
either by cards, tea-leaves, or other means, has accurately predicted
some event of the distant future that at the time appeared absurd and
impossible of happening.
Woman may lawfully claim superiority with regard to her intuitive
faculty, and thus she is well equipped for exercising her divinatory
Who need be dull or bored when the language of symbolism remains to be
learned? Perhaps I should say, studied; for completely learned it can
never be, seeing that fresh events are constantly occurring in the
world, and new symbols appear representing each.
There are few things more fascinating than personal discovery, and those
who become students of divination by tea-leaves, or cards, may safely be
promised a taste of this pleasing sensation of achievement. It is
limited to the few to discover the marvels of radium, or the discomforts
of the South Pole, but a fragment of their glory is shared by those who
find new evidence of the far-reaching knowledge of symbolism.