By day, while the sun-god drove his chariot in the high heavens and turned the blue-green ∆gean Sea into the semblance of a blazing shield of brass, Idas and Marpessa sat together in the treesí soft shades, or walked in shadowy valleys where viole... Read more of Idas And Marpessa at Urban Myths.caInformational Site Network Informational
Home - Reading Tea Leaves Articles - Tea Leaves Symbols - All About Tea


It seems highly probable that at no previous period of the world's
history have there been so many persons as there are at the present
moment anxious to ascertain in advance, if that be humanly possible, a
knowledge of at least 'what a day may bring forth.' The incidence of the
greatest of all wars, which has resulted in sparse news of those from
whom they are separated, and produces a state of uncertainty as to what
the future holds in store for each of the inhabitants of the British
Empire, is, of course, responsible for this increase in a perfectly sane
and natural curiosity; with its inevitable result, a desire to employ
any form of divination in the hope that some light may haply be cast
upon the darkness and obscurity of the future.

It is unfortunately the case, as records of the police-courts have
recently shown, that the creation of this demand for foreknowledge
of coming events or for information as to the well-being of distant
relatives and friends has resulted in the abundant supply of the want by
scores of pretended 'Fortune-tellers' and diviners of the Future;
who, trading upon the credulity and anxieties of their unfortunate
fellow-countrywomen, seek to make a living at their expense.

Now it is an axiom, which centuries of experience have shown to be as
sound as those of Euclid himself, that the moment the taint of money
enters into the business of reading the Future the accuracy and credit
of the Fortune told disappears. The Fortune-teller no longer possesses
the singleness of mind or purpose necessary to a clear reading of
the symbols he or she consults. The amount of the fee is the first
consideration, and this alone is sufficient to obscure the mental vision
and to bias the judgment. This applies to the very highest and most
conscientious of Fortune-tellers--persons really adept at foreseeing the
future when no taint of monetary reward intervenes. The greater number,
however, of so-called Fortune-tellers are but charlatans, with the
merest smattering of partly-assimilated knowledge of some form of
divination or 'character-reading'; whether by the cards, coins, dice,
dominoes, hands, crystal, or in any other pretended way. With these, the
taint of the money they hope to receive clouds such mind or intuition
as they may possess, and it follows that their judgments and
prognostications have precisely the same value as the nostrums of the
quack medicine-vendor. They are very different from the Highlander who,
coming to the door of his cottage or bothie at dawn, regards steadfastly
the signs and omens he notes in the appearance of the sky, the actions
of animals, the flight of birds, and so forth, and derives there from
a foresight into the coming events of the opening day. They differ also
from the 'spae-wife,' who, manipulating the cup from which she has taken
her morning draught of tea, looks at the various forms and shapes the
leaves and dregs have taken, and deduces thence such simple horary
prognostications as the name of the person from whom 'postie' will
presently bring up the glen a letter or a parcel or a remittance of
money; or as to whether she is likely to go a journey, or to hear news
from across the sea, or to obtain a good price for the hose she has
knitted or for the chickens or eggs she is sending to the store-keeper.
Here the taint of a money-payment is altogether absent; and no Highland
'spae-wife' or seer would dream of taking a fee for looking into the
future on behalf of another person.

It follows, therefore, that provided he or she is equipped with the
requisite knowledge and some skill and intuition, the persons most
fitted to tell correctly their own fortune are themselves; because they
cannot pay themselves for their own prognostications, and the absence of
a monetary taint consequently leaves the judgment unbiased. Undoubtedly
one of the simplest, most inexpensive and, as the experience of nearly
three centuries has proved, most reliable forms of divination within its
own proper limits, is that of reading fortunes in tea-cups. Although it
cannot be of the greatest antiquity, seeing that tea was not introduced
into Britain until the middle of the seventeenth century, and for many
years thereafter was too rare and costly to be used by the great bulk
of the population, the practice of reading the tea-leaves doubtless
descends from the somewhat similar form of divination known to the
FINAL SIGMA~}_" by which fortune in love was discovered by the
particular splash made by wine thrown out of a cup into a metal basin. A
few spae-wives still practise this method by throwing out the tea-leaves
into the saucer, but the reading of the symbols as they are originally
formed in the cup is undoubtedly the better method.

Any person after a study of this book and by carefully following the
principles here laid down may with practice quickly learn to read the
horary fortunes that the tea-leaves foretell. It should be distinctly
understood, however, that tea-cup fortunes are only horary, or dealing
with the events of the hour or the succeeding twenty-four hours at
furthest. The immediately forthcoming events are those which cast their
shadows, so to speak, within the circle of the cup. In this way the
tea-leaves may be consulted once a day, and many of the minor happenings
of life foreseen with considerable accuracy, according to the skill
in discerning the symbols and the intuition required to interpret
them which may be possessed by the seer. Adepts like the Highland
peasant-women can and do foretell events that subsequently occur,
and that with remarkable accuracy. Practice and the acquirement of a
knowledge of the signification of the various symbols is all that is
necessary in order to become proficient and to tell one's fortune and
that of one's friends with skill and judgment.

There is, of course, a scientific reason for all forms of divination
practised without hope or promise of reward. Each person carries in
himself his own Destiny. Events do not happen to people by chance, but
are invariably the result of some past cause. For instance, in the
last years a man becomes a soldier who had never intended to pursue a
military career. This does not happen to him by chance, but because
of the prior occurrence of la European war in which his country was
engaged. The outbreak of war is similarly the result of other causes,
none of which happened by chance, but were founded by still remoter
occurrences. It is the same with the Future. That which a person does
today as a result of something that happened in the past, will in its
turn prove the cause of something that will happen at some future date.
The mere act of doing something today sets in motion forces that in
process of time will inevitably bring about some entirely unforeseen

This event is not decreed by Fate or Providence, but by the person who
by the committal of some act unconsciously compels the occurrence of
some future event which he does not foresee. In other words, a man
decrees his own destiny and shapes his own ends by his actions, whether
Providence rough-hew them or not. Now this being so, it follows that
he carries his destiny with him, and the more powerful his mind and
intellect the more clearly is this seen to be the case. Therefore it is
possible for a person's mind, formed as the result of past events over
which he had no control, to foresee by an effort what will occur in the
future as the result of acts deliberately done. Since it is given to but
few, and that not often of intention, to see actually what is about to
happen in a vision or by means of what is called the 'second sight,'
some machinery must be provided in the form of symbols from which an
interpretation of the future can be made. It matters little what the
method or nature of the symbols chosen is--dice or dominoes, cards or
tea-leaves. What matters is that the person shaking the dice, shuffling
the dominoes, cutting the cards or turning the tea-cup, is by these very
acts transferring from his mind where they lie hidden even from himself
the shadows of coming events which by his own actions in the past he
has already predetermined shall occur in the future. It only remains
for someone to read and interpret these symbols correctly in order to
ascertain something of what is likely to happen; and it is here that
singleness of purpose and freedom from ulterior motives are necessary in
order to avoid error and to form a true and clear judgment.

This is the serious and scientific explanation of the little-understood
and less-comprehended action of various forms of divination having for
their object the throwing of a little light upon the occult. Of all
these forms perhaps divination by tea-leaves is the simplest, truest,
and most easily learned. Even if the student is disinclined to
attach much importance to what he sees in the cup, the reading of the
tea-leaves forms a sufficiently innocent and amusing recreation for the
breakfast- or tea-table; and the man who finds a lucky sign such as
an anchor or a tree in his cup, or the maiden who discovers a pair
of heart-shaped groups of leaves in conjunction with a ring, will be
suffering no harm in thus deriving encouragement for the future, even
should they attach no importance to their occurrence, but merely treat
them as an occasion for harmless mirth and badinage.

Whether, however, the tea-leaves be consulted seriously or in mere sport
and love of amusement, the methods set forth in succeeding chapters
should be carefully followed, and the significations of the pictures and
symbols formed in the cup scrupulously accepted as correct, for reasons
which are explained in a subsequent chapter.


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