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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

e 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.