Normalising The Knowledge Of The Seers
Currently adding the standard interpretations of tea leaf patterns to a database and I felt it would be remiss not to include some of the more amusing symbols (bearing in mind the texts books origins in the late 19th century).
Some choice ones include:
Native with “Tom-Tom”: This foreshows news of disturbance in India or news of a personal nature which will cause anxiety
Opera-Glasses: You are in danger of losing the confidence of your friends because of your inquisitive questions
Prince of Wales’ Plumes: This is a symbol of pleasant events stirring topics and sometimes of personal honor and distinction
Tea Cosy: To the unmarried this is a sign that they will probably remain single; to the married affection and comfort in the small things of life
Red-Hot Poker: This flower suggests that you are likely to bring yourself within the range of unpleasant criticism by your flaunting manner
Snail: This is a sign of infidelity; several snails, that mischief is going on around you of which you are unaware
Sphinx: This denotes that your hopes will be set on things far beyond your reach and that as nothing but the very best in life has any attraction for you, it is improbable that you will ever attain to complete happiness
Arab: This symbol points to a need for caution in choosing your friends, or you may find yourself in the power of someone who will prove to be an undesirable companion
Mostly I’m enjoying including these because short of using google image search I’d have a great deal of difficulty visualising these objects much less have their form suggested to me by tea leaves.
Existing as I am in a somewhat uncertain phase of my life I was struck by how the phrasing of the meaning of the shapes are clearly designed to prey upon (or amplify) those concerns which the reader brings to the reading…
Sealing-Wax Theoretically you are wise, but you seldom bring your wisdom to bear on practical matters
See-Saw: Unless you endeavor to become more decisive and reliable you will lose any good opportunities which may come your way
And I wonder how good were these practices as therapy? I’m attending a hypnotherapist at present who makes a big deal about the links between magic and hypotherapy (banishing demons as a metaphor for surmounting conscious obstacles to the unconscious minds will) and some conversations with others which I have had point out how really good listening can be one of the best elements of therapy (co counselling). Tasseomancy likely incorporated both of these, codified symbols could work in a more inexact and concentrated manner than hypnotic suggestion but might have a comparable effect. Furthermore the space which tea leaf reading opened up for people might have allowed an airing of concerns which were less well addressed by wider society
Other interesting nuggets: birds in flight denote something different to the vision of a bird at rest, I wonder if this links back to alectryomancy, a more antiquated practice of prophecy by the flight patterns of birds. Also there are a few symbols which denote the arrival of a male visitor but none which portend to the arrival of a female visitor, is this reflective of the segment of society most partial to tasseomancy?
should you wish to peruse the fortune telling spreadsheet yourself you can download it here. Source of definitions is ‘Telling Fortunes By Tea Leaves’ by Cicely Kent