Alternatively known as Tassology, Tasseomancy, Kypomancy, Tea-Cup Reading and Tea-Leaf Reading.
The art and practice of divining the past, the present and the future by using tea leaves, or by the interpretation of the shapes and forms that are made by tea leaves that remain in the cup after the tea has been drunk.
This type of divination is also performed by the reading of coffee grounds, especially in the Middle Eastern tradition, or the reading of wine sediments (Oenomancy), a practice the Romans were fond of.
The sediment left at the bottom of any drinking cup has always been considered of great importance in predicting the drinker's future, no matter what the original contents. Almost anything can therefore be used, and some people prefer to use the dregs of their coffee or the lees of their wine, interpreting them as for tea leaves.
Although generally associated with Gypsy fortune tellers, the practice of reading tea leaves actually dates back thousands of years to the country of China where it was developed into a mystical science. The ancient Chinese used to take divination omens from the inside of bells. Their handleless teacups, when inverted, looked like small bells, and so teacups became associated with the bell omens.
Tasseography depends largely upon the diviner 's traditions and psychic intuition, like most divinatory techniques. Nevertheless, the general agreement is that for true tea-leaf reading you need a teacup having a wide mouth and sloping sides, with a inner surface smooth, free of decorations, either white or plain pastel color, and some tea made with loose, large tea leaves, and just a little tea dust. You should definitely not use tea bags.
The tea is then drunk or poured away. The cup should be shaken well and any remaining liquid drained off in the saucer. The diviner then interprets the pattern of tea leaves in the bottom of the cup.
Another method includes more refined rituals, such as drinking the tea until one teaspoon of liquid remains inside the cup; after moving the cup three times in a circular, counter-clockwise direction, slowly pour the remainder into the saucer, thus leaving the leaves in the bottom and the sides of the cup. Shapes and figures are then prophetically interpreted.
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Sources: (1) Walker, Charles, The Encyclopedia of the Occult, Random House Value; (2) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (3) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (4) Pickover, Clifford A., Dreaming the Future: The Fantastic Story of Prediction, Prometheus Books; (5) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (6) Johnstone, Jane and Pilkington, Maya (editors), The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Fortune Telling, Sterling.
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