Wednesday, August 18, 2010


 Tasseology is the ancient art of reading the the cup.  This method of divination interprets pattern s in tea leaves, coffee grounds , or wine sediments .  The terms derive from the French word tasse  (cup), which in turn derives from the  cognate Arabic word tassa, and the Greek suffixes graph (writing),  -ology (study of), and -mancy (divination).   Demitasse is a small cup that to used to serve Arabic coffee or espresso.  Reading coffee grounds has been very prevalent in middle-eastern culture.  My Grandmother and Great Grandmother read coffee grounds.  The art appears to be dying, so maybe that's why my Grandmother came to be in a dream and said "make tea."

 Cup Reading is becoming a dying art - but it is a method of divination which anyone with a little psychic intuition can learn. In many places in the world tea bags have replaced the traditional tea leaves so you may need to buy a box specially for this. Though I deepy love herbal blends which are correctly called tissanes, or ptsine from the Greek word barley, black or green teas are best for for readings. There are plenty of books available if you feel you need more help.  I suggest Time  For Tea by Lindel Barker-Revel.

It is useful to have some knowledge and understanding of symbology - although as in any divinatory method exact terminology should not be relied upon. An active imagination combined stimulated through light meditation and your 'gut feelings' will serve you best.

A wide, white breakfast cup is best for tasseology and the 'sitter' as we will call the person having the reading done.  Place a teaspoon of loose tea in the bottom of the cup and  pour boiling water over the leaves.  The sitter will gaze in to the cup thinking of the question or problem they want  resolved. Tea may be drank with mil or honey to taste.  Sugar is not advise because it can make the leaves stick together.  The sitter will stir  the tea 3, 9, or 30 times while concentrating on the issue.  The sitter will drink the tea or coffee, leaving just a small amount in the bottom of the cup in which to swirl the remaining tea leaves around with.  Adaptation of the cup is equivalent to shuffling of the cards in a Tarot Readings.  The sitter must think of a question they seek answered as they drink and swirl the tea three times with non-dominate hand. The cup as a mirror and the "sitter" reflects on the the question at hand.    Cup readings may be most accurate because the they use on of the four elements: water. Water is traditionally used to represent emotions and intuition.

Although many people prefer a simple white cup for readings, there are also traditions concerning the positional placement of the leaves in the cup, and some find it easier to work with marked cups. Beginning in the late 19th century and continuing to the present, English and American potteries have produced specially decorated cup and saucer sets for the use of tea-leaf readers. Many of these designs are patented and come with instructions explaining their mode of use. Some of the most common were those that were given away with purchases of bulk tea. There are dozens of individual designs of fortune tellers' cups, but the three most common types are zodiac cups, playing card cups, and symbol cups.

The cup is the turned upside down in it's saucer with the handle facing the sitter, and with her left hand she must turn the cup completely around three times, anti-clockwise, so that the handle ends up facing her.  Then the cups sits for a minute or two as it is allowed to rest.  In the  Gypsy Tradition the 'sitter" taps the three times to ask  Spirit permission to read to cup.

She will then hand the cup to the reader, without looking into it.

As the reader holds the cup, in both hands she will look for the clusters of tea leaves, or coffee  grounds,  reading into the shapes of them; the position of the leaves will tell her how imminent something is. As the cup is read the reader will go into a light meditative trance and allow the shapes of the leaves to form images in her mind.

It is traditional to read a cup clockwise from the present to the future by starting along the rim at the handle of the cup and following the symbols downward in a spiral manner, until the bottom is reached, which symbolizes the far future.  Images in the bottom  of the cup are the most powerful.  Most readers see images only in the dark tea leaves against a white or neutral background; some will also read the reverse images formed by seeing the symbols that form in the white negative spaces, with a clump of dark leaves forming the background.

Some people consider it ill-advised for one to attempt tasseography using tea from a cut-open bag or to use a symbol dictionary. The reasons for these prohibitions are practical: tea-bag tea is cut too finely to form recognizable figures in the cup and tea-leaf reading has its own historic system of symbolism that does not correspond exactly with other systems, such as symbolic dream divination.   Readings were done in cultures that were mostly illiterate and the symbology may evoke different  meanings to each person.  Tea bags also contain very over processed tea.  It does not allow the delicate spirit of the leaves to float freely in the cup, Nor,  give the rich aroma that is part of the therapeutic value of a reading.

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