All about Tasseography
Posted by Mister Tea on 6/29/2012
Tasseography is the art of tea leaf reading and, much like any other psychic fortunetelling manifestation, it's an exercise of projecting your hopes and desires into a random event; and using the pattern matching abilities of the human brain to interlucute meanings into things. In this, it's not that different from Tarot readings or Ouija boards, or even doing 'impression montages' using photographs cut out of magazines.
The actual mechanism is to take a cup (or a small bowl or goblet) and to put in tea or coffee with some sort of sedimentation. You can take tea from commercial tea bags, or steep tea the traditional way. For the middle eastern variety, you can sift some coffee grounds into a cup of strong coffee with milk and sugar. Some also do this with particular types of wine, and even with barley broth.
While the beverage is steeping, relax. Look at something outside your normal arm's reach perspective. You want to let your mind wander a bit, and focus on nothing in particular. The goal here is to let your right brain focus on holistic pattern matching without letting your more logical left brain interfere. This should be a meditative state; remove distractions like the television, music or your mobile phone, and like a beginning meditation session, try to empty your mind and go a bit trance-like. Now, let the tea cool enough to drink.
First, use your off hand to lift the cup. This will draw out the other hemisphere of your brain (human brains and handedness are cross wired), and this will help keep you out of your usual routines and your usual mental spaces. Pull out the issue that's most prevalent in your thoughts. Is there some issue that's nagging at you, something that pulls your thoughts away from inner peace and calm? Let that issue surface of its own accord. It'll be the focus of the reading. Sip the drink slowly while that issue surfaces. Be sure to leave a little bit of liquid in the bottom of the cup.
Take a breath in through your mouth, and out through your nose, and swirl the teacup widdershins with your off hand. Then pour the liquid into the saucer, and turn the cup upside down over it. Wait three breaths (breathing as mentioned before) and then lift it up. You're now ready to read the leaves.
When looking at the pattern the leaves make on the cup, divide the cup into the center, the middle ring and the outer ring. 12 oclock is where the handle is, and read clockwise around. You're looking for patterns that will let your subconscious mind communicate solutions to you - waves, ripples, whorls, egg drop shapes and more.
Some specialised cups have grids on the bottom with astrological symbols to make placing and identifying symbols easier, but that's not strictly necessary. What is necessary is keeping an open mind, and following the relaxation steps described above. Ritualism has a purpose, even if that purpose is emergent from the behavior, and in this case, it distances your critical reasoning abilities from your holistic pattern matching affinities.
Blogger SDawn Nelson shares his humorous take on Tasseography: "My friend and I went out last weekend to one of my favorite Greek restaurants in Austin. We drank Turkish coffee, dipped pita bread in hummus, attempted to belly dance, and got our fortunes read. Our future was foretold not by tarot cards or reading of the palm, but by the ancient practice of tasseography.
Tasseography (also tasseomancy), is a form of divination using coffee grounds or tea leaves (think Professor Trelawney’s divination class in Harry Potter). The practice has its roots in medieval Europe, later moving to the Middle East and China. My fortune was read after turning my Turkish coffee cup over and allowing the grounds to dry for about 15 minutes"
According to my reading, I am going to be traveling to a place by the mountains and sea. There I will fall in love and have a baby girl. The child was seen in my cup as an infant and again at age two. I will also be prosperous.
At the end of the summer, I will be traveling to Greece and staying at a place by the mountains and sea. I have no plans of having a child at this point in my life, but here’s where it got weird. Earlier our waitress (not the one who reads cups) said a couple came in with a girl. They showed the reader the child and said, “You predicted this in my cup.” Entering the Twilight Zone further, I thought to myself, “A child, but I’m not even ready for a pet.”
My friend made fun of the prediction, and we left to drive home. We were at a stoplight in Austin when we heard a pitiful series of meows coming from the highway median. We got out to investigate and found a kitten stuck in the drainage ditch. Figuring it was bad karma to leave a starving kitten in the middle of the highway, my friend got out her iPhone flashlight app and we rescued the scrawny thing. The next day I called the Humane Society, but they were not taking any more kittens. The animal control shelter was available, but they euthanize animals. I couldn’t in good conscience bring her there, so after flea treatment, vaccines, blood and fecal tests, earmite medicine, a soak to treat the burns on her front paws, and special food to help her gain weight, I ended up with Mira (the name is derived from the Greek word Moirai, meaning fate.
So the moral of the story is, beware of getting your fortune read in a cup..."