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Tea-Cup Reading and Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves, by a Highland Seer

Tea-Cup Reading and Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves, by a Highland Seer
Title: Tea-Cup Reading and Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves, by a Highland Seer
Release Date: 2006-04-24
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 25 March 2019
Count views: 17
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Transcriber's note: In Chapter V, I changed the spelling of "collecton" to "collection", in the Interpretation of Fig. 6, I changed "biry" to "bird",  and in the Interpretation of Fig. 10, I changed "letteres" to "letters."  All other spelling is unchanged. 


By A Highland Seer

With Ten Illustrations




  Preface  11
I.  Introduction to the Art of Divination from Tea-Leaves  13
II.  Ritual and Method of Using the Teacup  25
III.  General Principles To Be Observed in Reading the Cup  29
IV.  An Alphabetical List of Symbols with Their Significations  39
V.  Specimen Cups, with Interpretations  57
VI.  Omens  66


Fig. 1  61
Fig. 2  63
Fig. 3  65
Fig. 4  67
Fig. 5  69
Fig. 6  71
Fig. 7  73
Fig. 8  75
Fig. 9  77
Fig. 10  79


It is somewhat curious that among the great number of books on occult scienceand all forms of divination which have been published in the English languagethere should be none dealing exclusively with the Tea-cup Reading and the Art ofTelling Fortunes by the Tea-leaves: notwithstanding that it is one of the mostcommon forms of divination practised by the peasants of Scotland and by villagefortune-tellers in all parts of this country. In many of the cheaper handbooksto Fortune-telling by Cards or in other ways only brief references to theTea-cup method are given; but only too evidently by writers who are merelyacquainted with it by hearsay and have not made a study of it for themselves.

This is probably because the Reading of the Tea-cups affords but littleopportunity to the Seer of extracting money from credulous folk; a reason whyit was never adopted by the gypsy soothsayers, who preferred the more obviouslylucrative methods of crossing the palm with gold or silver, or of charging a feefor manipulating a pack of playing-cards.

Reading the Cup is essentially a domestic form of Fortune-telling to bepractised at home, and with success by anyone who will take the trouble tomaster the simple rules laid down in these pages: and it is in the hope that itwill provide a basis for much innocent and inexpensive amusement and recreationround the tea-table at home, as well as for a more serious study of aninteresting subject, that this little guide-book to the science is confidentlyoffered to the public.



It seems highly probable that at no previous period of the world's historyhave there been so many persons as there are at the present moment anxious toascertain in advance, if that be humanly possible, a knowledge of at least 'whata day may bring forth.' The incidence of the greatest of all wars, which hasresulted in sparse news of those from whom they are separated, and produces astate of uncertainty as to what the future holds in store for each of theinhabitants of the British Empire, is, of course, responsible for this increasein a perfectly sane and natural curiosity; with its inevitable result, a desireto employ any form of divination in the hope that some light may haply be castupon the darkness and obscurity of the future.

It is unfortunately the case, as records of the police-courts have recentlyshown, that the creation of this demand for foreknowledge of coming events orfor information as to the well-being of distant relatives and friends hasresulted in the abundant supply of the want by scores of pretended'Fortune-tellers' and diviners of the Future; who, trading upon the credulityand anxieties of their unfortunate fellow-countrywomen, seek to make a living attheir expense.

Now it is an axiom, which centuries of experience have shown to be as soundas those of Euclid himself, that the moment the taint of money enters into thebusiness of reading the Future the accuracy and credit of the Fortune tolddisappears. The Fortune-teller no longer possesses the singleness of mind orpurpose necessary to a clear reading of the symbols he or she consults. Theamount of the fee is the first consideration, and this alone is sufficient toobscure the mental vision and to bias the judgment. This applies to the veryhighest and most conscientious of Fortune-tellers—persons really adept atforeseeing the future when no taint of monetary reward intervenes. The greaternumber, however, of so-called Fortune-tellers are but charlatans, with themerest 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 theyhope to receive clouds such mind or intuition as they may possess, and itfollows that their judgments and prognostications have precisely the same valueas the nostrums of the quack medicine-vendor. They are very different from theHighlander who, coming to the door of his cottage or bothie at dawn, regardssteadfastly the signs and omens he notes in the appearance of the sky, theactions of animals, the flight of birds, and so forth, and derives there from aforesight 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 morningdraught of tea, looks at the various forms and shapes the leaves and dregs havetaken, and deduces thence such simple horary prognostications as the name of theperson from whom 'postie' will presently bring up the glen a letter or a parcelor a remittance of money; or as to whether she is likely to go a journey, or tohear news from across the sea, or to obtain a good price for the hose she hasknitted or for the chickens or eggs she is sending to the store-keeper. Here thetaint of a money-payment is altogether absent; and no Highland 'spae-wife' orseer would dream of taking a fee for looking into the future on behalf ofanother person.

It follows, therefore, that provided he or she is equipped with the requisiteknowledge and some skill and intuition, the persons most fitted to tellcorrectly their own fortune are themselves; because they cannot pay themselvesfor their own prognostications, and the absence of a monetary taint consequentlyleaves the judgment unbiased. Undoubtedly one of the simplest, most inexpensiveand, as the experience of nearly three centuries has proved, most reliable formsof divination within its own proper limits, is that of reading fortunes intea-cups. Although it cannot be of the greatest antiquity, seeing that tea wasnot introduced into Britain until the middle of the seventeenth century, and formany years thereafter was too rare and costly to be used by the great bulk ofthe population, the practice of reading the tea-leaves doubtless descends fromthe somewhat similar form of divination known to the Greeks as "κοταβος" bywhich fortune in love was discovered by the particular splash made by winethrown out of a cup into a metal basin. A few spae-wives still practise thismethod by throwing out the tea-leaves into the saucer, but the reading of thesymbols as they are originally formed in the cup is undoubtedly the bettermethod.

Any person after a study of this book and by carefully following theprinciples here laid down may with practice quickly learn to read the horaryfortunes that the tea-leaves foretell. It should be distinctly understood,however, that tea-cup fortunes are only horary, or dealing with the events ofthe hour or the succeeding twenty-four hours at furthest. The immediatelyforthcoming events are those which cast their shadows, so to speak, within thecircle of the cup. In this way the tea-leaves may be consulted once a day, andmany of the minor happenings of life foreseen with considerable accuracy,according to the skill in discerning the symbols and the intuition required tointerpret them which may be possessed by the seer. Adepts like the Highlandpeasant-women can and do foretell events that subsequently occur, and that withremarkable accuracy. Practice and the acquirement of a knowledge of thesignification of the various symbols is all that is necessary in order to becomeproficient and to tell one's fortune and that of one's friends with skill andjudgment.

There is, of course, a scientific reason for all forms of divinationpractised without hope or promise of reward. Each person carries in himself hisown Destiny. Events do not happen to people by chance, but are invariably theresult of some past cause. For instance, in the last years a man becomes asoldier who had never intended to pursue a military career. This does not happento him by chance, but because of the prior occurrence of la European war inwhich his country was engaged. The outbreak of war is similarly the result ofother causes, none of which happened by chance, but were founded by stillremoter occurrences. It is the same with the Future. That which a person doestoday as a result of something that happened in the past, will in its turnprove the cause of something that will happen at some future date. The mere actof doing something today sets in motion forces that in process of time willinevitably bring about some entirely unforeseen event.

This event is not decreed by Fate or Providence, but by the person who by thecommittal of some act unconsciously compels the occurrence of some future eventwhich he does not foresee. In other words, a man decrees his own destiny andshapes 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 morepowerful 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 pastevents over which he had no control, to foresee by an effort what will occur inthe future as the result of acts deliberately done. Since it is given to butfew, and that not often of intention, to see actually what is about to happen ina vision or by means of what is called the 'second sight,' some machinery mustbe provided in the form of symbols from which an interpretation of the futurecan be made. It matters little what the method or nature of the symbols chosenis—dice or dominoes, cards or tea-leaves. What matters is that the personshaking the dice, shuffling the dominoes, cutting the cards or turning thetea-cup, is by these very acts transferring from his mind where they lie hiddeneven from himself the shadows of coming events which by his own actions in thepast he has already predetermined shall occur in the future. It only remains forsomeone to read and interpret these symbols correctly in order to ascertainsomething of what is likely to happen; and it is here that singleness of purposeand freedom from ulterior motives are necessary in order to avoid error and toform a true and clear judgment.

This is the serious and scientific explanation of the little-understood andless-comprehended action of various forms of divination having for their objectthe throwing of a little light upon the occult. Of all these forms perhapsdivination by tea-leaves is the simplest, truest, and most easily learned. Evenif the student is disinclined to attach much importance to what he sees in thecup, the reading of the tea-leaves forms a sufficiently innocent and amusingrecreation for the breakfast- or tea-table; and the man who finds a lucky signsuch as an anchor or a tree in his cup, or the maiden who discovers a pair ofheart-shaped groups of leaves in conjunction with a ring, will be suffering noharm in thus deriving encouragement for the future, even should they attach noimportance to their occurrence, but merely treat them as an occasion forharmless mirth and badinage.

Whether, however, the tea-leaves be consulted seriously or in mere sport andlove of amusement, the methods set forth in succeeding chapters should becarefully followed, and the significations of the pictures and symbols formed inthe cup scrupulously accepted as correct, for reasons which are explained in asubsequent chapter.



The best kind of tea to use if tea-cup reading is to be followed isundoubtedly China tea, the original tea imported into this country and still thebest

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