The art of reading the tea cup or coffee cup is called tasseography otherwise known as tasseomancy
or tassology, From the Arab word Tasse which means cup or golblet. This ancient form of divination is derived by reading the patterns of the tea leaves, coffee grounds and even wine sediments. This mysterious and ritualistic art commonly associated with gypsy fortunetellers and crazy old cat ladies has a long history going back to ancient Greece. Tasseography, developed independently throughout Asia, The Middle East and Greece. Modern Tasseography was further seen throughout Scotland, Ireland and Eastern Europe.
A fascinating divination art, and one that has crossed every culture Tasseography, or cup reading blends psychic arts with the ritual of tea and coffee drinking and was probably started as a form of entertainment at the end of a meal. IN the Victorian days when there was a strong curiosity into all things mystical it became a parlor game.
I myself first became interested in cup reading in the 1970’s. I would brew a loose leave tea, let the person I was reading for drink it to the bottom so that no liquid was left then turn the cup over. I would then let it rest for a few minutes. When I turned over the cup the tea leaves the stuck to the sides and bottom would form patterns and shapes. These shapes, symbols and patterns foretold the past present and future events. While not magic, I found that there is definitely a mystical energy when reading from the cup itself. The cup just like a crucible or womb, is a vessel of creation. A microcosm, that becomes a reflection to the universe and the super-consciousness. I found this infinitely fascinating and was curious to learn more forms of cup reading. Several years later, a Syrian friend of mine introduced me to reading the Turkish coffee cup. What could be better? Delicious sweet Turkish coffee and a reading to go with it?
The method of coffee ground reading is much the same as tea leaf reading, however it has it’s own traditions and rituals to go with it. The coffee is brewed n a traditional ‘canika’ a small copper pot with a long handle. Boiled with sugar or without it is poured into tiny little Turkish cups. The coffee is drunk to the grounds then the cup turned over. The cup is then turned three times clockwise until the handle faces you. After the cup rests for a few minutes it can them be turned over and read. The fine coffee grounds are then read in the same way as the tea leaves.
The first step in learning cup reading is to learn some of the traditional symbolism and patterns of the tea leaves and coffee grounds.
Tasseography/ Cup reading Symbolism:
Acorn.—This is a symbol of health, strength and gain through industry, a sowing of which you will see the reaping, a short journey from which there may be great results; good fortune and ease are predicted by several acorns.
Alligator.—This is a bad sign of personal danger and distress possibly caused by those nearest to you; it also shows much mental disturbance and worry; if very near consultant a catastrophe is imminent.
Almonds.—These denote festivities and social enjoyment, good and generous friends.
Altar.—If with a figure near, sorrow and distress are foreshown.
Anchor.—A pleasing symbol of good and loyal friends, constancy in love, and the manifistation of your wishes; an emblem of safety to a sailor.
Anemone.—These flowers often indicate an event to be expected in the early autumn; the nature of it must be judged by other signs in the cup.
Basket.—Domestic duties and family cares; if full, a present given or received.
Bats.—An ill omen showing sickness and trouble in the home; with other signs, a prediction of death.
Bayonet.—A sign to be feared; it shows danger of operation, wounds, and pain.
Beans.—These show quarrels and disputes with relations.
Bear.—A journey north, sometimes prolonged travel. See also Polar Bear.
Bed.—A visit, illness; or death, according to other symbols.
Beehive.—This is a symbol of eloquence, mental capacity, and much energy in forming new schemes and carrying them through; also of attainment to power and honour.
Bell.—Amazing news according to other signs in the cup; several bells indicate a wedding. See also Canterbury Bells, Diving Bell, Handbell.
Cauldron.—New opportunities which need careful consideration.
Cauliflower.—This signifies that even your best friends cannot describe you as constant or reliable.
Cave.—Unless you rouse yourself and use a little more push, you are likely to remain in obscurity all your life.
Chain.—An engagement or wedding; an entangled chain means a dilemma which will tax your ingenuity to the utmost; a long, thick chain indicates ties that you wish to undo; a broken one, trouble in store.
Chair.—A small chair shows an arrival; a large one, deliberation over a new plan. See also Carrying Chair, Rocking Chair.
Champagne Glass.—This is a symbol of good fortune and delight; to the sick, a good omen of recovery.
Cherries.—A love affair, happiness, and health, are the meanings of this symbol.
Besom.—This gives a caution to avoid meddling in other people's affairs or you may find yourself regarded as an unpleasant busybody.
Calf.—This signifies a need for gentleness and kindness to those with whom you associate.
Camel.—A responsibility satisfactorily carried out; sometimes frustrated plans and endless delays; a camel laden means wealth from an unexpected source abroad.
Candle.—This is significant of trials, worries, or illness.
Candle Extinguisher.—An uncomfortable incident or episode which will put you out considerably.
Candlestick.—You have need to look at things from a wider point of view; to make the best of yourself you must cultivate perception.
Cannon.—This denotes military and naval display and good fortune; with pleasant symbols around or near, such as a crown or star, promotion for someone dear to you in the service.
Canoe.—This implies that a new friendship will eventually lead to a happy love affair.
Canopy.—This brings success through the help and interest of those who are socially or mentally your superiors.
Devil.—This symbol gives warning that reformation is needed, or you may find yourself so tightly in the grip of bad influence that it will be well-nigh impossible to extricate yourself.
Diadem.—This ensign of royalty shows that your ambition is realised beyond your expectations; wonderful good fortune and influential friends assure you of an unusually successful career.
Dish.—Anxiety in household matters; a broken dish is a foretaste of a greater loss.
Dog.—This symbol has many meanings which must be read in accordance with the other symbols; in a general way this sign indicates adverse conditions, the thwarting of life's chances, unfortunate love affairs, family misfortune and money troubles; a large dog sometimes signifies protection and good friends; a small dog, vexation and impatience.
Dolphin.—A cheerful and optimistic character, pleasure on the sea or river.
Doves.—These birds give a personal message of happiness and an assurance of faithfulness in love, peaceful circumstances, high ideals, and progress; to those who are at enmity this symbol proclaims reconciliation; to the sick or anxious, comfort and hope; to a business man, a fortunate omen of success.
Dragon.—Great and sudden changes about which there is an element of danger.
Dragon-Fly.—Tidings of unexpected occurrences, unlooked-for events, new and advantageous opportunities, sometimes new clothes or furniture.
Drum.—A hazardous enterprise or expedition is the meaning of this symbol.
Drummer.—To a man, this foreshows popularity and a successful public career; to a woman, social success, a large following of friends and admirers, and power of gaining her own ends.
Duck.—A sign of a taste for speculation; if more than one duck, success in work and enterprise,
Dwarf.—This portends calamity, accident, or disgrace.
Eagle.—This predicts that you may expect most beneficial changes, the realisation of a long-cherished hope, and possibly an inheritance of wealth from an unexpected source; a flying eagle shows the coming of wealth and honour after a change of residence; with a vulture, death of a monarch; a dead eagle, public loss and mourning.
Eagle's Nest.—An eagle on its nest foretells association with those in places of authority and honour; it also denotes a life of wealth and ease.
Ear.—A large ear shows that you will be shocked by hearing of some scandal or abuse; a normal ear
Eels.—This is an unpleasant symbol meaning malicious tongues and treacherous friends, also gossip over money matters.
Eggs.—New plans and ideas, or a birth.
Elephant.—A sign of power, travel, promotion, happiness and stability in love and friendship.
Elf.—This symbol should put you on your guard or you may be the victim of an unpleasant practical joke.
Elm Tree.—A good omen of prosperity and coming happiness.
Giraffe.—You are apt to cause mischief through blundering and the making of incorrect statements.
Gladioli.—These flowers indicate courage in the face of difficulty; hope and tenderness.
Glasses.—These show that you will entertain your friends on a lavish scale, and delight in hospitality, but will occasionally be confronted by difficulties in your arrangements.
Goat.—A new enterprise which has an element of risk about it; a goat is an unfortunate sign to sailors or to those connected with them.
Goose.—A venture needing much discussion and arrangement; plans are made only to be upset again, and unless you proceed with caution, you are likely to make a bad mistake.
Grapes.—These signify pleasure, abundance, fulfilment, and a life free from care.
Grasshoppers.—These insects give warning of a poor harvest season; for an old person the risk of chill leading to severe illness.
Grave.—This symbol must be read in accordance with its position, also with reference to other signs in the cup; as a general rule, with gloomy signs it would bring a message of coming sorrow, or with cheerful symbols that a death would benefit the consultant.
Greyhound.—This sign stands for energy and untiring activity which will bring you unqualified success;
Hammer.—Troublesome little tasks which you are reluctant to undertake.
Hammock.—A mournful ending of something to which you had looked forward with delight.
Hand.—A sign of good fellowship, loyalty, and affection; it may also indicate a parting, a meeting or a bargain concluded; other signs around it must be noticed in order to read its special meaning. See also
Handcuffs.—Disgrace, imprisonment, misfortune, and dishonesty; this sign must be read in connection with others around it.
Hare.—The return of an absent friend after a long absence; if it is running, a journey is indicated; a dead hare foreshows money acquired through industry.
Harp.—This is a sign of melancholy and predicts the possibility of a nervous breakdown.
Kangaroo.—You will receive an unlooked-for and interesting piece of news; sometimes it indicates that you have a rival.
Kettle.—This is a sign of illness; unless a human figure appears beside it, the illness is probably for the consultant; it is an omen of coming trouble.
Key.—Circumstances will improve, things will become easy, and your path will be made smooth; you may hope for success in whatever you have on hand; a key at some distance Keyhole.—This gives warning of a need for caution, for someone of whom you feel no suspicion is untrustworthy.
Knife.—This is an unpleasant sign of quarrels, broken friendship, and tears.
Ladder.—This signifies advancement, influential friends, and the attainment of good fortune.
Lamb.—An indication that you will be amazed by the success of a doubtful undertaking.
Lamp.—This sign provides an assurance of good success in business.
Lantern.—This shows that fear and doubt will mar your happiness and progress.
Laurel.—This tree points to power, ability and health.
Leaves.—Prosperous results of your diligence, new friends, and satisfaction.
Leg.—This foretells a successful race with fortune.
Leg of Mutton.—Depression and pecuniary worries is the meaning of this sign.
Leopard.—This animal foreshows triumph over adverse circumstances or an evil report;two leopards, fortune and misfortune following each other in quick succession.
Letters.—These are shown by oblong or square tea-leaves, initials near give the name of the writer; with dots around they will contain money.
Mace.—Promotion, a position of authority and achievement.
Magpie.—"One for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a wedding, four for a birth"; this ancient saying well explains the meaning of seeing magpies in the tea-leaves.
Mallet.—You will arrive at a wise conclusion in a difficult matter.
Maltese Cross.—You will emerge from one source of vexation or trouble only to fall into another.
Man.—You may expect a visitor.
Man Carrying a Burden.—An unhappy marriage or an unfortunate love affair.
Man Carrying Mace.—This points to personal promotion or the advancement of someone dear to you.
Necklace.—A good present or money; a broken necklace shows that you will break a bond which you have grown to feel is unendurable.
Needles.—These denote mischief and deceit; sometimes disappointment in love.
Neptune.—This planetary symbol indicates a condition of chaos.
Net.—Toil or anxiety followed by amazing achievement and good fortune.
Ostrich.—This symbol points to achievement in creative work; if running, you may look for startling news and rumors of public upheavals.
Otter.—You must expect to receive a disagreeable shock through some unpleasant spite on the part of those of whom you have always thought well, and regarded as loyal and affectionate friends.
Owl.—A bad omen of illness, misfortune, and poverty; if flying, you will receive tidings of grief; to lovers this bird is a symbol of bad news or unpleasant rumors; to those who are contemplating new work or enterprise the owl should be regarded as a warning to proceed with caution.
Ox.—An ox in his stall implies hospitality, domestic peace and abundance.
Palace.—This portends good fortune and favours.
Palette.—A hopeful sign of success to an artist or to those associated with one; to others, it suggests a need for deliberation and advice before embarking upon a new work or enterprise.
Palm Tree.—This is a symbol of honour, fame, and victory; increase of wealth, love, and marriage.
Pampas Grass.—This is a sign that you will make a pathetic endeavour to find happiness in a life which is cast in a somewhat dreary lot.
Pan and His Pipes.—A most cheering symbol which gives an assurance of happiness, future prosperity, and delight.
Pansy.—This flower is a symbol of understanding, modesty, and contentment; it is also a pleasant indication of faithful friends and happy days.
Panther.—You may expect to be shocked at the treacherous behaviour of a friend whom you had always regarded as honourable.
Parrot.—This is a sign of foreign travel, the making of many friends, and much mental energy; sometimes it gives a hint that there is an inclination to gossip and spread scandal.
Peacock.—A sign of the acquisition of property; a prosperous and happy marriage; with other signs, an unfortunate friendship.
Queen.—A queen upon her throne indicates security, peace, and honour; sometimes the attainment to a high position through powerful friends.
Quill Pen.—This shows that you may expect, before long, to sign your maiden name for the last time in a marriage register; with other signs, a legal document.