Tea leaf readings can seem intimidating. While it is free-form divination, you don't have to feel like you're jumping out of a plane without a parachute. With an open mind and some practice, you'll soar!
Grab a cup, prepare your loose leaf tea, and try tea leaf reading out among your holiday companions.
Three tips for tea reading
Practice childlike wonder
Look for shapes, numbers, and letters
Use the fearlessness of a poet
My grandmother, whose favorite holiday was Christmas, sometimes read tea leaves after a hot pot of tea when we went out for Chinese food.
My family listened and smiled at her predictions. She tended to share that the tea showed our successes would be many. Her readings were brief but warm.
I don't know what my grandmother saw or if she found clear images: the two of us never had the chance to discuss the art.
For a tutorial on how to prepare your tea, see this video.
Childlike wonder: Unfold your mind
All good tea readers have a little imagination. As a beginner, I sometimes struggled to make out symbols and shape answers.
Tea leaf readings are like cloud gazing with a friend: the sky is a cup.
Have the awe of a child. It will open your eyes to joyful readings. Images of playful possibility and power may appear, like dragons and unicorns, and squirrels and dogs in the park. Develop your sense of discovery, and be open to what the other person finds in their leaves.
(Read about animal totems in tea leaf readings)
This experience can be whimsical. Tea leaves are open to interpretation -- I love sharing images on Instagram. Every time I ask, I get a few different ideas of what others see in the tea.
Shapes, numbers, and letters: The ABCs of tea leaf reading
The first items to look for in readings are shapes, numbers, and letters.
Shapes: Boxes, rings (circles), and horseshoes are fairly common. I often find triangles. Consider the longstanding philosophy that triangles pointing up indicate spirituality, while those pointing down are associated with material wealth.
Numbers: I've seen the number three appear in countless cups -- either the shape of a 3, or three leaves together. Various cultures find much meaning in the number three, and you are welcome to use yours.
Letters: Sometimes a letter will emerge in the leaves. Letters can indicate a person or a place. Once, it represented the concept of energy, as the seeker I read for pursed her internship in the energy field.
Example: A quick tea leaf reading tale
I spotted the initials of an astrologer friend in his leaves, and spoke them. He recognized the letters, and it resonated with his question about a career change. He was close to working for a different company.
He's since changed jobs, while maintaining contact with friends at his prior job. It was an emotional decision, represented by the shape of a heart in his cup, as well.
Poetic fearlessness: Let your words flow!
It helps readers and mystics to use the tools of their art to speak as a poet.
Don't feel mystical? Don't have a literary bone in your body? No degree in the fine arts?
Do you think that stopped the first few tea leaf readers? No!
Consider tea leaf reading an opportunity to develop your expressive side.
Get all throat chakra on it!
My grandmother encouraged me to open my mind and share a story, to treat the leaves as if they were clouds for gazing.
Speak what you see, even if that blob of tea doesn't exactly look like a lion, for example. Trust those first inklings, and don't question.
Whenever you give a reading, the experience is new to both seeker and reader. Even if Uncle Joey or Aunt Matilda has had a tea reading!
Every cup is individual (just like Uncle Joey and Aunt Matilda). With open minds and a little help from the person you read for, you can discover shapes of seasonal cheer in the tea.
Experiment with the theme(s) of your holiday tradition(s) when you give a reading.
Play with your ideas for what images in the cup mean. Tradition holds that a box indicates a present, which suits the holiday season well. But can you and your longtime pal Melissa talk openly about how she or her loved one feels trapped in a situation? That little box could indicate a "boxed in" message. If you trust that it's safe to explore the topic, look for creative clues in the cup to support your friend and address her issue.
Tea Leaf Readings, Tea Leaf Reading Kits, and Tea Leaf Reading Parties Available
Tea readings and tea reading kits and parties can be a great gift ideas! Please check out my shop for more details (tea leaf reading parties need to be booked here, please)
For an idea of what a tea leaf reading experience with Tabitha at North Star Muse is like, please read Holistic Tarot author Benebell Wen's blog post.
As we enter the winter holiday season, the next North Star Musings blog will look at tarot cards and generosity. Expect a post December 8.
For more info, sign up for my newsletter.
Thanks for the read.
Tabitha Dial is a tarot, tea leaf reader, and creative mentor in Lexington, Kentucky. She facilitates the Create your Fate (Tarot and more) Meetup and teaches seminars at the Mystical Paranormal Fair once a month. Her poetry has appeared in articles on SpiralNature.com, in "Arcana: The Tarot Poetry Anthology", and in "Tarot in Culture" Volume Two.