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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Reading the Leaves with Rose Anderson

My children are grown now, two 30-somethings with lives of their own. There are days when I feel like I dreamed that life of raising kids, it all went by so fast. As it was for most young families, our Monday to Friday work weeks were spent living our jobs and school. For me this also included shuttling our children to music lessons and Scouts and trying to get the weekly necessities of grocery shopping, housekeeping, and laundry done. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I managed it! In the evenings back then I sewed historical costumes, did research, and created faux scientific artifacts to be used on the weekends. You see, my family lived history.  

From April to October our weekends were spent driving from one state to the next to attend living history events. We did it just to travel back in time for a while. Dressed in period attire, we left the modern world behind to camp and live rough with others doing exactly the same thing. Back in those days my husband and I assumed the persona of Colonial scientists (like Charles Willson Peale and John James Audubon). By day we’d interact with the public, staying in character and using theater-worthy performances to teach the forgotten bits of history. By night we’d gather with friends to laugh and sing old songs around the campfires. It was a fun hobby to raise our children in. We don’t actively do history events anymore, but I did keep a few accoutrements from then. My husband still has his black powder pistol and we still have our fire irons and favorite costume pieces. I also have my tea set and tea leaf reading books. 

At these events, my historical reenactor lady friends and I would meet up for afternoon teas. Our teas were full costumed affairs. The table would be set with antique china, silver, and linens. Loose tea, the same blends available to the colonials, would steep in silver teapots and we'd nibble on open-fire baked shortbreads and cobblers while we chatted. We even had authentic sugar loaves to chip away at to sweeten our tea. It was a grand show that charmed the public. Occasionally, we'd invite one or two women from the crowd whose interest appeared to match our own to join us. When the last sips were taken and all that remained were the dregs peppered with soggy leaves, that's when the tea leaf readings would begin.

Tea leaf divination, or Tasseography, is a fun thing to do with friends and is especially nice to do on a cold winter's day. You simply drink your tea then look for shapes the tea leaves make in your cup -- like seeing elephants or dragons in cloud formations. You don't really need anything special other than loose tea leaves (the leaves inside a teabag work great). You'll also need a white or pale china cup and saucer so you can see the leaves clearly. Besides these tools, all that's needed is an open mind, a bit of imagination, and sense of adventure. :)

Here are the basics:

  1. Bring water to a boil and pour over tea leaves and steep for 3-5 minutes. Use this time to think about your future. 
  2. Swirl the pot carefully to be sure you get some leaves in your tea and fill your cup.
  3. Drink the tea, leaving a small amount of liquid at the bottom of the cup. 
  4. Close your eyes and swirl the dregs in your cup clockwise three times. Ideally the leaves will move toward the lip of the cup. Ask yourself the question you want the tea leaves to address.
  5. Turn the cup upside down on the saucer for a few seconds to drain the cup. 
  6. Turn the cup right side up with the handle facing the person whose leaves are being read.
  7. Look for recognizable shapes and their placement in the cup
The images you see have associations. Their place inside the cup foretells just when to expect them to make a showing in your life. The bottom of the cup is the furthest from you so it means some time in the distant future. Near the rim means sooner. I once had an image of a hen near the rim of my cup. A hen signifies a chatty person would be contacting me soon. The very next day my sister came for a visit. She was a very chatty person. :)

I took part in our historical teas so often I had many of the meanings memorized. Only rarely did I need to refer to my
old out-of-print book. I recently shared a leaf reading tea with my soon-to-be daughter-in-law and discovered I've forgotten much of it. Oh well. Use it or lose it.  If you'd like to give this fun activity a try, Amazon and B&N have many new tea leaf reading books to choose from. You can also find the meanings of tea leaf images online. This site is as good as any. Have fun!

Do you have any unusual hobbies? Do share.

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About Rose
Rose is a multi-published, award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and discovering interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.

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11 comments: said...

Rose, that's so interesting. Are you in that photo of the 4 people? I've always listed on job applications and resumes that my hobby was reading. That list has grown a little now with miniatures, silk flower arranging, and I was going to say writing. Oops, that's not supposed to be a hobby, but alas, per my royalty figures, it seems to be.

Rose Anderson said...

No, not me. Those people are dressed pretty much how we dressed. To use my own photos would mean digging through the boxes and albums, and then scanning, and then processing, blah blah..just easier this way. ;)

Cara Marsi said...

How interesting that you and your family did the historical reenactments. What a great gift to give your children. Thanks for the info about tea leaves.

Melissa Keir said...

I've always wanted to learn how to read tea leaves but I never liked to drink tea. It didn't seem like I could figure out how to make it work, so I picked up cards and I read tarot cards and life cards (both animal and faerie). The life cards are my favorite because they are positive and teach me about what I need to do in my life, what do I need to work on or bring forward. :)

Tina Donahue said...

You always have such fascinating posts, Rose. I marvel at your ideas. :)

Judy Baker said...

OMG, my grandmother used to read tea leaves. I had forgotten until I read your blog. How interesting. What a fun hobby for you and your family, I sure your grown kids have great memories. Thanks for sharing.

Sandy said...

There are people around this area who are involved in historical reinactments. It's a fun hobby.

I haven't had tea leaves read to me, but I have had tarot cards read to me. lol

E. Ayers said...

Great fun. Didn't know to drain the cup. I must try it.

Just wondering if it's really worth seeing the future.

Paris said...

What and interesting post! I've never had my tea leaves read but it sounds like fun and so does your historical reenactment adventures. I can't say that I have any interesting hobbies, unless I count research or reading:) Thanks for sharing!

jean hart stewart said...

love learning new stuff... Great column, Rose.

TheaH said...

This is super cool. I always wondered how it worked. I read Tarot for years. Someone told me once I should read a crystal ball. I wonder if this is something that would count. Thanks for sharin!

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