Samhain (pronounced: sow-in)
We have the Celts to thank for the ancient festival of Samhain – which dates back 2,000 years in the region of the world currently known as the UK (Ireland and Scotland) and northern part of France. Nov 1 officially marked the beginning of their new year, the end of summer and the beginning of winter, which was associated with (human) death. On the night before (Oct 31), they believed that the veil between the living and spirit world was blurred, and that ghosts and the dead returned to earth. They also believed that the presence of spirits helped enhance predictions for the future by Druids and Celtic priests. They built sacred bonfires, wore animal heads and skins as costumes to ward off ghosts and told fortunes.
Fast forward to modern times (The eighth century), when Pope Gregory III declared November 1 All Saints Day (and incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain) known then as All Hallows Eve, and now as Halloween. Over time, it evolved into activities like pumpkin carving and eating mounds of candy collected from tick-or-treating (which probably thrills the makers of Metformin.)
Tasseography / Tasseology
Means divination, or reading tea leaves which is derived from the French word tasse (cup), which in turn comes from the Arabic word tassa; And the Greek suffix (graph/ology) which means writing/study of.
Fortune telling is as old as the hills and reading tea leaves can be traced to seventeenth century Western medieval Europe after Dutch merchants returned from China and introduced tea to Europe.
Botanomancy (+ Witches)
Means herb divination. And, according to the Pagan Library, a Witch (derived from the Old English word wicca) “…was a seer, a knower, an averter of evil. The word only took on a negative meaning with the coming of Christianity, which taught that all the gods of the heathen were devils. So anyone who clung to the old ways and the Old Religion was a devil worshipper.”
Witches were/are particularly skilled at both Tasseography and Botanomancy (herb divination). Most will tell you they have and cultivate herb gardens (which inspires them to make magic), and certainly to practice the ancient art of tea leaf reading.
Here are some simple steps to take should you want to try tea leaf reading:
- The right teapot is important. Choose one that calls to you and designate that your magical pot. Intention is everything.
- Next, choose loose-leaf tea leaves (any!) and put them into the pot, add hot water (at the right temperature).
- Turn the teapot once to the right and then twice to the left.
- Steep to the appropriate time, then pour the tea into a teacup. Sip and enjoy.
- Once finished, swirl the cup clockwise, then turn the teacup upside down on the saucer.
- Examine the leaves and the shapes it has created.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reading tea leaves there are many books, and really cool images on Pinterest about Tasseography, but here is a quick glance at some of the meanings:
• Heart shape: romance
• Two hearts: marriage
• Sword or dagger shape: take care of your health
• Moon shape: change is coming
• Snake shape: deception/a strong warning to be careful of someone around you
• Bird: a journey is on the horizon
• Cat: someone who is not being honest with you
• Dog: spending time with close friend
• Dot shapes: money is coming
• Star (or horseshoe): great luck
• Triangle: extremely fortuitous/expect great success
• Spilled tea is good luck
• Very strong tea suggests that a new friend is on the horizon
• Top is left off the teapot accidentally it suggests a stranger around you
• It’s Bad luck for more than one person to pour from a pot of tea
• Bubbles on top of teacup – financial luck
• Bubbles near the side of teacup – expect romance
• Sprinkle tea leaves around the house for luck and protection!
• Never throw tea leaves away, always share them with your garden: especially roses!
Last but not least: just enjoy that pot of tea!
Happy Hallows Eve!
Happy All Saints Day!
~The Chief Leaf