Hello, wonderful witches!
After a very helpful discussion thread about the newsletter, I would humbly like to ask your opinions. Instead of ceasing publication in a couple months, would you prefer:
1) that I cut down the frequency to free issues once or twice a month with paid subscribers getting special sabbat content?
2) that the newsletter only lives on in social media form?
Please reply to this email or comment and let me know what you prefer!
Anyway—happy new moon, everybody! I don’t know about you, but I NEED this one. I’ve been so overwhelmed lately and this is such a good moment for a reset. I *attempted* to do some spellwork earlier, but my kitten thinks lit candles are toys, so I definitely got a little distracted. How did you celebrate or honor the new moon this week?
For today’s article, we’re discussing one of my all-time favorite topics: tasseography.
REMINDER: In about three months, Kitchen Witch will be shutting down. As many of you know, costs to run the newsletter and pay my fabulous writers come from a combination of paid subscriptions and money out of my own pocket. After more than a year of publishing, income from subscriptions hasn’t been able to reach what’s needed to keep this afloat without me going broke in the process. (If you want specific numbers, to break even, there needs to be about 50 more monthly subscribers. THANK YOU to those of you who have subscribed so far!) It’s been a lot of fun running the newsletter and giving a voice to witchy writers with a reasonable (though still less than I’d like) payment for articles. The main reason I began this newsletter is because writers who want to write about witchcraft have very few places to publish—and the publications that are out there tend to pay a pittance of about $25, if they pay anything at all. As witches, we deserve to have our stories told. And witch writers deserve to be compensated fairly for that. It’s been an honor to publish such wonderful work from witches of every path, tradition, identity, and perspective. So that’s that—unless there’s a swarm of new subscribers, I’ll be signing off in a few months.
The Prophetic Herbs: Fortune-Telling Through Tasseography
By Rachel Friedman
The amount of ways someone can tell fortunes is immense. One of the most entertaining (in Kitchen Witch’s humble opinion, at least) is tyromancy, or telling fortunes with cheese. But that’s an article for another time. Today, we’re focusing on the far more common fortune-telling method that pairs oddly well with cheese: tea-leaf reading, or tasseography—reading the shape of tea leaves to determine the future.
Not surprisingly, the spread of tasseography was dependent on the growing popularity of tea. It possibly evolved from the ancient Greek process of attempting to predict future love affairs in puddles of spilled wine. Before the 17th century, tea was too expensive to be used by anyone except for the very rich. The diviners used other liquid materials, like the aforementioned wine, hot wax, or molten metal. Once tea arrived to Britain en masse from China, the drink became more affordable and tasseography really took off.
Want to try it yourself? Here’s a quick primer.
A small quantity of loose tea leaves, preferably full-leaf tea
A teacup with a wide brim and bottom. It should not have any colors or patterns inside the cup.
Boiling water, enough to fill the cup
What To Do:
Add the tea leaves and the boiling water to the cup.
Drink the liquid until there is only about half a teaspoonful remaining.
Shake the cup so that the leaves cover the inner surface of the cup.
Turn the teacup three times clockwise and then carefully pour out the remaining liquid.
Belief is key when reading the tea leaves. It’s been said true believers will be able to interpret the future accurately by looking at the shapes in the dregs. The teacup should be turned around carefully so that the practitioner can clearly view the placement of every speck of tea leaf without dislodging any. The closer a clump of tea leaves is to the handle, the quicker the event it represents will occur. Aside from this, shapes close to the rim represent occasions which are expected to occur immediately, shapes halfway down represent events which will take more time, and so forth.
Naturally, simply discerning a symbol in a teacup will not provide the viewer with enlightenment. There is a long list of symbols which previous users have described, along with the events they are believed to foretell. For example, a worm indicates an unknown enemy, while a yacht stands for enjoyment and happiness. An abbey implies a trouble-free period, an airplane a futile project, while a clearly defined anchor symbolizes good luck.
Here’s an idea of what else you could find in the teacup, as listed out in Kitchen Witch OG Jen’s article for The Daily Tea from 2014:
Heart: Symbolizes affection and love.
Line: Symbolizes a journey. A straight, unbroken line references good forward progress; a broken line indicates challenges during the journey.
Square: Indicates being boxed in. It is a sign of limitation and possibly oppression, imprisonment, or illness. Trouble may be on the way.
Bird: A flying bird indicates the upcoming arrival of good news. A resting bird symbolizes an end to a successful journey.
Dragon: Dragons precaution seekers to let their heads and good sanity lead decision-making. An upcoming, possibly terrifying, event will require it in order for the seeker to come out successful.
Dog: Canines in the cup refer to friendships. Pay close attention to the dog’s stance in order to interpret the meaning. For example, a begging dog indicates someone will come asking for a favor soon. A sad dog represents an injustice suffered by a friend.
Human: Figures of people also should be read based on the image’s attitude. A positive stance is a good sign, and negativity signifies evil.
Numbers: Look at the symbols around any numbers to determine the true meaning. Numerals could signify days of the week, time, or amounts.
Turtle: Symbolizes a slow but profitable journey. The seeker will work hard without seeing immediate results, but extreme success will follow.
Go forth and seek your future, tea drinkers! Post your cups on social and tag @kitchenwitchjb. Let us know what you discover.
Rachel Friedman majored in history in college, where she developed a particular interest in weird history, including the history of witchcraft. She lives in Southern California with her family.
Coming Up Next Week…
Stay tuned next week for an essay about the combo of witchcraft and juicing.
See you then!