One of my resolutions for 2010 was to learn to do tea-leaf reading.
I was given a book called The Art of Tea Leaf Readinglast Yule, which helped me get started, but reading a single book is hardly mastering the art.
So, as the year draws to a close, I thought it was time to have another go - and I found another book to help me. What's more, it was a book that is downloadable for free.
It is called Tea-Cup Reading and Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves, by a Highland Seer, and is available on Project Gutenberg in lots of different formats including HTML, EPUB, TXT and Kindle versions with and without pictures. I decided to download the Kindle version with pictures.
I haven't actually got a Kindleyet - although I'd like one - but I have downloaded the free Kindle appfor my laptop, which works pretty well and is considerably cheaper than buying the real thing.
And a day when I get two lovely things for free is always a day of good omens as far as I am concerned, so I thought it was an ideal time for a spot of divination. So, I made myself a nice pot of Earl Grey with loose leaves and settled down to read the book.
It was pleasantly concise - one could just about read it in the time it takes to brew a proper pot of tea, pour a cup, let it cool to the right temperature and sip until all that are left are the dregs. To sum the book up, it gives a brief look at the history and background of tea-leaf reading, a short description of how to go about it, a long list of symbols to look for and 10 illustrations showing specimen cups with leaves and the interpretations given by seers.
In many ways, I found Tea-Cup Reading and Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves better to learn from than The Art of Tea-Leaf Reading because the illustrations show real patterns made by leaves and the specimen cups provide excellent lessons in learning to see like the seers. The Art of Tea-Leaf Reading has more illustrations, and they are prettier, but look more like a designer's interpretation of tea-leaf pictures.
After working through all the examples, I found I had got the hang of recognising symbols among blobs of wet leaves in the bottom of my cup. It told me there was imminent risk of danger while travelling and a letter was delayed in the post. Not surprising, really, considering the amount of snow that has fallen recently.
However, if I do have a criticism of the Highland Seer's book, it is that the interpretations it gives are a little bit too laden with gloom and inescapable disaster. Perhaps life in the Scottish Highlands was really that miserable but, unlike many Scots of bygone eras, I don't subscribe to doom-laden Calvinistic beliefs about predestination.
If you do use this book to read your tea-leaves, don't scare yourself witless if it says you are going to be stabbed to death with a dirk in a bitter clan feud. It probably just means some rival at work might aim a sharp comment at you. Things aren't quite so bloodthirsty these days.
If you prefer to get Tea-Cup Reading, and the Art of Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves from Amazon you can order a paperback version. The picture above shows the cover image for the Amazon Kindle download.
Tea-Cup Reading and Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves
Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, 6
The Art of Tea Leaf Reading