2 - Ritual and Method of Using the Tea-Cup
The best kind of tea to use if tea-cup reading is to be followed is undoubtedly China tea, the original tea imported into this country and still the best for all purposes. Indian tea and the cheaper mixtures contain so much dust and so many fragments of twigs and stems as often to be quite useless for the purposes of divination, as they will not combine to form pictures, or symbols clearly to be discerned.
The best shape of cup to employ is one with a wide opening at the top and a bottom not too small. Cups with almost perpendicular sides are very difficult to read, as the symbols cannot be seen properly; and the same may be said of small cups. A plain-surfaced breakfast-cup is perhaps the best to use; and the interior should be white and have no pattern printed upon it, as this confuses the clearness of the picture presented by the leaves, as does any fluting or eccentricity of shape.
The ritual to be observed is very simple. The tea-drinker should drink the contents of his or her cup so as to leave only about kali a teaspoonful of the beverage. He should next take the cup by the handle in his left hand, rim upwards, and turn it three times from left to right in one fairly rapid swinging movement. He should then very slowly and care-fully invert it over the saucer and leave it there for a minute, so as to permit of all moisture draining away.
If he approaches the oracle at all seriously he should during the whole of these proceedings concentrate his mind upon his future Destiny, and will that the symbols forming under the guidance of his hand and arm (which in their turn are, of course, directed by his brain) shall correctly represent what is destined to happen to him in the future.
If, however, he or she is not in such deadly earnest, but merely indulging in a harmless pastime, such an effort of concentration may not be made. The willing is, of course, akin to 'wishing' when cutting the cards in another time-honoured form of fortune-telling.
The cup to be read should be held in the hand and turned about in order to read the symbols without disturbing them, which will not happen if the moisture has been properly drained away. The handle of the cup represents the consultant and is akin to the house in divination by the cards. By this fixed point judgment is made as to events approaching the 'house' of the consultant, journeys away from home, messages or visitors to be expected, relative distance, and so forth. The advantage of employing a cup instead of a saucer is here apparent.
The bottom of the cup represents the remoter future foretold; the side events not he far distant; and matters symbolized near the rim those that may he expected to occur quickly. The nearer the symbols approach the handle in all three cases the nearer to fulfillment will he the events prognosticated.
If this simple ritual has been correctly carried out the tea-leaves, whether many or few, will be found distributed about the bottom and sides of the cup. The fortune may be equally well told whether there are many leaves or few; but of course there must he some, and therefore the tea should not have been made in a pot provided with one of the patent arrangements that stop the leaves from issuing from the spout when the beverage is poured into the cups.
There is nothing to beat one of the plain old-fashioned earthenware teapots, whether for the purpose of preparing a palatable beverage or for that of providing the means of telling a fortune.