top of page

Tea Leaf Reading

From as far back as I can remember tea leaf reading was a family tradition, and something I was taught to do from a very young age. My Grandma, Mom, Aunts, and female cousins would gather after the meal was over with a fresh brewed pot of tea and the bag ripped. The men were sent away to clean up the meal we had prepared, conversations were best when it was just us women. Everyone would pour themselves a cup, we would slowly sip our tea and talk about anything and everything. I often remember drinking a few tea leaves in the hopes of not having any ”tears” in the cup. After the tea was done you had to prepare the cup to be read, in my family this is done by holding the cup in the left hand and making three circles with the cup starting and ending in front of your heart. After this is completed turn the cup upside down onto the saucer until it’s your turn to be read. My mom was often tasked with doing the readings, as she was the best at it, she was a good story teller. Ironically as I got into my late teen years I took my mom’s position as the reader. Something I always found strange was all the women that were good readers in my family had one thing in common, we all are/were left handed. Many of my fondest memories come from sitting at the table reading tea leaves, and it is something I’ve passed on to my daughters. Although it did not originate in the British Isles, it rose to prominence there during the 1800’s, this must be where my family first picked it up. I assume this because even my great Aunts didn’t know where it started, just that it always was. Oh the lessons learned at the table. We never took the tea leaves too serious, more as a way to be together and see what the year may bring. A way to see what was really important to you, to connect to what hopes, fears, and dreams you had. I am sure this family tradition is what led me to a fascination of the occult, and to researching #spaewives. In some way this little act of preserved tradition is probably what drove me to feel connected, and the desire to find out about my ancestors. That is the importance of traditions, it preserves your connection and makes it grow. When my Grandma passed I was gifted many of her tea cups, and these are still the cups I use to read tea leaves. I like to think using her cups means she is still here with me when we do our readings, it feels like she is. I know this may seem like a weird first post, but for me it all relates. Through my preserved family traditions it has allowed me to keep (albeit small) parts of my ancestors alive, it gives me the ability to re-connect. In fact I am actually learning Gaelic, so far I can talk about the weather. It has actually further fueled my support, and hopes, to see more action and protection for First Nations and Indigenous People. When I look at all the culture, traditions, and ways of life lost to time and greed, I find it heartbreaking. I strongly feel my ancestors wouldn‘t have wanted me to stand idly by as others have their ways stolen. In fact before the British came to the land of my ancestors their beliefs, and way of life were all about respect for the land and working with it and for it. Something I’ve always thought resembled, and why I greatly respect, the First Nations and Indigenous People and the bond they share with the land. A connection that many of us settlers don’t understand, we seem to have forgotten, given it up, or lost it along the way. A connection I will never have to this land, it doesn’t mean I don’t love and respect it, I just acknowledge I am not from it in the same way and can’t as intimately know it’s needs.

6 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

Self-directed learning. Indigenous MOOCs.

“Who are you and where are you from?” A simple question that should be simple to answer. - until you sit down to reflect upon the unspoken layers hidden in the question. Are you from a specific area o

1 Comment

Su-san Koch
Su-san Koch
Mar 22, 2019

Thanks Terri for posting about some of the ways of your family and ancestors. I can relate to the tea cups and the love of tea. In fact, when first, my mother and then her sister, over the course of a few years, passed away, my brother commented at my Aunt's passing that they could "both, now have tea together again..."I also, love the reference to having a lot of left handed women in your tea gatherings, being a lefty myself. Lovely post. Please feel free to share more, as we Settlers, who desire to support First Peoples need to get to know one another -- as well for it is "something" in our our lived experiences, our customs and…

bottom of page