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Title: Tea-Cup Fortune Telling

Date of first publication: 1930

Author: Anonymous

Date first posted: Sep. 16, 2020

Date last updated: Sep. 16, 2020

Faded Page eBook #20200946

This eBook was produced by: Al Haines, Jen Haines & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at https://www.pgdpcanada.net






















Fortune Telling


A white cup is the best for this purpose, as the grounds of tea or coffee are easier seen. Pour off any tea or coffee that may be in the cup. Shake the grounds well about the cup, so that the leaves, etc., may cover the surface of the cup. Reverse the cup into the saucer, that the tea or coffee may be drained off, and the leaves or grounds that remain will be required to use to tell the fortune.

You must concentrate on the cup, and allow your imagination to have full play, in order to picture the leaves forming into emblems. The reader of the cup should allow her thought to rest upon the person who is waiting to hear his fortune. Do not expect the figures always to have an actual resemblance to the emblems; it is quite sufficient that the leaves suggest these things. Sometimes they are very distinct. Of course the more fertile the imagination of the person who is studying the cup the more will be discovered in it.

The one who takes pleasure in this amusement or easy way of divination must make himself the judge more or less of time and place. Men, women, and children are often very distinctly seen, and in these cases it is not difficult to determine the sexes. However, in some cases the dark leaves are taken for the male sex, and the light for the female. The same with dark or fair people; but as I have already hinted the ingenuity of the judge should direct him to speak more or less pointedly on the distinctions.

It is impossible to lay down any definite rule as to interpretation; although every symbol has some general significance, it must have a particular significance in regard to each person. This is the case with regard to dreams, for instance. To dream of coal means very good luck to some people I know; while to others, even in the same family, it is quite the reverse.

In reading the tea-cup the Seer must not be in a hurry; the general appearance must be studied, and those symbols that stand out prominently must be of more importance than those that are less clearly indicated.

Some cups will present no features of interest, or are muddled and indistinct, probably a reflex of the condition of the inquirer.

The handle of the cup represents the house, or the home. Time can be foretold more or less by the position of the leaves. Close to the brim the events are immediate; and the nearness or the distance from the home is judged according to the position of the leaves away from the handle.

Leaves at the bottom of the cup generally forebode ill fortune. The left of the handle can be interpreted as to events passed or opportunities thrown away; the right side of the handle as present and future, usually good, except when cloudy or thick.

Serpentine Lines indicate roads or ways. If they appear in the clear are sure tokens of some fortunate changes at hand; surrounded by many dots they signify the gain of money, also long life. At the bottom of the cup, or surrounded by clouds, they indicate reverses past or future.

Dots signify gain by money and must be interpreted by the surroundings.

Circles indicate completion.

Wavy Lines show unsettlement.

Straight Lines signify a straight course.

A Cross Within a Circle indicates imprisonment, detention, hospital or other form of enforced restraint.

Dashes generally indicate enterprises afoot, but time must be given for maturity.

Acorns.—Plenty; Health.

An acorn at the top of the cup foretells to the consultant riches easily gained.

In the middle, and in the clear, good health and enjoyment.

At the bottom of the cup, shows a certain recovery from a severe illness; or if the consultant has financial difficulties to contend with, assistance is at hand and a way shown to speedily surmount all troubles.

Aircraft.—Elevation; New Projects.

Should the leaves form the picture of an aeroplane in full flight in the clear, this would portend elevation, a rise in position. Near the home, new projects.

At the bottom of the cup, unsuccessful project. If the aeroplane should appear to be broken, disaster is foretold.

In the thick, encompassed by clouds, danger of losing a position, and many obstacles. If a favourable symbol is near—i.e., an anchor or a horseshoe—there is every chance of overcoming the obstacles by tenacity and perseverance.

There is no scientific reason why these particular meanings should be given, but they have been proved to be correct in many cases. That is why they are given here. However, sometimes the representation can be interpreted literally, according to the judgment of the Seer.

Anchor.—Voyage; Rest.

At the bottom of the cup, success by water.

At the top, constant love.

In the middle, surrounded by dots, a voyage bringing success, good business and commerce, money by water.

Erect, with the link uppermost, well-deserved rest, with plenty.

Surrounded with thick clouds, inconstancy.

Dashes round about, dangerous enterprises, ultimate success.

Arrow.—Unpleasant News.

This indicates a disagreeable letter; from whence it comes must be judged from the direction of the arrow. If dots are around it will be connected with money.


The forms of animals are sometimes very distinctly formed by the tea-leaves, so here we have matter for consideration. It has been observed that the brute creation has been endowed with the gift of foresight.

The doublings of the hare, the tricks of the fox to escape the hounds, both indicate sagacity and foresight. A volume could be written concerning the ways and means animals have of foresight.

A few dots may take the form of a dog’s head. This will be sufficient to foretell a true friend. Should a letter of the alphabet be near, there will be news from a friend whose name the letter indicates.

The symbolism of the different animals will be found of interest, and accurate.

Ass.—Patience; Contentment.

If at the top of the cup, a very good augury of success and happiness.

In the middle, contentment.

At the bottom, patience and perseverance will overcome all present difficulties.

Bear.—Foreign Lands; Irrational Projects.

This brute of the lower creation of animals indicates that there is danger of running into danger through stupidity, and most probably meeting with obstacles that will call upon the brute force.

Irrational projects may land you far away from human sympathy.


The cat usually shows treachery or deception; but if near the handle and at the top of the cup a cat is distinguished in a resting position, it shows domestic comfort.


This is always a sign of prosperity—more or less according to the position in the cup. If the head of the cow is turned away from the handle, which intimates the home, your success lies in wider fields.

Dog.—Faithful Friends.

The dog is always an emblem of fidelity and shows true friends. However, the position even of this faithful creature has a twofold meaning.

If his image is surrounded with dashes and clouds it shows that your friends are estranged from you through the envy of some one unworthy of your confidence.

If at the bottom of the cup, a friend is in trouble.

A dog appearing to be running or capering indicates joyful news and a meeting of dear friends.

Goat.—A Sign of Enemies.

Clear and straight lines near indicate a victory over enemies.

Griffin.—Great Danger; Accident; Narrow Escapes.

This imaginary animal with the body and legs of a lion and the crooked beak

This imaginary animal with the body and legs of a lion and the crooked beak and wings of an eagle is ominous of great danger. Narrow escapes if about to take a journey.

If seen at the top of the cup, do not be too confiding and beware of putting money into any new concern that may be on the tapis at the moment.

If at the bottom of the cup, great danger is imminent. Forewarned is forearmed.

Do not forget that thoughts are things and that imagination is a creative faculty capable of producing morbid mental conditions.

Hare.—Timidity; Melancholy.

“Le Mélancolique Animal,” as La Fontaine calls it.

The hare was always considered an omen of melancholy, perhaps because of its solitary habits and timidity. The hare was vulgarly supposed to be so fearful that it never closed its eyes even in sleep. In some country places they still believe that a hare crossing a person’s path is supposed to disorder his senses.

If a hare is seen in the cup near the house, some calamity may happen. In the clear of the cup, shows that the party must have courage, or her timidity will be her downfall.

At the bottom of the cup is a warning that an absent friend is harassed and needs assistance.

Horse.—A Lover.

A horse’s head, a lover.

Should a horse appear to be in full gallop it foretells good news from one who loves you dearly.

If the horse is surrounded with dots it indicates a rich suitor. If by dashes and clouds, the lover is true but unfortunate circumstances are keeping him back.

Should there be a rider on the horse it would indicate good prospects abroad.

If wavy lines are round or in the way of the image of the horse it indicates a lover is kept back by his unsettled finances or position.

A circle, near completion to a fortunate engagement.


A lamb in the clear, fortunate changes coming about in springtime.

If straight lines are near they indicate a straight course to advancement while young.

If at the bottom of the cup or in the thick, danger of letting youth slip away in pleasures and forgetting that it is not so easy to make headway when youth has passed.

Lion.—Powerful Friends.

The king of the beasts suggests powerful friends, and, at the top of the cup, quite clear, the lion indicates a good position through influential friends.

There is danger of losing a good position if there are wavy lines and thick clouds about.

In the clear, a lucrative office under Government.

Mouse.—Poverty; Theft.

The mouse indicates poverty through neglected opportunities.

At the bottom of the cup or with dashes around, danger of a burglary, and loss of money by swindling.

Pigs.—Good and Bad.

The pig indicates a mixture of good and bad luck.

It generally denotes good luck but there is danger of excess and self-indulgence.


The wolf denotes intrigues and greed. Envious people in business. Danger of robbery.

Zebra.—A Call to a Foreign Land; A Foreign Lover.

Baby.—A New Interest.

The face or figure of a baby near the house portends a birth or an addition to the family.

At the bottom of the cup, trouble through senseless talk.

In the clear, new successful interest leading to honours.

Basket.—Increase; A Gift.

A basket seen in the clear near the house shows an addition to the family. If at the top of the cup, either a gift or an increase of wealth and friends.

A basket of flowers is an augury of good things, festive gatherings, social pleasures.

If a ring should be near, a marriage. If a letter can be seen it would indicate the initial. If the basket should not be complete, news of a broken engagement or postponed wedding.

A complete basket of flowers even at the bottom of the cup would have no sinister meaning. In case of sickness it would show the recovery of the patient.

A basket with dots around indicates money by legacy.

At the bottom or in the thick, fluctuations of fortune.

Bees.—Industry; Sagacity; Frugality.

Bees and ants represented by tea-leaves would have much the same meaning. They are both endowed with great sagacity. Both insects form themselves into a kind of republic, observing their own peculiar laws and even politics.

The ant shows frugality.

The bee industry.

Both indicate sagacity.

If a bee is seen on the handle of the cup, look for some excitement at the house, probably an assembly of people, social intercourse.

At the bottom of the cup, domestic upset, heaps of work, and muddle.

At the top, a visit to a place of amusement or large gathering either for intellectual or social relaxation. A rise in life through industry.

Bell.—Recognition; Marriage.

A bell seen in the clear or at the top of the cup is a happy omen. To a person holding a situation under Government it promises an appointment to a higher one. Services recognized with a rise.

To the young it foretells a happy marriage.

Two bells, happiness and riches through marriage.

If at the bottom of the cup and thick tea-leaves around it portends sad news.


If two or more birds are seen as if flying towards the house, expect good news. If they are at rest, a stroke of luck is near.

The relative importance must be judged according to the size of the symbols whether the representation be a bird or any other symbol. For instance, if a small bird should be seen resting and a small horseshoe is by, good luck or good news, but not anything very great. If the birds seen flying are very small they would portend good news, but not quite unexpected, nor anything very great.

It is the business of the Seer to find resemblances formed by the tea-leaves and to consider the general character of the symbols in order to give an accurate judgment.

Birds of passage seem to inherit the gift of divination in a remarkable degree. They assemble together at an appointed hour, and take their leave before the approach of winter, which they see will destroy the flies and insects; and it is extraordinary that they return as soon as the sun brings forth into new life that which is necessary for their subsistence. They also are clever enough to find out their old nests and habitations.

Notice on which side of the cup you may see the likeness of the bird or birds: if to the right, coming or going, it is always a good sign—prosperous business, etc.

If going from the handle on the left side, then look to your investments and your business. If coming on the left side, you must beware of new propositions.

Birds in general are good, but the interpretations vary with the species; also the dots and dashes must be taken into consideration. Remember dots are good, dashes are obstacles. Also the positions must be studied.

A flock of birds, change in circumstances or change of country.

Canary.A lover—close at hand if at the top of the cup, in the near future if in the clear, and despondent at the bottom of the cup.

Chicken.—Competence, completion.

Dove.—Peace, harmony. A messenger of love.

Duck.—Increase of wealth. Trading by water.

Eagle.—Attainment and eminence in things of the intellect and spirit. Elevation through money. Fame due to mastery. Should this be at the bottom of the cup, the inquirer may reach the height of his ambitions but have few friends.

Humming Bird.—The likeness to this little tropical bird has been seen in the tea-cup It is a presage of an imperative call from a friend, or sudden emigration.

Owl.—A sinister omen. If the consultant is about to enter into a new enterprise, failure attends it. Trouble and loss in business, unless great precaution is taken.

At the bottom of the cup, sickness and poverty.

At the top of the cup, deception in love.

Parrot.—Scandal. Mischief brewing.

Peacock.—Luxury, vanity, and splendour.

A peacock with his tail spread in the clear denotes the acquisition of estate. A life of luxury if surrounded by dots.

If a ring should be near, a wealthy marriage is at hand.

At the bottom of the cup, with clouds or heavy leaves around, vanity and placing too much importance on the look of things will bring trouble and tribulation.

At the top of the cup, happiness, feasting, and success.

Raven.—Trouble through imprudent converse.

At the bottom of the cup, danger of a libel suit.

Swan.—Good luck. A lover. Notice if there is a letter near it.

Vulture.—Cruelty, theft, and oppression.

The vulture being a rapacious and carnivorous bird it is easy to draw the conclusion, from the tea-leaves taking this form, that there is danger of theft. Therefore it will be well to be on your guard. It also shows oppression and most likely cruelty to those who are in employ.

If at the bottom of the cup it shows a cruel enemy who is trying to undermine your home, and therefore your happiness. There may be some symbol near, such as a horseshoe or flowers, in which case you will be able to overthrow the enemy or discover the thief in time to save a great loss.

It can hardly be expected that any arbitrary meaning can be imposed upon any particular symbol. We do not, for instance, on meeting a symbol of death, go straightway out determined to meet death.

Certain principles in our nature are reflected in our minds and by reason of their significance become symbols. “Every material form is a symbol of the force which generates it.”

“It is given to a few to see actually the future course of events by vision.”

“History repeats itself, action is recurrent, things are what they are by reason of all past action; the future is only the past unfolded. It is probably the fact that all symbols carry their accepted meanings because of associated experience whereby all natural objects come finally to have a human interpretation, that is to say, a meaning in terms of our everyday life. This is at the root of all natural symbolism, and it seems to point to the fact that the material world depends from, and has its origin in, the world of Mind, or, as the philosophers call it, the World of Causation, and higher than this is the Spiritual world or World of Principles. According to the doctrine of Correspondences from which we derive our natural symbolism, every spiritual force has its corresponding material form. It is therefore possible and even logical to regard all natural objects as forms of Spirit, and the material world as nothing else than concrete Spirit.” People may be disposed to regard Fortune Telling by the tea-cup as a trivial pastime, a mere dissipation. Taken seriously it is very much more than this, as the above remarks may tend to show.

Boat.—Discovery; Revelation.

To see a boat in the clear, the consultant will make a discovery which will be of material benefit.

At the top of the cup, pleasure and pleasant secrets revealed.

At the bottom of the cup, and in clouds, an unpleasant discovery that will entail personal danger.

Book.—Unfoldment; Revelation.

An open book denotes a revelation of importance and benefit.

A closed book implies unexpected research, which will entail trouble and expense.

Boot—Caution; Removal.

If the toe of the boot is pointing away from the handle, a speedy removal, the kick out.

If at the top of the cup, a desire to travel.

If in the middle it advises caution as to the next movements.

If a circle is near it indicates a satisfactory completion.

Bouquet.—(See Flowers.)


The butterfly indicates frivolity and innocent pleasure.

In the middle of the cup, beware of rushing into too much gaiety.

At the top of the cup, the butterfly indicates pleasures, and the consultant can by being sincere and natural become a very useful member of society.

Surrounded by dots, indiscreet extravagance and trouble in consequence.


Notice particularly what indications are round the cabbage. If dots are seen, jealousy relating to commerce.

At the bottom of the cup, spite through jealousy.

If squares are near, jealousy may bring the enquirer into complications, or even disgrace.


If the cage is complete and in the clear, to a maiden it indicates an offer of marriage.

If in the middle, foretells a marriage of convenience.

At the bottom, disappointed love.

If dots are near, a business proposal or settlement.

Cat.—(See Animals.)

Child.—Innocence; Expense.

A child seen in the clear denotes innocent intercourse. At the bottom of the cup, expense.

Clock.—Sickness; Death.

If the clock should be at the top of the cup and quite clear a speedy recovery from severe sickness.

At the bottom of the cup, there may be news of a death.

Clouds.—Doubts; Problems.

Clouds correspond to the mental condition of the inquirer. They indicate unsolved problems and points at issue.

If light and only defined by a faint outline they may be regarded as sunlit and fortunate; but if compact and heavy they show trouble and misfortune.

Clown or Pierrot.—Pleasure; Inconsequence.

At the top and quite clear it denotes a round of pleasure and gaiety. Surrounded by clouds, danger that you may suffer the evil consequence of deception.

At the bottom, bad company.

Coffin.—An Emblem of Death.

The semblance of a coffin does not always foretell a death. Usually it means a tedious illness, and shows that great care should be taken.

It also denotes probable failure in business.

Comet.—The Unexpected; Upsets.

This shows an unexpected visitor or unexpected news from a distant country. Frequently a family upset, and a more violent than wise expression of feeling.

Great and unusual happenings, according to the sphere of life to which you belong.

At the bottom of the cup, sudden and unexpected loss of property.

Compasses.—A Sign of Travelling.


A cradle at the top of the cup indicates the arrival of a stranger. In the clear, a birth.

At the bottom and thick, sickness to children.

The Cross.—A Symbol of Suffering.

The cross is always suggestive of suffering.

In the clear it is indicative of troubles that can be overcome by perseverance and faith.

At the top of the cup, delayed desires.

At the bottom, great trials.

Two crosses, severe affliction.

Crown.—Success and Honours.

If straight lines are close to it the crown signifies a straight course to honours.

If wavy lines are around, there will be delays and obstacles in the way of deserved honours.


The cymbal indicates broken promises and insincere love. Advises caution in love affairs.


Beware of being too hasty in any undertaking on hand.

Dog.—(See Animals.)

Drum.—Quarrels; War.

A drum signifies riots and disturbances. If a soldier or sailor, a call to arms.

At the handle of the cup, domestic quarrels and turmoils.

At the bottom, unfortunate publicity.

Easel.—Support; Success.

An easel in the clear promises chance of rising in the artistic world through the help of a rich patron.

It also denotes success in works of art.

At the bottom of the cup, early disappointments but eventual success.

Egg.—Increase; Luck.

An egg anywhere in the cup is most favourable—the more the merrier. It denotes dignity of estate, prosperous business, good children, success in present undertakings.

Engine.—Complications; Journey.

An engine in the clear on the right of the handle denotes a journey. On the left of the handle, complications will arise on a journey.

At the bottom of the cup or in the thick, plots and complications.

Eye.—Observation; Inspection.

To see this organ of sight in the cup advises inquirers to be careful in their business dealings. To inspect carefully any proposition put before them.

Faces.—Discovery; Change; Friendships.

To see a face at the top of the cup denotes that the consultant will make a discovery.

At the bottom of the cup, disappointment will follow.

More than one face in the clear, friendships and merry making.

A face on the handle, a change of abode.

Fairy.—Love; Fun; Youth.

Fairies are inhabitants of an unknown world of immortal youth—a world of stormless skies, happy hunting, strange adventure; where love is free and time unmarked; a land of pure romance and enchantment.

Seeing this figure in the cup it should be easy to foretell a season of romance and love. The Seer must take particular notice of the position. Should a fairy be seen at the bottom of the cup, the joy and enchantment will be ephemeral. Seen in the clear, a life of happiness enjoyed with loved ones.

At the top, Cupid is close at hand. A marriage should be foretold, happy children, and a long and useful life.

Fan.—Flirtation; Vexation.

A fan in the clear at the top of the cup denotes innocent flirtations.

Near the handle, an invite to a place of amusement. With wavy lines, indiscretion, coquetry.

In the thick, vexation, pique.

Fiddle.—Good News; Invitations.

In the clear an invitation to a wedding or a dance.

At the bottom of the cup, quite clear, and if a ring is near, an offer of marriage.

If flowers are near, festivities.

Fish.—Riches; Lucky Speculations.

A fish is always a lucky emblem. If surrounded with dots it denotes wealth acquired through a lucky speculation.

If wavy lines are near it denotes that the fortunes fluctuate.

Take particular notice of any emblems near to the fish and take them as a guide as a means to becoming a successful financier.


Several tea-leaves sometimes take the appearance of a swarm of flies, and these indicate small vexations.

If at the top of the cup, triumph over enemy.

At the bottom of the cup, domestic worries.

On the handle, sickness or irritation.


The smaller leaves, dust, and stems sometimes appear like a flock. Whether resembling sheep, bird, or any other thing, it indicates a gathering or sudden happenings. It may be a gathering of a public nature, a convening of meetings and demonstrations in which the consultant is interested or concerned.


A fleet of small ships shows much business, success in commercial enterprises, new projects, and extension of interests. In domestic life it shows a social gathering.


Flowers are given as a token of appreciation, or praise, or love. Also in loving memory to the dead. Hence we take them as the symbolism of love, honour, esteem, and favours.

At the bottom of the cup the more sinister interpretations attach to these beautiful gifts of nature and would appear to indicate at least a serious illness. In the clear, good fortune should be near at hand, happiness in love and marriage.

Below I give a few flowers which seen singly would have their own meaning.


Clover or Shamrock.—An Emblem of Luck.—The leaf of clover is always considered a lucky sign, more especially the four-leaved clover.

The different positions in the cup makes the difference of interpretation.

At the top, immediate good fortune.

In the middle it is easily foretold that a fortune is not far distant.

At the bottom of the cup, many disagreeable circumstances attend the good fortune in store.

In the clear, serene and undisturbed happiness is assured to the inquirer.


Daffodil.—Acquisition of Wealth. Fresh Endeavour. Springing up of New Hope. Success in New Enterprises.—At the top, a cup overflowing with happiness and the joys incident to youth.

In the clear, your own abilities and personality will bring the success and éclat you are so much desiring. If the cup of the daffodil should be down towards the bottom of the cup, then it is most probable that the joys of life have been taken too freely and an unpleasant change will be brought about through your own folly and heartlessness.

Lying at the bottom of the cup, hopes frustrated through carelessness. Enterprises will fail. True love has been thrown away.


Daisy.—This emblem of simplicity would suggest happiness in the spring, or, if it should take the form of the more stately Marguerite, the debutant will have a joyous and successful season. Many admirers.


Ferns.—It is said that a man should never give his sweetheart ferns. Perhaps that is why the interpretation here is that there is restlessness in the air, a change of desires and places.


Iris.—Originally the personification of the rainbow. A messenger.

Iris is represented in works of art dressed in a long tunic and drapery with wings attached to her shoulders, in her left hand carrying a staff, sometimes holding a pitcher.

If seen as above then expect a message from high quarters bringing advancement.


Ivy.—A sign of loyal friends. Should you decipher this at the bottom of the cup, then prepare for sad news of a well-loved friend.

In the clear or at the top of the cup, there will be a gathering of true friends, or an invitation to a large house-party.

One ivy leaf in the clear, a devoted and faithful lover.


Lily.—Emblem of Purity.—At the top of the cup, you will have many friends of refinement and influence.

In the middle of the cup, a long, virtuous and useful life. If clouds are round, your husband will never distinguish himself by any real deeds, and though a good man will leave matters very much to you.

At the bottom of the cup, do not listen to flattery, for there is danger that your virtue will be assailed.


Roses.—The Flower of England.—Nothing can have a better augury than the beautiful rose, certain emblem of happiness, long life, prosperity, joy for the lover, to the maid love and marriage. Success to any new venture on the tapis. Honours to the student. Fame to the artist.

Notice, however, must be taken as to the position of this flower. If at the bottom of the cup, success is still coming, but there will be delays and probably strenuous work to attain fame.

If this emblem is anywhere in the cup, ultimate success is certain.

If a letter is near the rose, that will surely be the initial of one who is sending a gift, or an offer of marriage.


Violets.—Emblem of Modesty and Sweetness.—A bunch of violets in the clear, love and pleasure.

At the top of the cup, an invitation to a ball. Violets separately in the clear, a delightful visit to the country.

At the bottom of the cup, these sweet flowers convey sadness, perhaps tears, even sickness or death, but other symbols near must be taken into consideration. Balance the good and bad, the lucky and unlucky symbols and so modify your interpretations.

A large bouquet of flowers seen in the clear would be such a fortunate symbol that the smaller symbols of evil would lose their sinister significance.

The symbols that are very distinct and clear take more importance than those that are smaller.


Bouquet.—A Very Lucky Symbol. Presentation. Completion of Desires.

If on the handle, the opening of a new sphere in life.

If at the top, honours.

A bouquet of flowers modifies any sinister symbol that may be placed near it.

Accompanied by a ring, an offer of marriage. By a horseshoe, success in business and bold enterprises, general prosperity.

With a sword or dagger, a sinister enemy. Beware of confiding in others too freely. With a key, realization and attainment, hopes and wishes fulfilled. Denotes success in all contests and trials of skill and ability, competitions, examinations, etc.

Fruit.—Fairly Fortunate.

Fruits are fortunate if they are in season:

“Out of season,

Anger without reason”;


Grapes denote ambitions in love gratified in all seasons.

Gun.—Discord and Slander.

If a heart should be near, a rival in love. In the thick, trouble. Near the top, discord.

At the bottom, slander which will bring ill effects in the future.

If a soldier or sailor is consulting it would suggest a call to arms.

Harp.—Harmony; Romance.

In the clear it denotes a romantic attachment that will end in a happy union.

Should there be thick leaves or lines near, it shows there has been a quarrel but the parties will soon be reconciled.

If at the bottom of the cup it shows delays in love affairs.

Hat.—Rival; Honours.

At the bottom of the cup, a rival. In the clear, honours.

Heart.—Pleasures; Love.

If a crown should be near a heart it denotes honours. If dots are near, financial gain and true love.

A fruit near, pleasures.

Two hearts together, certain marriage. If a letter can be seen near, it signifies the initial of the person’s name.

Horn.—An Emblem of Plenty.

If a horn is seen at the top of the cup it denotes an abundance of this world’s goods, or a will and inheritance is close at hand.

In the middle of the cup and clear, a rise in position.

If dots are round, money with marriage.

Hour Glass.—Danger; Circumspection.

If this symbol is seen anywhere in the cup it warns you to be watchful over those dear to you. To be circumspect in your business and in your domestic life.

In the thick, imminent danger and peril.

At the bottom, danger in the future through present neglect of duty.

House.—Changes; Success; Caution.

At the top of the cup, success in business. A good change of abode. If the present state of affairs is not favourable, this indicates a speedy change for the better. Great success in any new enterprises. Good for engaging new employees.

At the bottom of the cup shows there is need to be cautious and vigilant.

If surrounded by dashes or dark clouds, expect troubles, disputes, and sickness in the home.

At the side in the clear, a change to the seaside.

Human Figures.—Company.

When the tea-leaves take the form of human figures it is best to judge their significance according to what they appear to be doing, and to interpret in combination with other symbols that may be close to them.


If in the thick warns you that some one is about to take undue advantage of you in business. If a letter is close by take it for an initial of the party.

If in the clear, successful speculation, or the winner of a lottery.

If at the bottom of the cup and cloudy, trouble through betting.


If you see a jug at the top of the cup beware of excess.

In the clear, a severe rebuke.

At the bottom, loss of money and position in the future through present extravagant follies.

Kettle.—Comfort; Quarrel.

This symbol has a twofold meaning. If rightly placed, near the handle of the cup, and in the clear, it shows domestic efficiency and comfort with consequent happiness.

In the thick or at the bottom of the cup it shows complications, quarrels, and domestic upsets.

Key.—Enlightenment; Prosperity.

A single key at the bottom of the cup, guard against robbery. A key or a bunch of keys at the top, clearer understanding and good business. If you use your opportunities with intelligence they will unlock for you the doors of happiness and prosperity.

Kite.—Exaltation; Direction.

Your ambitions if followed and wisely directed will lead to success, but any enterprise that is allowed to go free and take its own chance will end in disaster.

Beware of projects that are hazardous and fanciful; while it is always right to aim higher than you mean to hit in a long shot, it is equally to be observed that “a vaulting ambition over-reaching self” is born to disaster from sheer human limitations.

Knapsack.—Compulsion; Need.

A favour will be asked of you which you will be compelled to grant.

If in the thick, there is danger of restriction of the necessities of life.

Knife.—A Symbol of Good and Evil.

Knives and daggers were part of the customary accoutrements of brides. Steevens thus illustrates the wearing of wedding daggers: “See at my girdle hang my wedding knives”; and Shakespeare in King Edward III: “Here by my side do hang my wedding knives.”

The knife was also used as a sword or dagger. Consequently notice must be taken as to the position of a knife seen in the cup. If the knife has the blade down towards the bottom of the cup and there are fine dots around, otherwise clear, a wedding is approaching; if a ring or a heart is near, the person whose fortune is being told is about to become a bride.

If the tip of the blade is pointing to the house, it indicates false friends, separations, and strife; deceit in love. Should a broken ring be near, the party will be associated with a divorce.

At the bottom of the cup, a brawl; unfortunate lawsuit.

A broken knife, the end of a quarrel. Spencer in his “Faerie Queene” used the knife for a sword: “And after all his war to rest his wearie knife.”

A single knife in the clear portends the end of warfare, provided the blade is not upwards. At the very tip of the cup, be careful of scandal.

Crossed knives, disturbances and disagreeable news.

Ladder.—A Gradual Rise; Advancement.

In the clear shows advancement. If dots are close to it, ambitions arrived at through money.

It is generally good to find the semblance of a ladder in the tea-cup, as it promises advancement through industry, and though gradual will be permanent.

If the ladder is not very distinct, others will interfere and delay your projects.

Lamp.—Discovery; Joy.

At the top of the cup, in the clear, it indicates an occasion of feasting and joy. At the side, hidden things revealed, lost property recovered.

At the bottom of the cup, a festival postponed.

Two lamps, twice married.

On the handle, the discovery that an estate has fallen to you and your heirs.

Leaves.—Happiness; Success.

Leaves show happiness and success. Should they be at the bottom of the cup they denote that success will come in later life.


By letters we communicate to our friends good and bad news, so here we must interpret accordingly. If you see a letter in the clear it denotes a speedy remittance of money. Should the letter be hemmed in by clouds, expect bad news, a loss or an accident.

If a heart should be near and there are no clouds or dashes surrounding it, a love letter can be expected which will bring good tidings and possibly a desire for a speedy union. Should the heart be in the thick, then expect a refusal. A square of four dots shows a letter.

Letters of the alphabet must be interpreted literally. They are often seen very distinctly in the cup, and probably denote the first letter or even initials of the person from whom news or an offer of marriage or business proposal may be expected.

Lock.—Obstacles; Parsimony.

To see a lock is not very favourable; it denotes that there are obstacles to encounter. If there are straight, thin lines near, forethought and determination will remove the impediments; if wavy lines, troubles and losses.

In the thick it denotes that though there is wealth the person is parsimonious.


A visitor arriving. There may be a letter near which will convey the visitor’s name.

Mask.—Insincerity; Revelry.

This is an indication of insincere love. Be careful in whom you put your trust. However, it is not always a bad symbol: if a bird or flowers should be close to it, an invitation to a theatre or a dance is impending.

Mermaid.—Allurement; Temptation.

A mermaid in the clear denotes that it will require a strong will to resist the allurement of a flirt.

In the thick, temptation to do the wrong thing.

At the bottom of the cup, one who is fair to your face is a secret enemy.

Mitre.—Honours; Adornment.

This symbol in the clear indicates honours from a high quarter due to a brave deed.

On the handle, a valuable article of adornment will be presented to you.

Moon.—Sadness; Romance.

Surrounded by clouds it denotes depression and tears. A full moon in the clear suggests a romantic attachment, probably an elopement. If straight lines are near all will end happily; but if wavy lines or a cross or a comet surrounds it, trouble will arise, and regret will follow.

The first quarter of the moon indicates new ideas, the opening of new projects. The last quarter warns you to refrain from taking up any new undertaking and to be wary of travelling by water.

Mountain.—Journeys; Hindrances.

If the mountain is defined by fine specks and has a clear outline it denotes good friends and fortunate journeys.

If thick and rugged, hindrances to your prospects through enemies.

If away from home the return will be delayed longer than it pleases you.

Mushroom.—Shelter; A Woodland Home.

In the clear this foretells a change to a country home. Remember that the handle of the cup represents the north, so the direction of the home can be traced according to the position of the emblem. At the top of the cup it indicates sudden exaltation to honours and position.

If the right way up, at the bottom of the cup, it indicates rapidity of growth. Reversed, expected reversals, frustrated hopes, and unsettled business; even loss of position.

Should the head of the mushroom be towards the handle, there is every possibility of saving the situation by great energy and foresight; therefore remember the saying: “Forewarned is to be forearmed.” Look well into your business.

Nail.—Physical or Mental Pain.

If at the top, a sudden and sharp affliction. Frequently an injury or great injustice will be inflicted on the unwary.


If complete, a great conquest and many admirers. If broken, danger of losing the love of one you are devoted to.


To see the figure of a nun indicates some form of restraint.

Danger of a broken engagement.

In the thick, sorrow, repentance.


The services of a nurse will be essential

Oak.—Long Life; Good Health.

The oak leaf promises luck, good health, profitable business. A happy marriage, loyal friends, success to anything on the tapis.

Owl.—(See Birds.)

Oyster.—Delayed Riches; Courtship.

The oyster interpreted from the tea-cup shows courtship to the young, but entails a long engagement.

In the clear, acquired riches and possessions through perseverance and hard work.

At the top of the cup, absolutely clearly defined, a rise to honours.

At the bottom of the cup, in the clear, denotes that the latter part of life will be free from worry and as full of comfort as could be desired.

Parasol.—A New Lover.

Quite distinct and in the clear, a new lover, and hasty marriage. Surrounded by dots, a wealthy lover.

In the thick, the estrangement of a former lover.

Parcel.—Gift; Increase.

A parcel is defined from an oblong thick tea-leaf. The contents are judged by the symbols surrounding it.

If at the top of the cup it is close at hand. If at the bottom, delayed. In the middle, soon.

Parrot.—(See Birds.)

Peacock.—(See Birds.)

Pistol.—Disaster; Warning of Approaching Danger.

Purse.—Gain; Loss.

In the clear, gain; with dots around, a windfall of money.

At the top and straight lines near, a legacy.

At the bottom of the cup, an unexpected and large loss.

Racquet.—Merry Making; Invitations.

Invitations to sports and games. If the handle is down and the racquet is quite clear it shows that the consultant will win a prize either in a tournament or a lottery.

Two racquets together, a flirtation.

Rider.—Hasty News.

A rider denotes news of good import, lucky dealings, good prospects and luck abroad.

Ring.—an Emblem of Marriage.

The ring is a sign of marriage if quite clear and near the top. When the ring is in the middle of the cup and is not quite smooth all round it denotes an offer of marriage. A letter near in either case will denote the initials of the party concerned.

Two rings, a hasty marriage, and completion of projects.

If a ring is surrounded by clouds it will be wise to be cautious.

At the bottom of the cup, denotes a long engagement; but should a cross be quite near, a broken engagement.

Saw.—Hard Work; Trouble Through Strangers.

Scales.—Balance; Justice; Lawsuit.

If the scales are evenly balanced the augury must be good; but should either side be weighed down it would show wrong judgment, even an unbalanced mind—certainly failure and want of foresight.

If the scales are at the bottom of the cup, a lawsuit, and the case will surely go against you. If in the clear, and you have a lawsuit on hand, success. It would also denote completion and a very satisfactory reply to any proposition you may have advanced. If a sword should be near the scales, then a speedy judgment will be meted out.

Sceptre.—an Emblem of Authority.

The sceptre, an emblem of power and authority, seen in the clear denotes that the consultant will receive an honour from royalty.

Near the house—i.e., the handle—signifies that the consultant will be offered a position of authority.

At the bottom of the cup, honours and work appreciated later in life.

Scissors.—Quarrels; Separation.

At the top of the cup, separation. In the clear, the end of a quarrel.

At the bottom of the cup and in the thick, quarrels and disturbances.

At the handle, unrest in the home.


If a scythe is in the cup it denotes danger to the consultant. It would be wise to guard your health.

At the bottom of the cup, danger of death or very serious accident in the near future.

At the top of the cup, quite clear, recovery from a present danger or sickness.


A ship being the emblem of intercourse, voyaging, and traffic, shows that news from far-off lands will come to hand. In full sail, trade will increase or a voyage may be taken. It should be noticed which way the ship is heading in order to interpret the meaning. Naturally, coming towards the handle or house, it would mean the arrival of expected or unexpected friends. The fulfilment of your desires if in full sail. Going from the house, it would denote the falling away of business or good things.

If at the bottom of the cup, your expectations will not be fulfilled, obstacles in your enterprises, and partings with friends.

If at the very top of the cup it would indicate a speedy journey. Taking, as I have already said, the handle for the north, you will notice whether the ship is sailing north, south, east, or west, and the destination can then be arrived at.

If the sails are drooping or falling away, then it denotes a falling away of trade, health, or even intellect. The expected news will not come.

If a letter can be deciphered on the sails, this should be a further source of enlightenment. Any symbol that may be on the sails must be taken into consideration. A number might give the date of sailing or the arrival of the ship. All symbols should be interpreted by references to their known qualities and uses, as well as to the associations of the person having the fortune told.

Snake.—an Emblem of Falsehood and Enmity.

This indicates inveterate enemies.

On the top or middle of the cup, if clear, it promises triumph over an enemy, but not easily obtained if the snake is in the thick, or cloudy.

If a letter appears near the emblem it will be easy to discover the name of the enemy. If near the handle it shows there is some one in the house who is unworthy of trust.

Spade.—Work; Industry.

It shows that by steady work you will acquire riches.

At the bottom of the cup, news of wealth abroad.

Spider.—Cunning; Secrecy; Diplomacy; Subterfuge.

The cunning of the spider apparently excels that of most other insects. Its various artifices to ensnare its prey is no less remarkable than its contrivance of a cell, where it conceals the fragments of the carcases it has devoured. It feasts there, carefully hidden from public view, to avoid raising the suspicions of any other insects that their enemy is lying in wait.

A spider seen in the clear, by diplomacy and caution riches may be attained.

At the bottom of the cup shows that the person is too secretive and would be wise to seek council from a trusted quarter and not to listen to the promises of the subtle flatterer.

On the handle, there is some one secretly trying to undermine the honour of the house.

At the top of the cup, guard against the artifices of those who lay snares to catch the unwary and thoughtless.

The French have it:

“Une araignée du matin—

 Beaucoup du chagrin!

 Une araignée du soir—

 Beaucoup de la joie!”


“A spider at morn—

 With sorrow forlorn!

 A spider at night—

 A whirl of delight!”

Obviously a spider in the morning cup of tea is not so lucky as finding the representation of one in an evening cup of tea.

Star.—Emblem of Hope, Love, Or Destiny.

At the top, love and honour. If dots are about it, it foretells great fortune, wealth, high respectability, honours. Several stars denote good and happy children. A star surrounded by dashes and in the thick, a warning that good fortune is weakening. Look well to your home affairs and business. Clouded, shows long life though many troubles.

Spoon.—A Christening; Luck.

If in the middle of the cup, the consultant will be invited to stand sponsor at a christening.

Two spoons in the clear, good luck, flirtation.

Sun.—An Emblem of Happiness and Comfort.

In the middle of the cup, fortune, happiness, and comfort.

At the top of the cup it denotes that the consultant will be a pioneer and receive honours.

Surrounded by dashes, sudden changes.

A circle near, complete happiness, restoration to health.

Tea-pot.—Consultations; Committee Meetings.

Telescope.—Discernment; Adventure.

Toad.—An Emblem of Servility.

If a toad is seen in the middle of the cup it warns you that there is a hanger on or a flatterer amongst your circle of friends whom it would be wise to avoid having further communication with.

At the bottom of the cup it denotes a state of slavish dependence.

Tortoise.—Difficulties; Triumph.

To those in trouble, riches and comfort in the future.

Should it be in the thick it shows difficulties in business, and just hard work and perseverance is the only thing that will save the situation.

At the bottom of the cup it indicates wealth after many years of toil and hardship.

To the rich it indicates difficulties.

At the top of the cup, triumph after trouble.

Tree.—A Lucky Sign.

Several trees, your wishes will be gratified.

A single tree, lasting good health and position.

An oak tree, riches and comfort; protection.

A tree surrounded by dots, your fortune in the country.


Triangles are a sign of good and bad luck according to the position of the triangle.

With the apex uppermost—i.e., nearest the rim of cup—it is a sign of good fortune and success, of new and successful enterprises, ambitions achieved, hopes realized.

With the base uppermost its indication is sinister and indicative of loss and failure in all immediate enterprises and projects. It warns you of dangers arising from giving a too free rein to your passions and desires, and cautions you to observe moderation in all things. In the strife between brain and heart, reason and impulse, you will fail if you do not follow the dictates of reason.

If the apex of the triangle is uppermost and pointing due north—i.e., the handle of the cup—you will have material gain. If south, honours and preferment. If west, a beneficial alliance or partnership, and if the inquirer is a maiden, marriage. While if the apex is towards the east, new avenues will be opened up before you, with fresh projects and enterprises which will prove highly successful.

Trident.—Mercantile Success; Honours.

The trident is a fork or sceptre which the ancients put into the hands of Neptune, the fabled God of the Seas.

If this sign has the fork upright, it portends success and gain in mercantile affairs, speedy acquisition of wealth.

If at the top of the cup, money is coming from across the seas.

To those in the Navy this indicates appreciation and honours from high quarters.

If the fork is down, then troublesome times are ahead, and great caution should be taken with regard to enterprises, especially connected with the sea.

Notice should be taken to which side the fork points, as from that direction will come success or failure.

Umbrella.—Shelter; Screen.

If open, there will be cause to find shelter with friends, who will be willing to receive you under any circumstances.

If closed, vexations, favours denied.

Vase.—Sacrifice; Reward.

The vase was used in ancient times for domestic purposes and in offering sacrifices.

Seen in the cup it denotes that steadfast service will bring its measure of reward.

At the house, domestic comfort.

If clouds are round, a sacrifice for the benefit of some one dear to you.

Wheel.—Advancement; Necessity.

A wheel at the top of the cup indicates that an inheritance is about to fall to the consultant.

If engaged in mechanical work it shows progress by the use of your faculty. To all others it denotes a stern necessity, a life subject to time and circumstance. As “Sepharial” says: “We cannot evade the inevitable, but we can make use of it.”

Windmill.—Emblem of Industry.

Not by bold enterprises but by careful work, cautious undertakings, and great industry will fortune smile on you.


Good or bad messages, depending upon the position in the cup.

To a maiden, a suitor from abroad and of superior position; may be an aviator.

Woman.—Fertility; Wealth.

This emblem varies very much according to the position in the cup.

To a male consultant, at the bottom of the cup, it indicates that he is courting a widow. At the top, a maiden.

Surrounded by dots, wealth or children. In the clear, pleasures and happiness.

Several women indicate scandal.



Misspelled words and printer errors have been corrected. Where multiple spellings occur, majority use has been employed.

Punctuation has been maintained except where obvious printer errors occur.

[The end of Tea-Cup Fortune Telling by Anonymous]