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A Basic List of Tea Leaf Symbols

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According to this 1907 Fred Lounsbury postcard, when tea leaves form an image of a Star, it is an omen of a long and happy life
According to this 1807 Fred Lounsbury postcard, when tea leaves form an image of the Sun, it is an omen of good luck and happiness
According to this 1907 Fred Lounsbury postcard, when tea leaves form an image of a Square, it is an omen of peace and happiness
A Bamforth comic postcard, circa 1930, showing the image of an approaching figure in the tea leaves
A Bamforth comic postcard, circa 1930, showing the image of a black cat in the tea leaves
A Bamforth comic postcard, circa 1930, showing the image of an arriving visitor

This basic list of 144 tea leaf reading symbols was developed for “Tea Leaf Reading, A Brief Introduction," a class i taught in 2009 at the annual Hoodoo Heritage Festival sponsored by Missionary Independent Spiritual Church. The list appeared on a flyer that i wrote and distributed as part of the workshop materials. In 2012, the flyer was reprinted in "The Black Folder: Personal Communications on the Mastery of Hoodoo. catherine yronwode

The Mystic Tea Room

144 Tea Leaf Symbols

This set of images should be enough to get you started as a tasseomancer. In my opinion, the best way to learn is to read this list over once or twice, then make a printed copy. When you read a cup of tea leaves, consult the list, but also read a few more symbols that begin with the same letter of the alphabet. Don't rush yourself. Learning these symbols and their meanings is the equivalent of learning a song with 36 quatrain verses -- that neither rhyme nor scan.

  • Acorn: At top, slow growth; at bottom, good health.
  • Airplane: Long journey; a rise in social position.
  • Anchor: At top, stability and rest; at bottom, safety.
  • Apple: Achievement; if bitten into, temptation.
  • Arrow: Point down, bad news; up, good news.
  • Axe: Difficulties; if at top, overcoming of difficulties.
  • Baby: Fretting and small worries.
  • Bag: A trap; if open, escape, from a trap.
  • Ball: Variable fortune, as ball bounces up and down.
  • Balloon: A celebration or party soon.
  • Basket: A treat, award, compliment, recognition.
  • Bell: Announcement; the nearer the top, the better.
  • Birds: Good news (see also species of birds).
  • Boat: A visit from a friend, protection, inheritance.
  • Book: If open, good news; if closed, hidden secrets.
  • Bottle: Drunkenness, temptations offered.
  • Broom: A new home; a thorough house-cleaning.
  • Bush: A secret friend or secret opportunities.
  • Butterfly: Fickleness of friends.
  • Candle: Ask for and receive help from others.
  • Cat: Gossip, deceit; cat-head, female false friend.
  • Chain: Engagement, wedding; sequence of events.
  • Chair: A guest is coming.
  • Circle: Success, completion; with dots, a baby.
  • Clock: Better health if medical help is sought soon.
  • Clouds: Trouble; with dots (rain), many problems.
  • Coin: Money count the coins to tell how much.
  • Cross: Death, a funeral, suffering, sacrifice.
  • Cup: Reward of merit; overturned, justified criticism.
  • Dagger: Danger from self or others; beware injury.
  • Dish: Trouble at home; matters require cleaning up.
  • Dog: Good, true friend; at bottom, friend needs help.
  • Door: Opportunities arise through an odd event.
  • Duck: Money, and false gossip about money.
  • Eagle: Success by soaring over obstacles.
  • Egg: If unbroken, success; if broken, failure.
  • Envelope: Good news; with dots, news of money.
  • Eye: Look sharp; be cautious; you be psychic.
  • Face: A change is coming, it may be a setback.
  • Fan: Flirtation, but it comes to nothing in the end.
  • Feather: Insincerity, undependability, lack of focus.
  • Fence: Limitations, minor setbacks, easily mended.
  • Finger: Extra emphasis on whatever it points to.
  • Fire: At top, achievement; at bottom, danger, haste.
  • Fish: Increase of wealth or increase in family.
  • Flag: Danger if you compromise your integrity.
  • Flower: Compliments, tokens of love and esteem.
  • Fly: Domestic annoyances require your attention.
  • Forked Line: You must soon make a decision.
  • Fruit: Prosperity, a successful outcome to labour.
  • Gate: Opportunity, future success beckons.
  • Glass, Water: Integrity and temperance.
  • Glass, Cocktail: Dissatisfaction with life.
  • Goat: Beware stubborn people; they may be enemies.
  • Grapes: Good health, fertility, happiness; inebriation.
  • Gun: Anger, discord, strife; danger where it points.
  • Hammer: Hard work is needed; avoid complainers.
  • Hand: Open, a friendly helper; closed, an argument.
  • Hat: Improvement, a new role or a new job.
  • Hawk: Suspicion and jealousy; watch with care.
  • Heart: Love, pleasure, romance, a thrilling meeting.
  • Horse: Galloping, good news; head only, a lover.
  • Horseshoe: Good luck, a winning bet, good fortune.
  • Hourglass: You must decide something soon.
  • House: Security and safety; parents.
  • Insect: Minor problems require immediate attention.
  • Jewels: Gifts will be offered to you.
  • Kettle: Minor illness; don’t worry; friends will help.
  • Key: Success, prosperity, understanding.
  • Kite: Ascent in social position by the help of friends.
  • Knife: A broken friendship; a justified fear.
  • Ladder: Job promotion, a rise in life, advancement.
  • Lamp: At top, a feast; at side, secrets revealed.
  • Leaf: Change in health: up, better; down, worse.
  • Letter: News; If cross near, death, if coins, a gift.
  • Lines: If straight, progress; if wavy, uncertain path.
  • Lion: An influential friend in a position of authority.
  • Lock: Obstacles too strong to overcome.
  • Man: Near handle, a visitor; elsewhere, a pen-pal.
  • Moon: A change in plans.
  • Mountain: Great goals beset by difficulties.
  • Mouse: Someone is stealing from you.
  • Mushroom: At top, country life; at bottom, growth.
  • Nail: Injustice, unfairness, unrighteous punishment.
  • Necklace: Whole, admirers; broken, losing a lover.
  • Nest: Save your money; take care of your home.
  • Needle: Recognition, admiration.
  • Oak Tree: Strength, health, long life; betterment.
  • Octopus: Danger.
  • Ostrich: Travel abroad.
  • Owl: Gossip nearby; a wise person will protect you.
  • Palm Tree: Success, honour.
  • Palm Leaf: Victory, martyrdom.
  • Parasol: A new lover.
  • Parrot: Foreign journey; people talk about you.
  • Pig: Greed and carelessness.
  • Pin: A new job awaits.
  • Pine Tree: High achievement.
  • Pipe: Reconciliation of a friendship.
  • Pistol: Danger is near.
  • Plough: A struggle ahead; hard going.
  • Purse: At top, profit; at bottom, loss.
  • Question Mark: Be cautious; future unsettled.
  • Rabbit: Bravery to overcome a fear of disaster.
  • Rainbow: The most difficult time is now over.
  • Rake: Watch details lest you stumble.
  • Raven: Bad news; love disaster; death for the aged.
  • Rider: Good news from afar, especially in finances.
  • Ring: At top, marriage; at bottom, betrothal.
  • Ring, Broken: Divorce or broken engagement.
  • Rose: Popularity, romance.
  • Scales: Balanced, justice; unbalanced, injustice.
  • Scissors: Quarrels, possibly separation.
  • Sheep: Good fortune; a friend does your bidding.
  • Shell: Good news from over the sea.
  • Ship: At top, a journey; at bottom, a safe journey.
  • Shoe: Hard work leads to a change for the better.
  • Sickle: Illness, sorrow, and pain.
  • Snake: An enemy, and wisdom to discern who it is.
  • Spider: Good luck, a reward for industrious work.
  • Spoon: Generosity.
  • Squirrel: Save up now for future times of want.
  • Stairs: Orderly progress leads to eventual success.
  • Star: Health, happiness, hope; absolute success.
  • Sun: Joy, success, power, children, well-being.
  • Sword: Small quarrels turn into serious arguments.
  • Table: A social gathering at which you’ll find favour.
  • Teardrops: Sorrow and tears.
  • Tent: Travel for which you are not well prepared.
  • Thimble: Changes at home; a need for mending.
  • Tortoise: Criticism, usually beneficial.
  • Tower: Disappointment and possible ruin.
  • Triangle: Something unexpected will happen.
  • Turtle: Slow progress; a sluggard is near to you.
  • Umbrella: Trouble, but you will be protected.
  • Vase: A friend needs your help.
  • Violin: A self-centered person.
  • Volcano: Harmful and emotional words may erupt.
  • Wagon: A wedding will ensue.
  • Wasp: Your romantic problems are due to a rival.
  • Wheel: If whole, good fortune; if broken, loss.
  • Wings: Messages from Heaven.
  • Wolf: Cunning and jealousy.
  • Zebra: Adventures overseas.
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