Predict the Future with Herbs & Spices

cup of tea and herbs.
Reading tea leaves is one way to predict the future. Image courtesy of phasinphoto at

Divination is a method of fortune telling which attempts to foresee the future. It entails the observation and interpretation of a variety of phenomena. Various forms of divination are employed by natural magicians such as shamans, witches, medicine men, cunning men and wise women.

Herbal Divination and Fortunetelling

Divination uses various divinatory tools, such as tarot cards or rune stones, and interprets these tools to foresee and predict the future. Although there are many different types of divination practiced I am limiting today’s blog to ones that are of particular interest to the hedge witch and other practitioners of natural magic.

Botanomancy – divination based upon the burning of plants especially leaves and tree branches. Specific questions would often be carved into the bark of the branch before placing the branch into the fire.

Capnomancy – observing the smoke of burning herbs.

Causimomancy – reading and interpreting the patterns made from the ashes of burned plants.

Daphnomancy – divination based on burning laurel leaves.

Dendromancy – divination based upon the relationship between oak trees and the parasitic mistletoe growing on the trees. This form of divination was probably practiced by the Druids. A few modern-day scholars think that this form of divination was based upon the interpretation of the shapes and direction of smoke rising from burning mistletoe and oak.

Floromancy – divination based upon the observation of flowers.

Hydromancy – divination based on the use of water, wells, rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. A form of herbal hydromancy would be to throw herb leaves onto a moving body of water and interpret their patterns of movement as they move along the water.

Libanomancy – divination based on the interpretation of incense smoke.

Phyllomancy – divination based upon the interpretation of the sound of rustling leaves.

Phyllorhodomancy – divination based on rose petals. The petals are clapped against the palm of your hand and the sounds that are made are interpreted for omens.

Pyromancy – divination based on seeing shapes and visions within a fire. You could use this form of divination along with capnomancy and daphnomancy.

Tasseomancy – tea leaf reading. This form of divination interprets the symbols formed by loose teas leaves that are left behind in the tea cup after the tea has been drunk. The person who is having their fortune read (querent) drinks their cup of tea. The querent turns their cup three times in a clockwise direction then turn the cup over onto a saucer. When any water that is present has drained into the saucer quickly turn the cup right side up. The cup is handed to the fortune teller who interprets the symbols.

Symbols towards the rim of the cup represent the present, symbols towards the middle of the cup represent the near future and symbols towards the bottom of the cup represent the distant future. In addition symbols that are well formed are positive while symbols that are fuzzy or not fully developed represent delays that you may encounter.

Tea Leaves Symbols

You must make your cup of tea with loose tea leaves, herbs or flowers in order to practice this form of divination. Tea bags won’t work unless you break them open! Some common symbols that may be seen in the tea leaves can be interpreted as follows:

Bell – wedding
Butterfly – insincerity
Cat – domestic problems
Chair – unexpected visitor
Cross – hardship
Cup – harmony
Hand – help
Heart – confidant, love, lover
House – change, security, success
Key – opportunity
Letters – initials of people
Mountain – journey, hindrance
Ring – marriage, partnership
Snake – hurt feelings, falsehood
Spade – good fortune through industry
Straight line – careful planning, peace of mind
Tree – comfort
Triangle – fortune
Wavy lines – uncertainty

For a more extensive interpretation of the tea leaf symbols you may want to look at the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards which were created by Rae Hepburn and illustrated by Shawna Alexander. This is a 200 card deck which comes with a 89 page book. This set illustrates and explains the meanings of the various symbols that may be formed by the tea leaves. This set was published in 2000 by Charles E. Tuttle Co.