This is the last episode of September! Can you believe it? October is here, witches, I hope you’re ready to fly. We are also in the Mercury retrograde homestretch, thank the gods for that. I’m ready to go direct. We still have like seven other planets in retrograde right now, we don’t need Mercury in there too, just raising hell for no good reason.

I wanted to quickly address last week’s episode, which was a heavy one, I know. I’ve gotten a lot of messages from witches who were feeling it though, and I appreciate the feedback. It’s always hard to do topics that I know from the outset aren’t going to be well-received, and I knew that Mirror Work was going to be one of those topics. It’s rough work. But as a dear friend and powerful witch reminded me, we aren’t helping anyone by not talking about the hard work. So I am grateful to you all for sticking it out with me.

And now real quickly, I do want to read an email that I just felt like so many of us can relate to:

Hello. I really want to thank you for your podcast. I’m middle aged myself and it’s refreshing to listen to a podcast that is more in line with where I am in life. I really look forward to each episode!! I have an issue that I was hoping you could offer some advice. My daughter is such an amazing sweet young woman but she’s been having trouble making friends. She has never had a large group of friends but she had at least a few at any given time.

She recently started going to a very small college and she is having trouble connecting with anyone. As a mother, it’s hard for me to watch because I know she is lonely and at her age, it’s so important to have a good support system. I’ve performed a candle spell for confidence and joy but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. Do you have any suggestions on something I can do to promote strong, healthy friendships for her? I hate seeing her so lonely and just want her to be happy. Hope this isn’t a super weird request and my apologies if so. Anyway, keep up the good work and thank you again for such a great podcast! Thanks.

Boy, it’s hard to be a mom sometimes! No matter how old they get, we still worry. I’ve got two daughters in college myself, I have also gone through those difficult middle school years with them, and all the meangirling and bullying that can sometimes be an issue. So the good news here is that this witch has already laid excellent groundwork. A spell for confidence and joy is going to really support helping her to connect with her kind of people. All we have to do now is draw them in to her!

So here’s what we’re going to do. We are going to do some work that is actually very similar to a love spell, where the purpose is to call someone to us who has all the qualities that we want in a good love match. This is attraction magick. But we are going to adjust the purpose of this spell to call in people who have all the qualities that your daughter needs in good friendships. We want to draw people who embody loyalty, kindness, people with similar interests, and people with similar life goals.

And let me reassure anyone who is concerned about the ethics of this work: we are not asking too much. There are going to be plenty of people who fit this bill. These people already exist, and they would already be a great fit, we are just trying to find them. So first, we’re gonna take some time to write out exactly what kind of people we want to call. Dependable, loyal, kind, they enjoy whatever niche hobby this witch’s daughter enjoys. And so on.

Then, we are going to get two candles, one white and one yellow. They can both be white if that’s what you have on hand.

In a small bowl, combine a pinch of each of the following: allspice for kindness, basil for honesty, rosemary for loyalty, lemon zest for friendship, and marjoram or ginger for unity. If there’s anything else that comes to mind, sprinkle those in there too. Give them a stir.

Carve your daughter’s name into the white candle. Carve the qualities you wrote on your list onto the other candle. Anoint both the candles with some olive oil, and sprinkle them liberally with your herbs. Rub them into the wax. Then you’re going to charge the hell out of these candles. Put your hands on either side of the candles and feel all of your energy, your love, your intent, pouring out of your palms into these candles.

Hold your intent in mind, really feel your emotions. Hold those qualities we are seeking in your mind. Whisper them out loud like a mantra if it helps to be a point of concentration. Light your candles, and let them burn safely down. This work is best performed during the waxing moon, which as it happens, will be ongoing until October 8. So you have about a week and a half or so to get this work done during this moon phase.

If that isn’t possible, of course, you’re not going to be penalized or anything, it’s just nice to have the moon phase supporting this work. But even on its own, mother magick is so powerful. And I don’t only mean literal mothers. Anytime we are performing work like this for someone we love, we are embodying the Mother archetype. So we could do this kind of work for a niece or nephew, for a friend, for ourselves, doesn’t matter. This kind of work is really strong.

Okay, so today, we are going to talk about reading tea leaves. And this form of divination is also called tasseomancy, for those of us who like to be a little fancy. It’s Libra season after all, lean into it. But this is one of the oldest and most well-known forms of divination. This crosses cultures and timelines. And this isn’t only limited to tea leaves, although that is mostly what I’ll be referring to in this episode. It’s basically reading signs and omens in the sediments of any drink. This includes coffee grounds, the dregs in a glass of wine, whatever you’re drinking. If you see patterns or pictures in the bottom of your cup, you’re performing tasseomancy.

We don’t even know how long people have been divining messages this way. It’s been going on since at least the 1400s, although to be fair, that’s only when the men noticed and started writing about it. Turkish concubines had been reading each other’s coffee grounds for a good long while before anyone thought to write about it. But all we really need to know is that tasseomancy has a long, proud history. Baltic and Slavic peoples brought it to the West, where Victorians, especially Victorian women, discovered a knack for it.

Because it was so accessible. Everyone drank tea every day, and everyone had teacups. This required no expensive equipment, and no extensive training. Learning to read tea leaves required nothing more than an open mind and a willing imagination. It took no time at all to begin teasing meanings from the shapes and images they saw.

And on the subject of divination, I do want to take a moment to say that there are a lot of different methods, and different disciplines. And you already know what I’m going to say. Every form of divination you can think of is, or at least has the potential to be, completely legit. We can receive messages from the universe in any form and from any source, as long as we are open to receive. We may get messages from a particular song we hear on the radio, or a sequence of numbers on a receipt for takeout, or from shapes in the fog on our bathroom mirror after a shower. The Universe is constantly sending us messages. We just have to decide to start looking.

The only thing I will say at the outset is that it is easier to read leaves in a proper teacup rather than a coffee mug. The shape of a teacup just holds the leaves better for reading, because the sides of a teacup flare out, whereas a mug’s sides are just kind of straight up and down. So your leaves will tend to just slide down into the bottom of a mug rather than stick to the sides. My own teacup that I use for reading was bought second hand at a thrift shop. It’s nothing special, I just liked the pattern plus it came with a saucer and it was very cheap. Less than $5. But that’s part of the fun of tasseomancy, is finding the perfect teacup. I made a day of it. We went downtown and hunted around in thrift shops and I eventually found a cup and saucer that I could see myself reading from.

There are special tasseomancy teacups you can buy that have like, different symbols and pictures painted in them, and I guess the idea is that if your tea leaves collect on or near these certain symbols that there’s a message related to that specific symbol. There are other cups with the zodiac symbols painted in them, and they’re all really cool. But we don’t need them to be an effective reader.

Okay, so what do we need? Well as we said, we need a cup, we need a saucer, and we need some loose-leaf tea. Loose leaf tea is much easier to read than tea from tea bags because tea bags tend to be filled with tea that’s been chopped a lot more finely. However, as we know, witches use what they got, so if all you have is tea bags, we can make it work. To be honest, coffee grounds are a lot more fine than tea leaves too and they work just fine. So put a good scoop of tea in your cup or cut open a tea bag, pour your water over the leaves, give it a little stir, and steep it for a few minutes.

If you’re using black tea, Earl Grey, steep it for 3-5 minutes, 1 or two minutes for green tea, or for herbal teas, you can steep them for at least five minutes. Then just drink your tea. While you’re drinking your tea, think about any issues or situations or relationships or just whatever you’re hoping to see in your teacup. It’s best to drink your tea neat for readings, no milk or sugar. Don’t drink all of it, leave a little liquid at the bottom of your cup. I tend to drink it until I start getting tea leaves stuck to my lips. Then I’m done.

The reason you need a little tea left at the bottom of the cup is because when you’re ready to read your leaves you’ll swirl the cup clockwise three times, put the saucer upside down on top of the cup, and then flip the cup and saucer over. This gives your leaves a chance to do what they’re gonna do and go where they’re gonna go. After a moment, turn your cup right side up and position the handle of the cup toward yourself, in the six o’clock position. And now we’re ready to read.

Now. You need to decide how you’re going to interpret timelines before you start reading your cup. Generally, the images toward the top of the cup, closer to the rim, are coming in the near future. And then images in the bottom of the cup are more in the distant future. We can also divide the cup up mentally into twelve sections beginning at the handle, which is closest to us.That will represent the current month, and then moving clockwise around the cup will be each of the next twelve months. We may also divide the cup, especially if we are reading for someone else, so that the left half of the cup is the past and the right half is the future.

And for this method, on the left half of the cup toward the top of the rim is going to be the near past and the bottom left of the cup is going to be the distant past. Likewise, the top right portion of the cup will be the near future, and down in the bottom right will be the distant future. And there are frankly all different kinds of ways to divide the cup and read it, but we are gonna keep it simple with those three methods of reading. You can read the cup differently each time you read, but you need to decide how you’re going to read it before you flip it over. We want our tea to know where to go.

So there are obviously going to be shapes and symbols that we’re looking for, and there are so many different lists you can find online or you could buy a book. There are some interpretations that people generally assign to the various symbols, but of course, you can always and SHOULD always consult your own intuition first. You’re going to really look at the shapes that these leaves take, and it may be an individual tea leaf, or it may be several leaves that form up to create these shapes. It may also be the leaves themselves, or the negative space between the leaves.

This sort of recognition just comes with a little time and practice, but we will cover some of the more common symbols and their more common interpretations here. So the first of these symbols we frequently see is the acorn. This is going to be a symbol of a slow growing goal or pursuit. And of course, the further down in the side of the cup this symbol is, the further into the future it will be before we see the fruits of those labors.

Another common shape is an airplane. This generally represents travel, and also moving away. An anchor is a very common shape, this generally denotes stability. If you’re doing a love reading, then this would be a stable relationship. If this is a job reading, then this is stable employment. That’s why it’s important to know what you’re reading for before you begin this ritual. If we see an arrow, we should note which way it’s pointing. If it’s pointed up, this is a good sign, if it’s pointing down, this is not such a good sign. If it’s pointed at another symbol in the cup, this is to emphasize whatever that symbol is. It means pay attention. Birds mean good news, this is an optimistic shape to see in your teacup.

A broom commonly means a new home or sometimes it indicates clearing out the old to make room for the new. A cat shape is an indication of cattiness, literally, gossip, backbiting. A circle or a ring in your cup represents completion; something has come or will come full circle. A cross, and this is where interpretation is left to the individual, is usually a bad omen. But that’s a cross that’s shaped like an X. If it’s in the shape of the Christian cross, this can mean struggle or sacrifice. A dog is, of course, a very good omen. This is loyalty, this is a dear friend. A door or a gate represents an opportunity and you will look for other indications in the cup as to whether this is a good opportunity or not, or whether this opportunity is coming sooner or later.

If you see an eye in your leaves, this is a message to watch. This is a message to be on the lookout. A feather is, to me, a message from the guides or from the angels. A gun is discord or anger or an argument or major blow up. A heart is love and romance, a horseshoe or a clover is good luck. A key might mean success or an opportunity opening, and it can also indicate hidden knowledge, hidden wisdom. A ladder denotes upward mobility, this means advancement. A lion is leadership or authority, and it can also indicate a Leo in your life, just as a fish may represent an important Pisces, or a crab can be a Cancer. And so on.

If you see the moon in your cup, you need to start paying attention to your intuition. Start listening to the little voice. There’s a secret for you to uncover. A mushroom indicates very fast growth. A palm tree is a message of success, also a well-deserved vacation. A regular tree is a long life, and also your descendants, like your own family tree. A snake is tricky, this can either indicate sneakiness, secrecy, or it can indicate transformation. Shedding the old to make ready for the new. This is another one that you’re going to have to look at everything else in the cup to know for sure what the message is.

A spider is a message of good luck, of hard work paying off. Unless you’re afraid of spiders, in which case it might represent your deepest fears coming to haunt you. A star is happiness, hope, and renewal. It’s very similar to the Star in tarot, which comes after the Tower. Which brings us to the tower. If you see this shape in your teacup, some shit is about to hit the fan. Things are about to collapse in a big way. An umbrella portends trouble, but you’re going to be protected, you’re going to come out of it ok. And then finally on my list is a wheel. This isn’t something we see often, but when we do, this just means fortunes are turning.

And this isn’t comprehensive, again, you can find plenty of lists online, but mostly, you’re going to just look in your cup and see what you see. It’s kind of hard to begin with, we really do have to get back in touch with that youthful, more imaginative state of mind. When we were kids we could see all kinds of pictures in the clouds, and we have to try and allow ourselves to be more open to that kind of freestyle imagery.

There are some ways to boost our psychic awareness and tune in a little more easily. We may burn some incense before we even put the kettle on to boil, frankincense, jasmine, rose, or sandalwood incense are all solid choices. We can put on some calming music, we can also keep an amethyst nearby, clear quartz or rose quartz, particularly for a love reading. Kyanite is good if we’re trying to get to the truth of a particular matter. But even more than any of that is to just take a few minutes before you begin to get into the proper mindset. This can be just the time it takes for your water to boil.

Look, the point, like any other method of divination, is to just get to a calm, quiet state of mind and just focus on the task at hand. Reading tea leaves is so fun. It’s fun to do for ourselves, and it’s really fun to read for other people. This is the kind of thing that anyone can do, even if we are in a position where we have to keep our craft on the down low, we can learn tasseomancy and we can use it just like we would use tarot, or crystal gazing, or casting runes.

We can also use specific teas or tea blends that are going to assist with this work. And some of the herbs in those incense blends we just talked about are, not surprisingly, great in teas. Jasmine and rose teas are perfect for divination. Peppermint tea is a great choice, so is dandelion root tea and finally mugwort. Mugwort tea is not for the faint of heart, though. This is a tea that witches have been using for psychic visions since time immemorial. And you know what, let me put a little disclaimer in here: don’t go boiling any old leaves and drinking it. Make sure that there are no contraindications for any medications you may be taking, etc, and consult your doctor before you drink any mystery concoctions. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way, and don’t sue me.

Anyway, that’s really all there is to it. It’s just not complicated, it’s a bit of trial and error and practice makes perfect. Next week we are going to talk about poppets and doll magick, and this is some really cool witchcraft. So I hope you’ll be there. Find me on social media at @middleagedwitch, write to me any time at, or join the discussion forums at My name is Eli, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch podcast.

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