for Story Circle Book Reviews, reviewing books by, for, and about women
In the mid-sized city in which I live, there is a tea house/café, where tea leaf and tarot card readings are a delightful part of afternoon tea or lunch. Often, groups of women attend together to celebrate a special occasion. Each woman has her tea leaves read and sometimes there are tears because a reading exactly affirms what’s in the woman’s heart or there’s laughter for the very same reason as the reader has revealed something about the subject. So while we approach such readings in perhaps a light-hearted way, there is much to be learned from a tea leaf reading. In fact, many people have regular readings to help with answers to questions that arise during their day to day lives.Tanya Lester, a tea leaf reader living on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, points out all these aspects in her book and, as she says, readings provide “people with insights into their lives.”Lester’s interest in tea leaf reading began after she finished university in 1979 when she bought a book on the subject in a metaphysical shop. Several years passed and Lester studied Reiki before being offered an opportunity to begin tea leaf reading. She credits her practice of Reiki for strengthening her intuitive abilities and reinforcing the affirmations or meditations she does for clients. Lester used books at first to help her interpret the leaves but then moved on to using her own intuition to “tailor the reading to the individual.” Her insight is very helpful if you ever want to try tea leaf reading or any other form of divination using your own intuition.When looking at tea leaves in a cup, Lester starts at the rim and works her way down. After interpreting all of the leaves on the side of the cup, she looks at the bottom. She says the “picture” in the tea leaves “can be interpreted as literal as well as symbolic.” The leaves at the bottom for instance, “are often about ongoing projects throughout the year.” Often Lester’s intuition will help to answer a client’s question. In fact it is a blend of her intuition and the tea leaves that create, as she says, “a mystical experience.”
The structure of the book works very well. Rather than describe her experiences in chronological order, Lester has divided her book into chapters that describe subjects such as “Star Crossed Lovers,” “Reading for the Rich and Famous” and “Partying”, about the parties she attends where she give tea leaf readings. As for her writing style, the book is confessional, so the writing is as if Lester is speaking to an interested group (something she does in workshop settings) or sending the reader an email. It’s very down to earth.
I was inspired by Lester’s entrepreneurial spirit and the marketing of tea leaf reading workshops far and wide. She gives “The Ancient Art of Tea Leaf Reading” workshops in various settings including university continuing education courses; connects with metaphysical stores when she’s going to be in a particular area; and writes her own press releases.
A book that intrigues one to go further is really the best book of all. Lester encourages readers to use their own intuition. Although we can get all sorts of wisdom from a tea leaf reader, we can also tap into our own inner wisdom to find answers in our day to day lives. I was inspired to learn more about the history of tea leaf reading. I can imagine gypsies in various parts of Europe for instance. Lester says she has the heart and soul of a gypsy tea leaf reader. Her Lebanese paternal grandmother and great-grandmother were tea leaf readers. It’s always interesting to know how an author became interested in her subject and how she got started. Lester provides that story as well as some history of tea leaf reading or Tasseomancy.