Fortune telling is one of the oldest practices that is still alive and going strong to this very day. Although most of us imagine some older women with the crystal ball, dressed in colorful dresses and with a lot of jewelry, fortune telling goes beyond that. Turkey is one of the countries today well known for its fortune telling and mostly it revolves around the tradition of coffee drinking and telling the future from the leftover coffee precipitate. There are of course other type of fortune telling which we will briefly mention on the end of the article, but our main focus in the article is of course Coffee Fortune Telling.
History of Coffee Fortune Telling
In the Balkans and Turkey, a favorite pass time is drinking Turkish coffee followed by having your fortune told from the leftover coffee grounds in the cup. Turkish coffee readings fall in the category of Tasseography, the divination methods of interpreting patterns in tea leaves, coffee grounds or wine sediments.
This practice of divining the future (called “fal” in Turkish), and the broader field of astrology in Turkey, can be traced back to at least the Seljuk Empire, dating back to the times of Tuğrul and Çağrı Bey in 1028.
Beginning in the 15th century, the müneccimbaşı (resident fortune teller), or chief astrologer/astronomer, held a significant position in the Ottoman Palace. These astrologers were tasked with answering questions of future political and strategic importance. Their other practices ranged from tasseography (reading coffee grounds), calendar preparation, documentation of celestial events, and the general management of the other astrologers. One of the Ottoman Empire’s most famous chief astrologers, Taqi al-Din (Takiyüddin, 1526–1585), even built an observatory in Istanbul whose size rivaled that of the great observatory in Samarkand. Within months of completing the observatory, a comet with an enormous tail appeared in the sky, which Taqi al-Din interpreted as “an indication of well-being and splendor” and would mean a “conquest of Persia” for Sultan Murad III.
Fortune telling with coffee
If you deside to take a wonderfull journey into your future with your coffee cup, there are some rules that you need to follow. First one is preparing of Turkish coffee on a specific way. You can read about that in our article about preparing and serving the Turkish coffe.
Next steps are folowing:
- always use a plain white cup; it makes it easier to read the grounds
- drink your coffee, but not all the way to the bottom where the grounds are
- make a wish
- put your saucer on top of the coffee cup and make sure it is well-sealed
- close your eyes and hold it in front of you,
- make three swirling moves to spread the sediment around the entire cup
- turn your coffee cup upside down on the saucer
- give it to the fortune teller
Note: Never read your coffee grounds yourself and never let more than one person interpret them. The person reading the coffee grounds will leave the cup for about 5 minutes until the sediments have set and made their patterns onto the cup.
By looking closely at the cup, You can see a lot of shapes, lines, objects, numbers…It takes a lot of practise to start seeing meaningful things in a pile of precipitate. But if you deside to do reading for Your friends and family, here are some basics meanings:
Numbers can have either a numeric or symbolic meaning, depending on the overall story of the cup and the reader’s interpretation. If the meaning is numerical, it implies that an event will happen in a certain number of days, weeks, months, or that one has or will get a certain quantity of something.
Some of the symbolic meanings of numbers are:
0 : Things repeating them selves, going in circles
1: Start of something new
2: Choice(s) or indecision between two things
4: Jealousy, misfortune
7: New love
8: Double luck
Letters, like numbers, can have literal or symbolic meaning. Letters, like numbers can be interpreted literally. In the literal case the letter will symbolize a name, place or object starting with that letter. This is interpreted by the overall story of the cup or information provided by the person who drank the coffee.
Some typical symbolic meanings of letters are:
A: Start of something new
C: Children and protection
E: Unexpected news, good or bad
F: New relationship, friendship
H: Pride, hubris
K: Branching out, expanding
M: Healing or family
O: Success, marriage
P: Family expansion, pregnancy
R: Resting, relief
T: Punctuality, timeliness or lack of
U: Desire for material things
X: Crossroads or target
Z: Ending, finish
Vertical lines are your goals in life. The bigger and darker the line is the better the outcome gets. If the line reaches the rim of the cup, it is considered auspicious for that goal. All straight lines or paths show a clear plan with specific goals whereas the wavy or broken lines mean uncertainty.
Dots A group of black dots means that you might receive money soon. Some also interpret these dots as messages you will receive soon.
Triangle Change is coming to your life
Circle Overall success
Square Comfort and peace
Y Crossroads, options in decisions, or help coming from a friend
? Question you want answered, concern. If the question mark has the dot, your question will be answered and if it doesn’t uncertainty will remain,
! Danger, excitement
: Sign for good luck
Here is some more common symbols to get you started:
Airplane: long travel, promotion, moving forward
Anchor: settling, finding stability, weighing down
Angel: good news, happiness, protection
Ant: fruit bearing, determination
Apple: new love
Arrow(s): bad news, wrong direction
Ax: conflict, problems
Dagger: divorce, severing of ties
Devil: danger, beware of influential people, unhappiness, bad omen
Dog: friendship, loyalty
Dolphin: joy, fun
Dragon: past is haunting you
Drum: scandalous news
A turtle connotes a house; usually purchasing a new one or moving out.
Birds are usually associated with news and money. Either you are going to hear from someone, or you are finally getting the payment you have been expecting.
While long lines may indicate a journey in the near future, if it’s blocked by another symbol or ends abruptly you won’t be able to take this trip.
Fish is another popular figure appearing in coffee cups and it shows that you have kısmet, meaning luck, the chance of getting married, or finding a special one. Whereas a seahorse is related to good things on the way, like a promotion or a new job.
Camels point to success after a hard period, whereas roosters are a symbol of new beginnings.
If the coffee grounds completely cover the bottom of the cup, it suggests you have a lot of stress and trouble right now in your life. If the grounds cover half of it, you are getting rid of the bad days soon. If there is a hump in the grounds, you have been or will be thrilled by some news.
Other ways of Fortune telling
Althought Fortune telling with coffee is the most popular method in Turkey, they are also less known ways of telling the future.
Regular playing cards were actually derived from the Tarot. For example, there are 4 suits in a deck and each suit has 13 cards. However, playing cards can be read like the minor arcana of the Tarot. Since many people are more familiar with playing cards rather than the Tarot, fortune telling with playing cards might seem like an easy skill than what it really is but in fact, it isn’t easy to master. The four suits represent different areas of your life and may also foresee the timing of events. Hearts deal with emotional issues and may predict events of summer. Diamonds deal with money, and material possessions and when it comes to timing, readers are looking at the winter season. Clubs represent friendships, relationships, and matters that require action, with its timing in spring. Spades resonate with fall, and usually describe a conflict or provide a warning.
Tarot cards are cards with pictures, with literally hundreds of decks to choose from. Each deck contains 78 cards, and 4 suits. A total of 22 cards are known as major arcana and the remaining are called minor arcana. The layout of the cards is known as a spread. The suits are swords, cups, wands and pentacles. The cards’ imagery, in any deck, have specific traditional meanings, useful for different readings of the past, present and future.
The left and right palm differs in readings. It’s said that the potential for what could be shown on the left palm, while the right palm talks of potential that will be. In Eastern countries, such as Turkey, they tend to read the left palm because its lines represent more our emotional being; relationships or emotional struggles, and the likes. But in Western cultures, work and career are often dominant, and the right palm has more information about that side of our life and provides a more balanced reading which must also include our emotions.
Fortune telling in Turkey certainly hasn’t slowed down. For most readers it’s a craft that has been passed down from generation to generation. It continues to be a popular practice for those who just want to know their future for fun, passing the time or for those who take it more seriously.
There is a popular app in Turkey, called Falladin, you can choose Your type of readings there (like coffee cup reading, tarot cards, daily horoscope…). It is free do download and it will certaily suprise you with the accuracy of the readings.
You can even find coffee shops in bigger cities that will tell you Your future. But it is always best to find some local person to do that, because there is always an oportunity for scamming in the touristic places like Istanbul.
But just be carefull not to become adictive, it is not always good to know what waits for us in the future.