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Wisdom within the wreckage – Dabbling with divinity in a tea cup

~By Colette Gehr

“Tea is instant wisdom - just add water!”
--- Astrid Alauda

“There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in
a chest of tea.”
--- Ralph Waldo Emerson

One often wonders what secrets could be revealed
within the sodden wreckage of tea leaves left at the
bottom of a ceramic cup and that mystery can be
easily solved with a visit to a spiritualist experienced
in the ancient art of tealeaf reading.

Since my early teens, I have fond memories of
my mother initiating me in this particular tradition,
and I looked forward to the twice-yearly readings she
would bestow upon me. The routine may have always
been the same, with a selection of a special teapot and
cups and certain customs to follow, but the tale of the
cup would be heartwarming and different each and
every time. With great purpose, she would remove
her glasses and peer intently into the remains, taking
immeasurable care to gather the messages left behind
and voice them to me.

Reading for family and friends, she carried on a
practice, passed down from her mother, that was, at
times, chillingly accurate. In one case, she had read
for one of her best friends and not only told her she
was pregnant, but also she was carrying twins. The
woman was astounded as she hadn’t even told her
husband yet and went on to deliver two babies many
months later.

For others as well, a reading can lead to a
restorative journey along with their soothing brew.
“There are people who come to the tea room down
and out and then have a reading after which they
completely turn their life around in a positive way,”
says Carole Navarre, current owner (along with
daughter, Heatherleigh) of the Boston Tea Room in
Wyandotte. “They often return with good news and
thank us for our assistance.”

What initially began as a way to encourage
business for The Nibbler Restaurant, the Boston Tea
Room was created by then-owners Gerre and Phil
Moisson, in the spring of 1982, to accommodate
the growing demand for readings by Massachusetts
native, Rita Moisson. “After dinner, they began
holding Friday night readings. They became so
popular that people began to come in just for readings
and nothing else,” adds Heatherleigh. “Because of
this, they created a special area on the second floor of
the building and named it the Boston Tea Room for
readings of all variations.”

At the time, it was illegal to charge for divination
services so they conjured up a small lunch to
harmonize with the readings. “Things have come
a long way since then, when a lunch and a reading
was only five dollars,” remembers Carole. “To this
day, I still have people commenting on the delicious
chicken salad while reminiscing of the exceptional
readings Aunt Rita gifted them with.”

While the location has moved several times, its
reputation has endured the passage of years and
maintains an eclectic clientele that includes doctors
as well as FBI agents. Readings are generally most
popular with women but currently the numbers of
young adults and men coming through the door are
increasing rapidly. “Interestingly enough, we are
also seeing a trend of couples on a date coming in
for a reading together,” says Heatherleigh.

Awarded many honors along the way, the
Boston Tea Room has been named “Best of
Detroit” by readers of Metro Times, the Free
Press, and Hour Detroit magazine, and is
one of the few establishments statewide to offer
this type of service along with many other benefits
inside its relaxing walls. Due to its popularity, a new
location has recently opened in Ferndale.

Ensconced within an intimate setting in a private
room, clients immediately feel at ease in a happy
bubble of coziness that would lead even the wariest
clients to be open to the surprises that await them.
“I have found that everyone’s reading is unique. I
am often amazed at how diverse the readings can be
with the small canvas you are looking at, and how
much detail you can get from such a small cup,” adds
Heatherleigh. “The most common reaction is surprise
all the way across the board, that in this little brown
mess left in a common cup are secrets about your life
and the world around us.”

Officially known as tasseography, this creative
ritual, which relies on interpreting patterns or
symbols lingering from tea leaves in a cup, may not
be as well known as other divination practices (such
as palm or tarot card readings), but can often be a
deeply insightful experience. While the traditional
practice has maintained certain procedures, the nature
of the method has been modernized in these changing
times. Reading for over 10 years, Rhonda Morgan
of the Boston Tea Room feels the new way is much
more specific. “As long as there are tea leaves, it is
more about the texture than the type of tea,” says
Morgan. “And the modern version requires so much
more psychic talent along with an imaginative mind
in which you can receive much more information in a
reading.”

Beginning with placement of a small amount
of loose tea in a china cup filled slightly with hot
water, the client is asked to swirl the remains as
she wishes and pour the excess liquid out when she
desires. When done with the draining, the cup is
placed upside down on the saucer by the reader for
the client to rotate three complete turns clockwise.
The reader then picks up the cup and articulates the
meanings behind the images she sees and the time
frame (usually within the year) associated with them,
ending the session with any questions the client may
have.

As one of the readers at the tea room, Heatherleigh
comments, “You really have a small window you
are looking into and you have to go beyond that
and connect with the spirit, and find symbols with
meaning to that particular person’s life, and rely more
on intuition. It really takes focus, and connection with
your intuition, to meaningfully read tea leaves.”

However, in performing readings on your own, it
is not recommended that you cut open tea bags and
attempt to read those contents, nor to completely rely
on symbol dictionaries for psychic intervention. “I
feel that you should use caution when using symbol
books as they don’t deal with the modern world,”
says Morgan. “Limit those cheating guidelines and
read from the true images before you.”

Going back as far as ancient Greece, when they
read sediments left in their wine, the practice has
been used for centuries by those seeking remedies
to problems they are encountering --- whether they
are of a physical or spiritual nature. Often passed
down from family to family, the tradition is generally
attributed to Gypsy fortunetellers. In fact, tea leaf
reading has roots within the Middle East, Asia, and
Ireland. “I have a real connection to people who come
from European or Middle Eastern heritages, who are
drawn to an esoteric or more mysterious divinity,”
adds Heatherleigh.

For visitors who question if they, too, have the
same gift to read the contents of a cup, the answer
lies not only within themselves, but can involve class
work as well. “I feel all people have psychic abilities
and whether or not you develop it is up to you. Some
people have stronger intuitiveness than others. Some
are great and some only have an enough talent to
keep them afloat,” adds Morgan, who also teaches
a class in tasseography at the Boston Tea Room.
“Anyone can learn it and if they work at it, they can
become very good. For my classes, to truly be good,
one must practice it. I can only teach a person so
much…the rest has to come from you.”

Tealeaf reading can be a fun and inspiring way
to take note of the messages we may not otherwise
discover. “There is a resurgence of this type of
divination because it is more uniquely specialized,”
says Heatherleigh. “Now people seem to be
embracing it and requesting this type of reading more
often.”

For more information on the Boston Tea Room
and the services they provide, call (734) 281-
2244 in Wyandotte. The phone number for the new
Ferndale location is 248-547-2987.

Colette Gehr is a freelance writer based in
Holland, Michigan. Her poetry was featured in the
Fall 2008 issue of The Crazy Wisdom Journal.
Boston Tea Room
Boston Tea Room
Heatherleigh Navarre is a renowned psychic medium and meditation coach, and manages the Boston Tea Room in Ferndale, Michigan, one of two conscious living gift stores owned by her family for over thirty years. Her specialties are Tarot, spirit communication, and dream interpretation. She is also the founder of Middlepath Meditation, which provides group meditations and weekly classes. She lectures and teaches on a variety of topics, throughout southeast Michigan, and across the country. Find out more at bostontearoom.com.