The informant was telling me how Greeks used the dregs from coffee grinds to read the future:
Informant: In some cultures they read tea leaves, but in some cultures they read coffee grinds.
Support: dregs from the coffee
Informant: They took the dregs turned over a little cup and turned it three times, and then they read the inside of the cup – what dripped out – and read what they would see “oh your gonna take a trip, oh you’re gonna get married, oh this or that”
Support: they always said I was going to get married, but here I am!
The Informant is a Greek woman who was born in the United States. She currently lives in Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA. Though shewas not born in Greece, her parents immigrated to the US and she was born into a very Greek community in Phoenix, AZ.The performance was held during an Easter party, in front of her younger sister, who provided supporting information, as well as me.
This was completely new to me, as I had never heard of this ritual and only faintly heard of the tea leave predictions. I think it is really interesting how different cultures share so many similar traditions and patterns, and while they are similar they are also very different. It also raises questions about why cultures come up with these practices, seeing that they are not always accurate, but fascinating nonetheless.
An individual in Los Gatos, California describes her family’s experiences with astrology while living in India. According to my source, her family strictly believed in the folk belief of astrology. The practice involves determining a person’s future based on the alignment of the stars and planets. My source recounts a story that was passed down to her about her grandmother taking both her children to an astrologer to discover their future. The real intention of their visit was to get information on the oldest son. Instead, the astrologist only commented on the younger daughter. When confronted about not talking about the son, the astrologer refused to reveal anything about his future. He continued on about the daughter claiming she had a bright future and was going to move away to a far off land. The family left the astrologer. When the older son was 18, he passed away. The daughter later went on to move to America and eventually brought in the main source of income for their family.
My interview with my source, A, went as follows:
Me: Could you give me an example of a time when astrology was practiced in your family?
A: Hmm… So when my mother was like 8 or 9 maybe 10 years old–In India they believe in astrology, right–so her mother took her and her brother to an astrologer and she really specifically wanted to look at her older son’s astrology map. The astrologer would not look at the oldest son, only looked at my mom. He kept saying she was going to move to a far away country, and she was gonna help the family out and bringing everyone there and their mom kept saying, “No what about the oldest son what about the oldest,” and he would not talk about him. So she kinda just blew it off and said, “okay whatever” and went away. On a later date… my mom’s oldest brother died. He was around 18 or 19. My mother did end up coming to this country.
I’ve seen astrology be practiced quite a bit in America. In those instances, however, horoscopes and predictions came via a publication such as a magazine or a post on social media. I find it very interesting that in Indian culture, astrology is conveyed via someone who studies individuals rather than a broad prediction of everyone born on a certain date. The fact that there are experts who specifically practice this one on one during appointments gives a much more authentic feel to the predictions being made rather than finding one in a publication.
The source of this folklore describes a tradition her family does every year: writing down predictions for the next year at Christmas. It’s something the source’s mom did with her own mother as a child and passed down.
We write down predictions on a piece of paper at Christmas. We don’t read them until the next year. And usually you forget what you wrote. One year we all predicted if we’d be living in the same house in a year. I predicted we would and my brother predicted we wouldn’t. He was right.
Are they are predictions about the whole family or are some of them personal?
Some are personal. You write personal ones on one side of the paper and on the other side it’s usually a question we all ask each other and try to guess–like about the house.
Do you share the personal ones with the other people?
Umm… I don’t. You don’t have to. My mom definitely doesn’t either. Actually we all keep the personal ones to ourselves.
What’s the feeling you have when reading them?
I usually think my handwriting looks really weird. Like how much it’s hanged in a year. [laughs] I guess that’s not a feeling.
Well… sometimes things turn out better than you predicted or something really good happens that you would have never predicted, and you’re happy.
But sometimes things don’t go as well… you know… What’s the feeling? That’s hard to answer…
Of course. But it’s not an insignificant thing?
No, no. Right it feels very significant. Yeah for sure. It’s always felt very significant to me.