Turn Over A Teacup For Lost Things


JG: “For as long as I’ve been alive, whenever I’ve lost something and especially when that something was lost at my grandma’s house, my grandma would flip a teacup over. And it would always get found. It was your last resort. Sometimes that would be the end, sometimes I would keep searching. But I would always find the thing I was looking for.”

I: Would you stop looking after you turned the teacup over?

JG: Most of the time, yes.

I: Why a teacup?

JG: I don’t know! But that’s what she always used.


The informant learned this practice from his grandmother, although his mother also used the teacup to find lost things. The informant said he did not know why it was a teacup in particular that got turned over, but that it was always that type of cup. The practice has been in his family for as long as he can remember. He still does it now at his own place.


Turning over a teacup seems like a random gesture and a last resort, but in many ways it conveys a sense of magic/ belief in a higher power that somehow the turned over cup will result in the lost item being found. Flipping over the teacup represents the nature of lost items– something is not how it’s supposed to be, it is not in place. By putting the teacup out of place, the lost item can return to being in the place it is supposed to be, a sort of balancing of energy and things.