Exploring the culture of death

June 6, 2014

My fear for death has decreased over the years in direct proportion to the ever increasing glimpses of the afterlife that I experience when I do mediumship readings as a psychic and anytime (which is basically all the time, lately) my spirit guides assist me in doing psychic readings of any kind. I get glimpses of this place in which spirits, that used to be in bodies on earth, live in beautiful white light and float around to connect with a variety of other spirits. Seems heavenly to me. 

I have also learned from societies in which death is a celebration and dying is not a lonely experience. For example, in one Buddhist religion, everyone begins chanting in support of someone who is dying and this chanting continues long after the person has died. I imagine this must be a great comfort to the dying person: that support, through chanting, will follow her or him into the afterlife.

Other ideas around death and dying are explored in the following article that I wrote after interviewing  Dr. Marilyn Walker:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

January 25, 2006

Exploring the culture of death

by Tanya Lester

Although Dr. Marilyn Walker believes death is the door into the afterlife, she does not have the definitive answer as to the nature of that spiritual culture.

Se compares each cultural interpretation to one aspect of a crystal through which shines a facet of the overall experience.

In a “Death and Dying from an Anthropological Perspective” course, the Mount Allison University professor will draw on her studies in countries as diverse from each other as Thailand and Siberia…

Throughout its four evening duration, Walker will facilitate participant discussion about death and dying. Her techniques will include storytelling about witnessing death and making lists of the most comforting words to use when consoling someone who is experiencing this loss.

“We don’t get tutored very well (in white North American culture) in how to talk with the grieving,” Walker said.

Canadian film footage that features people who are dying will be used.

“This is a way to bring the dead into the classrooms on their own terms,” she said.

One of Walker’s early experiences as a medical anthropologist in Thailand opened her eyes to cultural differences towards death when she was invited to a funeral. Each guest was expected to contribute a huge multi-coloured floral wreath (in sharp contrast to the sombre black of North American services). She said the event was a festive celebration of the person’s life and open to as many people as the family could invite.

People made memorial books in honour of the deceased, said Walker.

She pointed out that the presence of an altar brings the spiritual rite into the Thai home. Tiny delicate cakes will be offered to ghosts because it is believed these will fit into their tiny mouths.

In the south-east Asian Hmong culture, a type of ladder next to the altar provides spirits with a way to occasionally leave for a holiday.

Walker said that perhaps our Western fear of death is connected with our fear of being alone and belief that being by ourselves is a negative thing. This is not the case in many other cultures.

What she does see is a strong connection between how we live and how we die in most cultures. If we live a good life, death is a good experience. She has also observed that forgiveness is very important. 

“It’s not over for the dead and it is not over for the living,” Walker said.

For example, before her brother died, he told her that he was going to miss her — the implication being that he realized he was going to continue his existence in some other form and place.

In many indigenous societies, said Walker, the shaman is the intermediary between the living and the dead. If a spirit cannot “let go” of someone she or he loved in life, the shaman can facilitate the release.

The dying can be teachers to the living. Walker said her brother had created films on the subject of birth and had thought this was the most “amazing transition”. When, he was dying, however, he concluded that death was more incredible.

Walker hopes the course will assist people in preparing for dying and death. She expects emotions, including joy, to surface during the course…




To read earlier posts on this blog, please go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com

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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased directly from the author or you can go to the title and author name on amazon.com


Tea Leaf Reading

June 2, 2014

I started out as a tea leaf reader and I still love doing tea leaf readings but over the years I have added tarot card readings to my divination offerings as well as psychic channel and mediumship.

This is an article I wrote about being a tea leaf reader for a Nanaimo-based new age or metaphysical magazine called EagleEyeOne:

Tea Leaf Reading

by Tanya Lester

Next time you drink a cup of loose leaf tea, take a look at the exquisite leaf patterns that remain in the bottom of the cup. For many, they serve as a magnet which ignites the desire to further explore the pictorial meanings they contain.

The art of tea leaf reading probably started in China and India where tea drinking originated. The East Indian gypsies or Romas transported this ancient form of fortune telling to Europe. People pf British descent still recall gypsies knocking on the door during afternoon tea. They would read the family’s cups.

Tea leaf reading is among several modalities in which a psychic ponders the remnants of a drink after the liquid have been imbibed. In Scandinavian countries , coffee grounds are read as that is the social drink of preference. Eastern Europeans interpret the “cloud” residue in the tiny expresso coffee cups. At the time when wine had dregs, these, too, were read.

In many Canadian cities tea leaf reading has been offered for decades in tea rooms and coffee houses and Tarot card readings have now joined this tradition. Since each psychic has his or her unique way of going about the process, I’ll illustrate with “my” way of reading.

I ask my client to drink the tea before turning the cup upside down onto the saucer where it is then rotated three times clockwise. This is done using the non-dominate hand because it is linked to the intuitive part of the brain. Then I suggest that the client concentrate on something for which she or he wants spiritual guidance. This process ensures that the client’s energy is ‘in’ the cup.

I read by focusing on each leaf in the cup. Every one presents a picture to me directly related to the client’s future. The picture establishes itself in my mind’s eye (Third Eye) like a frozen image on a movie screen. Then, the picture begins to move and tells me a visual story. I translate this story into words for my client. The entire pattern of the leaves provide me with an overall theme that will prevail in the individual’s life during the following year.

Tea leaf reading is one of the tools that triggers my psychic abilities. It begins a channelling process. It is one that I inherited from my Lebanese great-grandmother and grandmother. Like any psychic process, practice makes perfect. The client receives affirmation and clarity about his or her future in a relaxed atmosphere.




For the earlier articles in this blog, please go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com

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To read the first few pages or to purchase Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester, please go to amazon.com or buy directly from me, the author. If in the Okanagan Valley area, you can purchase a copy of this book at Dare to Dream, located on Harvey Ave. behind Arby’s.



Happy Friday the 13th! Enjoy!

June 1, 2014

As I have mentioned before in this blog, I am a bit of a media magnet. I think it has something to do with leading an interesting life. It has always been important to me to live life to the brim: to follow my bliss and to work towards making a positive difference on Planet Earth and the rest of the Cosmos. It also has something to do with being in the right place at the right time. 

I was included, along with a photograph, in the following article because a journalist in Kamloops, BC decided to write a story about Friday the 13 th and called Mystic Dreams, a metaphysical shop where I happened to be doing tea leaf readings:

Kamloops News

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Friday the 13th! Enjoy!

by Jason Hewlett

Machete wielding maniacs in hocky masks and age-old superstition have given Friday the 13th a bad rap.

At least that’s what people told The Daily News on Thursday as everyone from coffee shop customers to the RCMP said they aren’t scared to venture outside on the most superstitious of days.

“It’s self fullfilling,” Peter Louwerse said of the reputation today’s date has earned.

Louwerse, who enjoyed a coffee with family in the downtown on Thursday, believes people have been raised to believe Friday the 13th is a bad-luck day.

He said movies and the media have gone a long way to re-enforce that notion by keeping the ominous date at the forefront of popular culture.

Thirteen has long been considered an unlucky number. He said the 13th floor isn’t even acknowledged in many buildings.

“It’s amazing how people capitalize on that,” he said, adding he doesn’t believe the day generates bad luck.

Nor does the city’s police department. RCMP Sgt. Scott Wilson said officers might respond to an unusual number of calls today, but not because it’s Friday the 13th.

Wilson said police are traditionally busier in the summer and on the weekend. Put the two together, and it can be a hectic day whether it’s the 13th of the month or not. 

“If it’s a hot summer Friday night, the number of calls will go up,” said Wilson who isn’t superstitious.

Friday the 13th ominous past doesn’t have a defined starting point, said Tanya Lester, a tea-leaf reader from Salt Spring Island in Kamloops to do readings at Mystic Dreams on Tranquille Road.

She said Christianity attempted to degrade all things pagan by promoting 13 as an unlucky number. Three is a number linked to divination, which is practised by witches. Christians consider witchcraft a pagan religion.

“Three is a part of 13,” she said.

At one time Friday was a sacred day for Roman Catholics. When that day fell on the 13th is was thought unlucky because something evil could happen, said Lester

“If there are special days in religion, then it’s like the devil wants to get you on those days,” she said. “I know it doesn’t connect up logically.”

Kamloops resident Dian Manahan said she has never had anything happen to her on Friday the 13th.

“I try not to even think about it,” she said. Like Louwerse, she thinks the day is all hype.




To read the first posts in this blog go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com

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You can purchase Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester by going to amazon.com or directly from the author.                                                             

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Excerpt from AOL article on Tanya Lester’s predictions regarding LeBron James team signing

May 26, 2014

I think I have written elsewhere in this blog that I am almost famous. The following excerpt from an AOL article in which I, along with other psychics, participated is an example of coming close to huge international fame. 

One day a few years ago, I got an email from a New York City AOL reporter in midst of the sports world’s (read especially American sports world) uproar as to which team  LeBron James, National Basketball Association superstar, was going to sign with. Every sports pundit seemed to name a different team and James and his people ‘milked’ the rumours for months.

Finally, this young reporter (I am connected with him on LinkedIn but my search did not bring up his name and he has since moved on from AOL; maybe he will see this post and email me) got a bright idea for a story. He decided to ask a number of psychics who they intuited James would sign with.  He found me when he did a google search for a tea leaf reader. Many, many people have found me this way and become clients. The fact that I have a website and have articles written about me and my work often has never been a bad thing. This my free advice to anyone who needs more business regarding whatever they do for a living.

The AOL reported figured, he said, when we eventually chatted on the telephone that the psychics had just as much of a chance to predict the team to which James was signing as the sports pundits did. 

I let the Gulf Islands Driftwood know what was going on and they wrote an article about my involvement. For awhile Prince ( yes, that Prince) was following me on twitter. There was definitely buzz about me.

I guess Prince might have got a reading from me if my prediction had been correct. Maybe I would have appeared on Oprah’s talk show too, who knows?

It is some comfort to me that none of the psychics who participated in the article got it right either. Neither did any of the sports pundits. James went with Miami and had a horrible first season but he has since, I believe, turned thing around. One of my friends suggested James went with a team other than all of our predictions because he wanted to prove us all wrong. Really? I guess you never know.

I feel doing what I do every day is actually just as good, if not better, than having Prince follow me on Twitter. I am so lucky to be doing something I am passionate about. My accuracy, too, is way higher when I am not participating in media stunts.

Here is the excerpt from the AOL article:

Tanya Lester has been practicing the art of tea leaf reading for almost 15 years. The process involves drinking a cup of tea and divining meaning from the patterns in and placements of tea leaves. Most people know it from a famous scene in the Harry Potter books and movies.

Lester, the author of Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, lives on an island that requires a three-hour ferry ride from the abandoned basketball town of Vancouver to reach, and admits she knows absolutely nothing about LeBron James or basketball.

“I am interested in James at the moment because this is something very interesting to me on a psychic level,” she explains. “It is a way for me to flex my psychic muscles.”

Her method of tea leaf reading combines the intuitive process of reading the leaves with the channeling of a higher power through her gift of clairvoyance. Because of Lester’s lack of basketball knowledge, we figured we might get a team out of left field. Instead, Lester predicted James would go to Chicago. Not only did she see a house on Lake Michigan in the tea cup, she also remarked that James, “has the power of a bull and all he really wants to do is take the ball down the court and hoop it into the basket.”

When she found out that the Chicago Bulls were one of the top contenders to land James, she seemed to take it in stride. “This is the way the universe works when it gives us intuitive information,” she says. “I am more sure than ever that LeBron James will choose to sign with the Chicago Bulls.”

She initially read a lot of confusion from James in the tea leaves, starting at the top of the cup. “In many ways, he is not complicated and prefers to not have complications in his life.”

She gets into more specifics towards the middle of the cup, where she gets a vision of James not going to New York, “because he likes open spaces and the Big Apple makes him feel a bit claustrophobic.” As for Los Angeles, James likes to go there to get away from things and has never considered playing there.

Lester does, however, see James’ confusion in selecting a team playing a role in delaying his decision. Because the image of a house and see-saw appear at the bottom of the cup, Lester thinks James may not make a decision until late August. But Lester eventually predicts James appreciating the open space offered by Chicago and even sees an image to further solidify the case. “I am getting none other than the Queen of Daytime Television: Oprah Winfrey.”




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To read the first posts in this blog go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com

Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be perused and/or purchased by going to amazon.com or can be bought directly from the author.



Artist’s paint brush strokes colour into island buildings

May 25, 2014

A journalist could write many, many, many profiles of Salt Spring Island artists and not scratch the surface of all the artists who live on the island. Times this by many times and you would never, ever profile all of the artists who live in the province.

I am very aware of the great numbers of artists on Salt Spring Island because I worked as an art model for life drawing and portraiture groups for most of the sixteen years I lived on the island. But you do not have to be an art model to be aware of all of the visual creativity that flows out of these numerous artists. Just take a walk to the cafes and peek inside the art galleries that are scattered across the island and you will see just some of the offerings from what seems to be an infinite amount of artists.

Here is a profile I did on one of them:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

January 12, 2000

Artist’s paint brush strokes colour into island buildings

by Tanya Lester

“Her art is her anchor,” I thought to myself when I turned away from ordering a latter in Barb’s Buns last week and went to check out Susan Pratt’s acrylic paintings hanging on the wall abobe the high stools and side counter.

On an island filled with breath-takingly natural scenic panoramas and people who add all kinds of wonderfully crazy hues to the scenery, I quickly got over my surprise in response to Pratt’s documentation of Salt Spring buildings.

Pratt uses acrylic blending in a a way that brings out the exotic in these buildings (like I remember them a couple of years ago when I was only an island tourist) but her brush strokes seeem to definitely root them in Salt Spring Island’s soil.

Yet the physical structure of these buildings is about the only aspect of them that has remained constant. As Pratt pointed out when we got together for coffee, the painting titled “108 Hereford Ave.” is now the site of Piccolo House Restaurant, but many islanders remember it as the Glad’s Ice Cream and Candy locale.

“People’s memories attached to the buildings are different,” said Pratt, who has lived here for seven years and knows well the musical chairs game that Salt Spring businesses play when it comes to location.

Growing up in float camps on B.C.’s west coast, Pratt was raised on the idea that change is good while the family’s home literally floated from one of her father’s logging work locales to another.

“They taught me that the world changed but you could also change the world,” said Pratt.

The anchor in her life was her parents’ recognition that she was the artist in the family. She was the one “commissioned” to make the cards when birthdays and other special occasions were celebrated.

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think that (art) was a good thing to do,” she said.

Enjoying change has led to a variety of jobs for Pratt. These include a nursing career, massage therapy, ranching, truck driving, horse packing and being a pilot.

Art has remained the constant in Pratt’s life, from her early pen and ink drawings inspired by animals she observed while living on the Chilcotin Plateau to the last two decades when she has worked mostly in watercolours, oils and acrylics.

Ironically, Pratt and her partner Colin Rankin decided to sell their house around St. Mary’s Lake so she could work on her art fulltime. She is now painting houses and other buildings in their rental home nears Fulford with one of her goals being to earn enough money to once again purchase a house.

But, of course, Pratt’s motivation as an artist is much more than this.

Her Fulford paintings — Downtown Fulford, Jambalaya and Blue Kayak (at the government dock)– among those hanging at Barb’s Buns , came into being because of her love for the southend village.

“I love Fulford Harbour,” she said. “I like the combination of people that just hang out there. I think the setting is absolutely beautiful. We tend to take it for granted. It’s quite spectacular.”

Pratt continues to teach art to students from kindergarten to Grade 2 at Fulford Elementary School where her seven-year-old son Mack attends. Work with these children has strengthened Pratt’s belief that we all have the potential to be creative in visual art.

This year, Pratt will be teaching brush work to the students in the style of Vincent Van Gogh, which will culminate in impressionistic murals. Last year the students’ Mona Lisa interpretations and self-portraits were quite a hit with art lovers and others on Salt Spring.

This is exactly what Pratt wants. It is her goal to facilitate opinions on art from everyone while promoting the idea that there are no right or wrong ways to view art.

“We don’t have to be nervous about ‘what if we’re wrong’, ” she said. “We can’t be wrong. I’d like to see art become even more accessible to all people. You can ask almost anyone what they think about music and they are happy to give you their opinion. You don’t need to be an expert to know what you enjoy listening to. I believe people can feel that way about visual art. Just keep on looking and decide what you like.”

When it comes to her philosophy, Pratt is putting her money where her mouth is.

Late in 1999, while her acrylics were hainging at the bakery cafe, she bought a cake from Barb’s Buns to raffle off to customers. The catch wasL in order to enter each person had to answer a survey about Pratt’s art and to suggest what other buildings and areas should be documented in this series.

Pratt intends to follow up on some of the “fabulous ideas” she gleaned from the raffle entries by, for example, including some Vesuvius sites in the series which she believes will total a dozen paintings by this summer when she aims to mount the entire show somewhere on Salt Spring.

She will also be making prints of some of her new works….



To read the first posts in this blog go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com

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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Readerby Tanya Lester can be perused and purchased by going to the title and author name at amazon.com or can be bought directly from the author.

Students attack task force tokenism

May 16, 2014

Getting writing published began for me on The Uniter, the University of Winnipeg student newspaper (and those were the days– and late nights, my friends). 

I took a year off university to travel with my then boyfriend, Kim. During that time I realized that what I liked best about university was writing papers in courses such as English literature and history. 

When I returned from our six month stint through western Canada, many of the United States, Mexico, Guatemala and The Bahamas, I decided to volunteer for the student newspaper in the hope that I would be able to write for it. Not only was I writing shortly after I joined the paper, I quickly became the copy editor. It was a blast with lots of friends, including guy friends trailing me around, and late nights at least once a week when laid out and copy edited the paper that would appear once a week on Wednesdays. Putting the paper ‘to bed’ was an endurance test in staying awake but we loved it.

I also enjoyed doing investigative reporting and covering what was happening at a time when student activism was king and queen of almost every campus in North America. The University of Winnipeg was right up there and that was due a lot to our radicalism on the student newspaper.

Here is an example of what we reported:

The Uniter

Wednesday, February 7, 1979

Students attack task force tokenism

by Tanya Lester

“We should boycott because all we ever get is tokenism,” said Fred Robertson, UWSA director at large.

Robertson was referring to the proposed student representation to sit on the Task Force on Academic Development recently set up by U of W president Henry Duckworth. Duckworth said because of “an error on my part” the UWSA were not invited to attend the planning meetings for the establishment of the task force. Since then, Duckworth has asked the UWSA to appoint two students to sit on the closed committee.

When asked about the lack of student representation while planning the committee, Pat Falconer, UWSA vice-president/academic, replied, “Who was planning it? It was Duckworth’s committee. They didn’t go through the Senate or the Board of Regents. It would seem obvious students should be on it as it concerns student enrollment declining.”

Falconer believes Duckworth’s request for student representation, now that the Task Force is set up, is tokenism, “but that’s not inconsistent with what they’ve done with the Board of Regents and the Senate.” Falconer said students on the committee will “help legitimize the Task Force and make it look ‘very nice’.”

Duckworth disagreed that student tokenism is practised on the Board of Regents and the Senate. Regarding the Task Force, Duckworth said he was not looking for the appointment of token students. “I hope the student association would name some members who would contribute in a very material way to the Task Force,” said Duckworth.

Robertson said he, also, objected to the Task Force because of “the narrow range of people he’s (Duckworth’s) got on the committee, ie his bureaucrats.” According to Robertson, there are no women, students, or people from the outside community on the Task Force.

“It’s basically a sexist committee unintentionally,” said Robertson. He added being unintentionally sexist was even worse than being aware of sexism.

When asked about this, Duckworth said, “That may be so. They (appointees to the committee) were named in different ways.” He went on to say it might have been the “method of election.”

The Task Force meetings, similar to those of the Senate and Board of Regents, will be closed to the public. “Sometimes it’s expedient when charged with a certain thing to meet with the deliberation that whatever decisions made will be made public,” said Duckworth.

“They’re paranoid,” was the reason Falconer gave for the closed meetings. Falconer said they rationalize the need for the closed meetings as a way to prevent decision making from going underground and the distortion of the press. However, he knows these reasons are not valid because the University of Manitoba has open Senate meetings, that receive good news coverage.

Both Falconer and Robertson, because of the above reasons, feel students should boycott the Task Force. Falconer said the boycott would be effective if it was coupled with student boycott of the Senate and the Board of Regents. Also, the students would have to go to the public with their grievances.

Robertson said by boycotting the Task Force “maybe we’re not getting the information the committee could provide but by the same token we’re protesting the fact…that students are continually forgotten at this University.”




To read earlier posts in this blog, go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com

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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester. To read the first few pages and/or buy this book go to amazon.com or purchase it from me, the author. My other books are Dreams & TrickstersWomen Rights/Writes and Friends I Never Knew.

This is blog of the many articles published by and about me over several decades as a freelance writer and a tealeafreader/tarot reader/psychic.