‘Kafemanteía: coffee divination as women’s prophetic art in ancient and modern times’ (2017)
This article also started life as a course assignment for my Master's degree in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred at Canterbury Christ Church University in Canterbury, England. The original essay, on the theme of divination, served as a springboard for this expanded version which was published in Walking the Worlds 3:2 (Summer 2017), 52-68. The article does not discuss the topic of dance per se, but addresses the question of why kafemanteía in the modern era is practiced almost exclusively by women, and whether there may also be a physiological basis for women’s apparent aptitude or predilection for the art of divination by coffee. In my view, there is a link between women's dancing and women's divination, and the section discussing cellular and extra-cellular matrices in the female body as the biological structure in which ‘somatic consciousness’ resides is just as relevant to women's ritual dance as it is to women's propensity for divination.
Kafemanteía, the practice of coffee cup divination, is the art of interpreting patterns in the fine grounds of Turkish coffee. This widespread form of divination, while relatively modern, is most likely linked to or descended from much older techniques. It tends to be practiced by women, and is often seen as a gift which runs in the family. The divinatory art of kafemanteía combines intuitive with inductive skill, exemplifying an integrative type of divination situated on Tedlock’s ‘cognitive continuum’ which synthesizes rational and nonrational ways of knowing.
Theoretical, historical, hereditary, symbolic and physiological components are explored, proposing a preliminary basis for an eventual theory of kafemanteía. Ultimately we must approach the subject with a questioning mind, rather than attempting to force definitive conclusions. A true theory of kafemanteía requires a clear-seeing, yet open-minded attitude, welcoming intellectual rigor while accepting the possibility of an inherited or ‘god-given’ source of knowledge which defies rational explanation and lies at the heart of the divinatory experience, particularly for women.
If you wish to read the whole article, you can obtain a copy of Walking the Worlds 3:2 (Summer 2017) from