Fortune-telling with charms – an exciting method

Welcome to the fabulous world of charm casting

Gues author: Karin Dalton-Smith from Tea With Karin® ™

So what are these lovely little pieces of metal that look like they belong to someone who is making jewellery? These divine little pieces of metal are called “charms” or quite often referred to in our more modern times as “tea charms”.

“Cake Pull” in the Victorian time

A little bit of history. Charms are an ancient form of fortune-telling? Back in the Victorian times, small charms had a piece of string or ribbon tied to the charm, and the charms were placed under the bottom of a wedding cake all around it, so the ribbon ends were sitting out all around the outside of the edge of the cake.

At the wedding ceremony, the bridesmaids pulled the ribbons out, and the charms they drew represented their fortune. This tradition is called “cake pull”.

The charms were usually in the shape of hearts, bells, four-leaf clover, ring, baby symbols and any charms that represented home and family and luck.

This tradition was practised in Germany and Switzerland like in other countries in the world. People put little porcelain figurines in the dough and baked them in a King Cake (Dreikönigskuchen). Of course you should wrap the charms always in parchment paper before you put them in the dough.

The figures were simple like a butcher, a baker, fruit and abundance figurines which promised a marvellous future.. The people who received a piece of cake with the figurines would have good luck with whichever figure they got.

So if you received the butcher figurine, it meant you will always have food on the table. .

The fortune cakes of the thirties until the fifties

In some other countries during the 1930’s – 1950’s people would bake the metal charms inside the cake itself. They would mix the batter and place 8-10 charms wrapped in parchment around the edges of the cake and then bake it. When the cake was consumed (and hopefully, you didn’t swallow the charm), you would unwrap the charm, and this was your fortune.

During this period, you could buy everywhere little boxes of charms, with little pieces of parchment paper. A description of the meanings of each charm was printed on the back of the little boxes. This is where they called them “tea charms” or “tea favours”, as the charm meanings were based on tea leaf reading symbols.

This ceremony was often done at Halloween or New Year’s Eve to have fortune throughout the coming year. It was so popular as everybody wanted to have the luck on their side the upcoming year.

Around the world, there are many different ways for charms to be used in both cakes and loaves of bread. No matter in which country or according to which tradition charms were used in food goods, it has always been for good fortune and abundance.

So how do I use them nowadays?

Charm casting is a fantastic method of divination. You run your fingers through all the charms while concentrating on your question. This is very therapeutic running your fingers through chams. Think through what you exactly want to know and for which time frame it should be valid. Once you have your inquiry and your time frame intention set in your mind’s eye, then it is time to pick up a pinch of charms (just like a pinch of salt).

The charms you scatter then on your table or bench; Any flat surface is acceptable. You don’t need to drop them in one big heap. Scatter your fingers just as you would be sprinkling your salt in your cooking. Some people, when starting, think that a whole handful of charms is better. It is not. Less is best. When I have taught how to charm cast, I can’t stress it enough to take just a small amount of charms; remember pinch of salt and sprinkle.

How can you divine with charms?

You can use your charms as independent reading tools like cards. I suggest using a piece of string and a necklace and layout a circle about the size of a bread and butter plate and scatter your charms in the circle.

Any charm that jumps outside the circle, put it back in the bag. There is no right or wrong way to read with charms. I always say start with the charm that you are drawn to first.

You can also use casting sheets or tarot card layouts. You may find some online. Place 2 or 3 charms per layout and then read accordingly to what type of spread or layout you are doing. Charms are so versatile and can be easily cast over any type of divination cards for extra information.

How do you work out meanings for your charms

How do you gather meanings for your charms? You interview each charm. Sit quietly and hold your charm in your hand. Then ask yourself the following questions.

  • What is your purpose?
  • Does it have emotions?
  • Does it move?
  • Is it fast?
  • Is it slow?
  • What do you mean to me personally?
  • What type of charms should I have?

Little things you can use as charm

You can go through your old jewellery box and any broken earrings, necklaces or old charm bracelets see if there are things you can use in your charm kit. Just about any small item you can add to make your kit, your very own. You might have a button from a piece of clothing as a child or a key to a house – things that mean something to you. Don’t be afraid to personalise your charms. .

Do not worry if you do not have things you can use as charms.

You can buy a ready made kit, like I have in my own Etsy store. My kits are a 50 charm set, that comes with a booklet of meanings and 10 free PDF casting sheets that get emailed to you.

So what is stopping you now, start delving into these divine little pieces of metal and enjoy the journey they take you upon.

Written by Karin Dalton-Smith of Tea With Karin®™ from Melbourne, Australia.

Karin reads traditional teacups and designs and creates tea leaf reading cards, charm casting kits and various charm casting mats.

Here the link to her shop: