things Turkish

It’s a Psychic Fair Every Day ..
April / May 1992

Meltem Yakula Kurtman

“What says my fortune today?”
“Oh, I had the most interesting dream last night. Where is that dream dictionary?”
“My ears are ringing, someone must be talking about me”
These are probably the most popular topics of casual conversation between family members and close friends in a Turkish household.

While in North America people are only now beginning to accept the inexplicable, out-of-the-ordinary occurences, generally classified as ‘psychic phenomena’; Psychic phenomena is an everyday occurence that Turks have been living with for centuries.

The most popular form of psychic reading is the Turkish coffee cup.  This very entertaining ritual is done several times a day, perhaps every time they have a cup of coffee.

Turkish coffee is brewed and served in a very unique way. It is prepared in a small saucepan-like pot where the coffee, water and maybe sugar is boiled over a hot plate. The coffee is ready to be served when a froth forms on the top and rises. In this way, the coffee grinds are part of the liquid which later settles at the bottom of the serving cup. It is the coffee residue which forms shapes in the cup and is read either for fun or for very serious consideration, depending on who is reading and who is listening.

The coffee is read somewhat like the European tea leaves, but the cup must be turned upside-down and allowed to drain and dry. Every Turkish home has at least one resident psychic, sometimes the whole family is learned in the ways of coffee cup readings. In that case one must politely inquire who is the best reader before having one’s cup read.

As far as their beloved Turkish coffee and its psychic readings go, the Turkish people are very accepting. The skeptics are non-existent in this department. There is a very popular Turkish proverb that says “Do not believe in fa’l (fortune telling), but do not do without it” meaning to say: take it with a grain of salt .. yes it is very entertaining and people don’t want to do without it, but also practice your free will and create your own fortune or destiny.

Turks love to interpret their dreams almost as much as they love reading their fortune from the coffee cup. They all have at least one well used dream dictionary. In the old days, people often visited the local hoja (wiseman), if they thought that their dream had an important message that needed professional interpretation.

Last night’s dreams are daily discussed at breakfast, for the dreamer may need to understand the message conveyed and possibly use it in the day that awaits him or her.

The prophetic type of dreams are the ones people enjoy the most. For example if someone dreams that he is fishing in a clean, clear water lake and he happens to be catching a lot of fish .. this is interpreted as a sign for good things to come .. he will certainly be in good spirits!

Whether the prophecy comes from a cup or from the subconscious mind, the Turks love and enjoy speculating on them. In fact one might say its their favourite pass-time

Home Sweet “Turkish” Home
June / July 1992

It sure has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? It sparks images of many pleasurable scenes: A pot simmering on the stove, mouth watering aromas floating from the kitchen all the way down to the hall, mom baking her goodies, grandma knitting a cardigan, kids running in the backyard, and maybe grandpa rocking in his chair on the front porch happily observing the passers-by.

Home, family and hearth: these are probably the most important parts of the Turkish culture. In fact, one might even call it the holy trinity. Faith in God comes first, faith in the family comes right after. The bond that holds the family together is stronger than any other.

Traditionally, father was the provider, but this is fast changing now. Most households need two incomes hence mother west to work; but she has no regrets. She is out teaching, banking, lawyering or doctoring .. but this only makes her more special. Not only is she the source of all love, but she is also a provider. Of course she gets plenty of help with the housework and the children. Grandma is there for her, keeping an eye on the kids, while she is at work and doing most of the house chores and still managing to have a warm supper waiting on the table when the family gets home at night.

Everyone is grateful for the presence of everyone else. There is great love and never-ending respect among the family members. Each allows space for the other to grow and flourish, and they all fit together very much like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. No piece overlaps the other, therefore no toes are stepped on.

Families don’t always live together. Mostly every family has its own household, sometimes the families are separated by cities, sometimes they are separated by an ocean, but the bond that holds them together is always there.

They share their joy and sorrow.  If it’s a happy occasion, they laugh together. “The more the merrier” is definitely applicable here. If there is a problem they solve it together. “Two heads are better than one“, how true ! Is there a financial problem? Well, the family piggy bank requires no co-signers, and the terms of the loan are in favour of the borrower. What better deal can one ask for? Has there been an untimely death? A member left without a spouse, with young ones to care for? he or she will get all the help that’s needed: financial and emotional support, mom’s shoulder to lean on, and oodles of love to carry him/her till the tragedy settles and blows over. Family is always there.

The concept of family is definitely synergic. The whole is many times stronger than its parts singlely added together.

Together the family is strong and vibrates with the energy of timeless love continuing it into eternity.