A Bohemian Tea-Room-To-Be   9 comments

Moroccan tea lounge

Moroccan tea lounge

A couple of months back I wrote about a commitment I made to scrap my former approach to job-hunting and follow my calling in life wherever it might take me.  I vowed to live ever after from the hands of the gods and spirits in all that I do, trusting that my material needs will be provided for if I first do the Work I have been tasked with (whether or not that Work involves having what would be considered a “normal” job.)  My lesson is: do the Work, trust in the divine, and the support will come.  It may not come in the form I expect it to, and it may involve many challenges, but if I truly do my part, it WILL come.  It might mean getting a job, or it might not.  No way to know until I simply get going on the Work and see where it leads.

I knew that the Work I’d be doing would involve artistic endeavours, including – but not limited to – writing, dance, tea service, and Bohemian style home décor.  What I didn’t know is that many visions and epiphanies would follow this commitment I made, some of which promised (threatened?) to take me deep into uncharted waters.

As a result of these visions, I’ve adopted a new name for the Work I do which encompasses all of my artistic pursuits: Black Stone Arts.  I love the name; it suits me perfectly, and it incorporates the name I had already been given for the Hermitage.

Shortly after I welcomed this new name, I became aware of a new dimension in my Work – and a huge new venture to take on – that will integrate all of my interests, education, passions, and life experience.  This venture will require me to use all of my current skills and develop many new ones as well.

A Bohemian-style tea room.  As a business.

It’s one thing to serve tea to visitors at the Hermitage, my place of residence; starting a for-profit business serving tea is something else entirely.  But the idea for this tea room took hold of me immediately and simply would not let go, despite the protests of my mind.  (“What?  Me?  Are you SURE?  Who exactly do we think we’re kidding, folks?  Are you asking me to start a retail business with a Bohemian theme in the specialty tea industry?  I’m a monastic-in-training, not an entrepreneur!  I don’t have the funds!  My knowledge of tea is still quite moderate.  I haven’t worked in a restaurant or lounge since my early twenties.  I have no idea how I’m going to pull off something like that!  Besides, I’m an introvert!  How am I supposed to handle the amount of social contact that will surely be required?”)

I would sit down at my computer to write about this tea-room-to-be, and the words would come fast and furious.  Even though I type about 70WPM, I couldn’t type anywhere near fast enough to keep up.  It was as if the planning documents were simply writing themselves.  I know better than to argue or resist when that sort of inspiration happens.  At that stage, my task isn’t to question; it’s simply to get myself out of the way as much as possible, and listen to what wants to come into being.

So…as far as I can tell, this tea room, apparently, is lurking Out There somewhere with my “stamp” on it, and it has been patiently waiting for me to step forward and participate in the process of properly bringing it into being, wherever that process shall lead me.Moroccan tea room

I am working closely with the Spirit of Tea to accomplish this Work and carry out this venture.  I will listen closely to what She wants to happen all along the way.  My vow is that I will not force or control the process; I will only serve Her by doing my best to remove any obstacles in the way that are preventing the tea room from manifesting as She wishes.

This venture certainly does make a great deal of sense, given my immense love of tea and tea culture, as well as my love of learning and my specific combination of skills and background.  Just about every long-term hobby, interest, and area of study I have embarked upon in life, formal or informal, will be brought to bear in this tea venture: tea (of course), tea customs from various cultures around the world, belly dance, Bohemian home décor, holistic health, plant spirit medicine, literature, visual art, music, philosophy, psychology, accounting…the list goes on.

It also makes sense because I am a devotee of the Tea Spirit.  Right from the beginning of the time I became interested in tea – which was right around the same time I started learning about loose leaf tea, and discovered that good tea was something other than flavoured water brewed from supermarket tea bags – I did this for spiritual reasons.  For me, tea is far more than a beverage or a business opportunity.  It’s an art, a culture, and a path of service.  Tea is a companion plant spirit that guides Her devotees toward more mindful and ecologically friendly ways of life.

So why a Bohemian tea lounge?  In part, it’s because I believe the ‘feel’ of the place plays an important part in the tea experience.  People may be initially attracted to and drawn in by the décor and the vibe, and this may lead them to take a moment to slow down, relax, and discover the amazing world of tea.  I am a firm believer that aesthetics – including beautiful teaware, as well as cozy and comfortable surroundings – are essential elements of the tea experience, and should not be dismissed as mere frivolity.

I am also a firm believer that tea should not be intimidating to newcomers.  The tea path is one of hospitality and appreciation for life’s simpler pleasures; good tea should be made accessible to people from all cultures and walks of life.  Enjoying good tea need not involve spending time in a stuffy, pretentious environment where you feel excluded if you’ve never heard words like terroir and you haven’t a clue about the difference between a Tiekuanyin and a Da Hong Pao.

Moroccan tea serviceThere are so many things to love about the world of tea:

* Tea is a catalyst.  She opens people up to the flow of life.  Tea catalyzes friendships, storytelling, gift-sharing, philosophical reflections, introspection, self-realisation, remembrances, awakenings, and connection to the divine.

* Tea can promote cross-cultural appreciation, and provide a way to connect people of different backgrounds and sensibilities.

* Tea people are so fascinating, interesting, knowledgeable, and diverse.  There is an easy, respectful camaraderie amongst tea enthusiasts that I find to be extraordinarily encouraging and hopeful.  James Norwood Pratt, in the Tea Mavericks video, expresses my experience well: “We of the tea community have a collegial spirit that is almost impossible to find anywhere else.  I think the reason we have this collegial regard for one another and for the enterprise we share in common [is that] there is actually a spirit that inhabits the deep land, and I think that spirit chose us…it wasn’t so much our choice to become the servants of the spirit that inhabits the deep land…we’ve been brought into this ancient brotherhood and sisterhood.  And that’s what we tell everybody else: come on, you can be one too!  We’re students of each other.”

* A love of tea speaks for itself!  There’s no need for any kind of tea evangelism, because Tea does Her own sort of ‘converting’ when the conditions are right for it.

* Fresh tea has many health benefits, and is a veritable feast for the senses: olfactory, gustatory, tactile, visual.

* Tea is the only beverage that simultaneously stimulates and calms.

* Tea creates a space for tranquility and slowing down – a space that many of us can find nowhere else in our fast-paced modern lives.  As Frank Hadley Murphy puts it in one of my favourite books, The Spirit of Tea: “The very nature of tea slows us down and makes us appreciate simpler things – a simple stove to place the kettle on, a wooden countertop for the porcelain, soft lighting, peace.”

* Good tea is inspirational.  ‘Tis no secret that many of us who have found our way to Tea share a zeal that is religious in its fervor.  Statues of Buddhas and goddesses adorn tea shops for very good reasons.  Tea also lends itself to ritual and sacred space, and promotes reverence.

* Tea brings us to beauty.  We are too often starved for experiences of beauty of the sort that is true, deep, and real.  As James Norwood Pratt puts it: “If you have lost sight of beauty, tea will open your eyes.”

I could go on, but that’s a good start.Bellydance tent

For years I have been in a sort of preliminary prep stage for this venture without even knowing it – acquiring tea books and tea serving implements, learning all I can about tea and tea cultures around the world, and sampling various kinds of tea at every opportunity.  I still have a great deal to learn about tea and feel very much a rank amateur, but it’s now time to forge ahead and deepen my involvement.

As a side note, it’s now clear to me why I didn’t get any of the “normal” jobs I applied for, despite the fact that I prayed, made offerings, and gave every single job application my absolute best effort: my gods and spirits had something else in mind for me.  (No doubt the general state of the economy played its part as well, but that doesn’t conflict with my esoteric understanding of the situation.)  It’s also clear why I had to do so many years’ worth of background research and weather so many storms and losses.  Without that specific body of experience, I wouldn’t have been ready to fully accept the implications of this, nor would I have been prepared to take on this level of Work.

I’m doing copious background research and I have my eye on a tea franchise opportunity, but I still don’t have any idea how I’m going to pull this off.  A tea venture may be compatible with a monastic life if I treat it as a path of service, and I think I have most of the necessary skills, but…do I have the guts?  And who will join me in this venture?  I know I can’t do it alone, nor would I even want to.  And where will the money come from?

Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  There’s that lesson again.  Just do the Work.  Take a step out into the unknown.  Follow those intuitive hunches, while checking them against the practical left-brain instincts at the same time.  Trust in the divine and remain open.  If I keep doing the Work in earnest, the support will come.

All I know so far is that, assuming I’ve interpreted this vision correctly, there is going to be a Bohemian tea lounge in the Pacific Northwest – probably in Portland or Eugene – and I have been tasked with participating in the process of bringing it to fruition.

Wish me luck…and let me know if you happen to know anyone you think I should meet.

********************

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9 responses to “A Bohemian Tea-Room-To-Be

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  1. Pingback: Miscellanea « The House of Vines

  2. You know you’ve got my support! If you’re ever interested in a brain-dump, I have plenty of ideas and opinions (you know me, never at a loss for those). And I do have a certain intuitive marketing sense (runs in the blood, no matter how I wish to fight it), if I can help in that fashion somewhere down the line.

    • Thank you, Dver! It means a great deal to me to have your support – and Sannion’s, too. I was delighted to see that he mentioned my tea-room-to-be on his latest blog entry. Whatever I did to deserve the friendship of two such amazing people, I sure hope I manage to keep on doing it.

      You can rest assured that I’m pretty much always interested in a brain-dump from you, on this subject or any other of mutual interest, as long as I’m alert enough at the time to take it all in. 🙂 And yes, I fully intend to discuss marketing and such with you. I have the utmost confidence in your skills and reliability – and that’s no small thing, because I have very high standards! When the time comes to take steps forward in that direction, you’ll be the first to hear from me.

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  6. Hi, i wanted to say that i really got inspired by your post! I’m currently busy with a project about tea to bring the diffrent cultures in my own land (the netherlands) together, by creating a teahouse! I was searching for teahouses when i came upon your blog and it really helped me to define my concept even more! I’m a graphic designer and í’m really interested in what happend after this post!

    greetings
    Eva

    • Greetings Eva,

      I’m very glad to hear that you found my post inspiring and helpful. Thank you for taking the time to tell me that! I wish you the very best of luck with your venture. The world needs more teahouses, if you ask me!

      What happened after this post – to make a long story short – is that I did not start a Bohemian tea business. I encountered several financial and logistical barriers that I was unable to overcome, and I scrapped the plan. However, as I mentioned in a later entry, I do hope to build a dark Pagan sanctuary and temple space someday…and I hope to serve tea there as a form of spiritual service, rather than as a business.

  7. Pingback: The Magical Practice of Sweeping the Temple | The Black Stone Hermitage

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