Dark Pagan Tea Alliance   7 comments

Tea Time at the Hermitage. In the background are posters from Raqs Oubliettes, Portland’s dark fusion bellydance night.

(Note, March 2017: I no longer maintain this page.  This is archived material; I collected the quotes from 2011-2015.  The Dark Pagan Tea Alliance no longer meets, but the spirit of the endeavor has been carried on via my Paths of Sacred Endarkement retreats.)

The Dark Pagan Tea Alliance is a group of Pagans and supporters interested in creating a modern Pagan tea culture with a darker feel – our take on the “witches’ tea party.”  We meet seasonally at the Hermitage to plan midnight tea rituals, to share tea with the spirits and the Earthly divine, and to discuss and promote the esoteric and monastic aspects of tea culture, tea drinking, and the art of tea service.

Tea is the preferred beverage of contemplatives; it promotes clarity of mind and deepens the inner vision.  And for divination purposes, there’s always tasseomancy

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Tea quotes for inspiration:

“I would venture to say that the world’s oldest religion is not Buddhism, Christianity, or Islam, but rather the religion of tea. It has all the qualifications: A sense of comfort, a sense of community, and provides happiness and clarity to an otherwise chaotic life.  But I bet your religion doesn’t taste as good as mine.”

~ S.L.M., The Loose Leaves blog

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“…the tea-cultists…develop such keen powers of discernment, that they are able to find beauty and inspiration in things that most humans would consider ugly and repellent.  […]  They drink tea, of course, but that is almost a minor part of the ceremony.  The real point is to clear the inner vision…”

~ J. Allen Boone, Letters to Strongheart

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“It wasn’t just the taste of the tea that was unusual, it was what it was doing inside me…I had an epiphany.  Until that moment I had never had a direct experience of the divine through the plant kingdom.  Now, here was this bush growing in the middle of my theology.”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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“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.”

~ James Norwood Pratt, Tea Mavericks

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Dark fingers select delicate buds.
Leaves flutter on sun-parched savannas
And roots reach deep into ebony loam.
Blood flows in this liquid,
Black plasma of our ancestors.

~ Marc E. Hofstadter

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“Tea deepens awareness of things around us.  The veil separating us from the spirit world grows thinner, and we begin to feel kinship with all life.  Some teas even appear to come with an attendant spirit when two or more people gather in her name.”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea (review)

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“What we’re doing here is creating what will be known as…American tea ceremony, if you like.  So this is an exciting time we’re living in.”

~ David Lee Hoffman, Tea Mavericks

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“…tea drinking deepens and opens the material world and reveals its inner richness.  Tea teaches us that the material world is not lifeless and mundane.  What is lifeless and mundane is our habit of reducing the physical world to its surface dimensions and ignoring its depth.  Tea wakes us up.”

~ James Norwood Pratt

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“…the monastic world celebrates tea for its ability to heighten awareness and bestow peace on all those willing to bring time and attention to its preparation.”

~ Theresa Cheung

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“We should all help to reintroduce tea as a daily ritual, to make it sacrosanct.”Black tea pot

~ Tom Hodgkinson, How to Be Idle

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“Tea is the teacher.  Being is the teaching.”

~ The Minister of Tea

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“Surely every one is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four oclock, warm hearthrugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whist the wind and rain are raging audibly without.”

~ Thomas De Quincey

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“I always pour a little of my tea onto the ground before I drink.  It is a gesture of thanksgiving, returning to the earth a little of the bounty she so freely gives to us.  I also place the spent leaves on bare ground.”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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“Tea makes peace where no one else and nothing else can. It often does so when no one is even aware it’s happening. That’s one reason tea is so valuable in the modern world. It’s the spiritual drink.”

~ Teaternity

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“Tea has, for several thousand years and with good reason, been the singular beverage of those who meditate.  Tea relaxes the body, stimulates the mind, and tastes delicious.  Buy the best you can afford to drink following meditation; it is less expensive than a visit to the psychologist or physician, easier to swallow than pills, and has health benefits that are only now beginning to be documented.”

“Today, tea remains a conduit to meditation in the monastic world, and to all those who follow the many forms of meditation that have evolved.  This very simple beverage elevates awareness and helps bring peace to all those willing to bring time and attention to its preparation and sincerity to its pleasures of fragrance and taste.”

~ Diana Rosen, Meditations With Tea: Paths to Inner Peace

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“Tea is the beverage of ceremonious people, and like the dense monsoon rains, it is both calming and stimulating, encouraging conversation and relaxation…Ideas and traditions steep slowly in its steamy transparence.”

~ Pascal Bruckner

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“Tea speaks to the individual, as it should, because it is wise; and its language isn’t Eastern or Western, but natural and primordial.”

– Aaron Fisher, Tea Wisdom

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“Oolongs can offer a middle way between the light, creative heaven, and the dark, receptive earth, between the white teas and the black.  It is my hope that their popularity is a portent for the re-emergence of respect for the feminine.”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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“Tea is best when enjoyed in pleasant surroundings, whether indoors or out, where the atmosphere is tranquil, the setting harmonious.”

~ John Blofeld

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Tea Bookshelf at the Hermitage

“Respectfully preparing tea and partaking of it mindfully creates heart-to-heart conviviality, a way to go beyond this world and enter a realm apart.  No pleasure is simpler, no luxury cheaper, no consciousness-raising agent more benign.”

~ James Norwood Pratt

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“During the Tang dynasty Buddhist monks placed a statue of Buddha in the temple tea gardens.  Monks known as tea keepers began the practice of offering sacrificial cups of tea to Buddha.”

~ Mary Lou Heiss

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Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
As if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves –
Slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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“…the tea may put us in such an open and altered space that transmissions occur from the spirit world.”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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“Doing nothing is respectable at tea.”

~ Sasaki Sanmi

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For centuries and across the globe, tea has been a catalyst to leisure, mindfulness, relaxation.

~ Jennifer Leigh Sauer, “Tea: Exotic Leisure”

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“…let us have a sip of tea.  The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle.  Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”

~ Kakuzo Okakura

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“Where there’s tea there’s hope.”

~ Arthur Wing Pinero

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“I have learned that tea, like any plant, can share with us her deepest mysteries if we ask her guidance and counsel.  These secret transmissions may not even come to us until our cups are empty, for there is a teatime that begins long after our pots are cold.”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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“There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Tea is more than just a sublime beverage; when savored with a tea mind, it becomes a brew that is rich in spiritual sustenance.”

“Tea has been called the plant of heaven, and for thousands of years it has been valued as a medicine, a drink of pleasure, and a drink to refresh the spirit.”

~ Theresa Cheung

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“Even though tea’s botanical name was changed to Camelia sinensis in the 1950s, we still find her original name of Thea intact elsewhere.  Thea dwells among tea’s lesser-known stimulants theobromine (“food of the gods”) and theophyline (“leaf of the gods”), and in tea’s relaxant, L-theanine, as well as in the botanical name for the family of tea, Theaceae.”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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Roscher bamboo tea pot

Roscher bamboo tea pot

“Tea is a religion of the art of life.”

~ Kakuzo Okakura

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“I think that our tea culture [in the USA] is a sign of a much deeper cultural shift…an answer to a deeply felt need in a society that is demanding more and more of us, and delivering less and less…we all feel the need for a moment’s peace.  I think it is to answer that need that Americans are drinking more and more tea.”

~ James Norwood Pratt, Tea Mavericks

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“…it was really tea itself that initiated me.  As my studies deepened, so did the epiphanies, and I began to feel I was probing into the very nature of the universe.

“So moved was I by some of my experiences with tea that I had the desire to become a tea advocate…I also thought of starting a plants’ rights movement concerned with the preservation of the species, and educating people that plants are as sentient as we are.”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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“How is it that my spirit is so affected by this leaf?”

~ James Norwood Pratt

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“I do not feel I can meet tea empty handed and expect her to respond.  The noble qualities I intend to coax from the leaf I also ask of myself.  So I create the atmosphere necessary to meet this divine herb with reverence and respect.”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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“Tea connects you to your spiritual path.”

“People reveal their true selves over a cup of tea.”

~ The Meaning of Tea

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“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.  I am reminded of the quote by Robert Brault: ‘Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.’”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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A sampling from the tea cabinet at the Hermitage

“[Tea] ritual…can be done – cries out to be done – with a certain grace…it lends itself to manners.”

~ James Norwood Pratt

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“Tea is a vehicle through which I experience the divine.”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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“Science may be able to quantify tea’s effects on our bodies but it cannot quantify its effects on our souls, and that’s exactly where tea shares with us her deepest mysteries.

Her sobering humility resonates with our own original nature.
Her subtle beauty reminds us of the beauty of our own perfection.
Her soothing calm cuts through our spiritual materialism and brings us to a state of grace.
She wakens in us not only the intellect of the mind but more importantly, the intelligence of the heart.
Tea calls to our deepest selves and invites us to celebrate with it.

Any plant that can do all of these things must have an element of holiness about it.”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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“If you have lost sight of beauty, tea will open your eyes.”

~ James Norwood Pratt

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“Overindulgence in tea does not diminish or impair my faculties as with alcohol; it enhances them…the altered state produced by tea has an entirely different spin on it.  Explore it for yourself!”

~ Frank Hadley Murphy, The Spirit of Tea

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“Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.”

~ Author Unknown

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“In the world of tea each movement in the making of tea has nobility and meaningfulness. The mundane, trivial acts of setting a fire, boiling some water, and making a bowl of tea are lifted to the level of an art form… In the way of tea this type of transformation is not restricted just to the making or serving of tea, but it can spill over into all of one’s daily actions and transform the entire day.”

~ Brother Joseph Keenan

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“Tea tempers the spirits and harmonizes the mind, dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue, awakens thought and prevents drowsiness, lightens or refreshes the body, and clears the perceptive faculties.”

~ Confucius

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“…it is the fusion of hermit aesthetics/philosophy and their esteem and spiritual use of tea that birthed many of the religious and artistic movements of Asia or sustained and encouraged their transmission around the world.”

~ Frederick R. Dannaway, “Steeped in Solitude: The Way of Eremitic Arts and Tea
(“Steeped in Solitude” can also be found as a PDF in The Leaf magazine, Issue 8)

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The sound and smell of brewing tea linger in the dead of night.
In my small study, alone, I roll up my scrolls.
Through the gauze windows, the moon’s pale shadow starts to rise;
It’s the time that this hermit loves best.

~ Kanematsu, 1910

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The word “contemplation” has at its root the Latin word temple, which means “a space marked out,” or a sanctuary.  This space, whether physically created or experienced in our minds, is a still and sacred place where we can reflect on our world.  When we contemplate, we enter our own personal sanctuary, leaving behind the entanglements of our day-to-day life and giving us enough space to view them with perspective.

~ Donna Fellman & Lhasha Tizer, Tea Here Now: Rituals, Remedies, and Meditations

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Other resources:

Tea Geek – For tea enthusiasts everywhere

PDX Tea – The Portland Tea Enthusiasts’ Alliance

Heavens Tea – Portland school of sacred tea arts

Northwest Tea Festival

The Meaning of Tea

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Tea books at the Hermitage

A few of the tea books at the Hermitage

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Posted 2011/09/14 by The Black Stone Hermitage

7 responses to “Dark Pagan Tea Alliance

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  1. Pingback: A Bohemian Tea-Room-To-Be « The Black Stone Hermitage

  2. Pingback: I am a Temple Keeper « The Black Stone Hermitage

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  5. Thank you for posting numerous quotes from my book, “The Spirit of Tea”. You may be interested in my newest book “Tea Fried Brain: Notes From Saint Camellia’s Church of the First Infusion”. Sincerely, Frank Hadley Murphy Yellow Crane Mountain Hermitage La Cueva, New Mexico

    • Thank you for visiting and commenting from your respective Hermitage, Frank! How nice to hear from you. I didn’t know you had released a new book, so I’m glad you mentioned it. Yes, I am definitely interested – I’d gladly read anything you write about tea! I see that my local independent bookstore (Powell’s) has copies of your book available in the warehouse, so I will place my order for it as soon as my budget permits.

      I was delighted when I found your book “The Spirit of Tea” in 2009. It helped me confirm that the “lay monastic” path I was on in service of the tea spirit was the right one, and that I wasn’t the only one who felt that tea connects me to plant spirits. There are plenty of books about the health benefits of tea, surveys of tea culture and history, and so on…but your book is unique in its spiritual-mystical focus, and it is by far my favourite of all the tea books I’ve read. For me, tea is so much more than a beverage; it is a sacrament that moves me deeply. It is a facilitator of meditation, emotional alchemy, and communion with the divine. It should be appreciated with full attention, honour, and reverence.

  6. Pingback: An Outpouring of Gratitude (Or, Skaði Throws Me a Bone) | The Black Stone Hermitage

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