Guide to do-it-yourself fortune telling

"I see blood! Lots of blood ... and snow!"

The speaker recoiled from the table where the tarot cards lay face up.

“This one." she stabbed at a card, "this is the death card."

How to tell fortunes

I leaned forward, my eyes following her finger and stared at a hideously painted card entitled La Mort, and the grinning skull peered back at me.

"Oh, I see one death, maybe two. This is someone very close, a relative, no, a close friend. So much blood."

I sat rigidly in my chair, sipped some coffee to wash the dry electrical taste from my mouth, dragged deeply on my cigarette to gain some composure. "This was a terrible tragedy."she said.

And relief, like a tangible force, swept over me when I heard the word was.

"This is behind you. You were in a terrible accident. Not a car accident either. I see lots of blood and snow."

This really hit home, and I felt outrage and anger at this woman. How did she know about this? A thousand thoughts crowded my mind. Only a few of my intimate friends knew I had been in a boating accident years ago. My friend, a prominent Episcopal priest from the San Francisco Bay area had died following the accident. And in the snow. He had bled to death internally. Only the immediate family, and I, knew this. Newspaper stories had merely stated that he had died from over-exposure. No one here in the South Bay could know of this. I am certain I did not give this psychic this information in any way. I am baffled. And I remain, at this writing, baffled.

I had been amused and interested when "B." as I shall call her,had me shuffle the deck three times before she spread out the tarot cards on the kitchen table. I was hoping for candles and incense for atmosphere. Instead we sat in a comfortable modern kitchen, while children played happily in the next room. I had met "B." by chance the week before while shopping for a ouija board in a large department store in Chula Vista. She had helped me select my purchase and added, "This can be very dangerous, you know. It doesn't pay to play around with the occult. You may unleash some dangerous forces you cannot control" she warned me.

"Is that so?" I had answered nonchalantly. "How do you know?"

"I studied under Sybil Leek" she replied.

This Seemed too good to be true. Sybil Leek happens to be a very famous psychic and popular author who claims to be a witch!

Reluctantly "B." invited me to her home that evening and promised she would have a friend with her who was very psychic. That evening the two of them regaled me for two hours with fascinating information about ghosts who left trails of cigar smoke about the apartment. Arabic coins that appeared from nowhere, and of closet doors that wouldn't stay shut. As entertaining as it all was, it wasn't furthering my research in this field.

I had shut off my tape recorder and had risen to leave when "B.", staring off into space, dreamily murmured.

"You're a Sagittarian. I like your brown sport coat, but your favorite color is blue."

This was interesting and true. I only met the lady that day and spoke with her for a few minutes. She couldn't know anything about me.

"You have a lady friend up north, where it is cold. Probably San Francisco. And I see the Golden Gate Bridge. Somehow you had something to do with an accident there. I see the color orange. I don't know why. Someone's been killed. I see many cars streaming north across the bridge."

But children constantly ran in and out of the living room, and deciding that the vibes weren't right for anything more psychic, we made an appointment for the following night for a tarot card reading.

When I returned the next night, I tried to get her to talk about Sybil Leek and about witchcraft, but she was adamant.

"It's still against the law to be involved in witchcraft." she said.

I scoffed at her fears but promised to keep her identity a secret. She permitted me to tape record all our conversations and claimed that although she gave spiritual advice, she would not accept one cent.

"Sybil Leek told me I would lose my psychic power if I ever accepted one red cent, so I never have and never will. And I don't claim to be a witch," she added.

"B." is a voluptuous woman in her late 20 s with chestnut curls, deep blue eyes and delicate features. She is not my idea of a witch. But I believe, at this writing, that she is a genuine psychic, even though she told me she had been tested at some Psychical Research Institute in San Diego and flunked all the tests for psychic ability.

If you don’t know a psychic, have $5 or $25 to spend for a reading with a professional fortune teller or if you are a bit shy and nervous about going to one, there are dozens of ways to tell you own future at home:


Probably the most popular method of do-it-yourself fortune telling, especially among the younger generation today, is the pack of 72 cards called the tarot. Legend has it, that they originated in Egypt and for centuries only gypsies were aware of them.

Carl Jung, famous Swiss psychiatrist and proponent of the common unconscious mind and universal archetypes, is claimed to have been very interested in these, as he was in astrology. Devotees of the tarot handle the cards reverently and claim that a proper reading is gospel. In my experience, both tarot and I Ching have so many possible interpretations, that one can arrive at most any conclusion he wishes. Which may be the magic in them after all.


This is an ancient Chinese art of fortune telling, supposedly favored by intellectuals. The book I purchased for $1.25 called I Ching, The Book of Changes, is another inexpensive and fascinating method of foretelling the future. It contains illustrations and explanations of 64 different hexagrams, a combination of six divided or undivided lines. These hexagrams are based on the philosophy of Yin and Yang, (positive and negative, man and woman, etc.) and supposedly represent every conceivable condition that exists.

You silently meditate upon a question and toss three coins six times. All heads means an undivided line, for example. You mark down the results after each of the coins and then consult the illustrations for the number and name of your hexagram which should answer your question. It takes great imagination to interpret the colorful and poetic explanations such as "if three water buffalo wading in a rice paddy", "see the great man turn west" etc ....


This is an interesting phenomenon wherein you write under the seeming control of another personality. The tool used is called a "planchette," a heart-shaped device on three legs with a hole in the center in which to insert a pencil. A person can be reading a book, watching TV or carrying on a conversation while the planchette scampers across the paper imparting its written messages. (A genuine case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.)

Years ago a woman reportedly wrote several books in this manner, under the pen name of Patience Worth, a supposed spirit who had lived centuries before. Certainly a genuine ghost writer in name at any rate. Would that my writing came as easily.

People who walk and talk in their sleep are particularly adept at this form of divining, apparently a manifestation of disassociation. Try it; it's fun, fascinating and a little frightening, especially when the writer claims to be a spirit from the other world.


This device consists of a board with letters of the alphabet printed on it and other signs like yes and no, and a "planchette" which dashes across the board spelling out answers to questions. It can be used by one or two persons. It works best when two people sit facing each other, knees touching. The ouija board can be fun, although many serious psychics warn that evil can come from facetious and foolish questions and answers.


When you first see someone holding a pendulum, a top-like object suspended from a string and watch it swing back and forth denoting "yes" or "no," or pointing out letters on an alphabet board, you will insist he is moving it deliberately. Until you try it yourself! You know you aren't swinging it and yet it swings!

How? Unconscious movements of your own nerves and muscles undoubtedly, but you are not aware of any movements. And when you think one answer and get another, you will soberly admit your unconscious mind and your conscious mind are not always in agreement. Or that some force outside yourself is influencing the motions of the pendulum.


This is the best known method of fortune telling, although serious students of astrology will tell you that "the stars impel, but do not compel." In other words, a horoscope can forecast trends or possibilities caused by planets, but one can overcome the planetary influences by being forewarned. By having your horoscope cast by an astrologist you could be alerted to the planetary influences appearing in your life. There are thousands of astrology books and magazines available which enable you to learn your future. But serious astrologists insist that a horoscope cast without using the exact moment of your birth and birth place is virtually useless, as no two people could have the exact planetary positions existing at the time of your birth. There are even computer horoscopes available now for around $25. Or for 25 cents you can buy a purse-sized horoscope book which will not only tell you your personality traits, but give you a week-by-week forecast for the year. Some newspapers carry an astrology column but the advice usually runs to inane statements:

"Do not drive carelessly today as you may have an accident."

We know the moon affects the tides and we know man is over 60 percent water. Would he not feel the effects of moons gravity and other heavenly bodies and isn't it possible this tugging would in some way affect your body and mind? Astrologists claim this happens. But even if none of these methods are no more than parlor games, we are all egotists, and when someone, friend or psychic, tells us all about ourselves, we listen avidly. And if we are lonely and friendless, it may be worth $5 or more to have a charming lady tell us wonderful things about ourselves, and how in spite of all obstacles, we will overcome.

Try any one of these do-it-yourself methods of fortune telling, and you'll be entertained, possibly mystified and you might even get a glimpse of the future!

By David E. Eriksen

National City Star-News, 18 January 1973