A Review of Sasha Fenton’s Fortune Teller’s Handbook
I have been a fan of Sasha Fenton for thirty years. I remember when The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook: A Practical Introduction to the World of divination first appeared at my favorite library and I borrowed it again and again. I was so happy when I found it in on Amazon.com – I snapped it up immediately. It’s the kind of basic text that any student of the divining arts ought to have, and it is perfect for beginners. Not only is it written in a clear and concise manner, it has some fun divination techniques – and who says that divination can’t be fun? – such as The Oracle of Napoleon (see http://paganpages.org/emagazine/2015/11/seeing-the-signs-18/) and Flower Reading. According to Amazon.com, Sasha Fenton has written 125 books on divination, spiritualism and the occult. I know, as someone who hangs around libraries and book stores, her books are always on display.
(Sasha Fenton. Photo from www.redwheelweiser.com)
Apparently, The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook is out of print and hardcover copies are going for $59.99 and up on Ebay. They are increasingly hard to find, so if you happen to come across one, I suggest picking it up, if only because it’s going to be a rare and therefore increasingly hard to find – and perhaps a good investment, as well.
(My dog-earred copy)
A few months ago, I reviewed Sasha Fenton’s new edition of Fortune Telling by Tarot Cards: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Tarot (see http://paganpages.org/emagazine/2017/12/seeing-the-signs-36/). An obvious companion to this wonderful guide to reading and using the Tarot to its fullest potential, is Fortune Teller’s Handbook: 20 Fun and Easy Techniques for Predicting the Future. Published by the publisher as Fortune Telling by Tarot Cards, Hampton Woods Publishing Company, Incorporated, out of Charlottesville, Virginia, and distributed by Red Wheel/Weiser. The two books came out the same year which tells me that they were meant to be companion pieces. Both books have glossy finishes on the covers and they are the same convenient size.
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I started reading the Introduction. Immediately, I thought: this sounds familiar. I opened up to the Introduction in The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook, and there were almost the exact words. I examined the chapters on Numerology, Runes, Flower Reading and the twelve other chapters that are in both The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook and Fortune Teller’s Handbook, and in every instance, the prose was almost the same. A word or two here or there was changed and the overall syntax was tightened up. A good editor could do that.
You can’t say they’re the same book, since they both have chapters that the other one doesn’t have. But fifteen out of the twenty chapters in Fortune Teller’s Handbook were originally in The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook, which is more than half of the book. I am not making any kind of accusations here – they are both wonderful books – but really! Over half the book!
I have to say that I was very disappointed in Sasha Fenton. I guess if an author wants to plagiarize their own work, that’s their prerogative, but it seems unethical to me. At least reference your earlier work! I searched all over Fortune Teller’s Handbook to find any reference to her earlier book. There was none whatsoever.
That said – and I’m sorry but I had to say it – I still find Fortune Teller’s Handbook: 20 Fun and Easy Techniques for Predicting the Future a worthy book. Don’t let the silly cover put you off. There’s a lot of good information in here – especially for the beginner. Information that is in this book that isn’t in The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook includes Phrenology (reading the bumps on a person’s head), Face Reading, Graphology, Moles, and Itches. I thought the chapter on face reading very interesting. I had no idea there were different ways of reading a face – The Chinese Way or the English way. It makes me wonder – are there any other techniques for reading faces? Perhaps a Gypsy or Romany way? This would be a subject to research.
And I had to laugh at the chapter on Graphology. Is anyone taught how to write in longhand anymore? I know I had to teach my son how to sign his name because he only knew how to print. In an increasingly electronic world, perhaps some high-tech version of Graphology is needed? It’s an interesting idea – I’m not even sure how it would work! But I am no techie!
One thing a book like this is really great for is Bibliomancy. Yes, I know that Bibliomancy is opening a book at random and reading whatever is there – I wrote about it three years ago here http://paganpages.org/emagazine/2015/04/seeing-the-signs-12/ – but sometimes when you are stuck with a problem, you don’t even know which form of divination to use – where to start looking for answers. A book like this opens the doors to finding the solutions. Even if all you do is open to a random page – let’s say, page 77, which is a reference page for the suit of Hearts for playing cards – I’d say, the book is telling you to pick up your playing cards – the ones you use only for divination – and do a quick 3-card spread. The first card represents your body, the second card your mind, and the third card your spirit. What are the cards saying in these positions? What are they saying to each other?
My body card was the 5 of Spades – happy home but bad-tempered people surround me. My mind card was the Queen of Spades – my witchy self. My spirit card was the Ace of Hearts – the start of a happy time in my life. I don’t see these cards talking to each other so much as merely tolerating each others presence. What is the Queen of Spades going to do with the Ace of Hearts? Shoot an arrow through it? She’s really on her eye on it, doesn’t she? At the same time, she’s watching out for those contentious 5’s behind her, threatening to cause a ruckus in her happy home. Who are these people? These 5’s? As usual, there are more questions than answers but that’s all good – it gives me something to work with. At the very least, I use those images in a poem or a collage.
Anyway – there is a lot in this book. If you are looking for a good all-around book about the various arts of divination, either for yourself or as a present for a beginning, I could not recommend this book any higher. And whether or not Sasha Fenton copied and pasted the information from an earlier book – honestly, it’s all good. When you are given a key to knowledge, don’t ask where it came from! Just take it and turn the lock and open the door!
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Fenton, Sasha. Fortune Teller’s Handbook: 20 Fun and Easy Techniques for Predicting the Future. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company Inc., 2017.
Fenton, Sasha. Fortune Telling by Tarot Cards: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Tarot. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company Inc., 2017.
Fenton, Sasha. The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook: A Practical Introduction to the World of divination. Wellingborough: The Aquarian Press, 1988
About the Author:
Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.
Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.
She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.