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The mystic explains, "From the dawn of history, humans have been developing systems which attempt to divine the future. These tend to fall into two categories: those which rely on interpretations of existing natural information, and those which examine patterns determined at least partially by chance.

"Examples of the former would include astrology and palmistry. Those systems of the latter type usually involve physical materials such as bones, pebbles or cards. One of the most well established methods of this type is the ancient Chinese / Ching, which originally determined information based upon the patterns formed by tossed yarrow stalks. In modern times it is more common to use coins. Random combinations of heads and tails are used to generate the indications of the future.

"Today I would like to demonstrate a related system which is rather more arcane. It's a relatively simple process, employing eight coins. Despite its simplicity, with proper interpretation the results can be quite profound.

"The first thing you will need to do is to decide on the area of your life you wish to examine. Here is a list of the most common categories of inquiry. Please think of a question concerning your future, and decide in which category it fits. Don't tell me the question or the category, we'll keep that your private thought for now."

The list is as shown at right.

Handing the subject eight coins, the mystic turns his back and continues. "Please MONEY put four of the coins aside. Shake the remaining four coins in your cupped hands, FRIENDSHIP then toss them onto the table. Assemble those coins into a row. Obviously, the HEALTH pattern of heads and tails has been determined by chance. ADVENTURE

"Pick up the four coins you placed aside, and arrange them into another row BUSINESS beneath the first, so that they are in the same sequence of heads and tails. LOVE

Thus far, the arrangement of the coins has been left completely to chance. Here TRAVELS is where we'll use your personal input. Spell out the name of the category of inquiry SEX you thought of a moment ago. For each letter of the spell, you will turn over a coin. Start at the left end of either row, and continue moving along to the right. If you reach the end of that row, go back to the left and continue from there, until you complete the word.

"At any point during this process you can switch to the next position in the other row. If you choose to do this, make sure it is done on impulse, and not by calculation."

This done, the mystic turns around, and interprets the pattern of the coins. The interpretation is accurate, specifically in terms of the participant's thought of question.

The method is based on a rather complicated routine of Bob Hummer's, "Dial A Date Deal" (probably from the 1940's). In "Magic Dungeon Mentalism" (1972), Howard Adams had a simpler version, "Starstrick." The approach I will describe here is greatly streamlined, and wrapped in a fortune-telling presentation which hopefully adds some logic to the structure.

The presentation is followed as described above. When you turn around and claim to interpret the pattern of the coins, this is exactly the case. What you are looking for are matched pairs between the two rows. That is, you examine the coins at the right end of each row. If both are tails, or both are heads, it's considered a match.

From the parity of the four pairs, a binary number is generated. This is worked from right to left, as is standard. (I am presuming here that you are sitting opposite the spectator, so that his/her left orientation is on your right.)

The first pair at the right end has a value of one; the next pair has a value of two; the third pair has a value of four; the final pair at the left end has a value of eight.

As an example, we'll say the layout looks like this:

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