Each of the age-old methods of divination that I explore in this series demonstrates a set of universal archetypes through symbols that can lead to self-knowledge. Last week I looked at the I Ching, an ancient Chinese text that is paired with tossed coins to help users make more-informed choices. This week I turn to palmistry, or the study of hands. As with all methods of divination, there are no “good” or “bad” readings in palmistry, and one should not be apprehensive about this tool foretelling a “sealed” future. Rather, it presents an opportunity for one to better understand life choices and to act in a conscious way that makes the best of it.
“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” — Carl Jung
Since prehistoric times, the hand and its position in relation to the body and fingers has had specific symbolic associations among many cultures. Handprints by ancient people have been found on cave walls. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the hand represented action and manifestation. And Native Americans in ancient Mississippi culture associated the hand-eye symbol with gaining entry to heaven. It’s logical then that the hand should be the object of importance and scrutiny in understanding who we are.
Palmistry, or chiromancy, is thought to have originated in India. “Reading” the lines and areas of either one or both palms, the shape of the fingers, the knots of the fingers, spaces between fingers, finger size, the nails and other particulars is thought to reveal a person’s character and even genetic dispositions. Palm readers, for example, believe that a wedge-shaped finger, one that is broader at the tip than at the first joint, is a sign that a person will have a life filled with activity and success.
The palm itself, whether it is hard and firm or soft and fleshy, is thought to suggest certain idiosyncrasies, as are the seven “mounts” or mounds at the palm’s edge. Those swellings, named after planets, each indicate attributes specific to that person. The lines refer to matters such as longevity, the state of one’s health, and romantic life. Depending on what is in the person’s future, the lines may be forked, netted, twisted, descending, ascending, broken, or doubled. To explore this ancient art on your own you will need hands, of course (yours or those of another) and a diagram of the lines and mounts. There are many sites, such as palmistrylines.com, which can be used as a reference.