The History of Chiromancy or Reading the Hand
From India, the art of palmistry spread to China, Tibet, Egypt, Persia, and Europe. It is said to have been practiced in China as early as 3,000 B.C. and remains popular there to this day. In ancient Greece, the philosopher-scientists Anaxagoras and Pythagoras played a part in the development of European trends in palmistry. In a book titled Physiognomy and Palmistry, Pythagoras, sometimes known as the "Father of Numbers," discussed palm reading and traced the practice's roots in Greece back to 497 B.C.
The 19th and 20th centuries saw the development of great interest in the subject in France, England, and the Americas. Among the seminal modern books on the subject were La Chirognomie by Captain Casimir Stanislas D'Arpentigny (1839) and Les Mysteres de la Main by Adrien Adolphe Desbarolles (1859).
In 1889 Katherine Saint-Hill founded the Chirological Society of Great Britain, and in 1897 Edgar de Valcourt-Vermont, who wrote under the pen-name "Comte de St Germain," founded the American Chirological Society. Both of these groups supported the study of hand reading, which led to rapid expansion of interest in the subject.
In 1894 Louis Hamon, writing under the pen-name "Cheiro," published Cheiro's Language of the Hand, a perennially popular text, which was followed in 1916 by his equally popular Palmistry for All. William Benham's The Laws of Scientific Hand Reading (1900) was another important book on the subject, and in 1969, Fred Gettings introduced an influential new system of hand-typing in The Book of the Hand, which has had a lasting effect on modern palmists.
Today, palmistry is among the most widely practiced forms of character divination in the world. Skilled and gifted hand readers can be found practicing their art in store-front reading parlours, at posh hotels, at private entertainment parties, at psychic fairs, and at carnival and county fair "mitt camps" the length and breadth of America.
Techniques of Palmistry and Hand ReadingChiromancy consists of the practice of evaluating a client's character or future life by reading the palm of the client's hand.
The hand reader takes into account the shape of the hand and fingers, the various palmar creases or lines; such as the "heart line," "life line," and "head line;" and the mounts or bumps on the palm, such as the "mount of Venus," "mount of the Moon," and "mount of the Sun. Additionally, many readers also examine the relative length of the fingers, the shape and condition of the fingernails, skin texture, as well as the fingerprints, and palmar skin patterns, which are called dermatoglyphics. Finally, the palmist may make note of the relative flexibility of the client's hand and the strength of the hand and finger muscles when slight pressure is exerted against them. All of these physical characteristics suggest interpretations by their relative sizes, shapes, and qualities.
Some palm readers begin by reading the client's dominant hand, that is, the hand he or she writes with or uses the most. Others ask to see both hands at the same time and begin with a comparison between the two, because in some traditions of palmistry, the non-dominant hand is believed to carry hereditary or family traits. For instance, a right-handed client with a stiff left hand and a flexible right hand may be said to have come from a rigid, inflexible family, and to have become more adaptable and welcoming to change since leaving home.
The symbolic framework for classical Western palmistry is rooted in astrology and uses terms inherited from the ancient religions of Greece and Rome. Each area of the palm and fingers is related to one of the Greek or Roman planetary gods or goddess, such as Apollo, Venus, or Luna, and the features found on that area of the palm indicate the nature of the corresponding aspect of the subject. For example, the ring finger is associated with the Greek Sun god Apollo, and thus the characteristics of the ring finger are tied to the client's dealings with art, music, aesthetics, fame, and harmony -- all areas over which that god had dominion in ancient Greece.
Reading by Hand ShapeIn most schools of palmistry, hand shapes are divided into four or 10 major types, generally determined by a visual analysis of the relative sizes of the palm and fingers; the prominence of the knuckles; and other attributes of the hand shape. These types are often named after the Classical elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) or four temperaments (Practical, Philosophical, Artistic, Psychic). Hand shapes indicate broad or general character traits corresponding to the symbolism of the type (e.g., a "Fire hand" would exhibit high energy, creativity, short temper, ambition, and other qualities related to the Classical element of Fire).
Although variations abound, the most common classifications used by modern palmists:
- Earth or Practical hands are identified by broad, square palms and fingers, and thick or coarse skin.
- Air or Philosophical hands have rectangular palms with long fingers, knobby knuckles, low-set thumbs, and dry skin.
- Water or Psychic hands hands have short, sometimes oval-shaped palms, with long, flexible, conical fingers, and smooth skin.
- Fire or Artistic hands are characterized by a square or rectangular palm, and shorter fingers with smooth skin.
- In some traditions of palmistry, Earth and Water hands are said to have fewer, deeper lines, while Air and Fire hands are more likely to show more lines with less clear definition
Reading the Lines of the HandThree lines are found on almost all hands, and thus are generally given most weight by palmists:
- The Heart Line is the first of the major lines examined by a reader. It is found towards the top of the palm, under the fingers. Palmists interpret this line to represent matters of the heart, both physical and metaphorical, and believe it can indicate emotional stability, romantic perspectives, in addition to various aspects of cardiac health.
- The Head Line starts at the edge of the palm under the index finger and runs across the palm towards the outside edge. Often, the head line is joined with the life line at inception. Palmists generally interpret this line to represent the person's mind and the way it works, including learning style, communication style, intellectualism, and thirst for knowledge.
- The Life Line extends from the edge of the palm above the thumb and travels in an arc towards the wrist. This line represents the person's vitality and vigor, as well as physical health and general well being. It also reflects major life changes, including cataclysmic events, physical injuries, and relocations.
- The Fate Line runs from the bottom of the palm near the wrist, up through the center of the palm towards the middle finger. This line is symbolic of the person's life path, including school and career choices, successes and obstacles. Not everyone has a fate line.
- The Single Palmar Crease or Simian Line is the name given to the fusing of the heart line and head line. This line signifies that the subject's emotional nature and reasoning powers are blended. Although always rare, it is more common in some racial populations than others; additionally, in all races it may be a marker of serious genetic abnormalities.
- The Sun Line or Apollo Line runs parallel to the Fate Line, from the Mount of the Moon at the wrist to beneath the Apollo or ring finger; it indicates either a fortunate life or artistic talent.
- The Health Line or Mercury Line or Hepatic Line runs from the bottom of the palm near the wrist, up through the palm towards the Mercury or little finger; it is an indicator of health issues (one may be ill or one may be a healer), business acumen, and skill in communication.
- The Line of Intuition or Psychic Line runs along the Mount of the Moon and is parallel to the Health Line, but closer to the percussive edge of the hand; it indicates psychic ability; if it crosses the health Line, it indicates intuitive diagnostic abilities.
- The Girdle of Venus runs in a rough arc under the ring and middle fingers to end between the middle and pointer fingers; it relates to artistry and the ability to manipulate others.
- The Ring of Solomon is a curved line at the base of the index or Jupiter finger that is parellel to, but below the crease at the base of the finger. It indicates the ability to communicate with animals. It may be complete or partial, and the closer it is to complete, the more potential the person has for a cereer related to animal communication.
- Travel Lines are short horizontal lines on the percussive edge of the palm between the wrist and the heart line; each line represents a trip taken by the subject; the longer the line, the more important the trip is to the subject.
- Union Lines are short horizontal lines on the percussive edge of the palm between the Heart Line and the bottom of the Mercury or little finger; they indicate close relationships which are sometimes, but not always, romantic.
- Other Markings - these include stars, crosses, triangles, squares, tridents, and rings under each of the fingers; their meaning varies by location on the palm and their relationship to other lines.
Reading the Mounds or Mounts of the Hand
Cheirognomy is the study of mounts in cheiromancy. Each mount correlates to a planetary influence in the astrological sense.
- The Mount of Venus is below the thumb. It relates to passion.
- The Mount of Jupiter is below the index finger. It relates to wealth.
- The Mount of Saturn is below the middle finger. It relates to duty and honour.
- The Mount of the Sun is below the ring finger. It relates to artistry and fame.
- The Mount of Mercury is below the little finger. It relates to communication.
- The Lower Mount of Mars or Positive Mount of Mars is below the mount of Jupiter; the Upper Mount of Mars or Negative Mount of Mars is below the mounts of the Sun and Mercury, and the Plain of Mars is is the flat area in the center of the palm beneath the Mount of Saturn. All of the Martian features relate to physical energy, activity, anger, and conflict.
- The Mount of the Moon is on the lower part of the palm below the lower plain of Mars. It relates to the emotions.
- The Mount of the Earth is the fleshy bulge on the back side of the hand that is created when the thumb and index finger are pushed against each other. It relates to practical and earthly matters.
Science and PalmistryA considerable amount of research into palm crease and fingerprint whorl variations has been undertaken in mainstream scientific journals, generally with respect to the usefulness of these phenotypic markers in diagnosing genetic medical disorders. Such research has uncovered strong correlations between both the single palmar crease and aberrant fingerprints and chromosomal disorders such as cri du chat syndrome (chromosome 5), aberrations on chromosome 9, Noonan syndrome (chromosome 12), Patau syndrome (chromosome 13), Edward's syndrome (chromosome 18), Down syndrome (chromosome 21), and Aarskog-Scott syndrome (X-linked recessive).
Aberrant digit length, which can include having one or more unusually short fingers (brachydactyly) or severely incurved fingers (clinodactyly), has also been scientifically correlated with numerous genetic chromosomal disorders and congenital syndromes.