Palmistry or chiromancy (also spelled cheiromancy, Greek kheir (χεῖρ, ός), “hand”; manteia (μαντεία, ας), “divination”), is the art of characterization and foretelling the future through the study of the palm, also known as palm reading, or chirology. The practice is found all over the world, with numerous cultural variations. Those who practice chiromancy are generally called palmists, palm readers, hand readers, hand analysts, or chirologists.
Palmistry is a practice originating in the Far East. The practice of palmistry has been used in the cultures of India, Tibet, China, Persia, and some countries in Europe. Studies show that most ancient communities like the Hindus, Sumerians, Tibetans, Hebrews, Babylonians, and Persians were greatly interested in the study and practice of palmistry.
It is believed that Palmistry originated in India with its roots in (Hindu) Astrology (known in Sanskrit as Jyotish), Chinese Yijing (I Ching), and Roma (Gypsy) fortune tellers. The Hindu sage Valmiki is thought to have written a book several thousand years ago, whose title translates in English as “The Teachings of Valmiki Maharshi on Male Palmistry”, comprising 567 stanzas.Renowned palmist Cheiro learnt palmistry in India where he is believed to have read ancient scriptures on palmistry. From India, the art of palmistry spread to China, Tibet, Egypt, Persia and to other countries in Europe. From China, palmistry progressed to Greece where Anaxagoras practiced it. Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.) discovered a treatise on the subject of palmistry on an altar of Hermes, which he then presented to Alexander the Great (356–323 B.C.E.), who took great interest in examining the character of his officers by analyzing the lines on their hands. Aristotle stated that “Lines are not written into the human hand without reason. They emanate from heavenly influences and man’s own individuality.” Accordingly, Aristotle, Hippocrates and Alexander the Great popularized the laws and practice of palmistry. Hippocrates sought to use palmistry to aid his clinical procedures. Modern palmists often combine traditional predictive techniques with psychology, holistic healing, as well as alternative methods of divination.
Though there are debates on which hand is better to read from, both have their own significance. It is custom to assume that the left hands shows potential in an individual, and the right showed realized personality. Some sayings about the significance include “The future is shown in the right, the past in the left”; “The left hand is the one we are born with, and the right is what we have made of it”; “The right hand is read for men, while the left is read for women”; “The left is what the gods give you, the right is what you do with it”; “The right hand is read for right-handed people, while the left is read for left-handed people”. The choice of hand to read is ultimately up to the instinct and experience of the practitioner.
- Left The left hand is controlled by the right brain (pattern recognition, relationship understanding), reflects the inner person, the natural self, the anima, and the lateral thinking. It could even be considered to be a part of a person’s spiritual and personal development. It is the “yin” of personality (feminine and receptive).
- Right As opposites are, the right hand is controlled by the left brain (logic, reason, and language), reflects the outer person, objective self, influence of social environment, education, and experience. It represents linear thinking. It also corresponds to the “yang” aspect of personality (masculine and outgoing).
Depending on the type of palmistry practiced, and the type of reading being performed, palmists may look at various qualities of the hand, including the shapes and lines of the palm and fingers; the color and texture of the skin and fingernails; the relative sizes of the palm and fingers; the prominence of the knuckles; and numerous other attributes of the hands.
In most schools of palmistry, hand shapes are divided into four or 10 major types, sometimes corresponding to the Classical elements or temperaments. Hand shape is believed to indicate character traits corresponding to the type indicated (i.e., a “Fire hand” would exhibit high energy, creativity, short temper, ambition, etc. – all qualities believed to be related to the Classical element of Fire).
Although variations abound, the most common classifications used by modern palmists:
- Earth hands are generally identified by broad, square palms and fingers, thick or coarse skin, and ruddy color. The length of the palm from wrist to the bottom of the fingers is usually equal to the length of the fingers.
- Air hands exhibit square or rectangular palms with long fingers and sometimes protruding knuckles, low-set thumbs, and often dry skin. The length of the palm from wrist to the bottom of the fingers is usually equal to the length of the fingers.
- Water hands are seeable by the short, sometimes oval-shaped palm, with long, flexible, conical fingers. The length of the palm from wrist to the bottom of the fingers is usually less than the width across the widest part of the palm, and usually equal to the length of the fingers.
- Fire hands are characterized by a square or rectangular palm, flushed or pink skin, and shorter fingers. The length of the palm from wrist to the bottom of the fingers is usually greater than the length of the fingers.
The number and quality of lines can also be included in the hand shape analysis; in some traditions of palmistry, Earth and Water hands tend to have fewer, deeper lines, while Air and Fire hands are more likely to show more lines with less clear definition.
The three lines found on almost all hands, and generally given most weight by palmists:
- The heart line is the first of the major lines examined by a reader and represents love and attraction. It is found towards the top of the palm, under the fingers. In some traditions, the line is read as starting from the edge of the palm under the little finger and flowing across the palm towards the thumb; in others, it is seen as starting under the fingers and flowing toward the outside edge of the palm. Palmists interpret this line to represent matters of the heart, that is, more literally, our emotional living; it is therefore believed to be an insight into how the emotional sides of our mindframes will act out and be acted upon during our lifetimes, and often said, to what extent we possess emotional reservoirs within us, for example, a chained or gridded heart line (or emotional line) is often seen in people who are highly strung, nervous and draw upon emotional strength and insight to attain their ambitions, i.e. they wear their ’emotions’ on their sleeves, often to draw strength. Such chaining or gridding on the heart line (emotional line) is often seen in intensely creative artists such as musicians and writers, as well as deeply driven scientists. Dealing with emotions, the line is also claimed to indicate romantic perspectives and intimate relationships, again, a chained or gridded heart line is said to point to a flirtatious attitude to love, and one which can be prone to fall in love easily. On a physical level, the heart line is indirectly associated with heart health, moreso through the effects that emotions can have on the body such as with blood pressure. A chained heart line is often associated with high blood pressure, but also of an ‘adrenaline junkie’ attitude in life.
- The next line identified by palmists is the head line. This line starts at the edge of the palm under the index finger and flows across the palm towards the outside edge. Often, the head line is joined with the life line (see below) 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. It is also believed to indicate a preference for creative or analytical approaches to information (i.e., right brain or left brain).
- The life line is perhaps the most controversial line on the hand. This line extends from the edge of the palm above the thumb and travels in an arc towards the wrist. This line is believed to represent the person’s vitality and vigor, physical health and general well being. The life line is also believed to reflect major life changes, including cataclysmic events, physical injuries, and relocations. Contrary to popular belief, modern palmists generally do not believe that the length of a person’s life line is tied to the length of a person’s life.
- The combined length of these three main lines (heart, head, life) can also be used. If this combined length is longer than a persons foot they may be over bearing. However, if it is shorter they may give in too easily to other people. A similar length suggests a well balanced individual.
Additional major lines or variations include:
- A simian crease, or fusing of the heart and head lines, has special significance in that both emotional as well as reasoning nature have to be studied from this line alone. The peculiar line is thought to be a combination of the head and heart lines on such hands that are separately marked on the rest of the hands.
According to Cheiro, this line is thought to endow a person with an intensity of purpose or single-mindedness, the nature of which is decided upon by exact position of this line on the hand and the direction of any branches shooting from it, which is normally the case. In hands where such a line exists without any branches as a singular mark, it indicates an extremely intense nature and special care is needed for such persons. The normal position for the line is starting below the index finger and ending where normally the heart line terminates at the edge of the hand below the little finger, indicating average interests for the person and the intense side of the nature is decided purely by the direction of any branches shooting from it. The upper half of the palm lying immediately below the fingers is considered to represent the higher or intellectual nature and the lower half of the palm to represent the materialistic side of the nature. If one of these halves is larger than the other as decided by the central placement of the head line or in this case the single transverse palmar crease it shows greater development of that aspect of the nature. Based on this general principle, if this line is placed below its normal position it indicates an intensely intellectual nature; if it is placed above its normal position it indicates an intensely materialistic nature and interests. The direction in which any branches may be found shooting from this line have a significant impact on the nature of this line resulting in suitable modifications from the above defined results depending on the nature of the mounts on the hand. For instance, if a branch from this line shoots to the mount of Moon lying on the lower edge of the hand exactly opposite the thumb, it indicates an intensely vacillating nature and emotional temperament.
- 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 believed to be tied to the person’s life path, including school and career choices, successes and obstacles. Sometimes this line is thought to reflect circumstances beyond the individual’s control, or alternately the person’s choices and their consequences.
Other minor lines:
- Sun line – parallel to the Fate Line, under the ring finger; believed to indicate fame or scandal
- Girdle of Venus – starts between the little and ring fingers, runs in a rough arc under the ring and middle fingers to end between the middle and pointer fingers; thought to relate to emotional intelligence and the ability to manipulate
- Union lines – short horizontal lines found on the percussive edge of the palm between the Heart Line and the bottom of the little finger; believed to indicate close relationships, sometimes – but not always – romantic.
- Mercury line – runs from the bottom of the palm near the wrist, up through the palm towards the little finger; purported to be an indicator of persistent health issues, business acumen, or skill in communication.
- Travel lines – these are horizontal lines found on the percussive edge of the palm between the wrist and the heart line; each line is said to represent a trip taken by the subject – the longer the line, the more important the trip is to the subject.
- Other markings – these include stars, crosses, triangles, squares, tridents, and rings under each of the fingers; their supposed impact and meaning varies by location on the palm and freedom from other interfering lines.
- “Apollo line” – the Apollo line means to have a fortunate life; it travels from the Mount of the Moon at the wrist to beneath the Apollo finger.
- “Ominous line” – crosses life line and forms ‘x’ shape; very bad sign to find; palm readers will often not mention this line because of the worry it causes to the person being read. Common indicators of ominous line include ‘M’ being formed by other lines.
The hand is divided into seven segments called mounts. Each mount relates to a corresponding planet with a specific portfolio. The mounts of the hand provide a tangible record of how we deal with each of these planetary influences, and what our challenges are.
The mounts also represent the colors in the spectrum of the rainbow. The more each mount begins to reflect the characteristics of its own specific light frequency, the more representative it becomes of the superconscious soul or light within.
The mounts are Luna, Venus, Mars (formed by its negative and positive poles), Jupiter, Saturn, Sun, Mercury and Rahu and Ketu.
Following is a brief description of the mounts and the specific characteristics that they reflect.
- The mount of Luna (or Moon – represents the first stage of our evolutionary process. Luna stands for the original plan of creation, as in the Bible quotation, “in the beginning was the Word…” As such, it relates to the collective unconscious as well as to each person’s individual receptivity to tune into that creative source. Luna pertains to the qualities of perception, creativity, imagination and sensory awareness.
- Venus – next in the sequence of mounts, represents the actual physical manifestation of the “concept” which was initiated in Luna. (“… and the Word was made flesh….”*). Venus represents the actual cellular makeup—or energy—that manifests itself in physical form. It shows the condition of the body and how at home we feel in our physical form. The mount of Venus reflects the presence or absence of qualities such as harmony, kindness, grace, charm and love. It reflects our degree of physical and sexual health, sensuality and beauty.
- Mars negative – is the next focus of attention for the unfolding human soul. Symbolically, it relates to the mobilization of the spark of incarnate energy originally conceived and then brought into being through Luna and then Venus. Mars negative stands for our energy, which, when not properly harnessed and channeled, can lead to exhaustion, or possibly to anger and aggression.
- Jupiter – represents the awakening of the conscious mind. In India, it is referred to as the guru or dispeller of darkness. It speaks of our sense of purpose—what role we want to play in life. Jupiter stands for ambition, confidence, leadership and justice.
- Saturn – indicates the necessity to search within. It represents the alchemist who is able to synthesize the experiences of Jupiter in order to extract a deeper meaning of life. Saturn stands for wisdom, co-ordination and discernment.
- The Sun – in our hand indicates our desire to share all that has been learned from the profound nature of Saturn. It is referred to as atma and represents our soul. The Sun shows that aspect within us which can transcend any limitations. Success, charisma and integrity are all characteristic of the Sun.
- Mercury – In India, stands for the Buddha and reflects an “enlightened” consciousness. It relates to our involvement in the world, and also our ability to be detached from the fruits of our actions. Mercury denotes intuition, spontaneity and the ability to communicate effortlessly.
- Mars – Next lies the mount of Mars positive (which, with Mars negative—located on the opposite side of the palm—forms the Mars galaxy). Whereas Mars negative relates to our physical energy, Mars positive deals with our mental strength. Positive characteristics include endurance, persistence, and a calm mental state.
- Rahu and Ketu – are inextricably intertwined. Ketu represents the kinds of circumstances we attracted in the past and our attitudes towards them, whereas Rahu relates to our immediate environment. A famous Sanskrit verse tells us that “our present is the result of all our yesterdays, and the future depends on how well we live today.” This sums up the relationship between Rahu and Ketu.
Ketu is our karmic account book, whose balance sheet portrays the entire record of our thoughts, attitudes, and behavior of the past. Rahu reflects the kind of environment we are likely to attract in the present, and how receptive we are to either making the most of it, or limiting its potentials by resisting opportunities that come our way.
From a metaphysical viewpoint, as the mounts begin to express the ideal characteristics for which they stand—for example, the objective perception of Luna, the unconditional love of Venus, the calmly active energy of Mars—they consequently begin to radiate at their specific light frequencies in the color spectrum. The result is pure radiant light.