Hello again! This week we are taking a brief look at the mystery and misunderstandings surrounding the art of palmistry. Palm reading, palmistry, Chiromancy, all synonymous, are a practice by which one can tell an individual’s future, simply by observing the lines on one’s hands. But palmistry as a true art encompasses so much more.
Fortune telling has, in many ways and forms, been gaining public interest in recent years; arts like tarot, astrology and palm reading have become favorites among the young and curious. Yet, of the three, palm reading remains the most misconstrued, misused, and deceptively difficult—blame, in part, is due to the media’s depiction of palm reading. In movies like The Wolf Man (1941), Teen Witch (1989), Butterfly Effect (2004) and Sherlock Holmes (2009) palm reading is shown as a shrouded, mystic practice, often involving some level of dark magic or presented as a scam. It has often also been depicted alongside gypsy communities, both as a further veil of mysticism upon an already occulted people and as a money ploy employed by one-dimensional, fictional caricatures. To the most skeptical, it amounts to nothing more than pure superstition and an over-analysis of arbitrary lines. Palm reading is in something of cultural crisis, but for those who understand the true art, its versatile uses, and its deeply penetrating implications, it is simply in need of a little PR assistance.
By some estimates, palm reading is as old as society itself. The Chinese, having recorded its use as far back as 3000 B.C., called the practice saing cheou, and believed it to hold a very natural pertinence to one’s life. It was also held as sacred among the ancient Hebrews, Egyptians, Hindus, Tibetans and Babylonians. It has been practiced and/or studied by such individuals as Aristotle, Plato, Karl Jung and Mark Twain.
Contrary to popular belief, palm reading is not simply the reading of the lines on one’s palm, but instead the reading (if done properly) of every part of the hand and its context to the whole—finger length and shape, nail shape, palm size and firmness, and hand size, shape and texture, among other factors. It is the full interpretation of the full hand, nothing less—at least to those who practice it in its most realized form. By reading the whole hand one can expect to get the “whole” picture.
In presuming that palmistry can predict one’s absolute future, an individual is buying into the idea of fate to some degree; this is nonessential. Palm reading is not about fate, but really more about self-understanding. The lines on one’s palm are not fixed; they, in fact, change over the years, shifting size, shape, thickness, even in some case, direction. With this in mind one’s fortune is not fixed, and thus palm reading can’t rightfully deal with anything like fate. It, instead, is giving an approximation of things that could come if the present course it kept. In this way, the practice becomes, in some ways, a compass, directing one toward their most desired future.
Below I have listed the resources used to compile this information, and consequently the resources I have used in my own practice. I will say that the most useful happen to be The Palmistry Bible by Jane Struthers and Palmistry: From Apprentice to Pro in Twenty-Four Hours by Johnny Fincham. In The Palmistry Bible, Struthers lays out what should be ultimately understood as palm reading long-form: the highly detailed guide to every nook, cranny, crack, texture and line of the hand, fingers and palm. It is the guide for the true devotee, ready to learn the art in its most intrinsic form. Palmistry: From Apprentice to Pro in Twenty-Four Hours on the other hand (pun intended) is a sort of palmistry guide for dummies. It presents, in very clear language and bite-sized selections, the main points of palm reading, covering the knowledge a person would need to get by at gatherings, dates, and the like. These two texts, when used together, will provide one with an in-depth and practical knowledge of the practice and its many facets.
Next week we will be covering the stone garnet.
Z. Smith is a cookie connoisseur, moonlight meanderer, and aesthete at large. His work has appeared in 13 Experiments, Folio, Stone Soup Review, SLUG Magazine, Salt Lake City Weekly, and CATALYST Magazine. He earned his BA in English from The University of Utah and currently writes from a room with many plants.
How to Read Palms by Judith Hipskind
The Palmistry Bible by Jane Struthers
Palmistry: From Apprentice to Pro in Twenty-Four Hours by Johnny Fincham