An Introduction to Hand Reading

Posted on in On Our Radar by Ellen Goldberg

The Hand-Mind Connection


Reading a hand is like reading a book, a book about you. There is only one set of hands in the whole world like yours. The story your hand tells is about your strengths, your talents, your personality traits, your health, how you feel about yourself, your weaknesses, and the traits you need to develop to become a well-rounded person. Your hand reveals periods of ease or challenge over the course of your life. The story of your life is right at your fingertips.

Gaining insight into human nature benefits both you and others, and saves you valuable time and energy. Knowledge of palmistry will help you make the most of your life, and approach your opportunities, challenges, and relationships with confidence and ease.

Know Thy Self

The journey toward self-knowledge has many paths. Each person must find his or her own way, but we need not make this journey alone. Life has provided numerous signposts to guide us, and palmistry is one of the most accessible. As one of the earliest forms of psychology, it allowed people to look below the surface and see the inner workings of the mind.

Many philosophers and mystics believe that life is a school in which we are learning lessons every day, and your hand is a guide in that school. The indications written in the hand are not considered a fixed fate—there is no fate set in stone. One of the most fascinating things about palmistry is that the hand is capable of changing.

We all play an essential part in creating our lives. We do this consciously and unconsciously; however, creating our lives consciously is better. Many of the great spiritual masters have said that it is our thinking that has the most powerful influence on the course of our lives.

It is important to remember that there are two parts to the mind, the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. They are always working simultaneously. The conscious mind is our everyday waking mind. It is the part of the mind we use for learning, reading, thinking, gathering information, and organizing and prioritizing our daily tasks.

The subconscious mind is our inner mind. It exerts a sometimes subtle and always powerful influence, and is the source of our imagination and dreams. All habitual actions—the things we do without thinking—are influenced by the subconscious. The subconscious is also the seat of intuition.

The changes that occur in the hand come from the subconscious mind.

Nothing is more powerful than our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves, and the hand is like a mirror. As you change, it changes, reflecting those changes back to you. Knowing how to read your own palm allows you to see the progress you’re making in your life.

A Brief History of Palmistry

Since the beginning of time people have contemplated their hands. Our prehistoric ancestors likely knew that each hand was unique, as evidenced by the many hand shapes that accompany the pictures of animals and people on cave walls. It is as though the artists used their handprints as signatures or magical talismans.

There is evidence that palmistry was practiced as a serious art in every ancient civilization. But if we trace its roots to the very beginning, it is probable that palmistry had its birth in India. References to palmistry appear in the Indian Vedas more than 4,000 years ago. Some ancient scriptures instruct monks not to read palms for money. This caution to the monks lets us know that palmistry was already a profession in 2000 BCE.

Palm reading for use in medicine and healing emerged in China at approximately the same time as Indian palmistry. Chinese medical texts were the first to mention the importance of the lines in the hand and their use in diagnosing disease. The Chinese were also the first to make use of fingerprints for identification. A thousand years before fingerprints were used in the West, Chinese emperors used their thumbprints to sign and seal documents.

From India, palmistry migrated both east and west. It was practiced throughout the Middle East long before the birth of Christ; references to palmistry are found in the Old Testament and the Koran.

There are numerous references in the Koran stating that the inner nature of an individual can be understood by carefully observing the signs written on the body. Arabic palmistry had a great influence upon the development of this art in Europe. Arabic texts can be found today in the Vatican library, which is said to contain one of the largest collections of palmistry and astrology books from the ancient and modern worlds.

There is very little surviving literature on palmistry from ancient Greece, but it was known that historic figures such as Hippocrates, Homer, Plato, and Alexander the Great valued the hand as a locus of divination and character analysis.

The crusaders returning from the Middle East brought many of the Islamic arts to Europe, including palmistry. Another important source for knowledge of palmistry was the nomadic Gypsies, who migrated from India in the 13th and 14th centuries. They made palmistry available to the common folk of Europe—it was the Gypsies who kept the tradition alive during the Middle Ages, when the Christian Church opposed all forms of divination.

One of the most famous European palmists was William John Warner, better known as Cheiro (1866–1936). A multitalented psychic, writer, and entrepreneur, his charisma, charm, and skill brought him into close contact with many eminent people. Included among his clients were the prime minister of England, and Edward, Prince of Wales. Famous writers and actors flocked to his studio. After having his palm read by Cheiro, Mark Twain wrote, “Cheiro has exposed my character to me with humiliating accuracy. I ought not to confess this accuracy, still I am moved to do it.”

In the early 20th century an American doctor, William Benham, brought palmistry into the modern age. Benham devoted a lifetime of observation to clarifying the indications found on the hand. He earned a medical degree to further his study of palmistry and spent time as a railroad doctor. In his travels across America, he visited many hospitals and prisons so that he might study the hands of patients and inmates. In 1900, Dr. Benham brought palmistry many steps forward with the publication of his seminal book, The Laws of Scientific Hand Reading.

A Brief Introduction to the Mounts and Lines

Most of the information about a person comes from the mounts and the lines of the hand. The mounts are the pads of flesh that rise up in the palm; their fullness and height vary in each individual hand. The strongest mounts in a hand are the source of the dominant character traits of the individual. Each mount represents an archetype, a personality pattern repeated since the dawn of time. The eight mounts of the hand could just as easily be called the seven archetypes of the palm. The lines are like rivers of energy, each representing a specific quality such as intelligence, vitality, and emotional capacity.

The Lines of the Palm

The lines of the palm are the rivers of energy in the map of the hand. There are six major lines and numerous minor ones. In this brief overview we will only cover the major lines.

Every hand typically has a Head Line, a Heart Line, and a Life Line. While considered to be major lines, the lines of Saturn, Apollo, and Mercury appear less frequently.

When examining a line, the depth of the channel it cuts and the clarity of the line determine its strength. When a line is deep and clear, the aspect represented by the line is functioning well. When a line is thin or broken, that aspect of the person is weak or challenged. Do not be frightened by a delicate line; lines change more easily than any other part of the hand. They are there for guidance and to show you where you should focus. Their ability to change shows us that fate is fluid.

The Major Lines

The Heart Line indicates the physical state of the heart and the emotional capability of the individual. The line begins near the Mount of Jupiter and runs across the hand. When the line is deep and clear the person is steady in their emotions, devoted, and reliable. A thin or chained line indicates the person is more fickle, sentimental, and changeable.

The Head Line is indicative of one’s intelligence and one’s ability to concentrate and focus. It begins under the Mount of Jupiter, close to the beginning of the Life Line. When the line is clear, the person can think clearly, concentrate, and has a good memory. When the line is thin or chained, the mental power is weakened, and the individual may experience confusion and lack of focus.

Occasionally the Head and Heart lines combine into one line. This is called a Simian Line and indicates that the head and heart function as one. The Simian Line bestows intensity and depth of focus. For those with a Simian Line, thinking has an emotional quality to it, and their emotions are influenced by their mind.

The Life Line encircles the thumb in a wide arc. It provides information about a person’s vitality and ability to resist illness. It does not tell the length of one’s life, but records how long energy will be a gift. When the line is deep and clear, the person’s energy and recuperative ability are strong. When the line is thin, broken, or chained, energy runs low, and the ability to withstand illness is diminished.

The Saturn Line, also known as the Line of Security and the Line of Fate, represents how secure the person feels. This can be based on internal or external factors. The line begins near the wrist and runs upward toward the Mount of Saturn. Every change in the line indicates a new cycle of life. When the line is deep and clear, the person feels secure, and conditions are favorable for any undertaking. When the line is missing or defective, the person must work twice as hard. Many people who are “self-made” successes have no line of Saturn.

The Apollo Line is also called the Line of Art or the Line of Recognition. This line appears rarely, but when it does it confers creative ability, and the possibility of recognition in the person’s chosen field. This line runs from the wrist up toward the Mount of Apollo.

The Mercury Line is also referred to as the Line of Health and appears in less than 50% of hands. A person can have excellent health with or without this line. The Mercury Line describes certain distinct health issues mostly dealing with the digestive system and the liver. If it is deep and clear, it will confer good health and improve even a delicate Life Line.

Always Read Both Hands

Although we concentrate on reading the dominant hand, each hand offers valuable information with a slightly different view.

The dominant hand changes far more read ily than the recessive and is usually the strongest one, and the one used for writing and complex manual tasks. Because the dominant hand changes as we change, it offers the most up-to-date information. The recessive hand changes very little over time and shows us the characteristics given at birth, untapped aspects of the self, or qualities lying dormant within. Everything written in the recessive hand is considered to be a “possibility” stored in the subconscious mind.

A palmistry saying sums it up: The recessive hand shows the qualities given at birth, while the dominant hand shows what’s become of them.

We can see, for better or worse, how a person has evolved from the original psychic blueprint of the palm. Some people stay very close to the original pattern, and the two hands will appear quite similar. More often there is a difference between the hands, and this can tell you a great deal. You can often see at a glance if a person has not lived up to their full potential, or whether they have significantly evolved a part of themselves, or overcome a challenge. The differences can appear anywhere: in the development of the mounts, the clarity of lines, or in the basic modifiers. Any of these differences can have a strong impact on the personality.

In ambidextrous people, you can use each hand for different kinds of information. For example, ask which hand the person uses for writing, and that would be the hand used to interpret the Head Line. The hand used for manual or sport activities would be the one with the up-to-date information on the Life Line. You can determine which hand to use for the Heart Line by asking which they use to reach out to other people.

Whether reading the palms of someone who is right-handed, left-handed, or ambidextrous, comparing the two hands is fascinating and informative, and allows us a more comprehen sive picture of the person.

Author Ellen Goldberg is a psychotherapist, an internationally renowned teacher of tarot and palmistry, and the founder and director of the School of Oracles. Dorian Bergen, assistant author, is the co-owner of ACA Galleries and has been a student and practitioner of palmistry for more than 25 years. This article was adapted from their book, The Art and Science of Hand Reading, with permission from the publisher, Inner Traditions International.

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