Foretelling the future has concerned mankind across time and place. This is as much a result of natural curiousity as a matter of self-preservation from future hostile agents. Thus human beings have expended considerable effort and time in developing ways to predict the future. While many of these forms of divination have disappeared, a few are still in use and one of these is chiromancy.
Chiromancy is more popularly known as palmistry since it is a method of fortune-telling which studies the palm of a person. the term is derived from the Greek word ‘kheir’ meaning “hand” as well as ‘manteia’ or divination. Those who practice chiromancy are generally called palmists, palm readers or chirologists.
Chiromancy is thought to have originated in India with its roots in Hindu Astrology. From India, the art of palmistry spread to China, Tibet, Egypt, Persia and to other countries in Europe. In Greece, chiromancy was popularized in the writings of Aristotle and was passed onto Alexander the Great who was believed to have taken such an interest in the subject that he would apparently examine the palms of his soldiers in order to gauge their personalities. Yet another famous Greek scholar Hippocrates sought to use palmistry to aid his clinical procedures. As the art spread to other parts of Europe in later centuries, it met with the increasing influence of the Christian Church which banned it like all other practices of the occult.
However this act had little effect on the practice of chiromancy which continued to be studied and used by people to interpret their futures. An indication of this fact is the publication of the book De Physiognomia written by Michael Scott in 1477. Even though the book studied all aspects of the human physiognomy, a chapter was devoted exclusively to the hand which was seen as bearing the imprint of a person’s thoughts and character. In modern times, one of the biggest names to popularize chiromancy was William John Warner 1866-1936, a famous clairvoyant who used palmistry as a way of foretelling the future and even took the nickname ‘Cheiro’ as a nod to his art of chiromancy.
According to the modern practice of chiromancy, the lines on palm of the human hand represent a graphic shortcut to the circuits of the human brain. Thus the thought processes, character traits and overall personality of an individual can be determined by reading the lines on his/her. A trained palmist looks not only at the palms, but actually at the whole hand; he/she takes into account the shape of the hand, the length and other characteristics of the fingers and finger nails as well as the texture and color of the skin before completing a reading. Based on all these aspects of chiromancy, experts in the field thus can not only evaluate a character but even predict what the future holds for the person.
Since chiromancy is practiced in some form or other throughout the world, there is a lot of variation in readings. However there are certain basic principles to the practice of chiromancy. Palmists or palm-readers believe that the palms of no two persons in the world can ever be completely alike. Each palm is unique and thus bears the imprint of the psychology and destiny of that person. Once a line appears on the palm of a person, it will never go away though additional lines may appear and change the overall look. In a right-handed person, the dominant hand indicates how the person has developed while the left hand shows the traits that he/she was born with. The converse is true for the left-handed person. The palmist will also take the shape of the palm when conducting a reading – this is basically of two types the square-shaped and the long-shaped palm, each of which in turn can have long fingers and short fingers. The interpretations for each palm and finger shape is different; for instance a person with square palm and short fingers is likely to be hard working and down to earth while the same shape with long fingers means one who is intellectual and highly rational. Likewise long palms usually denote intuition and imagination even though short fingers in them can indicate energy and quick wit while long fingers may denote excessive sensitivity.
However the most important part of chiromancy is undoubtedly the study of lines on a palm. Of these there are four major lines – the life line, head line, heart line and destiny line – as well as nine minor lines which are the line of Mars, Solomon’s Circle, Belt of Venus, Child Line, Marriage line, Bracelets, Line of Apollo, Intuition line and Health line. Contrary to popular belief the length of the Life line does not indicate how long a person will live, rather it is a mark of general well-being as well life-changing events that may occur during his/her lifetime. The heart line symbolizes all experiences to do with love and attachment while the head line represents how the person’s mind works. The destiny line indicates the choices in a person’s life including successes, obstacles and those beyond his/her control.
Along with the lines, the Mounts are another aspect of chiromancy which are considered important in reading a person. The hand is divided into eight segments called mounts. Each mount relates to a corresponding planet with a specific area of influence. The mounts of the hand provide a tangible record of how a person deals with each of these planetary influences, and what his/her challenges are. The mounts are Luna, Venus, upper mount of Mars, lower mount of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Sun and Mercury.
The study of the fingers also comprises of a significant aspect of chiromancy. Each finger is divided into three sections and each section in turn has a separate meaning, depending upon the exact finger. The palmist studies the length of each finger, every section and any other marking in order to arrive at a comprehensive reading of the subject’s character.
The kind of divination carried out by chiromancy is rather individual in nature. This practice is not so much effective at predicting world events but rather events which will be significant in a person’s life. And it does this by first analyzing a subject’s personality and then based on that, gauging the probable trials and choices that would mark his/her life.