The History of Hand Reading

One upon a time palmistry was considered a science and was taught in schools and universities. Once gypsies began charging for it and taking advantage of the unknowing open palmed customer, it lost its prestige and was even banned in certain areas for a time. I am not criticizing gypsy palmists as many past and present give accurate readings. It is a piece of our past, however, that hand reading had been banned and that gypsy travelers relocated to other cities in order to avoid the illegality of fortune telling. Palmistry was grouped in with the pseudo-sciences and seen by most as entertainment. It has never been held in the same regard it once was but still holds fast as a real science to those who use it properly. Certain areas of medicine look at the hand, particularly the color and nails. Fingerprints prove the individuality in each hand. German science and medicine look at the ridges in the nails while forensics also look to various aspects of a hand. Also, reflexology is an alternative medicine practice that applies pressure to zones of the hands (and feet).

Before birth, our three major lines were formed. The life, heart and head lines. The fetus, in the womb, awaits with closed hands. The act of making a fist creates those first lines. Once the baby is born, before anything else, even a breath, it clenches the the first then outstretches the hand. Lines deepen and change during life while new lines appear.

There is a misconception that the palm lines foretell what will be. It is not a picture of the future but the present. By looking at the present we can foretell what is likely to happen. Think of an unhealthy relationship. The patterns do not change unless the people within the relationship take heed to this and change or break away from one another. During a reading if one is warned about a health issue seen in the palm, they can take the advice and make the appropriate lifestyle or dietary changes. An unwanted line or marking can  fade and disappear if we follow what is advised.

Palmistry is not a fool proof guide to life but does relay knowledge on how we are living our lives. For example, both hands will appear different with some similarities. The left hand or non dominant hand is usually seen as what God has given to us and the right hand or dominant hand displays what we have done with it.

Those who practice palmistry are called palmists, hand readers, hand analysts and chirologists. There are many often conflicting schools of thought on various lines and features. I prefer to refer back to the old text books studied by students and written by professors of hand reading when the art was still regarded as a science.

It is believed that the first book on hand reading was written in India and then spread to China, Tibet, Egypt, Persia and to other countries in Europe. It is not known for sure for there are other hints of palmistry in our past. Though open to interpretation, it is believed that the Bible even mentions something of hand reading in Job 37:7. In Greece, Aristotle discovered a treatise on palmistry on an alter of Hermes which he presented to Alexander the Great, who took a great interest in the subject.

It was during the Middle Ages that the Catholic Church suppressed palmistry as pagan superstition. In Renaissance Magic it became known as one of the seven forbidden arts along with necromancy, geomancy, aeromancy, pyromancy, hydromancy and scapulimancy. In the modern era, palmistry was revived. The Chirological Society of Great Britain was founded in London by Katharine St. Hill in 1889 with the stated aim to advance and systematize the art of palmistry and to prevent charlatans from abusing the art.

William John Warner, an Irishman known by the nickname Cheiro, set up a shop in London after studying with gurus in India. He had many famous clients such as Mark Twain, W.T. Stead, Sarah Bernhardt, Mata Hari, Oscar Wilde, Grover Cleveland, Thomas Edison, The Prince of Whales, General Kitchener, William Ewart Gladstone and Joseph Chamberlain. He was so popular, even non-believers would have their hands read by him. The skeptical Mark Twain wrote in Cheiro’s visitor’s book that he had “‚Ķexposed my character to me with humiliating accuracy.”

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