Palmistry, also known as chiromancy, is a form of divination that seeks to foretell the future by studying the palm of the hand.  Cultures throughout the world have relied on palmistry, and there are many variations.

Ancient Hindus used palmistry, as did Gypsy fortune tellers.  The first book on palmistry it was written by Valmiki, a Hindu sage, over 5000 years ago. From India, palmistry spread across Asia and to Europe.  The practice arrived in China around 3000 B.C., and was later practiced in Greece by Anaxagoras and others.  Today, palmistry is often combined with other techniques of divination, holistic healing, and psychology.

The information in this article represents the generalities of modern palmistry.  However, there are various interpretations available.

In palmistry, the diviner studies both a person’s character and future by studying that person’s palm.  The lines and bumps of the hand are studied; some traditions also examine the fingers, nails, skin texture and color, and more. The reader begins with a person’s dominant hand, the one they use the most.  In some cultures, the opposite hand is thought to carry information on past lives, karma, and heredity.

Classical palmistry, the most common tradition, is based in Greek mythology. Each area of the hand relates to a different god or goddess in the Greek pantheon; therefore, the nature of each area is related to the preference of the gods.  As an example, Apollo is linked with the ring finger.  Since Apollo was interested in art, aesthetics, music, harmony, wealth, and fame, the ring finger is associated with these characteristics.

The shape of the hand is analyzed, along with other qualities.  The shape of the hands fits into one of four or five major types which roughly correspond to the four elements.  The shape of the hand indicates the character traits of that individual.  The shapes are as follows:

  • Earth hands have broad, square palms. The skin is coarse, with ruddy skin.  The length of the fingers is equal to the length of the palm (from the bottom of the fingers to the rest).
  • Air hands have square or rectangular palms. The fingers are long, sometimes with protruding knuckles.  The skin is often dry.  The length of the fingers is usually greater than the length of the palm.
  • Water hands have elongated oval palms. The fingers are long and flexible, and the length of the fingers usually equals that of the palm.
  • Fire hands have a square or rectangular palm with pink skin and short fingers. The palm is generally longer than the fingers.

Practitioners do not only study the shape of the hands.  The lines of the palm play a major role in determining a person’s character and future.  Some of the lines commonly studied include:

  1. The most controversial line is the life line.  It is believed to represent your physical health and general well-being.  Many practitioners believe that the lifeline reflects major life changes like physical injuries, relocations, and more.  Despite popular belief, palmists rarely link the length of a person’s life with the length of their life line.
  2. The head line is also an important area.  It can provide insights into your communication and learning styles.  It also indicates your desire for knowledge and intellectualism.  The head line can also provide information on your approach to a problem – whether you are creative or analytical.
  3. The heart line is often examined first. It represents your heart, both metaphorically and physically.  Not only can it indicate your cardiac health, it can also indicate emotional stability, romantic tendencies, stoicism, and even your susceptibility to depression.
  4. The Girdle of Venus relates to emotional intelligence.  The ability to manipulate others may be reflected here.
  5. The Sun line indicates fame … or infamy.
  6. The Mercury line is an indication of great skills in business or communication.  It may also indicate persistent health issues.

The fate line represents the path of your life.  This may include the choices made in your schooling and career, as well as your successes, failures, and obstacles.  In some schools, this line is thought to reflect your choices and the consequences; in other schools, the fate line represents circumstances beyond your control.

Some of the lines of the hand in Palmistry 1: Life line – 2: Head line – 3: Heart line – 4: Girdle of Venus – 5: Sun line – 6: Mercury line – 7: Fate line. Courtesy Wikipedia
Henry Bacour (1839–1912): The Fortune Teller, 123 x 92 cm (with the lady customer carrying a tennis/badminton(?) racket). Courtesy Wikipedia.