The practice of reading palms — where it originated, what to look for, and what it all means

By Nia Anthony

Elm Staff Writer 

Palm reading, also known as palmistry or chiromancy has been around for ages. There are ways to give reading your own palm a try, particularly with fortune-telling to determine your fate. 

Although there are tons of resources on how to get involved with palmistry, here’s the simplified version of the basic history and steps.

Palmistry can be defined simply as the practice of reading one’s thenar to tell fortunes. It’s done by analyzing the set lines on a person’s hand and fingers and since we all have a unique print, all of our palms will tell a different story.

While palmistry is a practice that dates back as far as the 15thcentury, there’s no discernable origin of where it comes from. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the practice of palm reading is speculated to have originated in India. Currently, palmistry and fortune telling is practiced mostly in Eurasia, with fortune-tellers traveling all over the world to both perfect and perform their craft. 

What are the basics of palm reading? 

According to blog White Witch Parlour’s “History of Palmistry,”the right hand is managed by the left side of the brain, and is reflective of the outer person, making up the masculine and outgoing parts of a person. 

The left hand, controlled by the right side of the brain, and reflective of one’s inner personality and represents a more intuitive side.

“[The left hand]  is the “yin” of personality, feminine and receptive [while the right hand] corresponds to the “yang” aspect of personality, masculine and outgoing,” the blog said in 2018. 

How do you read someone’s palm? 

To start, look at the overall appearance of the person’s hand. Take into account things like texture, birthmarks, scars, calluses, etc. This can tell you a lot about the person without even getting into line specifics. For example, if the subject has a birthmark or scar through their life line —the curve located between your thumb and index finger —or has callouses from working too hard, that can reveal a lot about their fate. 

Before analyzing the lines discern if the hand shapes are fire, water, air, or earth. These are the four major elements that influence our lives and ultimately our paths. 

Fire-shaped hands have shorter fingers and are usually characterized by deep creases. Fire hands mean your subject is confident, bold, and motivated. However, they can have some trouble with empathy. 

Water hands have both long palms and long fingers, which are usually slim and soft. Typically, this means your subject is emotionally intelligent, intuitive, and imaginative. This cause them to feel damaged or get hurt easily.

Those with air-shaped hands have a square palm with long and boney fingers. They are highly intelligent and constantly analytical but can also be airheaded or easily go off track from necessary tasks. 

Lastly, for those with earth hands, with their wide, square-shaped fingers and palms to match, this indicates that you are a logical and practical thinker, and deeply rooted in your ideals, but are also described as being, as according to Allure’s Aliza Kelly Faragher, “too consumed with… immediate realities, which can ultimately hinder long-term planning and achievement.” 

After discerning between the four elements, move on to distinguish between the raised flesh mounts of the subject’s hands. The mounts are ruled by the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, as well as the sun and moon. 

The mount of Mercury is under the pinky and determines traits like intelligence and analytical skills. 

 At the base of the thumb, Venus is the love and passion mount. Pay attention to how it’s raised and how prominent it is. 

The mount of Mars is separated into inner Mars and outer Mars. Inner Mars determines physical strength, while Outer Mars determine mental strength. These two are also located at the thumb, with Inner Mars located between Venus and Jupiter on thumb and index finger and Outer Mars located between Mercury and Luna close to the pinkie. 

At the bottom of the index finger, the mount of Jupiter determines leadership and drive. This can shed some light for career-driven or ambitious people. 

Found at the bottom of the ring finger, the sun mount lends itself to happiness and a person’s prosperity. This is the most joyful mount. 

 The most noticeable one, the mount of Luna is it is at the bottom of the palm on the outer pinky side. This tells the palm reader about a person’s intuition and imagination. 

Once you’ve accessed the mounts, it’s time to move on to the lines: the head line, heart line, life line, fate line and sun line. These all have different characteristics that can tell you about the future of the subject. 

The head line is the very center of the palm. If the line is deep, the person is complex and a real thinker; if it is shallow, the person is usually more carefree. If the line is wavy the person is more of a free spirit; if it’s straight, they are more of a straight shooter in life. 

The heart line is the first line tracing between the index and middle finger to the pinkie, and tells the reader about the love life of the subject. Breaks in the line indicate the person will experience multiple lovers in their life, while the depth or shallowness represents how complex the relationship may be. 

The life line is right under the headline. This one is simple because it’s determined by depth. How deep or shallow the line is determines the amount of hardship, complexity and richness in a person’s life.

The fate line is the vertical line in the palm, this is only crucial to the reading if the line has changed or moved in anyway. That will indicate major life changes.

The sun line if the vertical line on the side closest to the pinky. This line influences other lines in the palm. If it is close to or intersects with the fate line, it may spark conversation about how one’s individuality could influence their own destiny. 

While palm reading is a truly intuitive process, with hand characteristics may be vague on paper, it falls into place with in-person readings. 

Remember to read with a clean head, a clean heart, and remove any personal bias for a true result.

Featured Photo caption: For centuries, the art of palm reading, or palmistry, has provided individuals a window into looking into the future. Photo Courtesy of Shreyas Sha Ka.

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