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'Cross my hand palm with silver and I'll tell you your fate,' so has many a dark-eyed gypsy woman promised those who would learn their futures. And the hand of fate does lie in your hands, according to Chiromancy or palmistry, which is the very ancient art of divination by reading your hands and seeing your life mapped out in every crease. Palmistry is an universal art, with variations across the globe. It began in India with Astrology and the legendary Romany or Roma tradition of fortune telling. So when a pretty gypsy girl offers to tell your fortune, smile, you are experiencing a tradition that can be traced back millennia. An Indian savant, Valmiki, is reputed to have written on palmistry 5,000 years ago. From India the art spread to China circa 3,000 B.C. Tibet, Egypt, Persia and Europe.

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Julius Caesar used palmistry to sift through whether those around him were suitable or not, some slip ups there then Julius! Hippocrates (460 - 370 B.C.) the father of modern medicine and Galen, (460 - 370 B.C.) the equally renowned physician, both used palmistry as a diagnostic tool as we still can today. There are signs about our health in the colour of our hands. Very white palms are a sign of bad circulation; red palms often mean high blood pressure; a blue cast to the palms shows too slow a supply of blood to the extremities and a pinkish rosy palm indicates good health in palmistry. Medical research studying dermatoglyphics or skin patterns, have found a like between genetic abnormalities and unusual marks on the hands. Medical research has also found links to fingerprints and heart disease.

During the Middle Ages, palmistry was used as a weapon of the witch finders to root out hidden witches from amongst the populace. These witch finders suffered under many delusions, one of which was that witches made pacts with the devil and Satan's mark could be found as a spot upon their hands; pity any woman who did not have unblemished hands in those days. Chiromancy was outlawed by the Catholic Church in the 17th century and then banned in Britain in the 18th century; one wonders how the Romany people survived without this important means of income for them. But in 19th century Saxony, a Dr Carl Carus linked our palms to our personalities in the same way that phrenology links character to bumps on our heads, that is those bumps that haven't been inflicted by sceptics with cricket bats.

But today palmistry has undergone a revival, and practitioners work without fear of persecution. In the Complete Idiot's Guide to Palmistry, the authors Lisa Lenard and Robin Giles, explain that no two hands are the same, your hands are unique, just as our cells are unique to us and from this they extrapolate, that therefore our destinies may be read in our hands.

Palmistry delineates our character or our future by 'reading' our hand. The chiromancer looks at the client's dominant hand, your writing hand which is believed to show hereditary traits, character and any remnants of past life experience. Whereas the left hand, usually the submissive hand, normally shows your childhood's remnants. The lines of the hand, the life line, the heart line etc. and the mounds are interpreted by size and length etc. There are varying traditions of palmistry and in some, the qualities of the skin, finger nails, finger prints and so forth, are all examined for further insights.

In Classical palmistry each part of the hand is allied to a Greek god or goddess, the Greek god Apollo corresponding to the ring finger. The ring finger is said to be characteristic of the person's creative life, money and fame.


Hand shapes are important in palmistry with the four differing hand shapes, fire, air, water and earth, corresponding to the natural elements and characteristics, as in Astrology or in the medieval science of The Four Humours, (which stemmed from Hippocrates and Galen); choleric; melancholic; sanguine and phlegmatic.

Palmists note that their clients do seem to show characteristics and tendencies linked by the common hand characteristics they share. Those with spatulate fingers are restless and often make good inventors it is said. Squarish fingertips reveal the systematical type who enjoys organising, as with accountants; these types, who sound very anal from what palmists say - move an object out of place and these square types live up to their names - as they grab the object back into it's predestined position and sigh with relief, order is all. Women tend to have more hand lines than men - could that be washerwoman hands and too much cleaning? Arching fingerprints reveal those who enjoy jobs requiring intricate specialists skills whereas whorl fingerprints show the artist inside. Those of us with little hands like to do things on a grand scale in life’s arena while conversely, big handed people like doing delicate things on a small scale, so the palmists have noticed.

Water handed people are recognised by a long oval palm with long, flexible conical fingers. The length of the palm from the wrist to the base of the fingers is normally shorter than the width of the widest part of the palm and equal to, or nearly equal to, the length of the fingers. Water people apparently make good musicians and poets and also do well in the more visual worlds of beauty or fashion. For them, their flights of feeling matter more then what their brains tell them.

Earth handed people have broad, square palms and fingers with coarse skin. The length of the palm from wrist to the bottom of the fingers is normally equal to the length of the fingers. Earth types are 'stick in the muds' who prefer continuity to any change. They tend to be slow and feel at home when surrounded by nature; getting close to nature in farming or gardening and dislike change. They also tend to have even temperaments and are often found working as artists, photographers and carpenters. They like working out of doors and job security is vital for these timid souls.

Air handed people show square palms with long fingers and sometimes knuckles which stick out, thumbs that are low set and dry skin. The length of the palm from the wrist to the base of the fingers is normally less than the length of the fingers. Air people get bored quickly, love travel and anything that stimulates their minds. They are generally sunny people who enjoy communicating and working with others. Often very eloquent and presumably as long as their eloquence lends itself to being pleasant, are generally very popular and can often be found working in the media.

Fire handed people show a square palm, pink or flushed skin and shortish fingers. The length of the palm from the wrist to the base of the fingers is normally longer than the length of the fingers. Fire handed people are usually extroverted, passionate and emotional hothouses who like to be in charge of their own lives. They also are known for having constant accidents, perhaps caused by their excitability.

So whether you have a passionate, fiery palm or a poetic air palm, it does seem that palmistry can tell us far more about ourselves than when we last had a manicure.

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