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Beyond Palmistry: 5 things you need to know about having your hands read.

We are all carrying a map of our body, mind and spirit around with us, we just need to learn to read it!


The map I am referring to is our hands. Not just the lines on our palms, but our fingers, our nails, our skin texture and its consistency. Our hands are the physical manifestation of all that we are, from our health and physical state right through to our spiritual or karmic purpose in this life. Yet this wonderful resource is under explored. There are many fewer people studying hands than some of the other divination practices. Just a quick internet search will produce around 250 million hits each for astrology and tarot, but only nine and a half million for palmistry. Even so, there are lots of opinions, prejudices and misunderstandings surrounding hand reading. You should see the faces people pull when I tell them I read hands!


Any mention of palmistry is often quickly followed by a warning that it is practiced by charlatans and to protect yourself from falling foul of their corrupt activities. But palmistry, or hand reading as I prefer to call it, is no different from any of its fellow studies. As with tarot, astrology and divination of all types, most of us are working with the best of intentions. Perhaps this deeply held suspicion of hand reading stems from its association with Traveler communities. I think society’s ingrained prejudices produce an automatic distrust of anyone who reads hands. Whatever the reasons, it is time to debunk some myths and open up to the true potentials of hand reading.


The Fortune Teller by Enrique Simonet 1899



Myth number 1: You only look at the lines on the palm of the hands.

The word palmistry is the most often used term for the study of the hands, but it is inaccurate and misleading as so much information is gained from the morphognomy of the whole hand, not just the lines on the palm. The basis of any reading is the overall shape of the hands. The shape is an indicator of the fundamental energy of the person and will give some indication of their nature and of how they will fit in (or not) with the world around them, as well as their susceptibility to certain types of ailments.


The system I use is based on the five elements (earth, water, fire, air) with the fifth element, space, to give an understanding of spirit or karma. Similar elemental frameworks also underpin modern astrology and tarot and have long been used in the East and West to explain the complexities of the universe by finding correspondence in simpler and observable forms.



Fire signifies the principle of heat. Heat in nature is transformative. Think of a fire burning its way through its fuel to produce ash, gases, water and other products. Fire is constantly changing, it’s always on the move. Heat also speeds up reactions between chemicals and gentle warmth is needed for plants to grow, so fire is creative as well as destructive.

In human consciousness, fire energy has produced capitalist societies in which resources are continually transformed to create profit. Conventional views value growth, development, change, being busy and creative - all very fiery. How exactly each person manifests their fire nature can be discerned from the rest of the hand. The expressions are as varied as the economic and cultural outputs of our societies.


Some individuals have other elemental hand shapes. They may find it hard to fit in or feel a little at odds with the people around them; a symptom of their energy being fundamentally different from the majority of people. Consequently, they are usually found just out of the mainstream, finding places with others of similar energetic expression. Air hand shapes tend to retreat to universities or similar institutions where they can pursue a life devoted to abstract and theoretical thinking, communication of ideas and original inventions. Water hand shapes are most commonly found in the arts - creative, healing and divinationary - anywhere where intuition, colour, form and the senses are valued (tarot is perfect for a water hand shape person!). Meanwhile, earth hand shape people dig-in to a life in the countryside, valuing the natural landscapes and the traditional lifestyles of rural communities.


Once I have established the shape of the hand, I move on to look at the comparative lengths of the fingers and the thumb. The digits tell us much about the psychology of an individual, and when combined with the hand shape and analysis of the fingerprints, the reader has probably 75% of the information she needs to give a really accurate and revealing reading for the individual. In many cases the lines of the hand repeat, refine and confirm what you can already tell from the more basic features. In a full reading I would look at everything, but I could do a quickie from the shape, skin texture, fingers and dermatoglyphics. However, a quick look at just the lines on the palm usually leads to misinformation and interpretations to which the owner does not fully relate.


Myth number 2: Having a hand reading is all about predicting the future

In an insecure world where life throws curve balls, it would be useful to know what is just around the corner. Through the ages people have consulted those considered wise, psychic or in communication with the gods for guidance and advice on events in the future. However, those who go to palmists for this service are not receiving information from their hands. If a palmist is telling you about your future, they are using another method (perhaps they are super intuitive or channeling messages) or they might just be making it up. Contrary to popular belief, the hands are not a fixed road map of our lives.


The hand actually shows the network of our consciousness as it stands now, today. The lines, and particularly the Major Earth line (or Life line as most call this line), show our relationship to life events. However, all the lines change over time and sometimes quite dramatically. Markings come and go, absent lines may appear, endings can grow in length or branches may develop. Trying to read the future under these conditions is doomed to inaccuracies. Future events are just not there! While we strive to be mistresses or masters of our own consciousnesses, life still throws those curve balls and there is no way we can tell from the hand when they are coming at us.


Prediction is unreliable

Two hand prints of the same person taken 25 years apart. Notice how many more bar lines and other markings intersect the red Life line on the older person (on the right). The events of this person’s life have inscribed themselves on their palm but could not have been predicted from their younger hand.



I have more success interpreting the past. Studying events that have already happened and discussing them in the context of the karmic patterns of their dermatoglyphics and other features that show habitual responses or patterns of thinking, can draw back a veil and lift clouds of confusion. Markings on the lines record the impact events have on us by mapping our relationship to them. For example, there are no individual markings for bearing a child, moving house or being forced to search for a new job. The hands may show there has been a drain of energy, if this is how our body and mind have experienced the event. They document the internal processes rather than the events themselves. Discussing those internal processes from the perspective of a person’s unique individual being can be like switching on a light in a dark room. Suddenly, it can all make perfect sense and the next steps on the path become clear.


Myth number 3: The length of your Life line shows the length of your life.

If you have a short Life line DO NOT PANIC! Lines are a flow of energy and an expression of consciousness. They are not a reductive diagram with fixed meanings that are easily interpreted. I call this line the Major Earth line because it is the main line showing the flow of earth energy. This energy is present within us and manifests at all levels. So, this line shows us something of our health, emotional stability, reliability and internal support for creative endeavours and our lifestyle. There is so much more to be read in this line than just the sequence of events in your life.


As discussed in Myth 2, a sudden event that is beyond our control, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time for example, will not show in the hands. You have no way of knowing this will happen so your consciousness will not be able to express a short life in this way. Your hands do not show what the external world has in store for you.


A line that appears on first inspection to be short, is often one where the energy flow is broken, split or reduplicated. Some people have very complicated line formations where the Major Earth line is supported by another line. Different energy flows are fused showing a confusion of process and expression. While this can indicate, for example, a very difficult childhood or a workaholic nature it does not necessarily mean the life force is weak, depleted or will be spent up early.


Short Life line

This person’s early life did not provide her with a sufficiently stable and nurturing environment, which contributed to her short Life line (shown in red). However, she is alive and well and in her 50s. Note how the blue line, which indicates our self-identity, has taken over from the Life line showing she has found external sources of security and stability.


An early death might come about through illness and developing poor health will show on the hands. I always look at the quality of the Major Earth line as well as many other features when assessing health. A person in poor health might have a very long line, just one of poor quality and showing very depleted energy. A good health analysis will reveal your state of health from a holistic and integrative perspective giving you good information to go forward towards healing or maintaining well-being.


Myth number 4: You can tell your fortune from your hands.

Being told we are going to be rich, famous, fabulously fortunate and live happily ever after would be an utter thrill, especially if it actually came true! But if a palmist tells you this, don’t believe them. Success is often about who you know not what you know, and your hands can’t tell you about the status of your friends. There are no line formations that indicate fame or fortune.


The presence of the minor fire line, which can more descriptively be called the inner focus line (also often called the Apollo line), is a good example that helps to illustrate this myth. If a hand reader is relying on old and out of date information and they see a long inner focus line running vertically from the base of the hand to the ring finger, they might tell you that you will have a career in the public eye. While there are some celebrities that possess this line, there are many more that don’t, and many who do have it who would definitely not want to be in the limelight. This line indicates the person has a rich inner life and inner focus. This is the line that shows the person can get in the flow, or in the zone. As such it is often, but not exclusively, found on very creative people. The experience can be somewhat like a meditation where the outer world recedes and the creative process takes over. Obviously, some people with this talent for creativity might become famous as actors, comedians, writers, etc. But just having it is no guarantee of worldly success or recognition.


Inner focus line

Caption for image 5

The Inner Focus line runs up towards the base of the ring finger. It is usually only present on the top half of the hand. When a full-length line is found, the person has a talent for intense meditative focus.


More important than fame or fortune, hands can tell us a great deal about vocational leanings, creative talents and aptitudes for various types of activities. They also reveal the way people think, communicate and deal with information. A hand reading is therefore a wonderful opportunity to assess career ideas or changes in direction. I can advise you of the opportunities or challenges your innate skills and habitual patterns will present you with whether you are starting a business or accepting a new role at work. But I can’t predict if you will hit the big time, win the lottery or marry a princess.


Myth number 5: The right hand tells the future and the left hand the past.

There are all sorts of misconceptions circulating about the difference between the two hands. It certainly is not as simple as reading the past in one and the future in the other. There are no differences between the way you read a man’s hands and a woman’s hands either. To say you read a man’s right and a woman’s left says more about the subordination of women and cultural perceptions of them as passive homemakers rather than active participants in society. Clearly this is outdated and should not be entertained.


As with most things reflective of human consciousness, the truth is more complex than one hand for one thing. Firstly, it depends on which hand is the dominant one. Usually the hand that does the writing and signs the documents is dominant. This hand takes the lead and I refer to it as the active hand. It is usually the right hand but if you are left-handed then it’s the left. The active hand usually tells us more about what the person is like at work or when you first meet them. It shows the patterns the person most readily recognises and is most consciously aware of.


The other hand, the passive, shows the subordinate or less obvious characteristics of a person. This could be how they are at home in their private life, what they were like as a child and what they reveal to you as you get to know them better.


I always take a print of both hands and consider the features of both in a reading. Sometimes the passive hand can be very revealing for a person, showing them things about themselves that they don’t readily articulate. This hand may show hidden talents that they can choose to tap into to support their more active and outward life. It may reveal the cause of deep-seated insecurities or traumas the person deals with every day but cannot fathom. People do not have two distinct halves and in truth we are a blend of both hands, like overlaid layers of translucent paper. Together you get the whole picture; just looking at one gives an incomplete image.


In many ways hand reading is a science: we have assembled a body of evidence from observation; we build on our understanding, correcting misconceptions as we develop our knowledge; we publish our findings and test the findings of other people in our own work; we study and use information published in conventional scientific journals. Piece by piece we have revealed the meanings of each feature of the hand and piece by piece we can put our interpretations together to create a picture of someone. But reading someone’s hands is actually more poetic than scientific. A good hand reading is not formulaic or created from a set recipe. There are so many features in the hands that communicate how we express the myriad details of our consciousnesses. The art is in what to say and what to leave out. Working through what the person will recognise, what makes them individual and how they relate to their experience of the world is the essence of a useful hand reading. I look for the key story, the conflicts and resolutions, the elemental combinations that show the pattern of their life and the fabric of their daily responses. I work with the client to uncover their karmic inheritance, the lessons they are in this life to learn.


A good hand reader will recognise who you are at a very deep level and will help you to join up your life experiences into a holistic understanding of yourself. You are given a language to understand the patterns that repeat and a map to find their origins. The effect can be very moving and even transformative. My aim is to help people have greater compassion towards themselves. If you can understand how and why you are unique you can take steps on your path to self-acceptance and inner happiness.


If this has convinced you that a reading could help you on your life journey please check my consultations page for more details.


If you would like to learn the amazing skill of hand reading so you can help yourself and those you meet towards greater self understanding check my learn hand reading page for details on courses.


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