Light & Shadows of Chalandor Book of Shadows
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Title: Skepticism about Palmistry
Light & Shadows of Chalandor Book of Shadows   The Palmestry Arts
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From: USA
Registered: 11/21/2008

(Date Posted:02/10/2009 06:26 AM)
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Skepticism about palmistry

The prevalent image of palmistry is not an accurate one - palmistry is usually associated with fortune telling, crystal balls, incense, magic and the like. All of these can be discarded - no extra tools are needed (besides roller&ink), no magic spells need to be cast (or can be cast for that matter), and fortune telling was probably just the first found market of palmistry.

Skeptics focus on this stereotypical group of people that examine hands. These are the self-proclaimed 'magicians', those who give handanalysis a bad name, reading what people want to hear: when you will marry, how many children you will have, lottery numbers, financial success and so on. The tendency is to focus on the more obvious features of the hand - palmar lines, often ignoring the very interesting dermatoglyphics and fingerprints. Skeptics attack these people, and rightfully so. However, amidst all these negative associations with hands it is forgotten that hands ARE interesting, and DO provide information about ourselves.

This fact has not been ignored by researchers, although they have usually focussed predominantly on the dermatoglyphics and usually (but not always) ignore the palmar lines. The reason being that palmar lines have long been considered to be no more than fold creases in the hand (and are even commonly called flexion creases), despite research that has shown there is a definite genetic component to them.

Modern hand analysts, seperating themselves from earlier 'fortune tellers', read only personality traits, and increasingly look at both palmar lines and dermatoglyphic patterns, in particular the fingerprints. More on handanalysis.

Traditional Palmistry

Traditional palmists are typically fortune tellers, and may also read your personality. Contrary to modern handanalysts, they directly link a single feature or symbol on the hand to something significant, such as luck in a certain area of your life. They may have you believe that the following can be read from your hand:
  • 'evil signs'
  • signs that show you will be rich or will receive money.
  • your past - accurate to the year
  • your future
  • your life-span
  • your state of health (although hands to show signs of some conditions, doctors may typically look at your nails)
  • how many kids you'll have and
  • when you'll marry
  • everything...yes, absolutely everything about you is in your hand!
    (since when can us complicated beings be represented in a 'handful' of lines?)
While you are free to believe in what you like, hearing such things can be harmful and outright dangerous, and people's lives have been wrecked by palmists claiming that they will die or other such bad omens, living in fear of something that would of course never happen (at least, not because such a thing is in your hands, which it is certainly not!). Do not believe such claims for a second! Try to avoid such palmists at all costs.

Modern Handanalysis

Handanalysis is a matter of combination (combining hand features), and it is the intuition and experience gained from reading hundreds or even thousands of hands that allow a handreader to give an insightful reading. The hands are read as a 'whole', not by looking at each feature in isolation. It is not just the study of the palm (as suggested by 'palmistry'), but of the entire hand. This includes the shape of the fingers, the ridges on the nails, the skin ridges, the color of the skin...every feature is significant to a handanalyst. With enough experience, a handanalyst reads a hand the way we read each others faces in everyday life. We don't look at the way the lips curl to understand that someone is smiling. We look at the face as a whole. But if you have to describe the features of a face that make a person look old or excited or in love or whatever, you're in trouble.

Those that have written books on the subject did exactly that: they attempted to pinpoint specific features, or a combination of features, that indicate a character trait. Last century a handreader might have told you how many children you'll have and whether or not your marriage will last. Today, a handreader or handanalyst is more likely to tell you about your strengths and weaknesses, so you can use this knowledge to better shape your future. Fortunetellers still exist that use the hand as a guide, but in modern handreading this practice is becoming increasingly rare. 

The lines on our palm change throughout our entire life - prints of the same pair of hands over time are evidence of this phenomenon. If you think your hands look exactly the same now as they did a few years ago, you probably haven't paid much attention to them. Small changes in lines do occur and lines can appear and disappear, in particular when it comes to what are seen as stress or nervous lines: those within the life line/around the thumb ('Venus' mount), or the 'mercury' line on the ulnar/percussion side of the hand, going from the life line to the little finger. Handanalysts say that big changes in our lifestyle correspond with big changes on our hands, too. Especially on the major lines: the Life Line, the Head Line and the Heart Line. The Fate Line is also usually considered to be one of the major lines. They are easily identified as the strongest lines on your palm, although the Fate Line is often less clear and sometimes almost non-existent. Some variations can occur: the Life Line and Head Line may exist as one line, called a Simian Line (see also terminology), and some people actually have the opposite manifestation: a double Head and/or Heart Line. The names given are a bit deceiving, though. Traditional palmists did actually read your fate from your Fate Line and your life-span from you Life Line. But the meanings have changed somewhat to 'the way you set your goals' and 'your social identity' respectively. Reading hands is a matter of combining handfeatures, as it is difficult to say something just about just one single feature of the hand without looking at it in the context of the rest of the hand (although this is still done quite often). A long ring finger is said to be indicative of creativity, but - you may ask - how come there are plenty of creative people with a short ring finger? The handreader would say: one has to look at the rest of the hand, too, because handreading is a matter of combination. This is what makes handreading very complex. A lot of intuition is involved, and it is difficult to write down these intuitions of years of handreading experience accurately to share with others. But don't let this discourage you; there is a lot to discover in the palms of our hands, and the good news is: they're still discovering. 

Left or right?

Both hands are equally interesting, and there is no reason for looking at only one of them. As a matter of fact, there are some who even read feet (yes, both of them). Considering the way the body is connected, the left hand is linked to the right side of the brain and the right hand to the left side of the brain. There is a condition in which the 'bridge' that normally connects the left and right hemispheres in the brain is damaged or missing, called Alien Hand Syndrome'. Those who have this condition feel that one of their hands is controlled by a different person, or 'alien', but it is in fact controlled by the non-dominant hemisphere in the brain. A person with this condition may for example try to light a cigarette with the dominant hand, when the other hand suddenly grabs the cigarette and throws it away. Or one ties a shoelace and the other unties is again. This is evidence of the fact that there is not a single entity or personality of the brain. Handreaders have simplified the view of the two distinct hemispheres, making a clear distinction between the two and saying that one is reflected in our left hand and the other in our right hand.

When right-handed the left side of the brain is likely to be dominant. Modern handreaders typically say that your dominant hand is your public face to the world and makes the active decisions, whilst your passive hand reflects the personal and private self. This is perhaps too much of a black and white distinction. Alternatively, one could regard the dominant hand as the dominant personality - which will indeed dominate in public situations. The non-dominant hand could be seen as reflecting the non-dominant personality, which will be expressed less in public and more in private and with people with whom we feel comfortable enough.

Hand 'geography'

The hand is divided up into areas or mounts, like a geographical map, so that areas of the hand can easily be identified. The markings on the hand consist of the major lines, the minor lines, sister lines, little markings (like triangles or squares) and some thin hairlines coming from other lines. Imagine that the hand is a country with high and low hills (mounts) and the lines flowing in and out of the country like rivers. Handanalysts consider the following:

  1. What is the shape of the hand.
  2. The mounts - high or flat, which one(s) seem dominant.
  3. How soft is the flesh when you press into it, and how does it bounce back when the finger is withdrawn.
  4. How flexible are the fingers (bending back them backward)
  5. What is the shape and length of the fingers

Reading hands is learned by examining as different hands as possible and comparing them, until you get a feel for what is normal or unusual. You might notice that the fingers are very long, or the hand is incredibly soft, or that one of the lines is unusually pronounced, or wobbly, or broken, or connecting to other lines, etc. etc. Although there is no such a thing as a 'perfectly normal hand', you will start getting a feel for what is peculiar to a person after examining many hands.

Handanalysts may also look at the nails, the knuckles, the back of the hand and more recently perhaps, the dermal patterns such as the fingerprints. Even for a non-handreader it is quite interesting to make an inkprint of your hand and look at the pattern it makes - they are quite likely more interesting than you think (see also dermatoglyphics).
For further information on the art of handreading, check the 2 introductory articles

ntroduction handanalysis 1 (pdf)
Introduction handanalysis 2 (pdf)
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