Origins of Palmistry


Palmistry was already a well-defined discipline when Aristotle wrote it in 350 B.C. “Palmistry is a judgement made of the conditions, inclinations, and fortunes of men and women, from the various lines and characters which nature has imprinted in the hands and which are as various as the hands that have them.”

The origins of palmistry, like origins of all other divinatory arts such as astrology, the tarot, etc are shrouded in antiquity. All we know is palmistry precedes written history, for when history is first recorded, it was already a highly advanced art.

The ancient practitioners were Chaldean magicians, the priests of Egypt and the Brahmins of India. In ancient times, palmistry was considered an art and was considered sacred. The great philosophers, Brahmins and Oracle used it as great accomplishment and it was highly prized.

The Vedas, sacred Hindu writings, study the hand as a means of understanding the self and all it’s aspects. In the Vedas, there is a reference to Hasta Samudrik Shastra - the art and science of palm reading as a means to unveil and understand the self and its relationship with others. Here began an understanding that the unique patterns of lines and signs in the hand are a direct result of the way we think - consciousness creating the human blueprint.

Prehistoric caves in France and Spain display drawings of palms with the major lines portrayed in amazing detail. Judging by the number of hands painted in these caves, it appears that the hand has held an interest for humans since the stone age.

Aristotle is said to have discovered a treatise on Palmistry on an altar to the god Hermes. The Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen were both knowledgeable about the use of palmistry as a clinical aid. Julius Caesar is said to have judged his men by palmistry.

The first book on Palmistry was Michael Scott's De Philsiognomia, written in 1477 on the physiognomy of the human body with a chapter on all the aspects of the human hand. He wrote “Just as a pebble thrown into the water creates ripples, so our thoughts create similar effects on our palms.”

The basic framework for classical Palmistry is rooted in Greek mythology. Each area of the palm and fingers is related to a god or goddess, and the features of that area indicate the nature of the corresponding aspect of the subject. For example, the ring finger is associated with the Greek god Apollo; characteristics of the ring finger are tied to the subject’s dealings with art, music, aesthetics, fame, and harmony.  

In the 15th century, England’s catholic church banned palm reading. Along with astrology, it was considered evil work. A few centuries went by, and in spite of the opposition, palmistry and astrology survived. Today palmistry and astrology have come a long way, and are respected as scientific arts of divination.