How I became a Palmist

My family would have declared me insane if I had told them I wanted to be a professional palmist forty years ago. We used to crack jokes about the middle class Jewish kids we knew from Pittsburgh who went to India or New York to study Metaphysics, find a Guru, or  better yet, become a Guru. I was totally skeptical of symbolic languages like numerology, astrology, tarot, and palmistry, and utterly unaware of any hidden mysterious influences operating in my life.                       

Not me. I was an ambitious product designer with a BFA in industrial design from Carnegie Mellon University. The world was my canvas, my pallete overflowing with abundant natural resources and manufacturing processes. Endless consumers would be my patrons. I hastily hung out my shingle as a new product designer, manufacturer, and marketer. In seven years, however, I managed to deplete an abundance of natural resources and pollute our planet in the name of fashion…


“Never say never,” dad would say. I thought he’d be here forever, instead, suddenly and unexpectedly, he died of a massive heart attack at fifty-four. Dad was Superman and Tarzan, my childhood hero, greatest fan, and best friend. When I was with him, I was my happiest self. We spoke weekly, dreaming of adventures we would have and good deeds we would do, as soon as I earned that elusive pot of gold at the end of my NYC rainbow. Without dad to share my goals and achievements, my life disintegrated into a depressing routine of  making things dirty and getting them clean again and again. Troubled thoughts tossed, turned, and twisted as I pondered god, fate, free will, and destiny.

Maybe, I wasn’t supposed to be doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing. 

So I meditated, got massaged, chiropractered, reikied, acupunctured, yogacized, analyzed, aerobicized, and aromatized. I explored Buddhism, Rosicrucianism, Sufism, and Martinisim. I attended classes in Astrology, Numerology, Palmistry, and Tarot cards with the best teachers in New York City. I showed up regularly at psychology, philosophy, and metaphysical lectures and workshops.

I joined the NCGR (National Council for Geocosmic Research) –, an astrological education and research organization. I became a member of the NYC faculty, speaking regularly at astrological conferences on the “horoscope in the hands” (for over twenty years). Inadvertently, I had become one of those middle class Jews from Pittsburgh who my family and I so thoughtlessly and carelessly judged and ridiculed.

I transformed from egomaniac to ecomaniac, becoming internationally known as the Guru of Garbage for my innovative uses of recycled materials and my Designing with Garbage classes at Parson’s School of Design. Landfills were overflowing with award winning design. I was determined to make a difference. My greatest challenge was not having the proverbial ‘pot to piss in’. Clients would say, “Why is it so expensive?  It’s only garbage.” Even major universities offered the meagerest  of stipends to speak with students about designing products with recycled materials. I became a member of NYC’s solid waste advisory board for two years. I also volunteered and spoke to community boards about recycling. After seven more years, I could no longer afford to save the world for free or preach to the converted for pennies.

I readied myself to tackle the mother of all garbage, “Psychic Garbage”. I convinced Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art to offer Metaphysics 101. My ten session three hour lecture series presented an untraditional look at self and other through the lens of metaphysical symbolism. Metaphysics 101 became one of Cooper’s most popular public offerings. Fresh seekers showed up weekly. My class was moved to a large lecture hall. Everyone was looking for insight. I offered classes for five years and also gave workshops and lectures at the New York Open Center, Learning Annex, Source of Life Center, East West Bookstore, Theosophical Society, Hunter College, Pace University, Marymount Manhattan College, Fashion Institute of Technology, The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and National Design Museum in Manhattan.

I realized I had a gift for palmistry and began to build a clientele by reading hands at special events. Special event, meeting, and party  planners retained me as a fortuneteller. I was a  five-minute character analyst, best friend, and bullshit detector. It was a great way to make a living and  lots of fun.


When I first began reading hands over thirty-five years ago, my clients were mostly women. They signed up for my workshops and lectures and stood in line for my five-minute readings at special events. Men  showed up when their wives dragged them over. It felt awkward holding hands with a man, looking into his eyes, and talking about his most intimate  issues. That’s no longer the case.



5 thoughts on “How I became a Palmist

  1. It was surprisingly interesting for me to find out about the palmistry and Mark Seltman.

    I live in Buffalo, but I am willing to com to NYC for a workshop/workshops.

    Is there any possibility.?

    Semyon Ziskind

    • I’m not giving workshops these days, but if you continue to read the blog and ask questions whenever you have them, I’ll be happy to respond. I plan to eventually put everything I know about hands out into the electronic ether.

    • Yes, I’m sure that’s true. I’m intrigued by all hands and all people. You’re welcome to set up an appointment for a consultation. A session lasts 1 1/2 – 2 hours. I use astrology and tarot as well as hands. My fee is $250.

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