I spoke with students at Bennington College about the esoteric science and art of palmistry one cold dreary evening a couple of weeks ago. Though the event was publicized, I had my smallest turnout of all time – only six people. You’d think a Gemini would learn not to schedule events on Mercury retrogrades. The six students who did show up were curious, diverse, and very smart. Fortunately for all of us, all four basic psychological types (intuitive, practical, thinking, and feeling) were represented. After briefly introducing the basic science of palmistry, I led a ‘hands on’ demonstration.
Everyone volunteered. I asked each person to come up with a question like ‘what can I do to…?’ or ‘how can I…?’ (NO yes or no answers). I digitally projected large high resolution images of their hands on a huge screen. Together, we examined the morphology and topography of each hand within the context of the questions asked and through the lens of the science of palmistry. I shared how I was looking, what I was seeing, thinking, and feeling, and how I was choosing what to say next. Insights were shared as we compared and contrasted current facts with past, present, and future possibilities. I demonstrated how no detail should be viewed in isolation and how combinations of details comprise myriad permutations, possibilities, and probabilities.
I asked for questions. Everyone wanted to know if, when, and how I read my own hands. They were curious whether other palmists and I read each other’s hands. I usually trade with bodyworkers and other practitioners in the healing arts. I told a cautionary tale of a bad trade with another reader. We debated how much of fate and destiny is genetic and how much is nurture and free will. In my experience, healthy genetics is important, but nurture and free will are powerful forces that can alter a destiny.
Most palmists are esoteric social workers. Palmistry is using knowledge of hands to help others. It’s easy to see other people’s problems. It’s not so easy to know what to say. In my practice, I blend psychology, astrology, numerology, tarot, and palmistry. Palmists sometimes point out markings in their hands and ask me what I think. I reply, “What does it mean to you? Let’s see how that fits first”. It’s not so easy to be objective about oneself. I choose the best possible outcome I can see in my personal mythology and project that on myself. I try to remain vigilant of often unforeseeable and unavoidable downsides. Few readers I’ve met are truly critical thinkers, though many think they are.
Sun sign astrology is superficial and yet tens of millions of people read their horoscopes daily in magazines and newspapers. Astrology has earned global respect because it has created ethical standards, educational opportunities, and certification programs. Astrology is shared at conferences, colleges, museums, bookstores, community centers, and online forums.
One huge obstacle for palmistry is that it lacks credibility. Palmistry is still relegated to the dark and nebulous world of red neon handed storefronts behind which gypsy scam artists beckon to remove your curses and money. There are very few good palmistry schools. The literature of palmistry is uninspiring at best. I’m one of very few spokespersons.
Palmistry students have often come to me to hear what I have to say about their hands. I require them to participate in their readings by answering whatever questions I have about what I see. I begin worrying when they want to impress me with their knowledge of palmistry and ask to see my hands. Not a single student has ever ‘gotten me’. Anyone can read a book, call him or herself palmist, and hang out a shingle. Lousy ingredients and flawed recipes will never create a nutritious meal. Some students tried to ‘type me’ by comparing me to some celebrity or other who I had no obvious connection to. When I disagreed, they attempted to persuade me that they were right. Others focused on interpreting a particular line or marking taken out of context of my basic character.
Many clients are impressionable, gullible, and oversensitive. They believe that if a reader has credibility, he must know what he’s talking about. When clients don’t disagree with something a reader has said that is not right, readers think they must be right. I frequently warn students to be cautious what they say to clients and not to say anything if they have nothing positive to say. I encourage them to look at a lot of hands, ask a lot of questions, and leave hopeful people in their wake.
In an earlier lifetime when I was an industrial designer, a palmist looked at my hands and blew my mind. She was reading my mind while seeing my truths in my hands. She described my character perfectly, kindled a burning curiosity in me, and catalyzed my passion to learn more. She became my teacher. I became her apprentice and best student. I was also studying astrology, numerology, tarot, and psychology at the time.
Over many years, I’ve observed two basic types of readers: head ruled and heart ruled. Extremists and fundamentalists populate the outer limits. The rest of us are, by degree, somewhere between extremes. Extreme head ruled types tend to be analytical, anal, and anti-social. Rationalization replaces reason. Compartmentalization contains compassion. Examination eradicates empathy. Head ruled people make up their minds quickly, fight ideological change, take pride in knowing a lot, and believe they have the answers to everything. They dispense advice authoritatively and act offended when their ideas are challenged. They rarely touch the people they read, within or without, but they do believe they know what’s best for them.
Alternative facts catalyze alternative fates. Pollyanna is alive and well in the esoteric healing arts. Pure heart types are empathic, oversensitive, and sentimental. Heart rules head. Feeling rules thinking. Love and trust are the only foundation for good health, financial security, emotional stability, and all other positive structures. Being helpful is prerequisite to achieving one’s own destiny. Giving is a path to grace, dignity, and wisdom, where healthy choices are made and manifested. Not feeling appreciated and being taken for granted is unhealthy and must always be addressed.
I began seeing the best palmists in NYC in the late 1970’s. My first palmist was still practicing in her mid-eighties. A student of William Benham (father of modern palmistry), she typed me “Saturn #1”. More head than heart, she carefully printed, measured, and charted every detail in my hands before saying a word. She was a bit premature in her assessment of my character. I wasn’t hard enough on myself yet. My strong middle fingers along with Saturn conjunct Pluto closely straddling my Leo Midheaven in my natal chart has impelled me to become more Saturnine over time. Once I realized I was actually a late bloomer, I began to see Saturn as the shortest and most challenging path to satisfaction and fulfillment. Structure, discipline, and focus were my prescriptions and eventual remedies. My job was to buckle down and do the work.
Experts don’t necessarily agree on what archetype is dominant, but can still give great readings. Everyone is a blend of twelve archetypes. Different types can be dominant at different developmental stages in life. My next two hand readings were very different from my first and from each other.
In my next reading I was “Venus #1”. My large pink balls of thumb, flexible spatulate tips, whorl finger prints, and discomfort at saying “No” revealed Venus as a strong influence, but not dominant. This head ruled palmist went straight for my empathy and sentiment. Realizing the strength of my Venus made me aware of how far I had to go to find balance between my desire for love, freedom, creativity, and my overdeveloped sense of responsibility, obligation, and guilt. I tried to balance shame and guilt with empathy and compassion by blending Saturn with Venus. Fortunately they’re sextile in my chart.
On my third reading I was dubbed “Mercury #1”. This palmist, astrologer, and tarot reader was closest to getting me. My long straight pinky fingers, stellium of Gemini planets including Sun Uranus and Venus North Node conjunctions in the 8th house, and my incorrigible need to be frank makes Hermes a dominant player in my story. “The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of understanding.” I wasn’t ready for him then, but I am now. Hermes lived for three hundred years in the flesh. That makes me an adolescent at seventy and explains why I feel like a teenager.
I believed that all three readers were wrong because in my mind, I was “Apollo #1”. My long ring fingers, whorled spatulate tips, clear deep sun lines, curly brown hair, medium height, and my lean muscular build are Apollonian. I saw myself as combining my Mercury, Venus, and Saturn with Apollo as an artist, musician, and inventor.
Unexpectedly, I learned how many readers have many different ways of reading people. An astrology addict showed up one day for a hand reading. Over the years, she’d been to all of the reputable readers she could find. It was my turn. I had never really considered what other readers said before or how they counseled their clients. I couldn’t imagine my client didn’t know what I was going to talk about. She asked if she could record our session. I agreed, but urged her to listen and take notes.
I’m rational, practical, compassionate, empathic, and a good listener. I asked her why she was spending her hard earned money to hear what she already knew. What did she hope to learn? She told me that she was curious. I stretched myself inside out to think of things others may not have said, but realized that what I really needed to do was let go and be fully present with her. When we finished, I asked her if she had taped all or her other sessions and if I could borrow her collection and listen. I was surprised when she said yes. I pondered if I was unethical to spy on my peers (what if they found out), but borrowed her tapes anyway, to satisfy my nagging curiosity about what other readers had to say to her. I became ethically, morally, and instantly bound to secrecy at that moment.
I became confused and concerned as I listened to the tapes. There’s no shortage of reputable readers. What surprised me was how formulaic so many were. Their counsel was impersonal. I heard explanations of sun signs and planets, spoken in esoteric jargon, mostly unfamiliar to the client. Most clients don’t need to hear about their Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto. I listened to elaborate descriptions of moon signs, ascendants, aspects, and houses. Meanwhile, many readers were clueless to the gestalt of the client in the moment. There was a very specific reason the client was there, but few people (including the client) realized what that reason was. Everyone was too busy trying to figure her out by picking at symbols like leaves, and not seeing the forest from the trees. You can have a thorough knowledge of esoteric sciences and be oblivious to the arts and crafts of counseling. The essence of the reading should have been about abusive childhood family relationships that were still binding the client to her chronic fear of trust and intimacy and influencing her choices.
Peers who I’d respected for many years had made this client cry uselessly as they unleashed childhood pain and then failed to link it to current pain. Listening to other readers has reinforced my belief that people should learn to read themselves. Knowing hands has enabled me to clearly see and know myself and others better. My challenge has been to choose what to do with what I know. My mission has been to give everyone a helping hand, their own. So far, I’ve been mostly unsuccessful at reaching the masses. Any thoughts, ideas, and suggestions on ways to raise mass consciousness and popularize palmistry will be greatly appreciated and valued.