My Interview: The 100 Top Psychics and Astrologers in America

The 100 Top Psychics and Astrolgers in AmericaWhen Paulette Cooper Noble called me about being featured in The 100 Top Psychics and Astrologers in America, I told her I was not a psychic and did not want to be listed as psychic. Fortunately, she was seeking specialists in numerology, astrology, and palmistry. I’m the resident palmist.

No matter whom you choose, you should do your homework by checking references and reviews. Speak with the person to discuss whether they’re right for your needs. I turn away anyone who isn’t right for me and will happily recommend another reader from this book who I know may be better for you.


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NOTE: I’ve linked Paulette’s interview to my website, blog, videos, and press kit.

How does being a palmist affect your private life? I find myself surreptitiously looking at people’s hands wherever I go. Sometimes when I’m on the phone with someone who’s not a client, I’ll spread the tarot cards to gain additional insight into the conversation, although I never let anyone know I’m doing that.

Have you had any other careers or interesting jobs before this? As a child, I was an avid musician, performing Chopin on the radio at age seven. I also loved art and won several art awards. Utilizing that talent, I became an industrial designer, inventing dozens of products that were frequently ahead of their time. As a hobby, I like to recycle and reuse items, reconstituting them into something that is long-lasting and useful, whether it’s a milk or yogurt bottle, or a steel desk someone threw away. I’ve been called “The Guru of Garbage.”

You’re called a palmist, but do you look at anything other than hands? I use hands for understanding character; astrology for interpreting life cycles, patterns, habits, and timing; and tarot for getting at unconscious issues. Relationships, family dynamics, and career are my specialties.

When did you first realize that you had this gift? I don’t really consider being an expert palmist a gift, but a skill that I developed over many years of hard work. Any intelligent and intuitive person can read hands if they’re willing to do the work.

Have any celebrities or business bigwigs expressed interest in having you read their hands? I’ve read for Martha Stewart, Star Jones, Cindy Chu, Patti Davis, and for dozens of other celebrities such as Katie Couric, Kyra Sedgwick, Kevin Kline, Barbara Corcoran, Dave Brubeck, Maurice Sendak, and Marvin Scott, etc., at special events. Because of my extensive corporate special event work, I believe I’ve read more CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and COOs, than any reader of anything anywhere.

What made you interested in reading hands? Everyone has hands. They’re a topographical map of character in the past, present, and future. The value of palmistry is in its capacity to quickly identify basic character and behavior.

Do hands change? Yes, they change as a person’s thinking and circumstances change. The tiniest change in a line can symbolize a huge change in a life. You can observe your successes and failures reflected in the mirrors of your hands over time.

Why aren’t there more respected palmists like you? Unfortunately, modern palmistry is still relegated to the realms of gypsy fortune-telling scams and disreputable storefronts adorned with red neon hands. There’s no spokesperson to educate people about it. To this end, I’ve written “Real Palmistry.” My plan is to give everyone a helping hand – their own.

Can someone read their own hands? You can ask your hands questions like: “Who am I?” “What do I value?” “What do I think?” “What’s my philosophy?” “How can I be more spiritual?” “What’s next?” and more. Priceless knowledge and insight await you in plain sight at the ends of your arms. Knowing yourself places your free will and destiny exactly where they belong, back in your own hands.

What is a typical session for you? I normally spend 1 ½ – 2 hours with clients. I don’t like watching the clock and believe that clock watchers shouldn’t go into this career. I like to know ahead of time what clients want to gain insight into so that I can spend time preparing. It’s not always what’s asked at first that needs to be addressed. There are few questions I won’t ask and many I won’t answer. I don’t like “What’s going to happen?” I never answer “When am I going to die?” I also avoid “yes” and “no” answers.

What is the most unique experience in your life? I spent two days a week for a two year period helping design a vocational rehabilitation program for 150 murderers and serial killers in a forensic psychiatric hospital in NYC. I got to read many of their hands and hear their stories, which was incredibly fascinating.

Another extraordinary time in my life was the two years I spent as an initiate in the Martinist Order. I participated in miraculous healings, learned to astral project, and practiced unique ways to focus my mind and imagination.

Website: Real Palmistry
Book: Real Palmistry – Your Life is in Your Hands
Blog: Real Palmistry
Gallery: Pinterest – Story linked to every photo
Favorite interview: Refinery 29 – Meet the Real-Deals of NYC Fortune Telling
Favorite video: AOL Huffington Post – You’ve Got Mark Seltman and Joanna Brotman
Favorite article: New York Magazine – Mark Seltman – A Hands On Approach

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A Day in Central Park

Cassie gave this to me on my 60th birthday. She’d written it three years earlier when she was 12. I was incredulous that I hadn’t known about it. I’m sharing it because it perfectly complements ‘Cassie and the Magic Castle’, which I wrote when Cassie was five or so.

Reading her first paragraph made me remember something I’d like to share. Joanna and I never taught Cassie to act nice when she didn’t feel nice. From the age of 2, people would stop us on the street and say, “Oh look, there’s Shirley Temple”. Being treated like an object made Cassie mad. The result was a snarl that we secretly called ‘Cassie’s rat-face’. You can imagine Cassie’s reaction when people spoke to her like she was a baby instead of a real person. Joanna and I would quip, “Did you see the horror on that woman’s face when Cassie snarled at her? She must think we’re the world’s most inconsiderate and permissive parents”. When she was in middle school, Cassie reprimanded me for always encouraging her to be frank and direct instead of teaching her to be tactful and diplomatic. I told her we did her a favor and that one day when she found a happy balance between being real and nice, she’d thank us. I’ve added three illustrations to her story.

A Day in Central Park by Cassie Seltman

          There’s a small girl and a man. The girl looks about 5; maybe 6.Their backs are to you. You wonder if the girl, with her short stature, and bouncing golden curls, might be Shirley Temple. When she doesn’t break into a tap dance in the next five minutes you realize she’s not. The man’s taller, and in the silhouette of his outstretched arm, you see her skinny arm, the two arms form a ‘V’, and where they meet you see a large fist of the man, where, you assume, the girl’s hand is hidden, safe inside.

The little girl is me. I look up at my father who smiles down at me, and gives my hand an affectionate double squeeze, which between us, has wordlessly come to mean, “I love you.” His smile reaches up on either side of his face, daring to touch the sky. The smile lines on his eyes are in synch with his mouth, and all the stray wrinkles, that were once without purpose, run, like paper clips to a magnet, to the epicenter, which is his corner eye. From there they fan outwards, and add age to his almond shaped eyes.

While white sailboats float on the small boat pond, Alice sits atop her voluptuous mushroom. To her left is the mad hatter, and to her right the Cheshire cat lingers on a branch. I run up, jump on the mushroom, and sit in Alice’s lap. I look up at her and run my stubby fingers over her metal eyes. I look back at my dad for approval, and he smiles.

cassie under Alice2I want to be like Alice, who lives in her own world of friends and foes and crazy hatters. Who can stumble upon a mushroom or wander around a cave, and have her life change in an instant. I crawl below the mushroom, and underneath the bronze is cool. Small bronze animals surround me. My dad crawls next to me, and though seemingly awkward, he slides right in. With dad here now, I become one of the bronze animals, or maybe the animals become us. The lines between bronze and flesh, night and day, cold and hot, merge. They become something that’s all of them, and nothing at the same time. We live in an alternate reality, where time doesn’t exist for us or anybody else. Our bodies don’t belong to us anymore, and our new ones are weightless. We don’t care what we look like, and if we did we couldn’t, because everything changes so fast our appearance can’t keep up with us. Things like gravity that are dulled, are amplified in other ways. You know things, without having to realize them, and all that’s there are concepts and emotions, that float like thick, white clouds in the air around us.

Soon we hit the trees. Cherry blossoms fill one tree. With wide set branches, we climb up and lean back. Almost instantly I’m with Bobo the gorilla. I’ve come to visit him in the jungle.

“I brought you a backpack full of red bananas,” I tell Bobo, because they are his favorite, and rare in the jungle.

“Oo oo ah ah” my dad says. If any tigers or animals threaten Cassie, Bobo swings them over his head, beats his chest, and banishes them from the animal kingdom forever. We eat cashew nuts and climb down.

cassie and the ugly ducklingCircling back around, we see the ugly duckling and Lewis Carol. The ugly duckling was always one of my favorites.  I always reassure it that it is indeed, not ugly but beautiful, and give it many strokes. I stare at the webbed bronze toes. I turn around to my dad.

“Maybe he wants some cashew nuts,” my dad suggests. As I take them from his warm palm, I look back, and it seems as if the duck (which is really a swan) has waddled a little. We walk on.

Cassie on Balto smFarther along, Balto poses heroically, his shaggy mane immortalized in bronze. I struggle to climb up on him. For a while I wiggle and fail. I look back at my father, expecting him to lift me up. He stares back at me.

“Keep trying.” I finally wiggle my way up to Balto’s back, and sit, perched on top. Soon I slide off, and climb down the edge. I jump into my dad’s arms, which seem always to be warm.


We walk down the cement roads of central park. I look up at my dad, and think of how many days we spend together playing in this park. I think of making artwork with chalk on the sidewalk; I think of watching him build a tree house. I think of turning over rocks in the woods, seeing what creatures live beneath.

We stroll out of the park, and into the busy streets of New York City. Sirens sound, cars rush, the sour smells of garbage, urine, and car exhausts fill the air. I feel the warmth from his hand in mine, following me always, as we step into the concrete jungle.

Cassie and the Magic Castle

In my last blog entry, I shared how Cassie and I went on adventures to Central Park, a magical place where granite boulders became mountains and bronze statues became real beings. After one of our journeys, I created “Cassie and the Magic Castle”.

I produced it in black and white. I’ve included some original color photos.

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A Decision that Forever Changed our Lives

People often ask how palmistry affects my daily life. The answer is always and forever. When I began searching for self-knowledge, it was easy to look at my hands and find excuses or rationalizations for being or not being certain ways. I’d think, ‘No wonder I’m distracted’. I’d rationalize, ‘I can’t say no because of my highly flexible thumbs’. I’d analyze and compartmentalize my weaknesses, faults, and bad behaviors. Years of counseling others made me realize that I can change my behavior and my hands will also change over time (my dominant thumb has become inflexible). As I practice what I preach, my hands affirm, confirm, and inform me about what decisions I need to make and actions I need to take to achieve a healthy balance between my thinking, feelings, and lifestyle.

mark, joanna, and cassie as a newborn2Twenty-two years ago, Joanna and I made a decision because of the hands of our new born daughter. I was 45. Joanna was 33. Cassie’s hands revealed that she’d face future challenges that compelled us to intervene from the get go. We committed ourselves to doing whatever was required to help our child gracefully rise to her life’s challenges and overcome her obstacles.

We proactively addressed the hurdles we saw in Cassie’s hands. Her very short index finger symbolized that she’d battle with her self-esteem and spirituality. Her short heart line indicated that she’d be serious and private, wouldn’t trust others, and would have a very hard time verbalizing her feelings. The close connection at the beginning of her head and life lines ensured she’d take everything personally and have a strong need for our approval. We appreciated her and made sure that we never took her for granted. We were careful never to patronize her, but praised her initiative and accomplishments. We never responded to anger with anger. We gave her space when she needed it and helped when she asked for it. Space was hard because we lived in a closet. We listened to her and encouraged her to listen to us. Had we been impatient, over critical, controlling, or judgmental, Cassie would have turned out very differently. Sure, we made mistakes, but we did our best to help her unfold as who she wanted and needed to be. As my friend Mikey Lutin says, “It’s easy to forgive your parents after you’ve screwed up your own kids”.

An abundance of wonderful qualities accompanied Cassie’s challenges. Her inventive mind, natural empathy, and brutal sense of honesty made her a critical thinker and a natural bullshit detector. She’s analytical, has a fertile creative imagination, a razor sharp intuition, and a love of adventure. She’s persistent and determined to face her obstacles. Even though she’s a serious minded person, she has a unique dry sense of humor and her friends love her. Her dominant index finger and heart line have both grown longer and stronger.

I want to share what our decision meant and how it changed our lives. Our first major challenge was in the financial arena. Our overhead was dramatically increasing while our income was rapidly dwindling. Joanna was a part time dance teacher and needed to take several months off. I was an industrial designer, hand reader, and part time adjunct college professor. I assumed my clients would see me when it was convenient for me. Not so. I passed on many good prospects because of bad timing. At first, I continued to see private clients in our small apartment, which was quickly becoming a large playpen. I had to find new directions for my career. Other at-home fathers had home businesses that included computer consulting, programming, editing, and word processing. Some dads were caring for other children as well as their own, pet sitting, or party planning. Our conversations often centered on downsizing and cutting overhead.

couple smallI decided it was best to work with special event planners. I’d pay a hefty commission, but I’d only have to sell myself once. My revitalized career entailed performing as a hand reader, astrologer, and tarot reader at parties. On my non-commited nights, I made house calls and wrote articles at home. I arranged all of my work for when Joanna was with Cassie. When an important job conflicted with both of our schedules, we’d ask Cassie’s grandparents or a fellow parent for help.

Being an “at-home dad” was far more challenging than I had anticipated. It’s a whole lot easier to drop your kid off at day care and go to work. Initially, I had minor challenges with chores such as diapering, bathing, dressing, fussiness, tiredness, and hunger. My greatest challenge was feeding. Cassie was an avid nurser. She often refused a bottle, even when it contained her own mother’s milk. There were many occasions on which I wished I had breasts. When a baby is really distressed, she wants the comfort of her mommy, no matter how connected she is with daddy.

It wasn’t until Cassie was two years old that I realized what it felt like to be a single parent. Joanna had always buffered me by being with Cassie in the early mornings, evenings, and weekends. Cassie and I took a trip to the country by ourselves for five days. We had a fabulous time, but her constant need for attention drained me. After five days, I felt exhausted. That short experience deepened my acceptance of teamwork in parenting, strengthened our marriage, and enhanced Joanna’s and my desire to share equally and go the extra mile.

A constant source of annoyance for me was societal stereotyping. Being out with Cassie, people would say “Oh, you’re babysitting today” or “Are you her Grandpa?” I’d reply, “No, I’m her daddy and a primary caregiver”. People assumed I did this because I was unemployed or unable to make a living. Few considered that I chose this path because I actually wished to spend the best hours of the day enjoying my child. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. I met other middle aged fathers with children in the park.

My ideal day consisted of cleaning, organizing, and beautifying our home, and shopping for fresh food so that I could serve a hot delicious and nutritious meal at dinnertime when Joanna returned from work. Between chores, Cassie and I would work on art projects, bake gingerbread cookies, read stories, and watch kid’s movies.

Pippi smallIt’s amazing how hard it was to find healthy female protagonists. There were so many damsels in distress and princesses trying to turn frogs or beasts into princes. We discovered Pippi Longstocking, Harriet the Spy, Matilda, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and Tatterhood, but we ended up making up our own heroines much of the time. Cassie and I went on weekly expeditions to museums, galleries, libraries, book stores, botanical gardens, wildlife centers, parks, and beaches. I wouldn’t trade that time for all the Chi in China.



When Cassie was five years old she said to me, “Dad, you’re a wise man, but you could be a lot wiser”. I replied, “On yea, how?” “Talk less and listen more.” I knew that the time had come for me to focus on my own career again. Cassie and I still have our adventures. This photo of us was taken in North Harbor Maine a couple of years ago.
dad & cassie small

If you’re interested in learning more on this topic, you should check out these links:
“You’ve Got Mark Seltman and Joanna Brotman” – AOL Huffington Post
“Nature vs Nurture” – Youtube
“Palmistry and Marriage” – Blog entry
“Palmistry and Children” – Blog entry

A Famous Athena Type

mark and martha 3Back in April 2001, I examined Martha Stewart’s hands on her CBS TV show, Martha Stewart Living. Born August 3 1941, Martha has her astrological Sun, Pluto, and Midheaven in Leo. Although the Leo character type has a rectangular palm and short fingers, Martha is an Athena type with a square palm and long fingers.


As a thinking type, Athena has always been one of my favorite archetypes. She was the Greek Goddess of Wisdom and Justice. Athena sprung from the head of Zeus and rules the strategic thinking required in battle. Greek heroes like Odysseus and Achilles worshiped her. She’s most often pictured as a handsome Goddess in battle armor with a shield in one hand and a sword in the other. In metaphysics, swords always symbolize the thinking function. In Libra, Athena holds the scales of justice. She’s sometimes pictured with an owl which symbolizes Wisdom. Athena was notorious for conveniently shedding emotion in favor of thinking with crystal clarity.

Raised in a large traditional Polish family, Martha grew up compulsively ambitious and hardworking. Her very strong, talented, hardworking hands are well suited for gardening and crafts. Her hands are natural and peasant like with regard to their consistency, texture, and elasticity. I didn’t see “fame” in Martha’s hands. I saw an extremely powerful index finger which indicates an incredibly ambitious hard working person. Martha also has large stiff thumbs with well-developed full balls of the thumb. I admired her will power, passion, and determination. She was a very gracious host. As a boss, she’s very demanding. I observed dozens of hip young professionals scurrying around making sure Martha and her work always looks good. Martha’s intention and mission is to truly give consumers something of value. In hindsight, I regret not having done a better job explaining palmistry to her audience.

Several days after the show, I examined the prints I had taken of Martha’s hands along with her astrological chart. I wish I could share them with you, but she didn’t give me permission to publish them. I saw that there was likely to be some confusing and challenging years ahead in which her integrity and reputation might be challenged. I wrote and offered to discretely share my insights with her. She never replied.

When the ImClone stock scandal broke, friends who knew that I had been on Martha’s show began calling and asking if I had seen it coming. They suggested that I remove her from my press kit and made cruel jokes about her. I felt sickened when I realized how many people found pleasure as Martha crashed and burned. There were so many real white-collar good old boy criminals playing higher stake games and getting away with them. The media had dressed Martha in Wolf’s clothing while she became their sacrificial lamb. I wrote again to offer my insights. I had heard that Martha personally reads most of her mail, but there was still no reply.

Martha is an honest person. Her fingers are straight and the lines in her hands are clear and well defined. She became a high profile casualty of corporate greed and corruption.  Guilt or innocence was not really the issue. Martha’s pride got in the way. As a former financial planner, she used poor judgment. She wasn’t thinking “I’m insider trading” when she sold her stock. She was taking advice on not losing money from her stock broker. She should have known better. Many mega rich people insider trade all the time without thinking twice about it. They get away with their actions because they’re not under public or private scrutiny, they know how to avoid being flagged, and because they’re very discreet and keep secrets well.

head line and life line connectedThe irony here is that Martha cares what people think. Her closely connected head and life line symbolize how diligently she tried to get approval from her highly critical father. Whenever you see such a strong connection, you can assume that the person has a desire to be liked and wants your approval. If you want to piss them off, then don’t appreciate them or take them for granted. I would have advised Martha that as a heroine she must always take the highest road possible. I’d have urged her to apologize to her loyal fans and publicly offer whatever money was involved to some great cause.

Martha should have chosen humility like Mufaasa, but instead behaved irrationally like young Simba. Where were Pumbaa and Timon when she needed a refresher course on the laws of the jungle? Goldilocks may improve on the porridge and decorate the beds more beautifully, but the bears are still pissed when they get home. Many fans resent Martha for demonstrating the hubris that destroyed the gods and many heroes in Greek and Roman Mythology. As Martha reclaims her throne as Queen of mass taste, she must also re-earn people’s trust by remaining truly humble. I hope she’s learned her lesson.

Here’s an appropriate myth. In peacetime, the Greek goddess Athena ruled Arts and Crafts. Athena is often pictured with a spear in one hand and a bowl or spindle in the other. Athena looked after weavers, potters, and craftsmen.  Athena battled with a mortal named Arachne (Martha). Arachne was an incredible weaver. Other mortals compared her to Athena. Arachne should have given Athena credit, but instead, she arrogantly challenged Athena to a weaving contest. Arachne made matters worse by poking fun at Athena’s family in her weaving. Her creation was magnificent; however Athena still transformed Arachne into an arachnid (spider), the greatest weaver for all time. It’s not a good idea for mortals to mess with Gods. Martha is not Athena. She’s not our savior. Martha is a great teacher who is capable of making a huge difference in our world while weaving tasteful and meaningful webs of strength, beauty, hope, and faith.

A Client Who Was Too Clever For His Own Good

Even an attorney of moderate talent can postpone doomsday year after year, for the system of appeals that pervades American jurisprudence amounts to a legalistic wheel of fortune, a game of chance, somewhat fixed in favor of the criminal, that the participants play interminably.”    Truman Capote

Athena types are the best negotiators of all twelve basic archetypes. They strive for balance, idolize harmony, dread discord, and are often indecisive as a result. They usually get their way, even when they’re being aggressive, indirect, or imprecise. They wield tact and diplomacy like a Samurai swordsman, even though they’d prefer to be frank and direct. They’re idealistic, romantic, and refined in appearance. Aesthetics are important to them. Dressed in chic designer clothing, they’ll take clients out to trendy restaurants. You’ll rarely catch sight of them in a greasy spoon. Their dark side sometimes treads the thin line between honesty and ethics. Maybe they know something important that could kill a deal, but fail to mention it. Unscrupulous lawyers who are Athena types can bend any law to serve their clients best interests. Legal, political, publishing, marketing, public relations, higher education, and entertainment fields are bursting at the seams with Athena types.

One day many years ago, a powerful Athena type came to me for a reading. I’ll call him Athen in honor of Athena. I greeted Athen in my t-shirt and jeans. He was dressed in an expensive designer suit and tie. Athen was an expert creator of business plans and a major player in money markets. He was in a league with Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky. Athen seemed totally out of place consulting a palmist in an east village tenement apartment. He called because of a glowing referral from a friend of his who had attended one of my hand reading lectures.

Athen’s modus operandi was to find floundering companies and create compelling new products or services for them. In exchange for writing a first class business plan, Athen would receive a nominal fee and substantial stock options. The company would soon appear to be a fabulous investment opportunity. Athen would help them peddle enough preferred non-voting stock to begin implementing his new concepts. As his business plans took form, the company’s stock would become more valuable. Unless there was a substantial retainer, however, Athen wouldn’t stick around to implement his concepts and help navigate management through the churning rapids of dramatic changes taking place within the company structure. Instead, Athen would sell off large chunks of his stock and then in a twinkle, he was on to the next concept and project. Several of the companies that Athen attempted to revive ultimately failed, but Athen always prospered.

Athen explained that he was embroiled in a mid-eight-figure fiasco concerning securities fraud. The IRS was the monkey on his back and he needed strategies for the best ways to proceed. Even though Athen and I resided in totally different worlds, we immediately hit it off. Cultivated thinking types can bounce ideas off of each other for hours. Our bond was archetypal from the get go. Athen was Pinocchio and I was Jiminy Cricket. Like Pinocchio, Athen was smart but surprisingly naïve. Jiminy appeared because Pinocchio lacked a conscience. It’s common in business to be legal and unethical or immoral at the same time. If Athen were to put his nose in the wrong place, it might grow and get chopped off, and that’s exactly what was happening. Athen offered me a financial retainer to be his “Jiminy Cricket”. I declined Athen’s offer, but accepted payments and gifts from him in exchange for my time and advice. I used astrology to examine Athen’s timing and patterns. Tarot cards were employed to gain better insight into specific relationships.

AthenAthen’s square palm and long fingers symbolize a thinking type. He has a long unobstructed straight headline and a long straight and strong pinkie finger. The long bottom phalange is great for commerce. Athen was inherently an honest and caring person. He was ambitious (strong index finger) and hardworking, but blinded by his desire and need for power, wealth, and freedom. You can see from the separation between his head and life lines that Athen doesn’t lack initiative. He also doesn’t really care much what most others think of him. I decided that the best way to communicate with Athen was to be direct and make practical good sense. Communicating with Athen was like playing a game of mental monopoly. His long graceful heart line extends to his index finger and represents a romantic and sentimental feeling nature. You can see from the vertical lines in the ball of his thumb that Athen is deeply committed to his family and friends. I tried appealing to his inherently compassionate nature. Does the world really need another greasy french fry, addictive alcoholic beverage, or violent virtual video game? Couldn’t the same time, resources, and effort be used to make healthier products and services? I’d ask, “Why can’t your products be more expensive so as to exploit less unfortunate people along the way?” I encouraged Athen to design and promote healthy sensible products (like Paul Newman) and give as much of the profit as possible to specific charitable causes. Athen said he loved that idea, but rationalized how he needed to be more financially substantial before giving money away. I disagreed.

“More expensive, more grease”, Athen would say. More cost means more time and money spent romanticizing and glamorizing a product or service. He explained that selling less and making more money is a great idea, but not easy or cheap. Why do consumers pay so much more for caffeine at $tar- Bucks?  What makes a person buy an expensive designer brand name when they can get the same exact generic item for less? According to Athen, “It’s the grease”.

Sometimes a revolutionary new idea, product, or service is created and protected. Some products miraculously become generic and incredibly profitable. Most new products and services are fashionable variations on existing themes. Athen offered brilliant business strategies for projects that seemed likely to happen if well executed. It was easy to see who would benefit from Athen’s plans and who wouldn’t.

Cream always rises to the top. That’s where Athen resided, but every scheme where someone is making heaps of money means others are being deceived or exploited. Unfortunately, at the bottom of every barrel are poor people scraping for pennies. Laws that protect masses of ordinary people are created long after the reason for them has been abused. It’s no secret that Philip Morris has always known that cigarette smoking was unhealthy. They used the same legal system that Truman Capote talks about at the start of this story to shirk their responsibilities and justify their actions.

Jiminy Cricket guided Pinocchio who eventually found truth and became a “real boy”.  Athen and I weren’t so lucky. Athen ended up losing everything, but in typical Athen style, he started over with fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and a dollop of grease.  He’s still wheeling and dealing. Pinocchio and Jiminy keep in touch, but no longer collaborate.

A Totally Warped Client

large ball of thumb with and without lines 2

People ask, “Have you ever seen a hand that frightened you?”

It was a sweltering hot day and an icy chill permeated my spirit as I touched Manuel’s sweaty palms. His huge reddish balls of the thumbs didn’t have a line in them. They were as smooth as cue balls and looked like they’d been stuffed with extra-large eggs (photo is simulated). The other photo shows a ball of the thumb with longitudinal lines running inside the lifeline. They’re significant relationships. Manuel was dealt a mega-dose of desire, lust, and passion, and zero ability to have intimacy with another human.

How I came to read Manuel’s hands is a story which I intend to share in the future. Many years ago, I designed and implemented vocational rehabilitation projects for criminally insane people at a forensic psychiatric hospital over a two year period. My relationships with many of the clients and staff were personal as well as professional. The bizarreness of the whole experience inspired me to write a novel, “How I became criminally insane”, which I never published. Although it was an amazing story, it contained too many new bad ideas for clever monsters to get away with even more horror. There are enough scary people out there without encouraging more insanity by publishing more horrible ideas and terrible strategies. Network TV hosts like Jerry Springer and Maury Povich are inspiring too many voyeurs and exhibitionists to become even sicker and crazier than they already are.

Manuel was a child serial killer. He kidnapped a series of little boys, took them to various rooftops, raped, and murdered them. Religious crosses were etched on the bases of their skulls and their penises were cut off. Initially, Manuel pleaded not guilty, but ended up in a maximum-security forensic hospital for the criminally insane. When I met Manuel, he was dying. He had been on dialysis machines for nearly five years and his kidneys were shot. No hospital would ever find a donor kidney for a child serial killer. Manuel’s time was running out. He wanted to tell his story and asked me to record it. Manuel’s destiny is primarily the tale of the ball of his thumb.

Before accepting Manuel’s word, I decided to examine his forensic hospital records and psychiatric treatment plans. I went to the microfilm news section of the public library and dug up everything I could find on the murders. There were dozens of articles. Although the evidence was circumstantial, Manuel was a perfect fit. The media had created a public frenzy. Over one hundred detectives and policemen were on the case. The first suspect apprehended was disguised as a policeman in order not to be lynched by the public. ” It took over two hundred police, some wearing riot gear, to prevent over 1000 angry people from storming the … police station in the mistaken belief that a suspect in the mutilation murders of four young boys was inside the building.”

Manuel was Puerto Rican. He had come to the USA at the age of thirteen with his father and brother. He claimed to have had great aspirations, but got into drugs (marijuana) and was heading downhill ever since. He said to me, “I think drug addiction was in my genes from the first time I tasted drugs, I never stopped”. A huge round ball of the thumb can symbolize sensuality, compulsion, and indulgence. The paradox is that a huge ball of the thumb can also symbolize the opposite qualities – a huge appreciation of nature, all things beautiful, and an overflowing generosity and warmth. Manuel’s low set thumb and fingers were very stiff and his life and head line were closely tied together at their beginning. His bad habits were deeply embedded and virtually impossible to break. Manuel started stealing (many thieves and pick pockets have inwardly curving pinkie fingers) in order to support his habit. He got into heroine and had to resort to stealing even more to support his new habit. He found himself hanging out with prostitutes and criminal types. Meanwhile, Manuel’s mother died of brain cancer, his sister died of cirrhosis of the liver, his half-brother died of a drug overdose, and the crazy brother he came to this country with was locked up for murdering their crazy father.

Manuel began dealing heroine in order to support his habit.  At age sixteen, he was arrested for drug dealing. In the New York City’s “tombs” he began banging his head against the wall and was sent to a hospital to detox. After six months everyone believed that his habit was broken. Manuel discovered that he had talents in the arts and in cooking. He began living with a woman at seventeen, but he couldn’t stay out of trouble and was in and out of prisons and mental hospitals. Manuel managed to get his common-law wife pregnant three times during his leaves. He had two daughters and a son. One of his daughters had to be on dialysis for failed kidneys.

Manuel spent five years in a state penitentiary while his family survived on welfare.           The prison system tried to rehabilitate him and taught him several different trades. He came out with the best of intentions, but couldn’t stay out of trouble. Then Manuel found religion and went to live in a church. He rapidly became fanatical and started preaching the bible to his family and friends. He claimed that he tried to stay away from drugs, but even a drag of a cigarette or sip of beer would rekindle his addiction. The combination of drugs and religion led to grandiosity. “I was greater than God. I really thought I was Jesus Christ”.  Manuel got medication for his hallucinations. On drugs, Manuel was able to cope. If he forgot to take his medication, he’d become mentally and physically ill. Manuel began taking speed and cocaine. His religious delusions and hallucinations became totally grandiose. One forensic psychiatrist described Manuel as a “walking time bomb”. He was teetering between insanity and psychiatric hospitals.

Several of his authorized and unauthorized exits from MPC, a low security mental hospital coincided with the mutilation deaths of young boys. Manuel was seen preaching on the streets near the scene of one of the crimes. He was also connected to other murder locations where relatives lived nearby. He denied killing the boys, but a court appointed defense attorney talked Manuel into copping a plea of insanity. Manuel claimed he didn’t know anything about the legal system and took his lawyer’s advice.

Manuel said, “I was sold down the river. The public needed a murderer and I was him”.  He was found not guilty by reason of insanity. There were no mutilations of children after Manuel’s permanent incarceration. I always felt compassionate towards Manuel; although I believed that he committed those crimes. I was totally repulsed by him and I pitied him at the same time. Manuel was born on the short end of a very thorny stick in both the nature and the nurture departments. Manuel might have been a very different person had he had the opportunity to experience real love and nurture in his life. I’ll bet he’d have a line or two in the ball of the thumb on his dominant hand.

An Extremely Challenging Client

63. Hand of the Killer“Hindsight is 20/20”. I don’t know a legitimate palmist who would have had the foresight to predict that the person who belongs to this hand-print would commit murder. The murderer allegedly left a bloody hand-print at the scene of the crime, which led to his conviction. I’ve read well over a hundred murderers, serial killers, and violent criminals in person and would not have predicted what most of them did from their hands. It’s a whole lot easier to look backwards to find clues, motives, and reasons for what we’ve done.


The following is a true story. I don’t have prints of my client’s hands. I’ve taken sections of prints and photos from other client’s hands to illustrate what I’m talking about.

Twenty-five or so years ago, I received a phone call from a man living somewhere in the boonies of industrial New Jersey. He learned about me from a newspaper article . He was friendly and effusive in his praise for my talents and abilities and volunteered that he had no problem with my fee. He wanted to come to Manhattan as soon as possible for a consultation. We set a date and time.

I was giving a lot of private readings in my East Village apartment at the time. After buzzing my client into the building, I stood outside of my apartment waiting for him to get off the elevator. As he stepped into my hallway, he stumbled and began pounding violently on the wall with his fists. I felt like shutting the door and telling him to go back to wherever he came from. He was a short, balding, middle age man who reminded me of David Berkowitz (Son of Sam). Being larger and stronger than he was, I figured I could easily overpower him if I had to. I cautiously and respectfully invited him in. As he entered my apartment, I placed my hands squarely on his shoulders and looked into his eyes. “Are you having a bad day?” I inquired. “I’m having a bad life.” he snapped back.

short index with twisted middle fingerRather than go through my usual process of printing his hands before reading them, I encouraged him to sit down and talk. I held his hands, palms up in mine, and carefully examined them as he spoke. He told me that he was a wonderful person who had never had a significant relationship, meaningful work, or good health. He was unemployed, deeply in debt, on food stamps, and very out of shape. It was obvious that he couldn’t afford my fee. We were both at the end of his rope. His long crooked middle finger, short index finger, and chewed down nails informed me that he was chronically depressed and in a very pessimistic place. It was no surprise that he had found no one to share his misery.

heart line to head lineI could see from the way his chained heart line dipped down to touch the beginning of his head line that his head was in control of his heart. As a child, he had learned to rationalize, analyze, and compartmentalize his feelings in order to protect himself from his psychologically abusive parents. The long islanded connection at the beginning of his head and life lines revealed how hard he had striven for his parent’s approval, but that short index finger verified that he never got it. With his large ball of the thumb, he desperately wanted to love and be loved, but his fear of intimacy was so great that the idea of trusting anyone brought tremendous pain. It felt like he was spiraling downward into a dark abyss and was asking me to justify his condition and behavior through his symbolism. I told him that I’d seen gurus and saints with horoscopes as difficult as his. He angrily accused me of blaming the victim.

I asked, “What would you like me to say to you? Why are you here?” “Because I’m going to kill someone” he replied. “Who are you planning to kill? “ I asked. “I don’t know, anyone, probably a woman”, he answered. I felt queasy. After a moment of silence, I responded, “You must be in terrible pain. I wish I could help you, but I’m not qualified. Consider this consultation a gift. Use the money to go see a psychotherapist. Get a prescription for Prozac or some other appropriate medication”. Not having to pay brought the first glimmer of hope to my client’s face. I had let him off the hook for conning me and he was grateful. As he left, I shook his hand, and told him that I was sorry for his hardship. I told him to keep in touch as I closed the door behind him.

Can you imagine what was going through my mind? If I call the police, what will I say? “Hello, I’m a palmist in the east village and some crazy person just told me that he’s going to randomly kill someone”. Even if they believed me, what if he found out?  Would he stalk my family? I felt jittery and began to physically tremble. I called several of my most experienced mentors and asked them what they would do. I was encouraged to do nothing.  It appeared that many had crazy clients from time to time and nobody had ever followed through on their threats. If I was wrong, I felt sure my client would get away with more than a few murders before getting caught as he was very methodical.

I anxiously watched the local news every night for weeks. Then one day, I picked up the phone. It was my client. “I just wanted you to know that I’m not going to kill anyone” he said. “I’ve joined the Hemlock Society and have found people who will assist me in my suicide”. “I’m sorry” I replied. “I don’t approve of killing yourself either, but better you than some innocent person”. I wished him good luck in his next life and never heard from him again.

Reading Challenging Clients

gypsy storefront 2Nebulous standards, no accreditation, and a complete lack of counseling skills are endemic in metaphysics. Many practitioners of palmistry have read a couple of books, taken a few classes or workshops, and hung out their shingle: Professional Palmist. Self-appointed experts sell ‘answers’ to impressionable and vulnerable people who desperately search outside of themselves for fixes for their pain and suffering. Unqualified counselors advise gullible clients about what’s going to happen to them and what they have to do next – for a buck.

The value of palmistry is that anyone can be his own best friend and bullshit detector. Our hands reflect who we are. We don’t need a palmist to observe what we value, think, and feel. We can learn about our will power, health, and relationships from our hands. We can examine our creativity, philosophy, purpose, and explore our dreams and spirituality. Hands reflect our past and present and reveal future potentials and trends.

There are many types of readers and many styles of clients. My mission as a reader is to be honest and helpful and leave people feeling hopeful. It’s not always so much what I see, but what I say and how I say it that matters in the end. Most of my clients are well on their path to self-realization. I feel fortunate to be a part of their support system. They come once or twice a year for updates and refer other clients who I’m happy to work with because they have a good idea of what to expect.

Some clients come as a result of business cards, special events, writing, speaking, and media. They often arrive with unrealistic expectations. People have different ideas of what being a reader means. I list my services with companies like thumbtack who e-market me under categories like ‘spiritual counseling’. I end up turning away about thirty clients a week who are looking for psychics, mediums, exorcists, or spell casters, but the connection also generates some very positive and fruitful leads. Some palmists and astrologers are magnets for clients who are ‘disasters waiting to happen’. There’s no quick fix for tragedy or tragic thinking. I rarely attract tragic types, but when I do, it always turns out to be a huge responsibility and a very humbling experience.

When I schedule appointments with new clients, I ask, “What do you want and expect from me?” I link them to this five page online magazine interview, which gives them a realistic view of what I do. Last week, a client showed up because of a favorable article about me that she had read online.  When I asked what she wanted on the phone, she told me that she had read the article and was curious to see what I had to say about her. I set up a time to see her. I hadn’t a clue at that time that she had placed me on a pedestal and was expecting to be transformed by my reading. She made a special trip from out of town to see me, which would make her impending disappointment worse.

earth hand printAs I examined her very practical strong hard working hands, she was glowing with anticipation. She had a square palm, short straight fingers, and clear deep lines with very few flaws. I’ve posted a similar hand to illustrate her type. The biggest difference is that her head and life line were closely tied together at their beginning. It’s much easier to know what to say first when you see features that stick out such as very long, short, or crooked fingers, or unusual qualities like odd textures, patterns, inconsistencies, coloring, or lines that are abnormal in some way.


I stuck my toe in the water, “You’re a healthy person.  What do you want to talk about?” She replied, “What do my hands say I want?” She wanted me to answer my own question. “I’m not a mind reader. This consultation is as much about our dialogue as it is about your symbolism. Let’s see how our conversation fits with what’s in your hands.” She responded in a tone designed to make me feel foolish for asking. “I want the same as everyone else; good health, happiness, fulfilling work, and more money.”

“So what would you like to start with?” I inquired. “What does my astrology say I should start with?” I stared at her natal chart for a moment. She was dominant in the element of earth, which confirmed that she was a practical, pragmatic, methodical, responsible, and dependable person. Most of her planets were in adaptable mutable signs, however, the extreme stiffness in her hands and fingers revealed that she was actually very fixed. Her ideas and habits were deeply entrenched. Beginnings and endings were her two greatest challenges. Transiting Saturn was on her ascendant, soon to oppose her natal Saturn in her seventh house. Symbolically, she was at the end of a five year period of interior work – hopefully, she had decided what she wanted for her future and was in the process of letting go of behaviors, relationships, and circumstances in the way of that.

“What have you let go of lately?” I asked. “Nothing.”  I wasn’t surprised. “What do you need to let go of?” “You tell me.” I felt like a dentist trying to extract and impacted tooth without a pain killer. “Are there difficult family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues creating concern for you?”  “No.” “Is there a problem with your work?” “No.”

“How can I help you?” I asked.  “What do the cards say?” Feeling exasperated, I began shuffling the tarot cards. “Do you have a question?” I asked. “No. Let’s just see what the cards have to say.” I spread them and asked her to choose ten and make a pile of them. I use the Celtic cross spread which represents the current 6 months in time.

Two of Swords, Eight of Pentacles, Tower, Eight of Wands, Nine of Swords, Devil, Four of Pentacles, Moon, Seven of Cups, and Knight of Wands. This was a challenging spread for a cooperative client.  I felt like no matter what I said, she wouldn’t really listen or she’d be contrary for the sake of contrariness. “It appears that there’s a lot more conflict and confusion than you’re acknowledging. Have you ever tried psychotherapy?” I asked. “A long time ago…” “Well, it might be a good time to go back for more.”

I decided to be totally frank. “You came to me expecting answers, but I don’t have your answers and I don’t think anyone else has them either. You need some kind of catalyst in your life to help you initiate change. Perhaps an intimate relationship would help.”  “Yes, I’d like to find someone, although men my age are all looking for younger women.”  I advised that she try this and that, but she claimed to have tried everything already. I offered encouragement that this might be a good time to find someone. The Knight of Wands (final outcome) represents Sagittarius and we had recently entered the sign.

She spoke, “I’m disappointed”. I replied, “Yes, I know. So am I. I’m not going to charge you full price for this consultation, but I am going to charge something for the work I did and the time I’ve spent.”  “Do what you have to do.”, she replied. She had a sour look on her face. I couldn’t wait until the experience was over and felt relieved when she left.

Reading Traders

mark reading client 2

This past week, I performed at a corporate special event for an international hedge fund. There were forty traders and at least half of them were women. It’s a very different climate for traders now than it was thirty-five years ago, when I first began reading hands at corporate events. There were very few female traders in the field. I used to feel awkward holding another man’s hands in mine. I didn’t possess the confidence or the sage-like appearance that I have now as I read a person’s hands. As I make eye contact, I’m able to talk about anyone’s personal issues and challenges and offer helpful and hopeful advice.

I remember my first hedge fund event. I was the only entertainment for over fifty male traders. Most of them were ex-high school macho men and football jocks.  As I anxiously waited for my first client to present his hands, I was wishing that the meeting planner had chosen a woman for the job. These guys were joking about holding hands with me. “Tell him he’s a faggot”, along with other derogatory comments were tossed from the peanut gallery as they showed up at my table and reluctantly exposed themselves to my scrutiny.

Toward the middle of the evening, the CEO of the company got up and spoke about how proud he was of his team and what wonderful “producers” they were. He joked about hiring a “fortune-teller”. When he was finished, his strong handsome looking thirty-year-old son swaggered over to my table despite jeers from his peers. He faced me, smirking skeptically at me with his back to his friends. As I examined his long narrow palms and long fingers and looked into his eyes, I could see that he was a “Feeling” type. A majority of “producers” are aggressive “Intuitive” or practical “Sensation” types. Underneath his practiced facade, he was shy and not really a producer by nature. He was trapped being his father’s son and forcing himself to perform for his dad.

“You’re not like the others”, I whispered. Involuntarily, his eyes swelled with tears. We spent his five minutes talking about how important it was for him to be true to his feelings. He needed to cultivate intimacy and trust more than he needed to have expensive things and find a trophy wife. I encouraged him to be more honest with his dad; however, I could see from his tightly connected head and life line that fear of disappointing the man and losing his approval was too great. Regaining his composure, he returned to his friends, less the swagger.