I endeavoured to study every phase of thought that can throw light on human life; consequently the very ridges of the skin, the hair found on the hands, all were used as a detective would use a clue to accumulate evidence. I found people were sceptical of such a study only because they had not the subject presented to them in a logical manner. There are hundreds of facts connected with the hand that people have rarely, if ever, heard of, and I [Pg 2] think it will not be out of place if I touch on them here. For instance, in regard to what are known as the corpuscles, Meissner, in , proved that these little molecular substances were distributed in a peculiar manner in the hand itself. Experiments were made as to these vibrations, and it was proved that, after a little study, one could distinctly detect and recognise the crepitations in relation to each individual.
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I endeavoured to study every phase of thought that can throw light on human life; consequently the very ridges of the skin, the hair found on the hands, all were used as a detective would use a clue to accumulate evidence. I found people were sceptical of such a study only because they had not the subject presented to them in a logical manner. There are hundreds of facts connected with the hand that people have rarely, if ever, heard of, and I [Pg 2] think it will not be out of place if I touch on them here.
For instance, in regard to what are known as the corpuscles, Meissner, in , proved that these little molecular substances were distributed in a peculiar manner in the hand itself. Experiments were made as to these vibrations, and it was proved that, after a little study, one could distinctly detect and recognise the crepitations in relation to each individual.
They increased or decreased in every phase of health, thought, or excitement, and were extinct the moment death had mastered its victim. In a very short time this man could detect the slightest change or irregularity in these crepitations, and through the changes was able to tell with wonderful accuracy about how old a person was, and how near they were to illness, and even death.
The study of these corpuscles was also taken up by Sir Charles Bell, who, in , demonstrated that each corpuscle contained the end of a nerve fibre, and was in immediate connection with the brain. This great specialist also demonstrated that every portion of the brain was in touch with the nerves of the hand and more particularly with the corpuscles found in the tips of the fingers and the lines of the hand.
The detection of criminals by taking impressions [Pg 3] of the tips of the fingers and by thumb marks is now used by the police of almost every country, and thousands of criminals have been tracked down and identified by this means. To-day, at Scotland Yard, is to be seen almost an entire library now devoted to books on this side of the subject and to the collections that the police have made, and yet, in my short time, I remember how the idea was scoffed at when Monsieur Bertillon and the French police first commenced the detection of criminals by this method.
If the ignorant prejudice against a complete study of the hand were overcome, the police would be greatly assisted by studying the lines of the palm, and acquiring a knowledge of what these lines mean, especially as regards mentality and the inclination of the brain in one direction or another.
It is a well-known fact that, even if the skin be burned off the hands or removed by an acid, in a short time the lines will reappear exactly as they were before, and the same happens to the ridges or "spirals" in the skin of the inside tips of the fingers and thumb.
The scientific use of such a study could also be made invaluable in foreseeing tendencies towards insanity, etc. Yet it cannot be denied that this strange study was practised and followed by some of the greatest teachers and students of other civilisations.
Whether or no these ancient philosophers were more enlightened than we are has long been a question of dispute, but the one point and the most important one which has been admitted is, that in those days the greatest study of mankind was man.
It is, therefore, reasonable to suppose that their conclusions are more likely to be correct than those of an age like our own—famous chiefly for its implements of destruction, its warships, its dynamite, and its cannon.
This study of hands can be traced back to the very earliest, most enlightened forms of civilisation. It has been practised by the greatest minds in all those civilisations, minds that have left their mental philosophies and their monuments for us to marvel at.
India, China, Persia, Egypt, Rome—all in their study of mankind have placed the greatest store in their study of the hand. During my stay in India, I was permitted by some Brahmans descendants of the Joshi Caste, famous from time immemorial for their knowledge in occult subjects with whom it was my good fortune to become intimately acquainted, to examine and make extracts from an extraordinary book on this subject which they regarded as almost sacred, and which belonged to the great past of the now despised Hindustan.
As the wisdom of the Hindus spread far and wide across the earth, so the theories and ideas about this [Pg 5] study spread and were practised in other countries. Similar to the way in which religion suits itself to the conditions of the country in which it is propagated, so has it divided itself into various systems.
It is, however, to the days of the Greek civilisation that we owe the present clear and lucid form of the study. It is a well-known and undisputed fact that the philosopher Anaxagoras not only taught but practised this study. We also find that Hispanus discovered on an altar dedicated to Hermes a book on Cheiromancy, written in gold letters, which he sent as a present to Alexander the Great, as "a study worthy of the attention of an elevated and enquiring mind.
This brings us down to the period when the power of the Church was beginning to be felt outside the domain and jurisdiction of religion. It is said that the early Fathers were jealous of the influence of this old-world science. Whether this be true or not, we find that it was bitterly denounced and persecuted by the early Church. It has always been, that the history of any dominant creed or sect is the history of opposition to knowledge, unless that knowledge [Pg 6] come through it.
This study, therefore, the offspring of "pagans and heathens," was not even given a trial. It was denounced as sorcery and witchcraft; the devil was conjured up as the father of all such students, and the result was that through this bitter persecution, the study was outlawed, and fell into the hands of vagrants, tramps, and gipsies. In spite of this persecution it is interesting and significant to notice that almost the first book ever printed was a work on Palmistry, Die Kunst Ciromantia, printed in Augsburg, in the year In examining this subject it will be found that in the study of mankind it came to be recognised that, as there was a natural position on the face for the nose, eyes, lips, etc.
If these were found in some unnatural position they would equally be the indications of unnatural tendencies. It doubtless took years of study to name these lines and marks, but it must be remembered that this curious study is more ancient than any other in the world. In the original Hebrew of the Book of Job chap. To-day the science of the present is coming to the [Pg 7] rescue of the so-called superstition of the past.
All over the world scientists are little by little sweeping aside prejudice and beginning to study occult questions. Perhaps the "whys and wherefores" of such things may one of these days be as easily explained as are those wireless waves of electricity that carry messages from land to land.
This is not usually the course adopted in books printed on this subject which have to appeal to a general public. I have also recorded what are the difficulties that arise in the minds of those students who meet this, that, or the other mark or line and search in vain for some explanation as to its meanings.
I may add that there is not a single point on which I give information that has not been proved by me from probably thousands of cases that have come before me during my own professional experience. As regards illustrations, I have endeavoured to make these of the simplest and clearest kind possible. I have every confidence that if they are carefully studied, no student can fail to grasp this subject in [Pg 9] a masterful manner, and that whoever acts upon the advice I give in these pages, cannot fail to become successful as an interpreter of this study.
In all my work I regard the Line of Head page 11 or the Line of Mentality as the most important sign that can be found in the hand. A Line of Head is like the needle in the compass, without a true knowledge of which it is impossible to grasp the "direction of the subject.
I have seen, for example, many students make the mistake of paying great attention to what looked like a good Line of Sun or Success, and, at the same time, not noticing a weak, badly formed Line of Head, which contradicted the promise of success given by the various lines.
If, on the other hand, the student had first noticed the Line of Head, he would have been able to tell the subject that the promise of success was not backed up by the intelligence or the mentality. As regards the future being foreshadowed, it has been demonstrated that the brain is always growing, changing, increasing, or diminishing. These changes commence years before the effect is shown by the thoughts or actions of the individual. A boy ten years old may at that point commence a development which will not be felt until he is thirty, and then it may change his whole life and career.
As this development commences at ten, even at that age it has affected certain nerves, and they in their turn have already affected the Line of Head—a full twenty years before the point of change or action has been reached. It therefore follows that the future may [Pg 10] be seen and told by a careful examination of the hand which, as Aristotle has said, is the "organ of all organs, the active agent of the passive powers of the entire system.
The greatest attention should be paid to it, so as to obtain a clear grasp of the Mentality under consideration. The two hands must be carefully compared—the left showing the inherited tendencies, the right the developed or cultivated qualities.
The slightest change or deviation in the markings from the left to the right should be carefully noted down or remembered. The direction or the termination or end of the line should, above all, be distinctly noted, for the all-important reason that this shows the direction that the Mentality is inclined to develop towards.
For example, if found with the end of the line sloping downwards in the left hand, and having become straight or lying across the palm in the right—the student is safe in concluding that the subject has not been able to follow his natural bent, but by the force of circumstances has been obliged to make himself more practical, to study business methods, and to have undertaken a training towards practicality and level-headedness in order to rise equal to the circumstances that he found himself forced to meet.
In this way the student obtains an insight into the earlier conditions of the life under examination that is invaluable, especially when there is, as will be [Pg 11] found in many cases, no Line of Destiny visible in the early years. Plate I. If, on the contrary, the Line of Head is found exactly in the same position on the right hand as on the left, or even very nearly so, the student can be sure that there was little or no strain in the early years, but that the subject had easy conditions which [Pg 12] were favourable, and which allowed him to develop his natural bent of Mentality.
If, however, it is found that the left hand shows a forked ending to the Line of Head, namely, one end sloping downwards and the other end straight, or nearly so, and that the right hand shows only the straight line, then the student may decide that the subject inherited from the parents two natures, the imaginative and the practical, and that he chose to develop the latter, either in the direction of business or science.
In such a case, the student may state with confidence that the parents of the subject were decidedly opposite in their characteristics. If the line has become straight in the right hand the subject takes more after the side that was practical. If on the right hand the same mark has become clearest the man developed, followed, or cultivated the mental qualities of the mother more than those of the father. If, on the contrary, the lower line was the more developed on the right hand, then the subject, if a man, had developed the imaginative or artistic qualities of the mother, and vice versa if the subject be a girl or a woman.
In such a case the subject has been a hard mental student, and has become mentally superior to his or her parents. This is often found in the case of "self-made" men or women, who have had little or no education in their early life or in their home, but who from an innate love of education developed themselves mentally. Such a sign would speak volumes for the will power and ambition of the subject under examination. If the Line of Head is lighter and poorer on the right hand than on the left, the student can state that the subject has not made the most of his opportunities mentally, and that he has not, and never will, equal the brain power and education of his or her parents.
In such a case one may also be sure that the subject has not a very strong will power—at least mentally—although he might be very obstinate by nature, which will be seen from the quality exhibited by the nail phalange of the thumb page A poor or non-developed Line of Head in the right hand of any man or woman is also the indication of a lack of purpose or ambition—there being no ambition where a want of mental desire and development is so distinctly shown.
A clean cut deep Line of Head is a more powerful sign of mentality than when the line is very broad, or lying, as it were, merely on the surface of the palm. A wide broad line shows less concentration and a [Pg 14] more vacillating changeable nature. This rule applies with equal truth to all the lines on the palm. Broad, coarse-looking lines are more a constitutional sign than a mental indication. They are often found in cases where the subject leads a robust outdoor life, and those who have developed the physical side of their nature more than the mental.
Great brain workers usually have thin, fine, clean-looking lines, and especially that of the Line of Head. It will thus be seen that by observation the student will be enabled to class the sort of life led by the person under examination.
No matter how intellectual a man or woman may look, the lines on the hand will indicate whether or not they have developed their intellectuality.
In this way it will be seen that a study of the hand becomes a far more accurate guide than the study of the face. Many men and women may have handsome, intellectual faces and yet prefer sport or outdoor life to any mental pursuit or exercise. Turning from an examination of the direction of ending of the Line of Head, the student must next examine the indications of the beginnings of this important Line.
For example, the Line of Head may commence in three distinct different ways. The first is the most uncertain of all. It denotes an over-sensitive, over-cautious, timid person. It also indicates a highly nervous, easily excited individual, one who has little control over himself or his temper, who is easily put out over trifles, and liable to [Pg 15] do the most erratic things, or fly off at a tangent when irritated. Such people are always in trouble, generally fighting or quarrelling with those about them and over things that are of no consequence.
They are likewise so easily wounded in their feelings, that even a look or an imagined slight will put them out of humour or upset them for days. If this Line of Head farther out in the palm become straight, it denotes that the subject will, later, by the development of his intelligence largely overcome this failing of over-sensitiveness.
If the line slope much or bend down towards the wrist or on to the Mount of Luna the Mount of Imagination , then the subject will become still worse with his advancing years.
If the Line of Head is also poorly marked, or with "hairlines" from it, it is often the indication of some form of insanity which is likely to cause the subject to be placed under restraint in later life. If, with this latter indication, the student also finds all the upward main lines, such as the Line of Destiny, etc. This class of Head Line is largely found in cases where the subject is naturally inclined towards drink and intemperance of every description.
Even in cases where there are good lines running up the palm, it will usually be found that the subject gives way to occasional fits of intemperance or the desire for drugs. The qualities of the fiery Mount of Mars, from which such a Line of Head starts inside the Life Line, is largely the cause of the peculiarities above indicated.
The opposite Mount of Mars page on the side of the hand, on the contrary, gives [Pg 16] mental control, so that even when the Line of Head runs out straight on the palm it partakes of this "Mental Mars" quality, and so denotes that later on in years the subject with such a Line of Head will be able to develop mental control. The sloping Line of Head, however, would denote that the subject allows himself to turn, as it were, away from mental control, and so lets the earlier tendencies become his master.
Follow the Author
As mentioned in his memoirs, Cheiro acquired his expertise in India. As a teenager, he traveled to the Bombay port of Apollo Bunder. There, he met his Guru , an Indian Chitpavan Brahmin , who took him to his village in the valley of the Konkan region of Maharashtra. Later Cheiro was permitted by Brahmans to study an ancient book that has many studies on hands; After studying thoroughly for two years, he returned to London and started his career as a palmist. Cheiro was reluctant to marry but was aware that he was destined to marry late in life. This did happen after a woman took care of him during a serious illness. A separate chapter is devoted to this matter in his memoirs.
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