While the roots of palm reading, also known as palmistry, can’t be traced to a specific period of time, it’s thought to have been used to shed light on a person’s story for quite a while. “Palmistry most likely originated in India between 4000 and 1000 BCE, with strong roots in China and the Middle East,” says Helene Saucedo, an Atlanta-based palm reader who runs Handful of Stars palm readings out of a renovated vintage camper. “It was used in Ancient Greece and Rome for medical diagnosis and character evaluation. It then traveled across Europe with the Romani peoples around 1000 BCE, along with tarot, scrying, and other divinatory arts.”
Saucedo says palmistry continued to spread with the invention of the printing press in 1440 in Germany. At the same time, books were being published that condemned divination—aka using your spiritual and intuitive side for guidance—but palm reading prevailed. “Palmistry survived the Middle Ages and eventually thrived in the late 1800s and throughout the 1900s with its standardization by scientific palmists such as William John Warner, aka Cheiro, and William Benham, in Europe and America,” says Saucedo.
The good news is Saucedo says you don’t have to be a palmistry expert to learn the basics. So, light a candle and get comfortable. Below, you’ll find a palm reading guide and palm reading chart that includes everything you’ll need to know to start analyzing your hand line meanings from the comfort of your own home.
First things first—is palm reading real?
You can learn a lot about someone from their hands—it’s why palmistry has been around for thousands of years. And Saucedo says palm reading can be a very real, and powerful, tool worth exploring. “We all have a choice in how we look at the world. Some of us are realists and some of us are dreamers. I’m a dreamer by nature. I choose to look at the world through a lens of wonder and curiosity,” she says. “I choose to believe in palm reading because it is a uniquely personal and visual tool that can bring clarity to the many questions we have about who we are and our purpose in life.”
What’s really interesting is that past studies also suggest that a wealth of information can be gleaned from the analysis of our hands. For instance, the ratio of the index finger to the ring finger—known as the 2D:4D ratio—has been researched extensively over the years, with the thought that the length may give insights into everything from someone’s athletic talent1 to their predisposition for health conditions like heart disease2. That’s right—with over 1,000 of these studies to date, even scientists have looked to people’s hands for valuable knowledge. So why shouldn’t we?
Don’t confuse palm reading with psychic abilities
Think of palm reading as a language in which you—and anyone else—can become fluent. This is important to remember because Saucedo says palm reading is often conflated with psychic powers—and, really, one has nothing to do with the other. “Anyone can read palms—it’s all visual and tangible,” she says. “I’m not receiving information from spirits or anything. I’ve just learned the language from the lines on your hand.”
Just like how you can use angel numbers and scripting manifestation to add value to your life, learning how to palm read could be an exciting new self-discovery tool, too. And now you're about to get the building blocks to kickstart your journey.
The benefits of reading your palms
So, you’re ready to learn how to read palms—but what can you get out of it? By taking a closer look at your palm lines—something you carry around with you all day, every day—you can open the door to personal exploration and revelation.
“Palms can be read for fortune telling, self-reflection (much like astrology), or simply for fun. I find palmistry provides the perfect platform to dive into meaningful and intimate conversations with other people that otherwise may not have happened,” Saucedo says. “Reading your own palms can be tricky because we have the tendency to have hardwired preconceived notions about ourselves. But if you can get out of your way, it can be used as a map of your life that is always handy.”
Which palms should you read?
While both palms play a role in adding details to your reading, Saucedo says your dominant hand more so represents who you are in the present moment. And your non-dominant one lends information to your destiny.
This isn't to say your non-dominant hand holds crystal-ball-worthy, here’s-how-your-life-will-end-up powers. Rather, according to Saucedo, your recessive hand shows “the wisdom of what you’ve come through.” So while your dominant hand might be a hot mess of “What am I doing? Where am I going?” you can count on your recessive hand to display the ways in which things are going to be okay once your journey pans out.
What do the lines on your hand mean?
The most basic way to understand how to palm read is through four main lines that every hand has. While a number of lines likely traverse your palms, it’s the following that pro readers pay attention to the most:
- Heart line: Located at the top of the hand; indicates your emotional state
- Head line: Located below the heart line, at the center of your hand; indicates mentality
- Life line: Located under the heart line, goes around your thumb; indicates vitality
- Line of stability: Comes up through the center of the hand, starting at the bottom of your palm and running toward your middle finger; also known as your fate line, indicates how you feel about the life you create
“The overall shape of a line, whether it’s curved or straight, says how flexible that part of you is,” says Saucedo, who authored Handful of Stars. For example, if you have a very curved heart line (also known as the love line) that looks like a half-circle, Saucedo says that would indicate a very nurturing, open, and emotional nature. If your heart line is straight, then you might be a bit more guarded or self-preserved about your emotions.
There are also key differences to note between straight and curved head lines. A very curved head line indicates creativity, while a straight head line points to someone who is very rational and likes logistics—“black and white, yes or no,” says Saucedo.
But one common misconception Saucedo is quick to point out is that despite popular belief, a life line palm reading has nothing to do with your lifespan. Rather, the life line has more to do with how good you feel about your life. “If it fades out, it’s just a piece of your life where you might feel like the rug was pulled out from under you,” she says. “But it doesn’t mean you're sick or anything like that.”
Does the depth and length of lines matter, too?
Now that you’ve gotten a look into hand line meanings, you might be wondering if the depth and length of those lines matter, too. Saucedo says the deeper and darker the lines on your palm, the more stable that part of you is. For example, a person with a deep heart line or love line indicates resilience or strength in emotions; if it’s lighter, then that person might be more sensitive or vulnerable.
The length of the lines on your palm tell a story, too. For example, Saucedo says a person with a short head line doesn’t say anything about their intelligence. Instead, they might have trouble focusing.
What's the connection between palm reading and astrology?
Palm reading in astrology is a thing. “I believe all the divinatory arts are interconnected and that’s why people will receive the same messages from different types of readings,” says Saucedo. “My favorite party trick is to guess someone’s astrological sign from their hand.”
Palm reading intersects with astrology regarding the shape of your hand, says Saucedo. Hand shapes fall into one of the four elements—earth, water, fire, and air—that help to inform zodiac signs. “[This] has to do with whether our palm is square or rectangular versus having short or long fingers,” she says.
Here are the four elements and their corresponding hand physicality:
- Earth: Broad, square palm and short fingers
- Water: Long or oval palm and long fingers
- Fire: Long palm and short fingers
- Air: Square palm and long fingers
Saucedo says the characteristics associated with each of the elements share properties with the elements in astrology:
- Earth: Grounded and practical
- Water: Sensitive and receptive
- Fire: Anxious or restless
- Air: Adaptable and intellectual
- Earth signs: Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn
- Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces
- Fire signs: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius
- Air signs: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius
Putting it all together like a pro
You just took in a lot of information from this palm reading guide, so how do you put it all together? Saucedo says it’s easiest to learn how to read palms by first making prints of your palm with ink. Or, you could print out a photo of your palm and mark it up in a step-by-step fashion using a palm reading chart.
“Start with discovering the elemental shape of the hand, then look at your mounts, and finally, look at the lines one by one,” says Saucedo. “Don’t overwhelm yourself with looking at everything at once or rush to try to find a prophecy in your hands. The journey of applying and discovering meanings in your hands is the whole point of it.”
By taking your time and enjoying the process, a world of self-discovery awaits. You never know what you’ll uncover.
Frequently asked questions about palm reading
Do palms change over time?
Just as we shift throughout our lives, so do our palm lines. “It is believed that our palms change as we change, and I have been a witness to this in my career,” Saucedo says. “The changes that happen on adults’ hands are typically small but meaningful.” Because palms change over time, she encourages everyone to take photos of their hands in the daylight—that way, you can refer back to them every year using your handy palm reading chart to see if there are any changes you can gain wisdom from.
What are the rarest lines on your palm?
While there are four main lines every palm has—the heart line (love line), head line, life line, and line of stability (fate line)—some people may have rare lines you won’t find in the average palm reading guide. Two things to look for? The line of intuition or a pentacle.
“One of the lines I see least often is the line of intuition. It is a half circle encircling the pinky side of the palm,” says Saucedo. “My favorite marks to find are pentacles, a five-pointed star. If you have one of those, you are very special.”
What can fingerprints tell you about your life?
Sure, the focus tends to be on our palms—but it’s wise to pay attention to your fingerprints when learning how to palm read, too. “Fingerprints hold our life’s purpose, or the avenue(s) we feel most aligned putting our energy,” says Saucedo. “Through decoding what type of print—whorl (individualist), tent (wisdom), arch (peace), or loop (love)—and what finger they are on (pointer finger = Jupiter/ambition; middle finger = Saturn/discipline; fourth finger = Apollo/creativity; and pinky finger = Mercury/communication) we have information on our talents and direction.”
For example, Saucedo says someone with a whorl—a mark of the individualist—on the Jupiter finger of ambition points to “someone who may have leadership skills or have talents that make them stand out.”
Which palm line is lucky?
Feeling lucky? Check your palm. While there are many hand line meanings to be aware of, Saucedo says there are a few places you can find good luck.
“If you have three solid lines that wrap around the top of your wrist, called bracelets, that is a sign of good luck. A strong and long line of Apollo—which runs vertically up the hand underneath the fourth finger—is a sign of success, as well as a strong line of stability (aka line of fate) which runs vertically up the center of the hand,” she says. “Lastly, a star formation—which appears like an asterisk on the mount of Apollo (the archetype of sun and light underneath the fourth finger) or on the mount of Jupiter (the archetype of growth and expansiveness beneath the pointer finger)—are lucky marks as well.”
What does a broken life line mean?
When it comes to life line palm reading, you may be wondering what a broken life line means. It’s nothing to be afraid of, as it has nothing to do with your lifespan. “The life line does not measure the length of someone's life, it measures the quality of it,” says Saucedo. Instead, she says she likes to think of the life line as an interstate or train track.
“If there is a break in the line, it represents a moment of detour or construction—typically an unexpected change or shift that moves you off of your intended course,” she says. “Just because it is a change doesn't mean it's a bad occurrence, by any means. Some changes are for the best, even if only in hindsight.”
A life line palm reading can also make you take a step back and think about how you’ve been feeling lately, and if something in your life needs to be adjusted. “I also view the life line as the measure of the gas in our gas tank,” says Saucedo. “A light and/or short life line may be on a person who tends to be tired, overworked, has a weakened immune system, and/or gives away too much of their energy.” If that’s you, there’s no better opportunity to make important changes that can drastically improve your life.
- Adamczyk, Jakub Grzegorz et al. “The Second-to-Fourth Digit (2D:4D) Ratio of Male Combat Athletes is Associated with the Choice of Sport.” Journal of human kinetics vol. 78 59-66. 31 Mar. 2021, doi:10.2478/hukin-2020-0083
- Wu, Xing-Li et al. “The ratio of second to fourth digit length (2D:4D) and coronary artery disease in a Han Chinese population.” International journal of medical sciences vol. 10,11 1584-8. 10 Sep. 2013, doi:10.7150/ijms.6360
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