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Palmistry, an art surrounded by suspicion in the western world, is highly regarded in other parts of the world. Areas embracing more of an eastern philosophy regard this most harmless of divining arts as a valuable means of self-discovery as well as an accurate method of reading a person’s character and, perhaps, destiny.

The hands, in fact, often reveal more about a person than their face. You can change your expressions and put on a “brave face” or smile and not genuinely mean it. Make-up and plastic surgery can also alter what your face really looks like. The hands, however, have a language all their own which is more difficult to manipulate but quite easy to read. For example, in business people put great value in the handshake. If your grip is firm, it’s interpreted as a good, decisive sign, while a weak handshake is taken to be an indicator of an unassertive personality. But even then, you can fake a firm handshake. There are a number of more subtle ways to uncover thought patterns or natural inclinations. Deciphering the canvas of the hand, sans the lines is the first step in accurately reading hands.

According to Roz Levine, a professional palmist and astrologer as well as author of the book Palmistry: How to Chart the Lines of Your Destiny, how you hold your hands is quite telling. If naturally you allow your fingers to splay open when placing them upon a flat surface you are more likely to be open and receptive to new ideas. If you naturally hold your fingers close together the opposite is usually true. The size of the hands is revealing as well. Big hands commonly belong to those who are good at handling detailed and intricate activities. A surgeon would most likely possess large hands. At the other end of the spectrum, small hands typically belong to those who are good at organizing things on a large scale. Small-handed people are dynamic, high achieving and have a keen ability to direct others.

Being right- or left-handed is important in palmistry as well. Regardless of being “left-“ or “right-“handed, the hand you use most is deemed the “right” hand. If you’re ambidextrous, the hand with which you write is regarded as the “right” hand. The “left” hand (the less dominant one) reveals basic personality traits as well as past and current events. The “right” hand is said to show how your personality has changed or will develop and may indicate future events. So when looking at a lefty’s hands, the right hand is the basic one and the left one is linked to the future.

Moving more to the actual palate of the hand, beneath and underscoring the lines are the mounts (raised, fleshier parts) of the palm. The Mount of Venus is the corpulent area of skin just below the thumb -- the part that looks like a drumstick. The higher this mount, the higher your capacity for love, says Levine. People with a full Mount of Venus often have a hearty love of nature, food, drink, and fun. And while a flatter Mount of Venus doesn’t necessarily indicate dispassion, it does indicate your affections may function on a more spiritual level.

The fleshy mount on the inner, bottom corner of the palm -- the Mount of the Moon -- is linked to imagination, romance, and travel. A well-developed mount may indicate that sympathy comes easily to you as this mount connects you to other people’s needs. The Mount of Jupiter is located just below the index finger, where it connects to the hand. Assertive, self-confident people are likely to have more solid mounts. In fact, someone with a high, firm mount could have aggressive tendencies while a flat mount may hint at a floundering self-esteem. If you have a strong Mount of Saturn (beneath the middle finger) you probably possess a somber nature and tend to take things too seriously. Conversely, a level mount indicates a playful temperament. A large Mount of the Sun (under the ring finger) signifies a need to be in the limelight and a ripe Mount of Mercury (below the pinky) denotes an abundance of mental energy.

Finally, there are three Mounts of Mars, which lie in a horizontal line across the hand starting at the area just inside where the thumb is connected (above the Mount of Venus). There is another one around the middle of the palm, and another about three quarters of an inch below the pinky and towards the outside of the hand. If the mount nearest your thumb is most developed it indicates energy. The central mount generally feels strong and bouncy, denoting inner energies and powers of resistance are generating well. If the area is soft your energies may not be at a hundred percent. When the mount at the outer edge of your hand is well developed it may correspond with a restless inner state.

After examining the other parts of the hand finally we come to the lines. Although there are only four major lines (life, head, fate and heart) there are other finer, more delicate lines absent on some people’s hands and quite prominent on others. The Life Line is that line which seems to outline the Mount of Venus. A short life line, according to Pollack, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a short life. It can, however, indicate potential health problems. And as for my having two Lines of Life, Levine says the second is actually the Line of Mars running alongside the Line of Life. It acts as a buffer against illness or threats and brings great vitality and a fighting spirit.

The Line of Head runs semi-horizontally across the palm and sometimes meshes with the top of the Life Line. While a short Line of Head doesn’t indicate a dim wit, it may suggest that while you may have few interests, you are enthusiastic about and genuine towards them. If your line is deep and straight you are a practical thinker and if a series of crosses adorns your Line of Head you should to learn to relax a bit.

The Line of Fate runs vertically, as does the Line of Life, and generally points towards your middle finger. The name is kind of misleading in that it doesn’t illustrate your fate per se, but rather your ambitions and potential. A long, solid line is a sign of a confident and decisive person. A slacker might have a Line of Fate stopping around the Line of Head as opposed to running up towards the fingers. Some people, however, don’t have a Line of Fate. If you’re lacking this line don’t worry, it simply means you probably have non-conventional goals and will achieve them on your own terms.

Finally, the Line of Heart is usually the top-most, horizontal line running across the palm. It usually begins under the pinky and ends beneath the index finger. If your Line of Heart falls short of the index finger it could signify passivity. Affectionate people tend to have Lines of Heart that curve upward while indifferent people’s lines dip down. A fork at the end of the Line of Heart may mean you’ll have to choose between two or more partners.

It’s important to realize that as with most arts there is a technique required for mastery. You can’t simply look at the lines or the shape of the hands and get an accurate reading. Levine recommends having a step-by-step approach to reading hands. Identify first the shape of the hands and fingers, noting major differences between the left and right hands. Assess each of the mounts and then examine each of the lines. Pay attention to how the lines mesh with each other. Are there imperfections, crosses, dips? What’s most important to remember is that your palms cannot predict specific events of the future. They are, however, purported to be excellent indicators of personality, ambition, resilience, and potential, which do play a significant role in the shaping of anyone’s life.