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Hand Analysis: An Ancient Art Validated By New Science

by Erin Rose

Did you know that the length of your fingers can predict scholastic ability, social behavior, and sexual orientation? Would you believe that an analysis of your palms can diagnose a medical condition, and even estimate the length of your life? If this sounds like palmistry to you, you’re right. But it’s also science.

The evidence lending credence to the ancient art of hand analysis comes from a number of studies in a variety of fields. The study of palmar ridge patterns, known as dermatoglyphics, has identified correlations between palm prints and numerous genetic disorders, including colorblindness, congenital heart disease, primary glaucoma and Down’s syndrome. A study of one hundred autopsies at the Bristol Royal Infirmary has revealed “a highly significant association” between the palmar crease traditionally known as the Life Line and longevity. And, numerous recent studies have shown correlations between digit ratio and personality traits.

The difference in length between the index and ring fingers, known as the 2D:4D ratio, has attracted the most attention from researchers. Neuroscientists at the University of Alberta found that men with longer ring fingers than index fingers exhibit more aggressive, risk-taking behavior. Psychologists at the University of Berkeley, California found that the same ratio in women’s hands corresponds to an improved sense of direction and appears more frequently in lesbians. Neuroscientists at the University of Cambridge showed that longer ring fingers predict success among financial traders, and psychologist at the University of Oxford revealed their correlation to sexual promiscuity. Another study at the University of Bath found this ratio correlates with higher SAT scores in math, while the opposite ratio, in which the index finger is longer, correlates with higher literacy scores. 

The researchers explain that the commonality between all of these traits is prenatal exposure to high levels of androgens, or sex hormones, which affect development in the fetus. Elevated levels of testosterone in utero cause ring fingers to grow longer than index fingers, and also promote development in the part of the brain responsible for mathematical skills. Conversely, high levels of estrogen produce longer index fingers, and also promote development in the part of the brain responsible for verbal skills. This explains why slight differences in finger length point to significant physical, emotional, and psychological differences between individuals.

Science has just begun to discover the secrets hidden in the hand, yet even without prenatal hormone tests, palm readers have long known that the ring finger, aptly called “Apollo’s finger”, correlates with popularity, sex-appeal, and risky behavior when elongated. In fact, it is frequently referred to as the gambler’s finger. A good palmist would also know that a proportionately long index finger, known as “Jupiter’s finger”, indicates superior verbal ability and a tendency to garrulousness. Although palmistry is often associated with soothsaying swindlers, it turns out there’s truth in the old folklore.

The practice of examining the hand began as a diagnostic method during the period of the Vedic civilization of India (circa 1500–500 BCE). Like modern researchers, the first palm readers were doctors, who noted that despite the uniqueness of every hand, similarities are found in some. Observing proportions, shape, color, markings, texture, and tone, they began correlating certain features of the hand with specific characteristics of the owner. Short fingers were associated with a fast metabolism, soft palms with low energy, broken palmar creases with acute crises. These discoveries led to the use of hand analysis in Ayurveda, a holistic medical approach which views physiological, psychological, and emotional states as inextricably interrelated. 

The modern study of the hand is called chirology (pronounced kirology, from the Greek word for hand, cheir). A hybrid of east and west, ancient and new, chirology relies on palmistry’s time-proven holistic perspective, which sees the hand as a mirror of the individual, while adopting contemporary scientific findings to weed out the myths and misconceptions that have inevitably taken root in this arcane field. 

Contrary to popular perception, hand analysis is not deterministic, because the hand is not static. Although the ridges of the palms are fully developed at birth, and only change in the case of disease, the lines continue to develop naturally throughout the course of life. They can deepen or fade, become longer, shorter, or even branch out in new directions.

Chirologists believe the nervous system functions like a living lithograph, etching our experiences into our palms with every action and reaction, progression and regression. The lines trace the paths of our development, gradually drawing the maps of our lives. Though we each possess innate inclinations which can become more ingrained over time, we still have freedom of choice. We can break out of old ruts to forge new paths or deepen existing grooves by retreading our steps. Hand analysis can inform choices by identifying personal strengths, weaknesses, talents, and tendencies.  

The practice of palmistry has endured for over three thousand years, and still there remains much to be learned about the hands. Now, the contribution of science to this ancient body of knowledge ensures that it will not only survive but continue to evolve. Perhaps, someday in the future, doctors, psychologists, and counselors of all kinds will read palms as a standard practice.

Erin Rose studied hand analysis in the Middle East. With over a decade of experience using chirology in conjunction with Chinese medicine and naturopathy (graduate of Reidman College for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Israel), she now offers online consultations. Find out more at: www.onhandanalysis.com
© Copyright 2015, Erin Rose

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