How to Read Palms – And Why You Should Start

And no, contrary to popular belief, it can't predict when you're going to die.

Open hand showing palm lines with green shrubs behind
Photo: Getty Images

Humans have wanted to understand who we are and where we're headed as individuals for about as long as we've been on this planet. That's why it's no surprise that astrology, Tarot cards, and a variety of other metaphysical practices, many of which date back thousands of years, are popular tools for boosting self-awareness. Palm reading, also referred to as Chiromancy or "cheiromancy," is one method that has existed in various forms and has been used in cultures around the globe.

"Palmistry is an ancient, embodied, and empowering art intended for curious minds to inspire self-reflection and, when used with others, human connection," explains Helene Saucedo, a palm reader and author of Handful of Stars: A Palmistry Guidebook and Hand-Printing Kit. "The markings on our hands hold information on our personalities — our emotional, mental, and spiritual worlds."

Here is a guide on how to get started with palm reading.

A Brief History of Palm Reading

Palmistry or palm reading dates back to India, likely between 4000 and 1000 CBE, explains Saucedo. It also is thought to have had roots in China and the Middle East, specifically Egypt. However, the practice — as well as astrology — was banned under King Henry VIII, who considered them pagan superstitions. But by the late Victorian era, palmistry once more gained popularity and acceptance. In fact, an Irish astrologer/clairvoyant/palmist named William John Warner (aka Cheiro) made quite the impression in the field, reading the hands of historical figures like Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Edison, Sarah Bernhardt, and the Prince of Wales.

Look at Dominant and Non-Dominant Hands

Your dominant hand represents who you are — your personality, where you are in your life, where you've been, but also where you imagine you're going — in the present moment. Your non-dominant hand represents your potential and aspiration.

Different types of hand shapes, finger length, and palm type illustration
Kaitlyn Collins/InStyle

Consider the Hand Shape

The shape of your hands reflects one of the four elements: water, fire, air, or earth. You can determine which by looking at the proportion of the palm to the fingers. Note that your dominant hand could be one element, while your nondominant could be another. And the elements might but won't necessarily mirror the signs in your birth chart.

Water Hands: With long palms and long fingers, these individuals tend to be more intuitive, creative, sensitive, empathic, and emotional, explains Saucedo. Think: the archetype associated with Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.

Fire Hands: Featuring long palms and shorter fingers, this shape indicates someone who's restless, anxious, warm, and action-oriented. The shape is associated with the archetype of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.

Air Hands: With square palms and long fingers, the air shape indicates an intellectual, curious, adaptable, and cerebral personality type. Think of the Gemini, Libra, Aquarius archetypes.

Earth Hands: This type sports square palms and short fingers and is hardworking, logical, pragmatic, and grounded. These traits are in line with the archetypes of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn.

The 7 Palm Reading mounts with locations
Kaitlyn Collins/InStyle

Observe the Mounts

Fleshy areas of the palm, referred to as "mounts," speak to individual talents and gifts that could be prominent for you during this lifetime. There are seven main ones, each associated with planets that we also use in astrology:

Apollo (the sun): The artist, creative

Luna (the moon): The visionary, intuition

Mercury: The communicator, communication

Venus: The lover, pleasure

Mars: The warrior, resilience

Jupiter: The leader, ambition

Saturn: The scholar, discipline

Check Out Your Fingerprints

Saucedo ​​says she looks at fingerprints to offer insight into a person's life purpose. "Certain markers will point to the avenues where you will feel best when your energy is used in that way," she explains.

Fingerprints are identified using the same labels as forensic science. They correspond with the archetypes of the fingers the print lives on.

Pointer finger: Jupiter

Middle finger: Saturn

Ring finger: Apollo

Pinky finger: Mercury

Loop: Intuitive, imaginative (Water)

Whorl: Independent, individualist (Air)

Arch: Stable, reliable (Earth)

Tented Arch: Enthusiastic, wise (Fire)

The 4 different Palm Reading lines illustrated on an outstretched palm

Look at the Lines

When we hear about palm reading, the life line is usually the first thing we think of, but there are actually three main lines to check out — and many other minor lines that can offer valuable info. "The lines on our palms reflect the roads we take on the journey of personal growth," says Saucedo.

Palm readers consider the depth, length, and curves of your lines to make observations about those roads. The main lines:

Your head line: Denoting your intellectual energy, this line, located in the center of the palm, also speaks to lessons that might come up for you in this lifetime. Its angle also speaks to your mentality. "The more angled it is, the more open and adaptable and intuitive you are," explains Saucedo. "The more straight it is, the more rigid your thinking."

Your heart line: Located above the head line is your heart line, which speaks to your emotional self and how you interact in your life emotionally. A dramatically swooping shape indicates a nurturing emotional personality, a straight line is more stoic, and softer "smile" or U-shape indicates emotional balance.

Your life line: A common misconception about palmistry is that your life line tells you when you're going to die. "The lifeline is more about your vitality," explains Saucedo. "It's how much energy you have, it's how good you feel about your life. It can show big changes or times of confusion. If it's short, that can mean that you don't have a clear vision of what you want, you're working too much, or maybe you're a little depressed."

She also emphasizes the importance of ethics in palm reading. "I ask a lot of questions, but I do believe in the power of the mind and manifestation," says Saucedo, who adds that even professionals should avoid topics like death and illness.

Your stability line: This line comes up the center of the hand and speaks to stability in terms of career, paying your bills, and feeling safe in the world. Looking at not only its depth and length but where it originates can tell a story. For instance, if it originates from the left side of your hand — the mount of luna — your security could be built from creative work.

Putting It All Together

The permanence of the shapes and lines on your hands might feel a bit freaky, as though palmistry is at odds with free will. But that's not at all the case, says Saucedo. Although our fingerprints never change — which is why they're used for forensics — our hands change as we change, she explains.

For instance, she had a client whose hand she read last year, and then she did the Appalachian Trail. She came to Saucedo and wanted to see if her hands changed. "They had," she recalls. "It was fascinating."

That said, with the awareness you gather when reading your palms, you'll actually gain more power in creating your destiny.

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