Many people know what Palmistry is but did you know that humans have been fascinated with their hands for thousands of years? Since the dawn of time humans have assigned spiritual significance to the palms and this is why they believe that your fortune can be read on this part of the body.
Hand stencils can be found all over the world. For almost as long as humans have had art, they have made hand stencils. Hand stencils have been an obsession for ancient man for at least 30,000 years.
Hand stencils are believed to have religious undertones. They are often painted in red using ocher, the same material used to ‘dress’ bodies in the Palaeolithic burials of not just Homo Sapiens, but Neanderthals. The hand stencils also, almost exclusively, appear in caves.
Evidence from ancient caves and studies of present day hunter gatherers supports the idea that humans believed that the cave is a spiritual doorway. The souls of animals, were believed to enter the world through caves. The cave is the door to the supernatural world. This is why ancient cave art is often found in caves and many Shamanistic initiations take place in or close to caves (Eliade).
The placement of some hands also imply the stencils serve a religious and mythological purpose; there has been instances where hand stencils were placed as much as 23m high, possibly to convince younger generations of their supernatural origins.
Of course, many depictions of hands may be ancient graffiti – a sort of “I was here” by the artist. Oddly, it seems to be a universal practice of depicting many of the hands to have missing or absent fingers and phalanges.
It is not clear if the hands are deformed or only appear that way. Frostbite may be the cause in some instances. It may also be the case that the fingers have been removed in religious ceremonies; this idea is said to be supported by modern day Aboriginal tribes (Bahn). Also supported by modern tribes (and much more likely) is the evidence that finger have been bent in a form of sign language for other humans and spirits. In this case, ancient rock art is a snapshot of the earliest times which hands were truly “read”.
Hands are not just a way to communicate but also serve a protective purpose. The hand of Fatima (Hamsa) is not Islamic in origin but is thought to date back to Mesopotamian times (modern day Iraq). The Hamsa is often associated with the goddess of both love and war, Ishtar, who safely descended into the underworld and eventually overcame the diseases invoked upon her by her rival, the Queen of the underworld. The Hamsa may therefore represent protection against enemies, hence why it is an amulet against the evil eye. This ancient symbol was viewed so necessary to Middle Eastern life that it was not abandoned during the spread of Islam but incorporated into the religion as the hand of Muhammad’s daughter Fatima.
Across the other end of the world, the ancient Mayan’s also gave much thought to hands. The number 5 was associated with perfection, due to the fact that hands have 5 fingers. The number 20 was considered a great number; the number of human beings for the simple reason that humans have 10 fingers and toes. Twenty can be counted on feet and hands.
Hand divination as is known now is thought to have originated rather close to Iraq in India. Many scholars say that palmistry was introduced to India by Aryans when they invaded India from around 4000-1000 BC. It is now disputed who the Aryans actually are: many modern historians believe that Aryan culture did not “invade” India but was developed there.
From what we know, palmistry has spread from India to Egypt, Babylon, Sumeria, China, Tibet and around the world. However, one cannot truly be certain considering that the divination device is portable.
Given ancient man’s fascination with hands, and also the spiritual weight given to them, one must wonder when in Indian’s potential 75,000 year old human history palmistry ‘developed’. We must then wonder, if, how and when it spread from India around the world? Without any evidence though, this is all hypothetical. As far as we know, palmistry has it’s origins in around 1000BC which still makes it one of the most ancient forms of divination.
Want to learn some symbolism you can use in your divination practice? Then sign up below for the free Fortune-Telling Symbol Meanings Guide. It’s fun, free and instantly downloadable on mobile, tablet and computer!