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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

palmistry (also, chiromancy or chirognomy) An ancient notion that says a person's character, health, and destiny are portrayed in the folds, shape, size, and lines of the palm. In the nineteenth century, the writings of William Benham and Louis Harmon revived interest in the idea, which had somewhat waned since earlier times. William Warner, as Cheiro, was the great palmist at the turn of the twentieth century.


Lines, mounds and proportions of the hand, shown with zodiacal and planetary signs. Used in palmistry.

      An interesting variation of the art, and every bit as accurate, is “podoscopy,” reading fortunes from the sole of the foot. It is popular in China.
      In the same way that reflexology, iridology, physiognomy, and similar systems try to establish that information is available in physical features, palmistry satisfies the human need to find meaning in any sort of natural pattern.



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