Saturday, March 28, 2015

Looking Into the History of Palm Reading (Chiromancy)

Charles Andre van Loo Painting, Fortune Teller
Circle of Charles-André van Loo [Public domain], 
via Wikimedia Commons

What's That in Your Hand? : The Purpose and Practice of Palm Reading

By Race MoChridhe

Among the many hundreds of divinatory systems devised through history, there is likely one for every occasion. If you have only a pack of cards, there is cartomancy. If all you have is a rooster, there is alectryomancy. Shoulder blade of an ox? Scapulimancy. And for when all you have to hand is the hand itself, there is #AmazonADlink: chiromancy, more popularly known as palmistry, or palm reading.

It is impossible to say how long people have been tracing the lines in each others' hands. The legendary Hindu sage Valmiki is credited with a work on the subject; and it was among the arts taught by Aristotle to the young Alexander the Great, who later delighted in taking the measure of his generals by it. Although banned by the Catholic Church, it was a favorite method of witch hunters for locating their prey, and in early modern times a number of German universities devoted whole departments to laying a scientific basis for the art. After a lull in interest during the Enlightenment (which had little patience for any of the mantic disciplines) palmistry once again gained a mass following in the 19th century, and in the 20th Carl Jung developed an interest in the ways in which the hand might grow to reflect the currents of the unconscious mind. 

This is the essence of palmistry—the belief that, in keeping with the many variations upon the old Hermetic maxim “as above, so below”, the actions of the mind and spirit must leave their mark upon the body, and that the most sensitive and adaptive parts of the body may therefore be read for evidence of those actions. Anyone who has noted the difference in the faces of the elderly who have smiled and laughed much in their lives and those who have not will know the unquestionable truth of the most basic level of this assertion, and it is not a great stretch to imagine that our bodies may make other, subtler records of our heads and our hearts than this. This author, in fact, possessed no visible life lines on either hand until he had resolved to marry his present wife, at which point they appeared, deeply furrowed, in only a couple of days.

Where the palmist goes beyond these kinds of ordinary experiences is in claiming to have a system that can analyze such changes in minute detail, with repeatable accuracy, to produce a coherent and descriptive account of a person's character and likely course in life—a feat achieved by noting not only the lines of the hand (which have become the most important element in popular culture depictions of palm reading) but also the proportion of its parts, the quality of the skin, bumps of muscle and tissue, the movement of the fingers, and many other traits, the number and relative importance of which vary from school to school. These are correlated with the classical elements, aspects of the deep psyche, the medieval humors, the visible planets, or other systems in order to relate them intelligibly to qualities of character or habits of mind.

Palmistry, palm reading, chiromancy
CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons;
file from 
Wellcome Images

In the most popular traditions of palmistry, the various parts of the hand are assigned to the governance of Greek gods whose traits reflect those qualities of a person that their assigned part of the hand may reveal. Thus, for example, the ring finger is assigned to Apollo, and yields information on a person's artistic tastes, musical ability, and the like.

Though often dismissed as unscientific at best and charlatanism at worst, many have found great value in the insights to which a palm reading has led them. Even the deeply skeptical Mark Twain wrote in the guest book of the now legendary palmist Cheiro that he had “exposed my character to me with humiliating accuracy.” It is devoutly to be hoped that all who choose to use the palm reader's art as a tool of self-discovery might receive such penetrating results, and that they might find the knowledge gained to be less embarrassing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tarot Deck Personalities

Pages of Cups, Cary-Yale Visconti Tarocchi deckKnights of Cups, Cary-Yale Visconti Tarocchi
Left two cards, Pages of Cups from the Cary-Yale Visconti Tarocchi deck; right two, Knights from same. Deck images are muddy looking as they were reproduced, not restored. Images are clearer when opened in a new window.

It Has Been Said That Each Tarot Deck Has a Unique 'Personality'...

By Viv Dulac

Do Tarot decks have personalities? If you have more than one deck, as a lot of Tarot readers do, you will have felt at some point or other that the responses you get from a particular Tarot deck are markedly different from those of another. In other words, different card decks tend to speak to the same reader in distinctly different patterns. We will call those patterns “personalities” for the sake of argument, because that's generally how they are perceived. Through this article we will stick to the visible and measurable in them.

One of the things that distinguishes Tarot reading from other forms of cartomancy, like playing cards or Lenormand, is variety. From the very beginning, within, say, the historical Marseilles or Milanese patterns, dozens of different decks emerged, many of them with their own idiosyncratic variants, such as the so-called #AmazonADlink: Cary-Yale Visconti Tarocchi, which has both male and female Knights and Pages; or the Viéville, the atypical traits of which are numerous.

Ace of Cups comparison
Left to right from top: Baroque Bohemian Cats' Tarot, Jodorowsky’s (mini), Mary-El, Hadar’s,
Thoth, Wild Unknown.

Nowadays, the sheer diversity of Tarot decks available (from the “RWS clones” that more or less recreate the classic Rider-Waite-Smith, to Marseilles “restorations” like Kris Hadar’s or Alejandro Jodorowsky’s, to modern attempts to transcend tradition and create something unique, like Marie White’s Mary-El or Chesca Potter’s Greenwood) is both wonderful and overpowering.

Author Valerie Sim created a method called “comparative Tarot” that takes advantage of a breathtaking breadth of available variety. For instance, a spread is done with a particular deck and then the equivalent cards of another one are laid at the side of each position. The cards are then compared and contrasted, and any nuances are taken into account for the final reading. It goes without saying that on top of the value of adding a second layer of insight, Valerie's method could speed up the process of becoming familiar with a new deck.

Ace of Cups comparison
Kat Black's Golden, Visconti-Sforza, Golden Botticelli,
RWS (Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative).

Now, there is a factor beyond the cards themselves that influences the way in which a Tarot deck speaks to us. That factor is you. Obviously, your knowledge (both of all things Tarot and of, well, all things) counts heavily on this; the more you know, the more you will be able to take home from any reading or deck. Your personality plays a role as well. If you like medieval art, you may connect better with a deck like Kat Black’s Golden; if you’re a cat person, perhaps the Baroque Bohemian’s Cats’ Tarot will be more up your alley; and for a nature lover, the Wild Unknown may be a big favorite.

Such generalization does not necessarily always work though. For example, I’m a huge fan of Botticelli’s paintings, but the beautiful Botticelli Tarot does not speak to me at all. Conversely, I don’t particularly like the homely faces and prosaic surroundings in the Anna K; it is, however, one of the sweetest, most talkative decks I own. Again, a personal factor.

Note that I just referred to the Anna K Tarot as “sweet” and “talkative.” Why is that? After all, a Tarot deck is nothing but images on pieces of cardstock. How can they be “talkative”? When we take a deck out of its box or bag and do a spread, we are opening a dialog. But a dialog with whom? Who or what is talking to us through them? Or what exactly defines its personality?

I’ll leave you with those questions for now. After all, trite as it sounds, it’s not about the answers; it’s about the questions.

Copyrights belong to their respective holder, more often than not that's the publisher. Images cannot be reproduced elsewhere without written permission.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Red Tiger's Eye Healing, Metaphysical Properties and Uses

Red Tiger's Eye
Red Tiger's eye; by Veronika Ronkos (own work) CC BY-SA 3.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

What is Red Tiger’s Eye and Where is it Found?

Red tiger’s eye (or dragon's eye) is brownish red and has lines both light and dark running through it. Stones exhibit a subtle amount of flash. It has the same basic properties as regular tiger’s eye, and has additional traits relative to its coloring. Tiger’s eye was previously believed to be pseudomorphic, but is now understood to have been created by a cracking and sealing process (which is fully described on the page linked to above [5th paragraph]). This rich looking beauty is found in South Africa, India, Canada, and the United States.

With the Base, or Root Chakra

Because it is connected energetically to the root chakra (as well as to the sacral and solar plexus chakras), it will ground you to the earth. Having a connection between your physical body and the earth connects you with your innate survival and self preservation skills. Red tiger’s eye is sometimes called ‘the survival stone’ for this reason.

The metaphysical properties it has include the ability to enhance these things: integrity, practicality, willpower, self care and motivation; as well it encourages you to adopt a healthy passion for any project or experience that may come about. While on one hand this stone can boost our energies, it can also help us to take a breath, to relax and slow down… when required to it can have a slowing effect on the third chakra and flush out any excess energies.

Being a type of tiger's eye, it is known to create balance within interactions with others; not only that, but it is understood to create balance in many areas, such as between your dark and light aspects of self, yin to yang, within emotions, and between spiritual and Earthly aspects of awareness.

Disclaimer: You should consult your health and/or mental health professional before using any alternative healing methods. This article does not suggest otherwise.

In Physical Healing

This crystal type is all about strength and vitality. It can be used to boost sexual energies, and will regulate the natural rhythms of the female body. Anemia and other blood health issues can also be improved. It accelerates the metabolism, and benefits muscle tissue and bones; it can spur improvement in the health of teeth, nails, the rectum, the prostate gland, and the colon.

In terms of it being an 'eye stone,' healing from eye an infection, improvement of night vision, and even spiritual clarity, can all be achieved through working with red tiger’s eye. Though it isn't primarily associated with the third eye chakra, it is known to be effective to heighten the gift of psychic vision. As well it promotes balance within your etheric field and encourages you to give and receive unconditional love.


Besides heightening your motivation, enthusiasm, self confidence and strength, it can help to calm your mind and ease anxiety in preparation for things to come, and can offer spiritual protection, improve luck, and give you a boost towards prosperity.

Related Article: Hawk's Eye.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Anna K Tarot; a Review

Anna K Tarot, Llewellyn versionAnna K Tarot, self published version
Cards on left are from the Anna K Tarot, Llewellyn's version;
right, from the self published version. Cards on left were trimmed.

The Anna K Tarot in Review

By Viv Dulac

Austrian artist Anna Klaffinger started designing a Tarot deck at the early age of fourteen. In her own words, “I was unsatisfied with the decks available then –they were either pretty but… meaningless, or so overloaded with symbols that I got dizzy looking at them.” Done with colored pencils on sketch paper, those illustrations became the #AmazonADlink: Anna K Tarot, which was self-published for the first time in December 2009. A second, limited edition followed in 2010, and Llewellyn published a mass-market edition in the U.S. in 2013.

The Anna K is one of my personal favorites, but it was not always so. I tend to favor decks with rich, elaborate, “overloaded with symbols” art. Klaffinger’s no-frills, somewhat crude style and the earthy everyday scenes depicted did not strike a chord. But about a year ago a friend of mine did a reading for me with an oracle deck, and drew a card from the Anna K for clarification. I still did not like it at first sight. “Give it a chance,” said my friend; and so I did. And something happened. The more I looked at it, the more it drew me in.

It was the Ace of Pentacles: a barefoot, shaggy-haired young woman sitting on the soil. Her small spade has struck gold, and she smiles contentedly at us. The sky, the tree leaves and the grass surrounding her are also yellow-gold, as in a peaceful autumn afternoon. The girl’s face is somewhat roughly rendered and not intended to be pretty, yet there is something very open and likable about her. Thus I fell in love with the Anna K Tarot, and it has never disappointed me since.

Anna K Tarot, Llewellyn versionAnna K Tarot, self published version
Six of Rods, Queen of Swords.

Both editions come in a nice-looking box, accompanied by a short but substantial book with black and white pictures of the deck. Both book and box are bigger and prettier in Llewellyn’s version, but the smaller and sturdier box of the self-published is more practical. The self-published cards are almost borderless, except for a thin fringe –black for the Wands, teal for the Cups, dark blue for the Swords, and espresso for the Pentacles. The borders on the majors are all different colors. Llewellyn’s deck has larger borders, all black.

At 3 ¼ x 4 ½ inches, Llewellyn’s cards are conspicuously bigger than the 2 ¾ x 4 inches of the self-published edition (even after trimming the borders) although the latter’s beefier cardstock makes it almost half an inch thicker. Llewellyn’s coloring is brighter, which coupled with the size makes details easier to spot, but the darker, muddier colors of the self-published are also richer.

Anna K Tarot

So, if you feel attracted to this modest marvel of a Tarot deck, should you buy the limited edition or Llewellyn’s mass market one? The latter is of course cheaper, although Klaffinger sells the limited 2010 one on her website for only €31 (€25 plus €6 shipping), or around U.S. $36, a price that is likely to go up once it sells out. While I have both, I must confess that the one I use all the time is the larger, brighter (and thinner) Llewellyn deck. So take your pick. Either way, I doubt that you will be disappointed.

Anna Klaffinger’s website

Copyrights to deck images belong to the holder, more often than not that's the publisher. Images may not be reproduced without permission.

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