is palm reading still a thing?
It may be the most retro of spiritual pursuits, but "palmistry" doesn’t discriminate.
Welcome to safe + sound, i-D’s fortnightly column exploring the lengths people take to find a little spiritual wellbeing in this manic world. From womb rituals to shamanic healing, beauty editor Shannon Peter will chart the growth of these New Age therapies and trial them for herself to uncover the crux of their allure. This week, Shannon discovers some of the answers were (quite literally) right in the palm of her hand all along.
Palm reading is definitely considered one of the more hippy-dippy spiritual pursuits. Up there with fortune telling and crystal ball-reading, it’s the stuff of Disney movies, right? Thing is, like tarot cards and crystals, it’s having something of a resurgence, so when palm expert Jesse James (aka @the_wish_craft) slid into my DMs the other week, asking if I wanted to try a reading, I was down to find out exactly what it was all about.
It was all the more appealing when I found out all I had to do was send a photo of my palm and he’d sent me the reading back via email. Spiritual wellbeing truly has entered the digital age! After sending Jesse a crap photo of the hand I write with, it took less than 24-hours to get my results. I’ll be honest: I expected no more than a stab in the dark prediction of how many children I’ll have, if any, or a very loose guesstimate of how long I can expect to live.
What I didn’t expect was five sides of A4 carefully unpicking every single physical aspect of my hand, and decoding what they mean for my personality, with pretty accurate precision. My numerous “worry lines” mean I often self-sabotage (guilty), whilst my wonky thumb is representative of my tendency to bend over backwards for other people (I’m such a saint). My long life line is indicative of my “zest for life”, my Girdle of Venus (the line between my Apollo and Saturn fingers) is proof of my humanitarian nature and I’m creative, because, well… because my Apollo finger says so! Call it a placebo effect all you like, all these compliments are enough to improve my vibe on their own.
Jesse is pretty straight-up about the inconsistencies of palm reading. “It will always remain a pseudo-science as there are numerous different ways of reading the palm, it’s just a matter of finding out as much as you can from all sources and backgrounds,” he explains. “Classical palm reading is akin to the stereotypical fortune-telling that you see in the movies. Whereas modern palm reading, which is what I do, is more about helping people find their true-self and balance.” He’s got an entire bookshelf of guides which he’s cross-referenced to build-up his knowledge. Plus, his level of detail (he wrote five sides of A4 remember!) at least made it feel more genuine than your standard issue horoscope.
What did surprise me was the distinct lack of future forecasting. I’m unashamedly going off what I’d seen on TV here, but I thought palm reading was about predicting future events. As Jesse explains it’s actually more about reflecting on existing personality traits and tendencies. “It’s about finding balance through conscious living,” he says. “To me, the aim is to use the reading as a mirror to the soul.” The idea is if we truly understand ourselves and our strengths and weaknesses, we’ll be able to make better decisions and have greater sense of direction moving forward.
While the digital barrier does take away some of the human element of other therapies, I can understand why people will part with their cash for a reading. Self-knowledge is power, right? Just like how some of us have become obsessed with calculating the hours we sleep or counting the steps we take every day, palm reading is just a way of quantifying the spiritual self. What you choose to do with that information, however, if up to you.
So no, it didn’t lull me into a state of zen like I found at a sound bath, or make me feel elated like breathing therapy did, but it has provided me with a personality manual to consult whenever life slaps me with a big decision or insurmountable problem. And if you ask me, that’s a pretty handy resource.
A digital reading with Jesse costs £40, whether you do it face-to-face, on Skype or -- like me -- over email. Book via his website here.