A Beginner's Guide To Reading Palms

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Palm reading is often dismissed as a parlor trick or a fortune-teller's cash cow. But palmistry, to use the practice's official term, is actually a very old form of divination. More personal than tarot reading or rune casting, and more variable than one's birth chart, a thorough palm reading can reveal what you've possessed within you since birth and what may lie ahead for you.

Like any esoteric practice, palmistry has many different forms and can be very complicated — more so than your average reading might let on. A longer, more in-depth palm reading might address finger proportions and lengths, which can tell the reader about specific facets of your personality, and the mounts of the hand, which are an entire subsection of palmistry on their own.

For our purposes today, we're sticking to the basics, which means the palm's major and minor lines. If even that feels daunting, don't worry — Christine Lenihan, who practices palmistry in Salem, MA, tells Refinery29 that anybody can learn to read the lines in your friends' hands, but you'll have to rely more on your intuition the deeper you get into palmistry. As palm reader and psychic Fahrusha tells Refinery29, "It helps to be psychic."

Whether your psychic abilities are strong or could use some honing, click through for a beginner's guide to reading palms.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
The Life Line

As the first of the three major lines, your life line is a big deal. It indicates your health and the path your life will take. But, contrary to popular belief, it does not dictate when you'll die.

Fahrusha even says that she won't mention it if she notices that a client has an especially short life line, since that will only distract them from her actual interpretation of the line. "Most people are not prepared to hear that," she says. Fahrusha adds that, although the life line doesn't move around the palm, it can grow longer or change its shape, depending on how you change your approach to health.

What to look for: This line's depth determines the ease with which you'll go through life: Upward branches in the line mean positive changes or recovery, while downward ones might suggest negative changes to come. A complete break in the line could mean an accident or a sudden, massive change.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
The Head Line

This is yet another major line, and it's actually considered the most important line within Chinese palmistry. Simply put, your head line (also known as your wisdom line) represents all things mental – your intelligence, intuition, the strength of your will, and Lenihan says it can even show how you receive and react to information.

There are a few general features to note before you get into the nitty gritty of this line. Waves imply creativity, while a single curve indicates idealism and curiosity. A completely straight line may suggest meticulousness and practicality — but it could also reveal a materialistic streak.

What to look for: The head line's length indicates how you approach decisions and actions (longer lines will be more methodical thinkers while shorter lines probably belong to more impulsive thinkers). A deeper line means you have a great memory, while a faint line means you might struggle to focus. Breaks could mean forthcoming mental strife.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
The Heart Line

Also known as the love line, the heart line is the last of the major lines in palmistry. Many believe this line only predicts your romantic love life, but Lenihan says that it can actually reveal how you deal with your emotions and how you approach all matters of the heart, whether with a significant other, friend, or family member.

This line can start below your index finger or middle finger — and yes, this placement matters. A heart line that starts under the index finger foretells of a satisfying (but selective) approach to love, while one that starts beneath the middle finger might mean you're selfish or even insatiable when it comes to love and affection.

What to look for: A deeper line implies you invest a lot of time, meaning, and thought into your loving relationships, while a faint line means you're more aloof or uninterested in love. Forks reveal your ability to balance emotions and logic; a strong curve means you're comfortable expressing your feelings; and — this one's important — breaks do not indicate break-ups, but rather, emotional issues within yourself.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
The Relationship Line

Much like your heart line, this line (or, depending on the hand, lines) should not be read exclusively for romantic relationships. In general, this line reflects how you handle commitment — not how many committed relationships you'll have.

Farhusha says that certain systems of palmistry refer to this line as the "soulmate line" or "marriage line," but those descriptions lead to deterministic interpretations, which, as we've said before, aren't very dependable. "A person can get another soulmate line on the side of their hand sometimes if they change certain things about themselves," she says. A line in your palm can give you hints about your future relationships, but it's certainly not the final word.

What to look for: A deeper, longer line indicates that you enjoy long-term commitments; a fainter or shorter line means you may experience your share of on-again, off-again relationships.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
The Fate Line

This line is a little tricky — some believe it never changes (and thus, call it the "destiny line"), while others, Fahrusha included, will tell you that it can very easily change throughout your life. Either way, it represents what may influence your path in life, from your career to your personal choices to your ancestry.

Lenihan says to watch out for sensations in this area of the palm: "Right before you change your job, or you're thinking about changing your job, the middle of your hand is going to get pretty itchy," right around your fate line. Keep an eye out for the urge to scratch.

What to look for: Breaks will indicate bad luck or major losses; a double line may indicate a particularly successful career.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
The Health Line

Although you should watch your life line for your overall health, the health line can indicate what you're like as a healer.

You're more likely to have a visible health line if you're supportive or a natural caretaker — people in healing or service professions will probably have a clearer line, too.

What to look for: Breaks can mean an ill loved one or an illness in yourself; a frayed line represents an illness come and gone.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
The Simian Line

Lenihan says that this line occurs when "the love line and the head line actually connect." In other words, it's pretty rare, which makes sense, given its significance.

People with Simian lines have a hard time separating their emotions from their actions or decisions. Lenihan says that the presence of a Simian line could suggest a controlling personality, particularly in relationships.

What to look for: If this line appears on both hands, Simian qualities may be more pronounced.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
The Bracelet Lines

These lines (which, yes, technically do not appear on the palm) reveal the balance between your physical, mental, and spiritual self. Most people have three bracelet lines, though some may have four (a fourth line means you may have a very long life).

Lenihan said she pays closer attention to the bracelet lines in women, as the first line can sometimes indicate the state of your gynecological health. If she notices a break, gap, or branch in the line, then "they really should be going to the doctor."

What to look for: Solid, deep lines suggest a prosperous and healthy life ahead; missing lines (fewer than three) could indicate poor health or grave circumstances approaching.
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