Chapter 11.  One Finger, One Thumb …

Put up your thumb, hold it out at arms length, and look at it carefully. It may just look like an everyday thumb to you, but it is thumbthing – sorry, something – else entirely to a cheirognomist.

A cheirognomist can deduce your character from the shape of your thumb, and maybe even tell you something about your future, for cheirognomy is closely related to the better known art of cheiromancy, or palm reading.

We once met an Indian lady, a doctor as a matter of fact, who assured us that whilst still in India she had met a holy man who could foretell someone’s future purely from an examination of his or her thumbs. The predictions he had made for her were, at any rate, startlingly accurate, and furthermore, we have no reason to doubt that she was telling us the truth.

Actually, most cheirognomists would not rely purely on a rule of thumb: they tend to study the shapes of the fingers, the length and width of the finger nails, and the shape of the hand as a whole. Frequently, too, they are palm readers as well – the arts of cheiromancy and cheirognomy walk hand in hand, as it were.

According to Cheiro in his book Cheiro’s Palmistry for All, first published in the early part of the twentieth century, there are seven types of hand, but as these all blend into each other like the colours of the spectrum, it is sometimes difficult to say who falls into which category.

Short, stubby fingers indicate “very little mental development or ability” whereas a wizened, almost claw like hand is that of the psychic or idealist: “Its possessors live in a world of dreams and ideals.”

Bob Forrest has a square hand – he thinks – which indicates a logical or materialistic nature, and his thumb is ‘supple jointed’, indicating an un-miserly nature. It also indicates, apparently, that he often makes good friends whilst travelling – which he must confess is news to him, though the other qualities are reasonable enough.

As for palmistry, we have both met a fair few people who swear by it, but though we have tried palm reading ourselves, we always seem to have great difficulty linking up the lines and so forth in our hands with those shown in the standard palmistry text-books.

The theory of palmistry, however, is quite interesting. Cheiro puts it like this:

As regards the future being foreshadowed, it has been demonstrated that the brain is always growing, changing, increasing or diminishing. These changes commence years before the effect is shown by the thoughts or actions of the individual. A boy ten years old may at that point commence a development which will not be felt until he is thirty, and then it may change his whole life and career. As this development commences at ten, even at that age it has affected certain nerves, and they in their turn have already affected the Line of Head – a full twenty years before the point of change or action has been reached. It therefore follows that the future may be seen and told by a careful examination of the hand, which, as Aristotle has said, is the “organ of all organs, the active agent of the passive powers of the entire system.”

It would be interesting to contact a genuine palmist, for he or she is to the fairground gypsy as the genuine astrologer is to the newspaper horoscope merchant. Regrettably, to date, we have not met one, but we are always open to offers.

One of the most intriguing means of divining the individual’s character, and his future destiny, is through the study of moles. Not the furry little quadrupeds that bore holes in lawns, you understand, but the discolourations of the skin akin to birthmarks. If you want to know all about the significance of moles, we can heartily recommend Maud Wheeler’s book, Moles and Birthmarks, and their signification to Man and Woman, published in 1894. It will tell you, within the limits of Victorian decency, what a mole on any part of the body signifies.

The interpretation of moles is connected with astrology insofar as each part of the body is under the influence of a particular planet. The lungs and backbone come under Jupiter, for example, whereas the legs and right ear are governed by Saturn, and the left ear and bladder by Mercury.

Everybody is governed not just by the influence of one planet, but rather by a combination of planets. In fact it is the planets which govern not only our illnesses, but also our physical appearance, including our moles and birthmarks. Thus, unfavourable Jupiterian influences can lead to quinsy, sore throats and pleurisy, and you can be sure that a tall slight person, with heavy jaws, jug ears and bad teeth is predominantly influenced by Saturn, an unfavourable planet at the best of times.

At first we didn’t think that there was a name for the practice of divining the future from moles, and we rather relished the thought of inventing one – we thought “Moleology” had rather a nice ring to it. Unfortunately we subsequently found out that there are already at least two words for such a practice – Moleosophy and Moleoscopy – and so our ambitions were thwarted. Be that as it may, the size, colour and prominence of a mole, as well as its position on the body, can tell the moleosopher a lot about you and your future.

The forehead is divided horizontally into zones by seven planetary lines, and the significance of a mole on the forehead depends upon its position with respect to these lines. Here is an example:

A mole to the right of the forehead, on the line of Mars, shows to a woman a good and rich husband and money from her parents. If honey coloured, a man will be successful in anything to do with horses; if red he will gain military honours; but if black it threatens danger from a quadruped.

On the other hand – or rather – nose:

A mole in the centre of the bridge of the nose signifies to a woman a happy marriage, but if black a short life. To a man, wit and good ability. If red he will lead a wandering unsettled life; and she may lose the use of her feet.

Beware, gentlemen, of marrying a woman with a black mole just below the tip of her nose, because such women almost invariably plot against their husbands and sometimes even murder them! A black mole on the upper part of the right ear of a man indicates possible death by drowning, whereas a honey coloured mole on a man’s lower lip indicates wealth abroad and marriage to a rich foreigner.

But enough of moles. Let us turn now to bumps on the head – the so called sciences of phrenology and physiognomy. The former concentrates on the shape of the skull, the latter on the facial features, and both hold that the human form is indicative of the individual character.

Consider the following self-analysis carried out by Bob Forrest.

Using Lorenzo N. Fowler’s Self Instructor in Phrenology and Physiology (the 21st edition of 1918), he attempted to find out about his mathematical abilities. The area of study for this faculty is located just beneath the outer termination of the eyebrows. As he has hardly any bump there at all he seemed to fall somewhere between, “Can hardly count, much less calculate”, and, “will make a better salesman than a book keeper”. This is disturbing news, since he is a mathematician by trade!

Somewhat disgruntled, he turned for consolation to J.W. Redfield’s Outlines of a New System of Physiognomy, published in 1852, and looked up the subject of teeth. Here, in part, is what he found:

The breadth of the lower canines, which indicates the love of reform, is great in those who are disposed to inflict chastisements, and also those who are disposed to use ‘line upon line’ in a moral sense, the former being the perverted, and the latter the legitimate action of this faculty. The sign is very great in the carnivorous animals, and indicates in them cruelty, or the disposition to tear and rend, and inflict corporeal suffering; and we should expect to find it large in the Russians and the Chinese as we do in those who practice corporeal correction or reform in schools and families, and in those who advocate capital punishment.

Glancing hurriedly at his lower canines he was relieved to find them relatively narrow, though fairly long. Looking up the significance of the length of the lower canines he found it indicated love of triumph: “In warriors, duellists, murderers, cannibals and carnivorous beasts, the sign is large.”

He then looked up the upper incisors and found that he was deeply entrenched in the tenets of republicanism, whilst his upper canines indicated a love of possessions, goods and chattels.

Turning from teeth to ears, he read as follows:

It has been thought by some persons that a large ear indicates good nature, and this approximates very nearly to the truth, for the whole size or expansion of the ear indicates Susceptibility of Improvement, or, in other words, Docility. … Men in a civilised condition have much larger ears than those in a barbarous or savage state, and domestic animals have much larger ears than those of the same species which run wild. The Indian, who resists with such pertinacity the influence of civilisation, has a comparatively small ear; while the white man has a comparatively large one. By far the largest ears are to be found among the refined classes, and the smallest ears among the most natural and uncultivated.

Having read this and examined his ears, Bob felt that he’d had just about enough of Mr Redfield’s insults, and resolved to tip-toe quietly away.

Here in the twenty-first century these age-old ways of divining the future are still with us, but now on the internet. Those with a curiosity about such things might like to try Serena’s Guide to Divination at . Here you can get a free Etruscan Oracle Reading in any one of ten languages, and learn all there is to know about Podomancy (divination by the shape of the feet and toes), Omphalomancy (divination from the size and shape of the navel) and Phallomancy (“the art of judging a man’s character and lovemaking style and capability by the shape of his penis.”) Regarding this latter, Serena tells us:

The traditional forms of palmistry and face reading can reveal much about a person’s sexuality and approach to sexual matters. But when it comes to matters of love and lust, nothing is as efficient and accurate as the field of Phallomancy! … Despite what men may claim and boast, the penis does not lie!

From teeth and ears, moles and bumps on the head, not to mention other bodily parts, we turn to the recovery of lost objects.

An old method of securing the return of lost objects was to invoke the aid of St Anthony of Padua. This reputation of St Anthony’s appears to have arisen from an event which occurred in the saint’s lifetime. St Anthony owned a book of psalms that was very dear to him, but it was ‘lost’, having been stolen by a Franciscan novice who had decided to abandon the religious life. St Anthony prayed that his book would be returned to him, and as a result of his prayers the wayward novice not only brought the book back, but he rejoined the Franciscan Order and led an exemplary life thereafter.

There is an amusing story of Flamsteed, the astronomer, who was approached one day by a little old lady who was anxious as to the whereabouts of a bundle of linen that she had misplaced. She asked Flamsteed to cast a horoscope in order to locate the missing bundle.

As an orthodox astronomer, Flamsteed was horrified at being lumped together with the astrologers, but to pacify the old woman he gravely etched out on a piece of paper a circle with a square inside it, and sent the lady on her way with instructions to look in a certain spot.

The old lady was delighted. She was even more delighted than Flamsteed himself was dumbfounded, when the bundle turned up exactly where predicted!

So, let us suppose you have lost your tie-pin, or your cigarette lighter. You turn the house upside down, discovering a dozen or so long lost objects, but not, alas, the one you set out to find.

The frustration of finding that all the junk on the floor will just not fit back into the drawer from which it came, might just have charged you up psychically enough to try a method used by Sepharial for the recovery of lost objects. It is very simple and it uses numbers.

All you do is concentrate hard on the lost object, then write down on a piece of paper nine digits, from 0 to 9 inclusive. Just write them down as they pop into your head, and don’t worry about repetitions of digits. It is essential that the numbers flow out from your subconscious unhindered by conscious worry over what is going on.

For example, suppose you choose 2, 5, 1, 6, 5, 3, 9, 2, and 8. Now add them up to get 41, then add 3, to get 44. Now consult Sepharial’s book The Kabala of Numbers, originally published in 1913.

There you will find listed the possible scores up to 84. (This is the maximum score with 9 digits, since 9² + 3 = 84.) You merely consult the particular number you obtained in order to find out where the missing article lies. For example, the total of 44 indicates: “You have it. Look among the oil pots or lamps. It will need purifying.”

Unfortunately, some of the numbers indicate circumstances which, though applicable in the early years of the twentieth century, are a little unlikely today.

For example, if you get a total of 7, you should, “Ask your servant, a maid especially connected with the wardrobe.” With a total of 16, “the cook will enlighten you”, whereas a total of 27 indicates that you should ask the coachman, and possibly even search the stables.

We think that maybe Sepharial’s numbering needs updating. “Ask the milkman or the postman” would perhaps be more appropriate these days than asking the maid, and “Try looking in the glove compartment of the car” more fitting than searching the stables – but then these are just suggestions.

Next, how to determine the sex of an unborn child? Scientists, of course, have now discovered how this can be done, but there is a much older and simpler method. It doesn’t use moles, and it has nothing to do with numbers – in fact, all you need is a lily and a rose. The technique is preserved in Oswald Cockayne’s wonderful collection of Old English lore, Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcraft of Early England, published in three volumes between 1864 and 1866. All you do is take the lily in one hand, the rose in the other, and approach the pregnant lady. Then ask her to choose one of the flowers. If she chooses the lily, the child will be a boy, if the rose, a girl.

And a word or two of advice to the mother-to-be from Mr Cockayne’s book:

Again, another matter, if a woman be four or five months gone with child, and she then is often eating nuts or acorns or any fresh fruits, then it sometimes happens thereby that the child turns out silly.

Ladies, you have been warned!

Finally, if you are the sort of person who feels he suffers from more than his fair share of accidents, then, biorhythms aside, you cannot afford to be without a copy of C.E.O. Carter’s book The Astrology of Accidents.

It is a fascinating little volume, this one, originally published about 1930, but republished many times since by the world-famous Theosophical Society. It forms a bridge, if you like, between our chapter on astrology and the present collection of divinatory curiosities.

Consider the case of the naval pensioner born near London on 17th June 1890 at 2.02 p.m. He was aboard ship to collect some back-pay, and had just come up on deck in response to a call from his wife when his head was struck a terrible and fatal blow by some swinging crane tackle.

Mr Carter plotted this unfortunate man’s horoscope, and, lo!:

The action of the wife appears through Venus and Libra; the fact that he was aboard for the purpose of drawing back-pay is indicated by Mars in the 2nd; Neptune in the 8th points to an end near the sea; Uranus, conjunction ascendant, must be held responsible for the blow to the head.

Or again, consider a twenty-year-old man knocked down and killed by a car in Nottingham in 1931. His horoscope shows why – or, rather, Mr Carter says it does. We’re not quite as sure of the ins and outs of it as he is:

By one-degree Mars is square radical Moon, exact, and asc. in conj. Uranus. By ¼°, together with some apparently good directions, there is Saturn opp. Jupiter. Note that Uranus is getting near the square of Mercury-Saturn by o-d. By primary direction the asc. is opp. Pluto cum latitudine – latitude being a very important item in regard to this planet.

We leave our readers with one final snippet of useful astrological information:

Skids are probably Uranian, accidents in fogs Neptunian or possibly Plutonic, though one would probably do well to guard against collisions with drainage works in the road when under the malevolent action of this body.