Palmistry is a practice which people claim can be used to predict information about the future. People who practice palimistry — called palmists — examine the palms of their clients and make predictions on the basis of natural variations in the appearance of the palm. The acceptance of palmistry varies widely around the world. In North America, for example, it is often regarded as little more than a curiosity, while in parts of Asia, palmistry is taken very seriously and readings can have long-term ramifications for their subjects.
People have been attempting to predict the future for thousands of years, and palmistry appears to be one of the oldest divination methods. The origins of this practice are a bit difficult to pin down, but they appear to lie in India or parts of Southeast Asia. From here, they spread to other regions with traders and nomadic peoples, and many cultures developed their own versions of palmistry.
There are a number of different approaches to palmistry. All rely on the idea that fate is predestined, and that the future can be read in the lines of the hand, with the implication that one's fate has already been written. In addition to studying the lines and creases in the hand, palmists also look at the mounts or rises, collecting information which is supposed to be used to create a complete profile.
Palm reading, or chiromancy as it is sometimes known, was once widely practiced throughout the world. In Europe, however, it was suppressed by the Church, feared to be associated with witchcraft and astronomy. Its underground status proved to be difficult to recover from, especially with the advent of modern scientific thought, and as a result many Europeans and people of European origin do not regard palmistry as a legitimate science, although the Roma people of Europe continue to practice it.
In parts of Asia, palmistry is one among many accepted arts which people use to learn more about their future. Palm readers often offer their services at low cost in the streets, and people can also go to a reader for a profile. Profiles can include casting an astrological chart as well.
Skeptics argue that palmists use the same techniques used by hucksters and swindlers; rather than having an eye to the future, they are simply very skilled at reading people and telling them what they want to know. Believers in palmistry think that the lines of the palm do indeed hold information about what may come in the future.