(The name above is the author's real name and the story is true. With it, the CRIMSON revives its 60-year-old tradition of printing articles by little-known but unique members of the Harvard Community. -- Ed. note)
Call me Manus. It's simpler that way. And allow me to introuce myself further: I am a palmist, a fortune-teller, a trained, traveled reader of the past, present, and future. I also study at Harvard, but that is only a side-line, for my real interest in life is meeting people in restaurants, coffee-shops, and other places around Cambridge to let them in on a little of what I have learned as a fortune-teller.
Let me explain further, for the trade that I am involved in, even though it is the second oldest profession known to man, is not one with which the average person is familiar. Palmistry is one of several so-called psychic sciences which deal with man, his personality, and his future. Astrology, for example, is an ancient and widely acknowledged "science" which uses stars and different times of the year to foretell what is in store for the individual. Another common form of fortune-telling is cards, either the common variety or Tarot cards, which originated in Israel. Tea-leaves are read widely and with some measure of success, I'm told. There are several tea-reading houses in Boston that do a thriving business. There are handwriting analysts; there are those who read fortunes by the features of the face (physiognomy), the bumps on the head (phrenology), and even by moles! Yes, incredible as it may seem, there are some authorities who find meaning in the location of moles on the human body, and they call their knowledge "moleosophy."
As for myself, however, I prefer palmistry, for it is a completely unique system. There are about three billion people in the world today, which means there are roughly six billion palms. There is no single pair of these palms that is identical, which means that every palm is unique. If the reader will look, for example, at both of his palms, he will undoubtedly notice at least some differences in the conformation of the lines. It is from these lines that I can tell a great deal about a person....
How did I become interested in telling fortunes? I am asked this question frequently; I find it difficult to answer, but I recall a couple of years ago reading a book about Jeane Dixon, the Washington, D.C. seer who predicted and tried to prevent the assassination of President Kennedy. Apparently when Mrs. Dixon was very young she was taken to a gypsy fortune-teller who was astounded at the young girl's palm, for it gave every indication that she would become a great forseer of the future. Mrs. Dixon still has and uses a crystal ball given to her by the gypsy at that time.
In any event, the story fascinated me, and I began to read books about palmistry and to look at people's palms. At first I said little and merely pointed out the different lines by name. Gradually, however, I began to notice a definite relationship between the lines and what I knew or was able to find out about the people I was examining. It was also at that time that I began travelling extensively along the eastern seaboard, and I was fortunate to meet several gypsies in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. They read my palm and among other things indicated to me that I was gifted at fortune-telling and should learn and practice it.
By this time I was already reading palms to some extent, and I read the fortunes of two gypsies. In both cases neither girl (they were 18 and 20 respectively) had ever had her own palm read, and they were impressed with the skill and accuracy I possessed even at that early stage. They were extremely helpful in increasing my knowledge and in revealing to me some of the secrets of the trade.
I am of course unwilling to reveal all that I learned from the gypsies and my other sources, but there is more about the nature of palmistry that may prove interesting. The lines in the palm, particularly the four main ones (life, fate, head, and heart) are actually formed before birth. The fetus awaits birth with closed hands, and the act of making a fist creates creases or lines in the hand. I have looked at subjects as young as six weeks of age and found their fortunes quite easy to read, although some squinting is required. The lines deepen and change somewhat during one's lifetime; new lines appear as well, but the basic lines mentioned above are quite easily read at no matter what age.
And what do the lines mean? What is the relation between the palm and the future? Many people think that palmistry is a matter of predestination: that the palm indicates exactly what will happen in a lifetime. It is my belief, however, that the palm, if read accurately, gives a very clear indication of what is likely to happen in the course of a given life. There is an old saying about being forewarned and being forearmed, and it is extremely apropos in the matter of palmistry. Assuming that I am right in saying that the palm indicates what is likely to occur, one can make allowances: if he knows, for example, that poor health is likely in the mid-twenties, he can follow my advice and take better care of his health, especially if he is nearing that age already. Also, a short life line does not necessarily mean a short life: it means that a short life is likely, unless one becomes more careful about his health.
The experiences one encounters if he practices palmistry are many, and the rewards are considerable. One summer, for example, I was traveling extensively (I read 3000 palms in nine different states), and one afternoon I found myself on the Staten Island ferry. A strikingly pretty model was being photographed in a Peck & Peck outfit for an August issue of Vogue on the stern of the boat. She learned of my skills, and before long I found myself holding both her hands in mine with her hair blowing in my face, and how else, may I ask you, would I even have met her, had I not been a palmist?
Another experience, in West Virginia, was of a different nature. At a resort a young girl named Donna asked me to read her fortune. Her face in no way revealed her distress, but through her palm and in talking to her I learned that by age 15 she had already made five suicide attempts and was desperate for help and advice. We talked for over four hours, and I honestly doubt now that there will ever be a sixth attempt. In any event she decided to obtain psychiatric help. I am not trying to credit myself with a miraculous cure -- far from it. I only can say that I am grateful beyond words to have been able to help her.
A third encounter may serve to an- swer the question whether I really believe in palmistry. In Hyannis last July I met a waitress named Janice, aged 47, who was particularly eager to have her palm read. I soon found out why: the life line on her right hand, and on her left, stopped abruptly at the age of 50. I was astonished, for this occurs in about one case out of a thousand. I asked her how her health was, and she replied, "It's all right." Not contented, I pursued further: "Do you have any trouble with your health?" She said, "Well, I do have extremely high blood pressure." "Do you drink?" I asked. "Man, I drink like a fish," was her reply. It turned out that she was testing me: she had been to five gypsies before meeting me. Two of them, out of superstition, refused to read the life line because it was marked with a distinct scar. The other three told her that she would not survive 50. It seems she had been recently widowed, had nothing to live for, was drinking herself to death, and didn't care. I told her that by her palm I also doubted that she would live past 50, unless she took better care of herself, and that, she said, is exactly what her doctors told her. Her fortune confirmed my belief in the extreme accuracy of palmistry: I assure you that it is highly unusual for the life line to stop in such a fashion on both hands, and, in this case, as in many others, I found the lines to correspond closely with the facts.
I doubt if most of my readers really believe in palmistry, but for any who do or are interested in my predictions merely for the sake of entertainment, I can generally be found around Harvard Square. I read the right hand mainly. The left hand, according to tradition, is one's fortune at birth, his inherited fortune, while the right hand indicates what one is making of his fortune. It is therefore more current, more accurate for the present. I generally look first at the life line (the curved one nearest the base of the thumb) and give a prediction as to the length of life and the state of health along the way. The fortune line, sometimes difficult to find, is located lengthwise in the center of the palm, and gives an indication as to the subject's luck and money. Then there are the love and head lines, which cross the palm from left to right parallel to each other. The head line reveals to me the quality of the mind, the emotional set-up, and frequently I even estimate I.Q., generally with quite good accuracy.
The love line, though, is my specialty, and my batting average for accuracy would serve me well in any league. I cannot tell you anything for sure about marriage, but I can almost always predict at what age or ages love, in its deepest form, will occur. I also make a prediction on the number of children one will have, and I look at other lines that are of interest but of lesser importance. I receive from 25c to $2.00 for my services, depending on how much the subject wants to know, but money is not the object. I am quite willing to impart what knowledge I have of the future whether there is money involved or not, for I feel a certain obligation to make my knowledge available to other people, and I enjoy doing so.
Palmistry, in short, is not a science in the usual sense or a foolproof approach to life, but it is a fascinating form of knowledge that more and more people are becoming interested in. It gives them food for thought and a fairly clear picture of what the future holds. It is not always easy to find me, but if you ask for Manus and are able to locate me, I'll gladly tell you more about it
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