Kay Packard, the founder of the American Academy of Hand Analysis and author of Your Life Is In Your Hands: Practical Palm Reading for Purposeful Living, explains the fortune-teller party trick.


Interested in brushing up on the divination practice of palm reading, or palmistry? Learning how to read palms takes practice, but our palm reading guide from palmistry expert Kay Packard makes the art of chiromancy look easy.

First things first. Pick a hand—but not just any hand. For insight into your work life and how you present yourself to the world, focus on your dominant hand. To examine personal relationships, dreams, and emotional struggles, look at the other hand. Having trouble making out the lines? Cup your hand slightly under a bright lamp. Keep in mind: According to hand analysts and palm readers, a less prominent line reflects an area of life that may need work, while a deeper one signals that the characteristic related to that line is strong and developed. For even more hints, see this guide to finger reading.

how to read palms
Credit: Samantha Hahn

The Head Line

If you have a…

Short line (ending near the center of your palm, as shown here): You’re a fast thinker who reaches conclusions without any hemming and hawing.
Long, straight line (extending across the palm, toward the pinkie): Analyze much? You often find yourself mulling things over (and over) before coming to a decision.
Line that splits in two: Sensitive to others, you can easily see someone else’s perspective. This means you may change your opinion now and then.

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Long, curved line (running down toward the bottom corner of the palm): You’re a creative thinker who can imagine many possible outcomes or approaches to any situation.

The Heart Line

If you have a…

Long, straight line (ending below the index finger, as shown here): You’re a rational, analytical thinker who always considers others’ feelings, and people appreciate that about you.
Short, straight line (ending between the middle and index fingers): You need your freedom. You show your love through actions more than words.
Long, curved line (arcing up and reaching the base of the middle finger): Your passions and desires drive you, and you don’t care who knows it.
Short, curved line (arcing up and ending about a half inch below the base of the middle finger): You are reserved and prefer small groups to big ones. You open up in one-on-one settings.
Line with two or more X’s at the outer palm: You’ve experienced a deep personal betrayal.
Line that splits in two: You have a habit of putting your emotions on the back burner to meet others’ needs.

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The Life Line

If you have a…

  • Long line (curving around the ball of the thumb and ending at the base of the palm, as shown here): You’re a rock whom people count on to stay strong in difficult times.
  • Short line (ending near the center of the palm): When the going gets tough, keeping busy helps you feel safe and secure.
  • Faint line: You may need to chill out now and then. Yoga, meditation, walking, or taking time to play could do you good.
  • Broken line: Each break in the line represents a traumatic experience that has had an impact on your life choices.