The Logos of the Hand


Yael Haft-Promrock, Hands: Aspects of Opposition and Complementarity in Archetypal Chirology.
Einsiedeln, Switzerland, Daimon Verlag, 1992.

Figuring began with fingers calculating the higher mathematics of flight, that is, imagination: "the craft of the hand is richer than we commonly imagine" (Martin Heidigger, What Is Called Thinking? Harper & Row, New York, 1948. p.16). Belonging to the hand, figuring has a mind of its own, a "hand of thought...not of the order of conceptional grasping." (Jacques Derrida, "Geschlecht II: Heidigger's Hand." In, J. Sallis, ed., Deconstruction and Philosophy: The Texts of Jacques Derrida. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1987. p.171)

For the chirologist human culture is expressed in the very lines, the dermoglyphics, those "eyeless and voiceless faces which nonetheless see and speak," (Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art. Wittenborn Schultz, New York, 1948. p.654.) that form the whorls that appear on our hands, unique to this world. Yael Haft-Promrock tells us that appearing "on about the 55th, 65th, and 80th days of the embryo" (p.97) are the thenar, or "life line;" the low traverse, or "head line;" the upper traverse, or "heart line," along with myriad others which include later paths of fear and self-destruction. These vestiges of our earliest psyches, like the eerie patterns that sub-atomic particles leave on the physicist's revenant screen, dart, clash, avoid, embrace, form further revelations, or just disappear.

 "Chirology means the 'logos' of the hand, i.e., the 'language,' the 'knowledge' or 'wisdom' of the hand." (p.19) Stemming from chiromancy (the divination of the hand, a form of fortune-telling) chirology resonates to "the psychic structure of the body." (p.20) Using her own system, which assigns to each finger an "archetypal image with its specific functions and modes of behavior," (p.55), Yael Haft-Pomrock, known to Jungians in Israel as a remarkable sibyl, illuminates in representative case histories and diagnostic procedures what her over thirty years of practice as a psychochirologist, researcher, and therapist have taught her about the loops and swirls of human character.

For instance, beginning with the index finger, the digit that reveals how we "stand with the world, whether inwardly or outwardly..." (p.56), she associates this finger, one we commonly use to point with, with what she calls the Zeus/Hera/Hestia constellation. As Hera it serves to propagate marriage and the family as a social institution. In its Zeus aspect it accuses, throws thunderbolts, punishes. While Hestia's "main characteristic is the ability to devote herself to the welfare of others up to being their victim, not being conscious, that, in fact, she victimizes them through her aspects of dominance, authority and control." (p.63).

Haft-Promock's readings are complex and intertwined. All of the fingers are scrutinized by the posture of their segments, the phalanges. When, for example, the index finger's "upper phalange is turned outward showing anticipation and curiosity," it reminds the chirologist of the "expression of eagerness or hesitancy" of the virgin before marriage (p.58). The vital space, too, between the fingers along with the hands' mounts and lines form a web of imaginal intuitions and positivistic contentions that is liberally illustrated with pictures of the morphing hands of Haft-Pomrock's clients.

If there is a weakness in her rendering I suggest it lies in archetypal psychology's grip on the Ancient Greek pantheon, opening to where the gifted Israeli psychologist can only find correspondences in the attributes of Hellenistic gods, as if the world "at hand" were wanting for its own hierophanies, its own poetries! In truth, the Unconscious is busy tracing images, indiscriminately, from every time and culture, including this time, human and otherwise, envisioning this planet as a simulation of our cross-hatched palms.

© The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal, 1994
© Joel Weishaus 1994