Source: © Dylan Warren Davis.
Cet article a été publié dans: The Traditional Astrologer magazine, issue 18, March 1999
Made in the Image of the Heavens: The Cosmology of the Hand
For many centuries, the idea that mankind is made in the image of the heavens has been the essence of European culture. This idea is embodied in the numerous depictions of zodiacal man, where the sequence of the zodiacal signs is connected to the different parts of the body, starting with Aries ruling the head and concluding with Pisces ruling the feet.
Perhaps the most beautiful example in European art is the depiction of zodiacal man in De Duc De Berry's Les Trés Riches Heures, (see below).
Here the central figure is unusually surrounded by the ovoid shape of the vesica piscis. Analogous to a vulva, the vesica piscis is a powerful symbol of the Universal Mother. Within the labia or lips of the womb are found the zodiacal signs in the heavens.
The placing of zodiacal man at the centre of the vesica piscis, provides a potent symbolic image of mankind quite literally being born from the universe. Furthermore, the zodiacal signs in the heavens can be seen to correspond with the different zodiacal parts of the body, demonstrating the Hermetic principle of 'As above, so below'.
In particular the hand has long been regarded as a microcosm of an individual's creation, and its interpretation is invaluable for revealing a person's inner potential. As the bible says:
"God has placed signs in the hands of all the Sons of men, that all the Sons of men may know His work." - Job 37:7
This is the basis of 'cheiromancy' which, deriving from Greek, literally means divination through the hand. The underlying premise of hand-reading is that the shape, structure and features of the hand are a symbolic expression of a person's innate psyche.
Astrology and hand-reading are sister disciplines that have explored this macro/microcosmic relationship from opposite poles; astrology illuminating the macrocosm of the planets in the heavens, and cheiromancy revealing the microcosm within the hand. As a consequence, the cosmology and symbolism of the elements, planets and zodiacal signs are common to both disciplines and a number of astrologers in former times were also known to read hands. It is likely that they used cheiromancy to refine their interpretation of natal charts, and to see how the chart was specifically acted out in the life of the individual.
In European culture cheiromancy is integrally linked to the spread of Hermetic teachings. Appropriately enough in zodiacal man, the two arms and hands are ruled by the double-bodied sign, Gemini. In turn the hands are also connected to the planet Mercury, reflecting their importance for translating ideas into action. Mercury is also linked to Hermes Trismegistus, the philosopher/sage reputed to be the source of Hermetic teachings. Cheiromancy has therefore been used as a mnemonic for communicating Hermetic teachings, in a similar way to the ritualised hand positions, called mudra, being used to express spiritual principles within the art of oriental religions.
The Hermetic philosophers visualised the universe as having four distinct realms, in accordance with the four elements: Fire, Air, Water and Earth respectively. Their cosmology is based upon the Three World View, whereby existence consists primarily of a Realm of Light (Fire) or God, from which the Three Worlds are created. Out of the Light the Intellectual World (Air) is generated. Next the Celestial World (Water) descends From the Intellectual World. Finally the Elemental World (Earth) precipitates from the Celestial World.
Each world has its own rulers; The Intellectual World - or heaven - is ruled by angels and archangels, the Celestial World is ruled by the planets, and the Elemental World - or Mother Earth - is ruled by the elements.
Figure 1: Robert Fludd's Three World View
The process of creation as perceived within Hermetic philosophy is shown by Robert Fludd's illustration of The Three World View in figure 1 above. The spiral pattern describes the descent of Light from God (Deus) into matter. In this descent, three distinct Worlds are formed. Commencing with Mens, the universal mind, the spiral leads down through the Intellectual World indicated by the various angels and archangels: Seraphin, Cherubin, Dominationes, Throni, Potestates, Principatus, Virtutes, Archangeli, Angeli. Below the Caelum Stellatum - 'the stars in the heavens' - the spiral leads down through the Celestial World indicated by the planets: Saturnus, Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Venus, Mercuri and Luna. Finally the spiral leads down through the Elemental World indicated by the elements: Ignis, Aer, Aqua and Terra. In the spiral, Fludd also connects the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet with each of the rulers of the Three Worlds as the spiral of Light descends to Earth. The rulers of the worlds are used as symbolic tools for understanding matters corresponding to that particular World.
When this cosmology is transposed into Man:
- the Elemental World corresponds to the body
- the Celestial World corresponds to the soul
- the Intellectual World corresponds to the spirit
Figure 2: The Three Worlds in the Hand
Figure 3: The Allocation of the Elements to the Palm
Figure 4: The Traditional Rulership of Lines and Mounts
Figure 5: The Zodiacal Signs and the Phalanges
Figure 6: Lineal Energy flows to the Fingers
Figure 7: Markings on the Phalanges
Source: © Dylan Warren Davis. He has been involved in the practice of handreading for the past 25 years, as well as being a practising Medical Herbalist, and an astrologer.