Hands as an instrument of healing
Your hands hold a great deal of your reality. The role they play in your very existence is incalculable. When at some point in your life you look back, you’ll notice that few things will have occupied your field of vision for much longer. And few things will have served you more than have your own hands. “It follows that the soul is analogous to the hand, as the hand is a tool of tools,” Aristotle once said.
When speaking of hands, and above all, when trying to review their presence over the course of human history, it’s better to distill their many facets: mirrors, medicines, books, talisman, vehicles of creativity and autonomy, maps, among their many other facets. Thus, at least we may approach the essence of our hands and above all remember that through them, we are designed to design reality.
The hands as map and mirror
Hands represent you or, better, they embody you. Their shapes, textures, signs, and movements are a kind of mimetic mirror of their bearer. You are your hands. They reflect you and know your secrets.
Chiromancy, the art of reading hands to decipher transcendental information, for example a person’s fate, was formalized at least 5,000 years ago. (This was in a manual signed by the Hindu sorcerer and astrologer, Valmiki Marhashi.) Since then and in numerous traditions, hands have been taken for the cartographic impressions of a person. They’re a transtemporal map of a life, drawn not only from the individual’s past, but from the future, too.
And through the hands, one gets not just a metaphysical reading. They’re also inscribed with a person’s present. All that can be inferred of someone simply by looking at their hands remains fascinating. It should come as no surprise, then, that the hands themselves bear one of the unrepeatable seals of one’s identity: the fingerprints. Nor should it surprise that hands are the first point at which one recognizes oneself — when one perceives oneself for the first time — and that they thus inaugurate the very process of self-awareness.
In Islam, as in Judaism, and Catholicism, the hand is associated with magic, luck, and protection. One of all religions’ most powerful talismans is hamsa (known also as the Hand of Fatima and the Hand of Mary). It’s used not just as a protective shield, for example against the evil eye, but also as a source of blessings and strength.
Conjuring and invoking are two resources fundamental to the magical tradition. In both, the essential ingredient for realizing such an act is, beyond language, the hands. The same is true of prayer, supplication, and veneration. All these intentions usually pass through the hands, as if in them, a catalyst of the divine will is recognized.
In popular culture too, magic and the hands frequently accompany one another. When someone imagines an act of magic, they associate it with prestidigitation; sleight of hand. This refers to an ability to simulate realities, (and perhaps to create them), through the use of hands.
Your hands are medicine
Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.
– Carl G. Jung
So far, we’ve briefly reviewed the relationship of hands with will and magic, with identity, a person’s fate, and luck. Interestingly, if we merge all of these elements, we’re led almost inevitably to the field of medicine and healing.
Hands are the par excellence of medical instruments. Energy and intention conductors, they’re the scale models of a cartography of the energy and physiology of bodies, both physical and ethereal. Reiki, multiple massage techniques, Pranic healing, acupressure, and palmistry are just some of the healing practices to harness the power of hands.
One more practice to reaffirm the hands’ ability to influence healing on multiple planes is that of the mudras, practiced for millennia in Hinduism and Buddhism. Postures, or ritual accommodations, of the hands and fingers, they sometimes touch together. Other positions will simply connect one finger with another, or use them to form a figure, to facilitate the flow of vital energy circulating in and around the body.
From a neurological perspective, the hands maintain a permanent exchange with the brain. Brain development is closely associated with the use of the hands. Thus, the neurological benefits of handcrafts have been praised in several neuroscientific studies. That is, there’s a particularly intense correspondence between our minds and our hands.
Finally, we might note that hands are a vehicle of self-knowledge and self-exploration, too. Few rites are more intimate, and more healing, than to feel oneself, to massage and stimulate specific points of the body with the fingers. The effects of so simple an act may surprise you. At the end of the day, we’re medicinal beings, and our hands are clear proof of our own healing potential.
So, the next time you look at your hands, remember that you’re actually looking at you. Use them, they’re yours, and their healing power is overflowing. Trust them.