Martijn van Mensvoort - © Hand Research

AUGUST 23, 2008

Palm reader looks for signs of client's inner life
Ron Sissman says: 'When it comes to palm reading, a little knowledge is dangerous. The more a chiromancer knows, the more he can read in a hand, starting with its shape, skin and nails. Just those three obvious characteristics contain dozens of insights about personal traits, history and health'.

Palm reading art

Palm reader Ron Sissman

The fire hand

A fire hand - a long palm with small fingers - is associated with dynamism and vitality, for example. Curved nails, often found on smokers, indicate respiratory difficulty, according to Lori Reid's 1996 book "The Art of Hand Reading."

Palmist Ron Sissman of Hopatcong owns that book and dozens more. Some are old, such as "The Practice of Palmistry" by Adolphe Desbarrolles, dating to 1897. But books are not the sole way Sissman, who reads palms locally and at Jersey Shore locations, knows his stuff. His late mother, Janice Smith Sissman, had a passion for palm reading since she learned it from gypsies in her girlhood. "Jimmy," as she was called, was known as a reader in her native Pennsylvania Dutch country.

Like mother, like son. Sissman is always reading palms. "Somebody can't hand me a bowl of cereal without my reading their hand," Sissman said. Are their nails chewed? There is misdirected hostility. Is the pointer finger, or Napoleon finger, longer than the rest? That's a person who likes to run things.

When he sees officials wave or gesticulate on television news, he listens to what their words and their hands are saying. The messages do not always match up.

How the real estate broker became a palmist

All his life Sissman has been interested in palm reading. If he met a person with a prominent hand feature -- say, a huge thumb, associated with willfulness -- he would call his mother and ask about it.

Sissman was an EMT, real estate broker, builder and, most recently, ran his own concrete pouring business for 20 years. A 2004 automobile accident that broke his back brought that career to an end, though.

Ever since, he has indulged in chiromancy full time and quickly was bestowed the moniker "The Amazing Ron." Finding gigs has been easy.

"His readings are unbelievable," said Nita Shapiro, manager of Art and Décor at the Terrace in Beach Haven Terrace on Long Beach Island, where Sissman reads some Saturdays. "We just announce he's coming and people are lined up around the store waiting to get in." Sissman, who likes Hawaiian shirts and relaxing on his deck overlooking Lake Hopatcong, is a bit taken aback by the popularity of his readings. He said he simply relays the patterns he sees in hands in great detail and at times uses a magnifying glass with a light to make sure he does not miss light lines, stars and intersections that may have meaning.

"Sometimes I never discuss the specifics of people's lives with them," Sissman said. "I nonjudgmentally tell them the patterns I see and their inner wheels start turning. Really, they apply what I'm saying to themselves. Most say they feel better after a reading, and that's my goal. I don't want to cause anxiety or do harm." What still amazes him, he said, is how a palm can reveal an inner life very different from what a person's overall appearance suggests. Once a gorgeous, smiling young woman on a beach asked for a quick, informal read. He saw turmoil and depression in her hand, and the woman thanked him repeatedly, saying she was resolved at last to make changes in her life.

Sissman said readings can be short for "elemental" people content with work, family and a routine, but long for others with more complicated lives or for old people. The older a person gets, he said, the more is written on his or her hands, with one hand reserved for the history of a life and the other a map of current inner states.

Palmistry has been used since ancient times as a gauge of human dynamics and diagnosis. Reid traces it as far back as the Greek physicians Hippocrates, who studied the fingernails, and Galen, who studied the thumb, as well as Julius Caesar, who judged men in part by the shape of their hands. As the centuries rolled by, the practice of hand reading fell in and out of favor. It went underground, particularly in the West, after a papal dictum condemning it as pagan in 315 A.D.

Sissman explained chiromancy is astrologically based, with the characteristics of planets corresponding to each of the nine padded mounts comprising the palm as well as each finger. After centuries of suppression in the West, palmistry resurfaced during the Renaissance. In the Arabic world, however, Reid said, chiromancy was not suppressed. Rather, it was refined and grew.

Sissman emphasizes everything he does not do. He does not involve himself with astrology. He does not read minds. He does not summon or channel spirits. He knows nothing about witchcraft, spells or curses. No. The man just reads palms, and in the detail he has learned to read, that keeps him more than busy and brings forth all the information he needs. Or, more to the point, the information his clients need. That can be a lot of information, he said, which is why he recommends people get readings one at a time. Unless they do not mind their palms being read like open books before their loved ones and companions. This way, Sissman also does not find himself in awkward situations. Like the time he read a couple and saw four clear relationship lines on the woman's hand, though she had been married for decades to one man. In that case, he skipped the relationship part of the reading, following one of the fundamental rules of palm reading his mother taught him years back: Read well but be kind.

Source: Give him a hand


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