The Canturbury Manuscript or the Eadwine Psalter

Trinity College Cambridge: Ms R 17.1 c.1160
Bodleian Library: Ms Ashmole 399 c.1292

Translated from the Latin by CW Burnett and reproduced in an appendix
to the article 'The Earliest Chiromancy in the West' p189-195 Journal of the
Warburg and Courtauld Institutes vol.50 1987.

There are three natural lines in the palm of every hand. From the foot of the higher line a crease directed towards the middle (line) and from that (middle line) another crease running at an angle towards it, make a triangle, and the higher line of the triangle measures life according to its length.

But if an open part sticks to the oblique line outside the triangle, it is naturally evidence of theft. If the narrow end of the angle is empty, it is a sign of an honourable death. But if, before the point of the angle a crease across it, and another crease leads from that crease up to the point, it indicates death in battle. But if it cuts the transverse line and passes to the point, it announces that death will come from water or fire; longer towards the point, by water, above (the point), by fire.

If, in the breadth of the triangle this sign occurs: she is a virgin. Aside from these, if creases disturb the broad side they have significance according to the way they cut (the broad side); if they are small they indicate instability of the soul; if they are large, a change of location. If, beside the life line, from the foot of the higher natural line, another line stretches out equal to it, that is a sign of matrimony; if it is unequal, of adultery. And if a crease comes from the middle natural line and touches at their head any of those lines which do not reach the middle natural line, he will be hanged.

If, around the foot of the first natural line, a mark like a 'c' should occur - this is of this sort: - he will be a bishop. If, beside it, another crease extending at its highest end towards the hollow part has such (a figure): he will be a king. If creases from that line look lower down, they announce riches. If, by its foot as it were, two 'O's stick to it, (it signifies) the loss of his testicles or little brothers.

If three rods are fixed (to each other) by their ends, and one little rod cuts through them through the middle - - (it signifies) leprosy. If such a curved shape is next to it or to that which makes the triangle, it asserts that he has that (girl?) which he had before. If a crease runs from the foot of the first natural line or from another foot, towards the 'cone', he will go on a journey.

If the first natural line is red from its middle to its foot, (it signifies) a pain in the head. If it is red from its middle to its end, it reveals pain in the neck. When the Life Line proceeds from it, if it is like that in the beginning, (it signifies) pain in the heart. The last natural line like this in its end indicates pain in the belly.

If, in the hollow part of the hand there are as it were two 'e's connected together, he will kill a man in a duel or in a battle.

If a crease stretching towards the thumb strongly cuts the 'hill' of the hand, it is the pleasure of relationship, or, according to some, vehement anger. If the 'hill' is full of creases, it shows that he will quickly escape from illnesses; if it has few, the contrary; or, according to some, if there are many, it bodes good fortune in his flocks; if not, then not. Between the two joints of the thumb on the side facing the 'hill', if many large creases pass transversely, it shows a great and numerous number of kin; if the creases are few and small, the number of kin is small and few.

On the index finger a line looking towards its end places the father above the mother; if it passes transversely, it places the mother above the father. If two creases strongly cut these lines of the thumb indicating kin, he will violate his mother's bed. After these lines, if, in the last joint of the thumb underneath it, above the line of the joint, this figure appears: he will corrupt his mother or sister. If this same line of juncture circles the thumb strongly without interruption, he will be hanged. This same is an indication of faithfulness and unfaithfulness: if it almost circles (the thumb) it indicates unfaithfulness; if not, faithfulness.

If the nail of the thumb is uncurved by nature it indicates a moneyed man. In the 'cone' of the blade of the hand lines coming from within - or vice versa - if they are many and not intertwined, announce honourability; if they are few and intertwined, niggardliness. If, in the 'cone' itself, this shape looks out towards the back, (he will) kill his father, or at least kill a relative or a brother or a sister. Such a sign, as if in the shape of an arrow, stretching from the 'cone' itself within its peak - - however many creases divide the middle natural line, whether they touch the lower one or not, announce boy children; if not, they denote the other alternative.

Creases attached to the same natural line - whether they are above or below - when straight they reveal an insignificant matter, when arched and less apparent, they reveal a serious - though hidden - matter. It is the same when in the case of the superior (line) the (creases) are divided from the middle point outwards.

If, in the middle natural line, a kind of single point appears, he will lose an eye; if two, both eyes. But if in the hollow part above it a kind of .g. begins (to be formed) and, passing through the line, it places its horns on the flat of the hand, it is a sign of conversion. On whatever side it is more distant from the last line, it shows and portends more happiness at that time of life. And if round about its end in the flat part itself a kind of cross lies next to it, it denotes force; if it dominates in another part of the flat part, (it denotes) confession, or, according to some, profligacy.

If the last natural line descends gradually towards the indexfinger, he gains in happiness gradually. If it launches itself in a sudden way, it increases a sudden boon. But if it tends in an upward direction, the opposite is the case, unless another line below prevents it. This same line tending upwards does not deny that he will live his life by his own labour. And if from it another line descends towards the index finger it proves that he will die in foreign parts.

But if a kind of triangle lies next to it in the flat part it denotes a prebend. But if from the middle (line) of the second (finger) a strong rod passes through it - - there are as many captivities as rods; in women this same figure denotes childbirth; and if it has distributed itself more on the inside of the flat part than on the outside, it will announce a much more serious captivity. And if in the flat part this sign appears, 1 it proves the thirst for human blood. This sign turned into the flat part - - depicts a prostitute. And, according to some, if a crease extends from the last line - not straight but inclined - through the flat part to the middle natural line, he will be disinherited some time later, or not.

Little creases placed transversely or directly along the flat part, between the last natural line and the size (hill?) of the little figure, signify wounds of the arms or hands. Creases in a similar position from the end of the little finger to the end of the second finger indicate wounds of the feet or legs. And from the end of the second or little finger to the end of the third finger creases - even when they are only small - tending upwards produce wounds in the body, where those three fingers are joined to the palm. If the creases divide (cross) their middles, they indicate wounds in the side.

A straight crease from the last natural line to the fourth finger, according to its pressure and strength, and by stretching to the middle finger, is a sign of greater intelligence and more and deeper knowledge. Behind this line such a rod going out between the last natural line and the little finger is (a sign) of having company. This sign - - existing in that place, acknowledges a slayer of his kin. And this sign looking above the natural line  indicates death because of lack of food; round about the same spot a bishop's staff - - indicates chastity; this sign - - in some place indicates the loss of feet. Hidden things are discussed elsewhere.


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