A regular reader of this column recently wrote me: “I have been reading your column for many years now. I notice that you have not written anything about astrology, numerology, palmistry or the Cabala. Why is this so?”
My answer is very simple. I do not write of things I know nothing about, nor those for which I cannot find any scientific or at least some rational explanation.
I do not believe that man’s future or destiny depends on the position of the planets and stars at the time of his birth, nor on the lines of his palms. I believe that man’s will is forever free and his destiny depends on what he has chosen it to be, perhaps in his previous lives.
But astrology, I agree, is a fascinating field of study. It has attracted eminent scientists, like the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. Astrology originated around 2,000 years ago in India, China and with the Mayan civilization. These ancient civilizations developed elaborate systems for predicting earthly events by observing heavenly bodies.
According to one source, the oldest astrological system still in use can be traced from 1500 to 1700 B.C. in ancient Mesopotamia (now modern Iraq), from where it spread to ancient Greece, Rome, the Arab countries and eventually to Central and Western Europe.
Although astrology has a wide following and adherents specially in Asia, it has been shown to have no scientific validity, except in one aspect: the statistically significant correlation between a person’s birth date and his profession.
French psychologist and statistician Michel Gauquelin (1928-1991) has shown that a statistically significant number of sports champions are born just after the planet Mars rises or culminates. He also found significant statistical correlation between planetary positions and the birth times of eminently successful people.
A well-known American skeptic and magician tried to show that Gauquelin’s conclusions were wrong, only to “eat his words” later. This is the same magician who tried to debunk Uri Geller’s telekinetic powers and the Filipino psychic surgeons as fakes, without succeeding. When this magician died recently, Geller announced that “my greatest publicist has died.”
Having said that, I do not imply that astrology, numerology and palmistry are baseless or wrong. The only thing I am saying is that, so far, I have not come across a scientifically valid or rational basis for believing in them.
As far as the Cabala (or Kabbalah) is concerned, I read a book a long time ago about it, but found it too complicated. I couldn’t understand it. And, therefore, I did not pursue its study.
The Jewish Cabala, according to one definition of the term, is “a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between infinite, immortal God and the mortal finite universe. It forms the foundation of mystical religious interpretations within Judaism. It seeks to explain the esoteric or inner meaning of the Hebrew Bible.”
Another controversial method or practice of telling a person’s character, future and health by reading the lines on the palm and shape of the fingers is chiromancy, popularly known as palm reading or palmistry.
Palmistry originated in ancient Asia and spread worldwide. It is believed that a person’s future can be seen in the lines and shape of one’s hand.
In palmistry, the right hand represents the present and future of a person and thus can be changed with time and experience, while the left hand represents the past and inherited traits of a person.
It is hard for me to believe the lines in my hands determine my fate, but there are many people around the world, especially in Asia, who believe in it. Many years ago, I met a middle-aged palm reader living in United Parañaque Subdivision. She was a rather popular palm reader and many people went to consult her.
When she read the lines on my palm, I was surprised at her great accuracy. I can’t remember now what she said, but I remember being impressed by her accuracy. If palm reading is not true and has no scientific basis, how could she be so accurate in her readings? I believe she was using her intuition when reading a person’s palm in the same way that a Tarot card reader uses his or her intuition when interpreting the cards.
Having said all the above, we cannot completely dismiss astrology, numerology, palmistry or the Cabala as completely useless or nonsensical. The fact that they have survived after thousands of years and acquired a great following even among modern people, tells us something intriguing. Perhaps these are worth looking into. But for now, I will stick to what can be explained rationally. INQ
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