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MUDRAS & HAND SYMBOLISM--THE POWER OF MUDRAS

PART 1: WHAT ARE MUDRAS?


When we study Eastern philosophies, beliefs, culture, and the pragmatic yogic methods of Hinduism
and Buddhism, we often come across practices of systematic hand gestures. The rites, rituals,
initiations, dances, and spiritual disciplines of these Oriental religions and traditions are replete with
multifold forms of hand gestures with symbolic meanings and empowering virtues.
In Sanskrit these gestures are called mudra. Mudra means "seal," or "symbol." The word has
various connotations or definitions in Yogic and Tantric philosophies. In Hatha yoga, mudras are
special physical asanas, or body-postures; they are also certain exercises or processes that arouse
into activity one's innate energies.
The ancient yogic text, the "Gheranda-Samhita," describes twenty-five of these mudras among
which are: ashvini-mudra, bhujangini-mudra, kaki-mudra, khecari-mudra, maha-mudra, manduki-
mudra, matangi-mudra, nabho-mudra, pashini-mudra, sahajoli-mudra, shakti-calani-mudra,
shambhavi-mudra, tadagi-mudra, vajroli-mudra, viparita-karani-mudra, yoni-mudra, etc.
The above yogic manual advises us that these mudras are to be kept secret with great care and not
to be conveyed to anyone unfit for their reception as these mudras could confer tremendous power
and psychic abilities called siddhis. Those without the right spiritual qualifications could cause
untold harm to themselves and others should they engage in these exercises and be successful in
unfolding occult faculties.
The psychic powers acquired therefrom would be misapplied, misused and abused for egoistic
purposes--and this is potentially fatal for one's evolutionary growth. These mudras were therefore
esoteric in nature and reserved for the chosen few--the true spiritual aspirants, and not for the
worldly- minded or the overly spiritually ambitious. This doctrine "for the few" was observed
carefully by mostly all spiritual traditions. In one ritualistic text of the Vajrayana Tantra concerning
an initiatory teaching, the chela or student is enjoined to,
" . . . spread this teaching with great caution. It should be kept secret from both sinful and Dam
Med (oath-breakers) persons; from sophisticated and foulmouthed persons.
This teaching should not be given to skeptical and defamatory persons; it should not be bestowed
upon heretical and insincere persons. It should not be given to the thief of Dharma [spiritual
doctrines] or to those who do not observe the precepts. Keep this sacred teaching from such
persons is a rule you should observe."
In his manual on yoga, which consists of 195 Sutras, Patanjali never once mentioned mudras, nor
the serpent force, or kundalini for that matter. Perhaps he considered these teachings esoteric and
not meant for general circulation.
Aside from the possible acquisition of paranormal powers as one result of the awakening of the
kundalinic force lying latent at the base of the spine, the mudras described by the Gheranda-Samhita
also results in rejuvenation, and the sought for liberation from the mortal, human condition. Intense
and constant practice of these mudras in conjunction with other spiritual exercises is said to have the
power to transform man into a living god. Hand mudras, we believe, do have this kind of effect.
Hindu Tantrism has a different understanding of mudras. To the practitioners of Tantra, the term
refers to a shakti, a human female participant in the maithuna, or sexual rites; or even to the
parched grain as one of the five ingredients used in the panca-tattva rite because of its physical
resemblance to the yoni, the female genitalia. Shaktis are called "mudras" because in the process of
ritualistic and yogic coitus they have an effect similar to body and hand mudras.
Mudras awaken dormant psycho-physical centers and purifies certain subtle channels allowing for
the circulatio n of energies to take place; Mudras facilitates concentration, and are a powerful means
of communing with the forces and divinities lying within man's inner nature; women have a great
access to psychic energies; thus, the sexual yogic act, when properly conducted, does the same
thing. Being highly respected, a woman proficient in the Tantric arts is referred to as a "mudra," or
to be more specific, "Karma mudra," of which there are five kinds, categorized according to various
psycho-physical characteristics.
In another sense, "closed electrical-circuits" of the subtle channels in the physical and etheric bodies
are also known as "seals," or mudras. In passing, we should mention that the large earrings worn by
members of the Kanphata Order in India are likewise called "mudra."
The Kagyu sect of Vajrayana Buddhism uses the suffix "maha" meaning "great" in association with
the term "mudra." Thus, the conjoined word mahamudra means "the Great Seal," or "the Great
Symbol." In this context, the word refers to a state of direct realization and experience of the
ultimate nature of the Mind or Reality where all dualities and sense of separateness from All that Is
are transcended.
Putting aside complexities, the definition of mudra is simply "symbolic gesture." Chogyam Trungpa
in his book, "Mudra," defines the word as, "a symbol in the wider sense of gesture or action. It is
the inspiring color of phenomena. Also it is a symbol expressed with the hands to state for oneself
and others the quality of different moments of meditation, such as touching the earth with the right
hand as a witness to Buddha's freedom from emotional and mental frivolousness."
Yoga teachings in general explain that mudras denote the hand gestures and movements used in the
performance of dances, rituals, rites, and while engaging in spiritual exercises such as meditation.
Mudras symbolically express inner feelings and inner psychological states; they also generate various
qualities such as fearlessness, power, charity, and peace in the practitioner and to on- lookers.
In another ancient text called Soma-Shambhu-Paddhati, a great number of these hand mudras are
described. Perhaps the best known by yogic practitioners and students are abhaya- mudra, anjali-
mudra, cin- mudra, dhyana- mudra, and jnana- mudra. Some of these mudras are known by other
names, especially in other cultures and spiritual traditions. It is this latter understanding of mudra
that we shall be dealing with in this series of articles.
To sum up, we present Nik Douglas' definition of "mudra" to be found in the glossary of his book,
Sexual Secrets :
(Mudras are) "mystic hand gestures used to focus subtle energy, transmit teachings through symbols
and confer psychic protection. As an aid to Tantric meditation, mudra can also mean woman in her
role as Yogini. The same term is sometimes used to refer to cereal grains used in Tantric rites. "
The Origin of Mudras
It is not quite known when or where systematized and stylized gestures originated. Almost all
ancient cultures made use of hand signs in one form or another. Hand Signs were employed even in
earliest times in religion, in the rhetoric art, in social intercourse, in builders' and trade guilds, etc.
The operative Masons--the Comacines, the builders of Europe's finest cathedrals, and the hoary
trade guild known as the Dionysiac Artificers--who were responsible for the construction of ancient
buildings and structures--all made use of hand signs as a system of communication and protection of
their conclaves or secret meetings against unauthorized entry.
In Hinduism, as well as Buddhism, hundreds of mudras were formed for yogic purposes, for
ceremonies, drama, and dance. Most of these were symbolic in nature, others, however, had
metaphysical virtues.
There are literally hundreds of mudra-gestures formed by the ancient yogis and sages; however,
they are all based on four basic hand positions: the open palm, the hollowed palm, the closed fist,
and the hand with fingertips together.
In the Occident, the study of hand gestures in ritual and its spontaneous movements is called
cheironomy. It particularly relates to gestures used in esoteric symbolism and certain forms or signs
used in religious ritual. In occultism, each hand gesture has certain significance as well as embodying
a certain force.
Ritual gestures were an important part of religious ceremonies in most ancient cultures. They were
said to have the power to call upon the gods, to unfold powers, and to affect the surroundings in
various ways. The ancient Egyptians regarded the hand poses of their god- incarnate pharaohs as
highly potent, even if it is just a pictorial representation. While depicting these pharaohs in murals or
while forming statues of them, artists were careful not to misrepresent the mudras assumed by their
sovereign for fear that it would evoke an unwanted force.
Power in the Hands
The hands when used systematically in mudra exercises result in a wealth of benefit for the
practitioner. Not only does it improve one's health, they also generate the energies that would
empower one to live a dignified life as a child of God. Specific hand gestures assist the unfoldment
of one's divine potentials, or inner divinity lying dormant within one's being.
Mudras facilitate the awareness of our inner nature, the reality of Spirit, the oneness of the Cosmos.
It arouses the spiritual heart to expand and express itself with effulgent radiance. Through love,
selfless love, unconditional love, divine love, it is possible to conquer all things. It is with love that
we approach God, not through fear; fear will never take us to the divine throne. To express love is
the beginning of wisdom.
By practicing hand gestures we eventually find ourselves communicating with Nature, for some of
her esoteric languages are signs and symbols. Mudras generate structured magnetic fields with forms
that resemble computer fractuals and images. Abstract forms reach the higher planes of life where
angelic forces reside. Thus, by performing mudras we may eventually find ourselves socializing with
cherubim and seraphim.
According to scientists we use about 10% of our brain potential. Mudra practices may change all
that, for the energies that it awakens clears all of the vessels--physical and non-physic al--of
obstructions and blockages that prevent the brain from being nourished and developed.
New synapses between neurons are formed when the brain receives a good supply of chi or prana.
An increase in I.Q., a strong memory retention, improved learning ability, and mental alertness, are
some of the results of cleared energy channels. When empowered the brain forms new connections
with the etheric brain.
These connections resemble and function as miniature sutratma, which is the link between the lower
quaternary of the microcosm and the higher components that we normally refer to as "the Spirit" of
man. The more links between the etheric and physical brain, the more powerful and intelligent the
brain becomes.
Mudras awaken the power of the hands to act therapeutically and magically. The psychic centers in
the palms and fingertips are activated to their optimal level by the consistent application of mudras.
This eventually facilitates the free outflow and influx of cosmic forces that may be utilized for
various occult purposes. With such power, even a mere touch may mesmerize, enchant, fascinate,
or quicken the "dead." Hands with such power would definitely be an asset not only to the
metaphysical practitioner but also to those involved in social and business affairs.
The Various Traditions
In these series of articles we shope to describe the mudra practices to be found in various religious
practices, such as in Buddhism, and Hinduism; and in various countries rich in cultural traditions as
for instance, Japan, India, China, Tibet, and Indonesia. Mudra teachings are also to be found in
Christianity and in the Egyptian tradition.
Contemporary development of Runic lore has also its own version of hand-gestures designed to
offer psychic benefits. We will describe some of these and teach how our readers may put these
mudras into practice to assist their spiritual unfoldment and the improvement of their mundane lives.
Regrettably, there are many powerful mudras to be found in mystical schools and traditions that we
have not been able to get access to and thus present in these articles. For instance, Chen Yen or
Shingon Buddhism, which is considered as an esoteric tradition, has a rich heritage on mudra
practices. These mudras are performed in conjunction with mantras and the visualization of
mandalas. According to their doctrines, mudras, mantras, and mandalas represent body, speech, and
mind. Chen Yen Buddhism teaches that the culture of these three aspects of the microcosm leads
the practitioner to a higher spiritual state of being. Another Buddhist school that teaches mudras is
the True Buddha School led by the Living Buddha Lu Sheng-yen. One would have to be a follower
of the Living Buddha in order to acquire the mudra teachings.
The Spiritual Path
At the very outset of these articles we would caution our readers not to misapply any phenomenal
powers that they may acquire through the practice of the mudras. Always aim for spirituality, not
for the attainment of illusory baubles. Do not strive for the phenomenal, the sensational; or be
obsessed with spiritual powers. The goal is soul-development, not self-aggrandizement. The spiritual
tyro should not succumb to self-deception, self-complacency, self-centeredness, self- importance,
and all egoistic tendencies.
Until the false ego is subdued, one has not reached the proper state where enlightenment may be
acquired or where spiritual forces and powers may be properly harnessed and applied; even the so-
called awakening and rising of the kundalini force will not be optimal in its influence. There is too
much deception here. Psychicism is often mistaken for spirituality. Visions may delight the ego,
seeing spirits may make one think highly of oneself, the vain display of
"supernatural" powers may leave one too self-comp lacent. In the end the evolving soul gets stuck in
the astral mire, no matter how sublime visions or experiences may be. The nature and apprehension
of one's visions is related to one's evolutionary status. The higher we are the more true our
understanding and perception. Those who claim the ability to see sublime visions while being
morally bankrupt are only perceiving the lower astral planes and the projections of their own
subconscious minds.
What true spirituality is cannot be stated too openly for the reason that it would be falsely adopted
or assumed by those pretending to be "Masters" in order to fool an unwary and ignorant crowd. The
true Master, however, has his own criteria and is able to differentiate the false from the real, the
quacks from those who are genuine.
If the reader argues that he or she seeks powers so that they may be of help to humanity it is time
for introspection. With what you have right now, are you helping humanity? Do you make sacrifices
on behalf of humanity? Do you serve selflessly? Please do not deceive yourself. It is always wise to
first work upon your own character before undertaking the unfoldment of powers.
Without a true Guru one could be led astray by dark forces posing as representatives of Light. The
spiritual path is filled with thorns and mirages. The closer one gets to the goal, the more
temptations, obstacles, tests, and trials one encounters.
The chelas, students of the spiritual path often succumbs to glamour and illusions, false
understanding and beliefs. Without the Guru's aid, they could fall. But most often while bathing in
the false astral light they forget the Guru and seek instead temporary delights. Students of
metaphysics should not attempt to fly before they can run, run before they can walk, walk before
they can stand, or stand before they can crawl.
In their ambition to attain spiritual power and personal bliss quickly, students of metaphysics make
the mistake of jumping from Guru to Guru, from teaching to teaching, from tradition to tradition,
not realizing the traps that they are laying for themselves, and thus delaying the divine grace that the
true Guru would channel to them.
They would also not experience the Guru's essence in such a manner; nor will they receive all that
the Guru would like to give. It is like digging a well for water. We would dig 5-6 m before reaching
water. If we were to dig a meter here, a meter there, we would end up with nothing substantial.
Students would end up confused: one Guru says this, another says that, etc.
Students that follow many Gurus simultaneously are not loyal to the instructions of any one of
them.
It is also unfair to the Guru as a problem might arise in their spiritual disciplines. Who would then be
responsible for that? To which Guru should the student go to? The spiritual aspirant is unaware that
certain traditions are incompatible, that some rays do not mix well, and that by practicing them
together these might eventuate in psychic and psychological impediments and problems.
Masters have always cautioned us to "make haste slowly." The ancient Rishis and Yogis were well
aware of this problem of the neophyte, they therefore established Guru Puja, or the worship of the
Guru.
Essentially this was not for the purpose of glorifying the Guru in any way, it was for the purpose of
assisting the chelas or students to maintain focus, to develop divine love, to instill a sense of
identification with their Guru so that they may become like the object of their adoration.
Students would derive the utmost benefit by sticking to a single Guru. Only in this manner would it
be possible for the chela to experience "Guru Tattva," "Zat Guru," or the essence of the Guru where
the Supreme Being expresses and bestows through the Guru untold spiritual wealth upon the loyal
and devoted student.
We may claim that we express unconditional love; and yet, if we do not have trust and faith in our
Preceptor, if we do not apply his instructions and advice seeking pastures in other fields and hoping
for a quick attainment, and thus destroying all that the Guru wishes his disciples to accomplish--that
is, to unfold in an orderly and proper manner--then it simply proves that our claim of unconditional
love is false.
There are agents of the dark forces stomping around looking for victims. They entrap their prey by
flattery, big promises and a show of "psychic powers" and the like. Metaphysical students should be
on guard and not fall into their clutches for their path lead downward to the abyss.
The spiritual path toward the lofty goal of Buddhahood, human perfection, or the ascension may be
compared to a ladder consisting of many rungs. Each rung should be treaded upon. Missing a rung
would only mean returning again in a later life time to learn or experience it. Attaining nirvana,
experienc ing bliss, or acquiring an expanded consciousness is all well and good but a person is no
closer to the goal than before.
Prior to starting off his career as a human soul Man was in such a divine natural state, tranquil,
blissful, sans ego; and yet he incarnated for a reason, for a spiritual purpose. Would we negate this
purpose now by ignoring it and experiencing bliss for our own sakes alone?
The goal is the Ascension and in order to do that the quaternary principles--the physical, the etheric,
the astral, and the lower mental bodies would have to be transmuted and raised to the causal level,
and this cannot be done with the false ego still running amuck, when the sense of mortality still
holds sway, when self-centeredness is the whole purpose of existence.
The experience of bliss does not indicate a high spiritual development. There are various levels of
bliss, not all of which originate in the blissful center of the Soul, or Higher Self. Man possesses
certain components in his being that records past feelings whether of trauma or joy. When
stimulated or cleansed these components release their contents and is experienced by the
consciousness. This experience is often mistaken for the impregnation of the Holy Spirit.
An advanced consciousness no longer jud ges dualistically what it perceives. It does not differentiate
between the good and the bad, the evolved and the unevolved, the beautiful and the ugly. It is only
aware of the presence of God in all.
When we get down to spiritual basics, psychic powers mean nothing. They do not take a person
closer to God. Possessing paranormal abilities do not make a person spiritual. Spirituality has
nothing to do with what you have or what you know. It has to do with what you are, and how well
you are expressing your Divine Self.
Therefore, in conjunction to the study of mudras we would adjure our readers to develop purity,
love, affection, detachment, disinterestedness, gentleness, harmlessness, beauty, selflessness, self-
abandonment, and other divine virtues. Also, deepen your metaphysical knowledge of Cosmic laws
and apply spiritual precepts. Do not miss a rung of the ladder leading toward the goal of human
perfection. As said before, if any rung is missed you would have to return to start all over again in
order to tread it.
It is wonderful to unfold unconditional love and to experience bliss but do no forget that Divine
Consciousness has many spiritual aspects and attributes, each one of which the spiritual aspirant
would have to personally unfold. The person with the full unfoldment of one or two divine virtues
has still a long way to go to reach perfection compared with another who has almost unfolded all of
them but incompletely as yet. It is therefore, difficult to judge another using human values and
perception.
Mudras are tools to spiritual development. They should be used in conjunction with other
metaphysical disciplines and not applied as a sole sadhana or spiritual practice. There is no one
method or technique that is superior to another. They all have their place in a disciple's daily work-
out, and each have their own purpose and effect. Thus, while engaging in mudras, one should not
give up one's daily prayers, meditations, occult disciplines and other yogic practices.
Chelas should not be attached to the sensations that mudras give--their purpose is not to offer
personal delight; rather chelas should be focused more on the goal of human existence.
Purpose of These Series of Articles
All that we need to progress spiritually may be found within us. We were told by the Master Jesus
that heaven is within us, within our beings; it is not a place that we go to when we pass away, or
after the last angelic trumpet call during the last days of the Apocalypse.
We do not deny that in some scriptures heaven is said to be a place. There is some truth in this
belief, in this context we may equate heaven to the various dimensions, planes of existences, or
realities. However, the heaven referred to by Master Jesus is quite different. It is more of a state of
being, a level of awareness, a spiritual attitude.
The more we depend upon our inner being, our own Self, our own resources for our own
evolvement, the more quickly we will reach the goal of human existence. Excessive dependence
upon external agencies simply prolongs our state of ignorance and our human, mortal condition.
This is one of the reasons why in Holy Scriptures we are warned not to visit street fortunetellers,
paranormals and such, for they frequently instill in us a false sense of self-assurance and
complacency, or conversely--needless fear. They misdirect our attention to things of no eternal
worth. They are part of that materialistic scheme of the Dark Ones that hope to delay and if
possible, thwart humanity's soul progress.
Salvation does not come from without, it comes from within. The savior of humanity lies within our
own hearts. We have to find him there. This is a simple message that all mystics and saints have
been telling us. We may disregard it at our own peril.
The purpose of these articles is to assist the raising of the awareness and the expansion of the
consciousness of our readers who apply the teachings of the mudras. They are keys to personal
development and spiritual unfoldment. By practicing the mudras consistently, the practitioner would
in time realize the following :
The existence of unseen forces and Intelligence
The omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience of Energy
The existence of other dimensions and realities
The oneness of all life
The errors of dualistic perception
The blissful nature of the Spirit, or the Self
The various powers of the Soul
The illusions of time and space
The birthrights of the Soul such as health, tranquility, prosperity, joy, etc.
The powerful nature of Divine Love
The ephemeral nature of physical life
Morality as a soul necessity
The sacredness of all sentient life
The reality of the Soul
. . . and many other things that cannot be put into print or understood intellectually. Mudras may
take us to spiritual heights that we have not reached heretofore. It initiates us into the world of
pragmatic mysticism. All that a true spiritual Guru may do is to offer keys, guidance, advice, and
teachings. He or she is unable to force any chela to comply or to obey because of the Law of Free
Choice. It is up to the disciple to trust, have faith in and to open-up to the Teacher.
One of our intentions in the writing of these articles is to help preserve an important aspect of the
cultural heritage of humanity. Here and there in these works are to be found spiritual gems and
seeds that may not be recognized as such. In any case, we believe that they will eventually take root
in the fertile grounds of our reader's mind and sprout in an active enhancement of the human
condition disregarding commercialism and all partisanship and fanaticism of race, religion, color,
gender, tribal affiliation, etc.
Although these series of articles are incomplete and have their shortcomings, the aut hor feels that it
would still fill the void in most people's awareness concerning esoteric methods of spiritual
development. There are many occult techniques, systems, and traditions at our disposal, we only
need to search for the tools that work for us. An open mind, fearlessness, and humility are all
necessary qualities that would help us in our search for the keys to spiritual knowledge and
unfoldment.
We reiterate: everything that we need to evolve and grow spiritually we already possess within us.
We just need to be shown and given the keys that opens the right portals. These articles, it is hope,
would offer a bunch of these keys that would unveil for the reader a greater world of understanding
and experience. This is what the writer wills.
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Copyright 2001 Luxa more
MUDRAS & HAND SYMBOLISM--THE POWER OF MUDRAS
PART 2: HAND MYSTERIES
Before we begin discussing mudras, let us first consider some interesting topics concerning hands.
This and the following article will be devoted to hand mysteries, symbolism, esotericism, signs, and
beliefs. Although our treatment of these subjects may be inadequate, from the scholarly point of
view, the lay person may find them interesting and we especially dedicate this work for their peruse.
The miraculous hands--we usually take them for granted and do not see how invaluable they are to
us. We only miss their use should a mishap befall them--just like everything else. In the absence of
hands civilizations would not have been built. No progress would have been made in our social,
industrial, technological, and spiritual life. Human hands are partly responsible for our evolutionary
growth from our past animal, primitive state to our present high-tech era.
The hands are a projection of our soul-desire to interact and function on the physical plane, and it
took million of years for this desire to manifest in the three-dimensional state. Prior to that, during
the involutionary cycle, the creature called man lived in an etheric state and with a form devoid of
any bodily appendages as recounted in Blavatsky's "Secret Doctrine."
At least one ancient philosopher acknowledged the worth of the human hands: Aristotle called it the
"organ of organs, the instruments of instruments." As one of the Karmaindriya, hands are the active
agents of the cerebral system, and by extension, the human soul. It is what Immanuel Kant called
"the visible part of the brain." The nature of our thoughts and emotions are reflected in ideodynamic
movements of the hands that are normally visible with their gestures but at times goes unnoticed, or
is invisible to the naked eye.
Proof of this may be found in the occult art of dowsing where the imperceptible movement of the
hand as motored by nerve impulses causes a pendulum to sway under direction of an unseen
subconscious intelligence--the pendulum merely acting as an amplifier for the conscious aspect of
the psyche.
Benjamin Walker in his book, "Body Magic," notes that no other part of the human body is so
intimately related to human behavior than the hands. Hand movements are expressive of human
thoughts, character, emotions, and attitudes. Graceful, flowing movements reveal a person who is
generally poised and tranquil, a person with culture and refinement. In men, when these gestures are
too exaggerated, or when they become too artificial, it indicates effeminate tendencies. A person
with a dignified, noble character makes hand gestures quite differently from a person who is
debased and boorish in nature. Aggressive hands can be seen by their violent and abrupt
movements; just as materialistic subjects are known by their heavy, pendulous, impassive hands. A
fidgety hand is
reflective of a fidgety mind--someone with a nervous disposition and lacking a positive self- image.
Such a person knows not how to control his energy. He releases it through unconscious drumming
of his fingers and fiddling around with any available object. Limp hands betray the owner's lack of
goals, self-confidence, and zeal for life. Individuals who have the habit of hiding their hands and
closing their palms with their fingers reveals that they are secretive, cautious, and perhaps stingy.
Hiding the hands behind the back have several possible meanings among which are prudence,
restrain and observation or inspection. It is a diplomatic gesture and most nobles often
unconsciously assume it.
Man not only differ from animals by possessing reason, he also differ from them by possessing
hands that are able to fabricate things, to convey his intentions, to communicate his thoughts and
feelings. Anthropoids may possess hands, but they lack a superior reason to take full advantage of
them. Dolphins and other
cetaceans may be equal or superior to man in spiritual
unfoldment--according to modern New-Age thought--yet,
without hands they do not have the ability to manifest certain forms of creativity. Perhaps they do
not need to, it is not for us to debate over this here. We know that every life- form has its own
uniqueness; and Man, in his own distinction can rightly be called
"the builder" endowed as he is with the tools--his hands, to manifest his creative will. Herein lies the
blessing or curse of man. With his hands he may build heaven on earth, or he may use it
destructively to manifest chaos and anarchy--a hellish
pandemonium that stalls evolutionary progress.
Understanding this religiously, man "the builder" constructs magnificent temples to worship his gods
or representatives of his embodied ideals. That the hands may sometimes symbolize
excessive mundane activity and focus to the detriment of spiritual unfoldment can be understood
from the esoteric saying that the true spiritua l aspirant ought to spend his time and forces building a
temple "not made with hands." This in fact is what Freemasonry, one of the "esoteric brotherhoods"
is all about. Though the body is regarded as a temple of the soul not made by mortal hands, a higher
house of God, the Holy of Holies, the Sanctum Sanctorum, is meant in this spiritual precept. The
brothers of this august fraternity through rites, rituals and ceremonial initiations are taught how to
utilize carpenter's tools, esoterically understood, to build this fabulous celestial House of God in a
spiritual dimension--the true "Temple of the Spirit," or to be more precise, the Causal body which
relates to the many mystical symbols representing the Higher Self such as the Ark of the Covenant,
the candelabra, the Holy Grail, the Philosopher's Stone, etc.
The Causal body is the lotus that forms the seat of every enlightened being as portrayed by Buddhas
and Bodhisattvas in Buddhist iconography. Though the Causal body is not built by mortal hands,
personal effort in its fabrication is still required by worship, devotion, service, and spiritual exercises.
We are essentially told in every religion that salvation lies in our own hands. The higher Intelligences
will only assist us if we first help ourselves. No external aid is forthcoming if we refuse to take
responsibility for our own liberation, salvation, enlightenment, or evolution.
The saying of Jesus that heaven is "at hand," or approaching, may be construed to mean that
heaven lies in our own grasp- "in our own hands," if we allow it to be so by working for it, by
awakening to the Truth, to a higher awareness and consciousness. It entails personal responsibility.
The New Jerusalem, King Solomon's Temple, the Causal body, the Diamond body, or whatever
you may call that evolving spiritual body of the microcosm, must be perfected and made manifest
on the physical plane through personal
effort. Doubts of our own divine, heavenly nature prolongs the sleep of the ages and prevents us
from cooperating with the Divine Architect. Later on in these series of articles we will apply the
above precept literally and use our hands as mudras to awaken and unfold our divine potentials like
the blossoming of a lotus flower.
Anatomy of the Hand
What is a hand? Below we quote from the Funk and Wagnall's Encyclopedia that explains this
comprehensively :
The hand is explained to be a,"terminal portion of the arms or anterior limbs of humans and other
primates, especially adapted for grasping. The grasping appendages of other mammals and lower
forms of animals are sometimes called hands in order to distinguish them from the feet of the hind
limbs, but true hands appear only in the primates.
"Superficially the hand consists of a broad palm attached to the forearm by a joint called the wrist.
At one side and at the outer edge of the palm are five digits, the thumb and four fingers. The thumb
in humans is articulated so that it can be brought opposite to the fingers and thus be employed for
grasping small objects.
The fingers themselves can be folded forward over the palm for the holding of objects. The chief
difference between the hands of humans and those of the other primates is that the thumbs of the
latter cannot be opposed to the fingers.
"The human hand has 27 bones: the 8 bones of the carpus, or wrist, arranged in two rows of four;
the 5 bones of the metacarpus, or palm, one to each digit; and the 14 digital bones, or phalanges,
2 in the thumb and 3 in each finger. The carpal bones fit into a shallow socket formed by the bones
of the forearm.
"The movements of the human hand are accomplished by two sets of muscles and tendons: the
flexors, for bending the fingers and thumb, and the extensors, for straightening out the digits. The
flexor muscles are located on the underside of the forearm and are attached by tendons to the
phalanges of the fingers. The extensor muscles are on the back of the forearm and are similarly
connected. The human thumb has two separate flexor muscles that move the thumb in opposition
and make grasping possible."
Four fingers and a thumb on each hand is the norm. There are cases though, when a person may
have extra fingers or thumb on one or both hands. Technically, this anomaly is called polydactylism.
What causes this is a mystery. According to one of the current scientific theories is that this is an
atavistic condition, a genetic remnant of a bygone age that appears from time to time for an
unknown reason.
This anomaly not only occurs in human beings, they also appear in animals, and this the writer of
this article can vouch for as he is well familiar with it personally. In his youth the writer once reared
domestic chickens in his parents' farm--one had an upturned hind toe. Other than that she had the
normal amount of toes on each foot. However, all of her progeny were polydactylies.
They boasted five toes on the terminal part of each leg. According to popular superstition, extra
digits in a hand is a sign of great good or evil. An extra finger on the right hand is supposed to bring
good luck, ill- fortune if on the left. Six fingers on both hands indicates that its possessor will be
famous or infamous in some way, like Gath, the Philistine giant mentioned in the Bible (1 Chr 20:6).
How does the occult scientist explain polydactylism? From the metaphysical point of view, we know
that the physical body is a replica of the etheric body which is the blueprint of its physical
counterpart. The structure of the etheric body is amendable to the will of the Higher Self and to a
lesser extent to the psychological condition of the lower psyche.
If a pregnant mother were shocked in some way, for instance, this could have a disastrous effect on
the fetus or embryo disfiguring it in some way. Embryonic hands could possibly acquire extra digits
as a result of its host's sudden experience of fright or terror. Another explanation of polydactylism is
that for karmic reasons, the Higher Self manufactures a vessel in accord with the soul's spiritual
needs.
Whatever physical deformities it manifests in the physical form is for the teaching of the soul some
required lesson. However, how does that apply to animals without a "soul"? As we have stated
above the etheric body as blueprint of the physical form may be altered by the will. At a lower level
of consciousness the imagination play a role in influencing the matrix that a higher intelligence has
formed. The subconscious mind is likewise impressionable. What it perceives in a constant fashion it
eventually outpictures in physical form.
This is how creatures evolve camouflages on their physical forms. But how do these principles
relate to our question above? In the case of animals, the evolution of their physical form and
consciousness aspects are directed by what is called "group-spirits" in occultism. These angelic
spirits are always experimenting in producing forms that would best adapt to the environment so that
the Law of Evolution may be best fulfilled.
So abnormalities in nature are experiments done by the Directors of Nature. However, as the tale of
Jacob (See Genesis) of how he influenced the nature of the wool of the sheep under his care would
indicate, animals may likewise influence the form, or color of their own progeny through the power
of their subconscious minds. Apropos to this, shamans are said to have the occult ability to shape-
shift into various forms, just like the Greek god Proteus. But this most likely concerns the astral
body.
One other anomaly are webbed hands. Although not too common, this atavistic characteristic does
appear from time to time in human beings. In Buddhism, webbed hands and feet are one of the
marks of a Buddha; this, however, should not be construed in a literal sense. Gaskell, the author of
the "Dictionary of all Scriptures and Myth"
interprets this as the " . . . as yet, fettered organs of action," or in other words, the emotional/mental
glamour and illusions working through the senses, hands, feet, and sexual organ. Gaskell's
interpretation actually does not make sense when we consider that a Buddha is supposed to be
enlightened and to have transcended such mortal errors.
A better interpretation in our opinion would be that webbed hands signify spiritual service in the
cosmic sea of life.
One of the mysteries of nature regarding human hands is that there are plant-roots resembling them.
These roots originate from several species of the Dactylorhiza orchids and is commonly called
"Lucky-Hand Root." The number of digits vary from 3 to 10. It is normally carried in a pouch as an
amulet or all- round lucky charm. Although the subject of charms and hand amulets are fascinating,
they will not be discussed here; we will deal with them in another article.
The brain has more sets of nervous pathways leading to the hands than to any other part of the
body.
In stress and anxiety, the temperature of the hands increases and it readily becomes sweaty. Lie-
detectors take advantage of this phenomenon by measuring the differences in the psychogalvanic
skin response of subjects during the ir interrogation.
It is said that hands make more than a thousand different movements every day. A single repetitive
motion of the hand may lead to serious injuries, as in the case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).
This is the swelling of the tendons in the carpal tunnel and the compression of nerves resulting in
numbness in the hand. Hands, especially the fingernails, are indicators of one's state of health. For
instance, horizontal ridges on the fingernails may indicate malnutrition; pitted nails may be
symptomatic of psoriasis; blue nails show problems in the circulation.
Function of the Hands
Hands may be used to bless or curse; to build or destroy, to harm or heal. It all depends upon how
well man attunes himself and understands the Will of the Cosmos or his True Self. This reaching-
out to a higher consciousness is symbolically depicted in the famous fresco painting by
Michaelangelo upon the ceiling of the Sistine chapel in Rome. "Genesis: the Creation of Man" as it is
called, shows Adam reaching out his hand attempting to touch the fingers of his Maker.
The banishment from the Garden of Eden or paradise is symbolic of man's descent upon a lower
level of consciousness where he
unwittingly lost contact with higher intelligences and alternate realitie s and thus forgot his spiritual
roots and purpose of being. Just like Persephone who was abducted by Hades and brought to
the netherworld, the soul of man is chained to a dark materialistic consciousness by his ignorance.
Ceres, the mother of Persephone, or man's Christ nature ever seeks to redeem her or the human
soul from the clutches of avidya, ignorance. Adam (the generic term for man), after consuming the
fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was faintly aware of the existence of the Tree of Life of which he
was previously oblivious.
The "Lord," anxious that man would not consume this fruit prematurely, banished him from
Paradise. Man's subsequent search for immortality became a powerful passion that millions of
deaths have not diminished. Man must look in the proper direction for that which he now seeks. It is
not to be found in the glamorous and illusory worlds of lower psychicism and materialism.
Until the false ego and all that is mortal within man are given up, until all of that false sense of egoic
grandeur be displaced by the expression of the Higher Self, man will not begin to sense the immortal
life running through his course and subtle veins and realize that immortality is already his as a
Cosmic inheritance.
As man is a reflection of God and the Universe, a veritable microcosm, so hands can well be said to
be a miniature microcosm representing the physical man as a whole. For instance, we have the five
elements represented in the fingers just as we have all of the organs in the body reflected in vario us
parts of the hand. This is basically the science of reflexology originated in China by the ancient
Taoists physicians and the practitioners of alchemy. These ancient doctors discovered that massage
or pressure upon specific points of the feet and hands benefit other parts of the body and promote
good circulation of the chi, or life- force.
Hands are often "read" for divinatory purposes and for determining the inner nature of their
possessor. In China such analysis of the hand is called Shou Hsiang. In the West it is known as
"palmistry" or "cheiromancy," or to give its more accurate name, cheirogrammeomancy. Related to
this is "cheirogrammeognomy," "cheiromorphognomy," and "cheiromorphomancy," all of which
concerns the study of the hand--its shape, features, lines, and qualities.
The lines on the palms of the hands are believed in the occult science of palmistry to designate a
person's character and changing fate. In all systems of palmistry--Chinese, Hindu, and Western,
certain portions of the hand and fingers represent the celestial bodies--the sun, moon, and planets.
Palmistry tells us that the hands come in various shapes: "square," "conical," "spatula," etc; each
shape with its own special meaning. The fingers likewise come in assorted sizes hinting of the
owner's personal psychological constitution. Lines or marks are to be found on the palms of the
hand, and throughout life these are constantly changing in fo rmation. Why lines appear in the hands
and may reveal a person's character and probable future is a mystery that remains to be solved. One
theory is that the lines are caused by nervous energy or fluid coursing through the physical body
leaving its imprint, its indelible marks on the sensitive, impressible palms of the hands. It is believed
that the nature and strength of the marks are determined by the intensity of this vital- fluid which in
turn is caused by the inherent qualities of the indwelling soul. The regulator of this nervous-energy
appears to be the soul- impressed brain.
To explain this in another way: first, the soul influences the brain with its innate characteristics, its
character, then the brain releases and regulates the nerve-energy flowing through the body which is
recorded on the sensitive portion of the hands appearing as lines and identifiable marks.
This theory is logical but it does not explicitly explain how one's "fate" may be indicated by the
etches made upon the palms of the hands. Perhaps we could explain this simply by saying that one's
character, beliefs, and attitudes determine to a large extent one's so-called fate, and so by knowing a
subject's psychic make-up it is possible to know his or her probable future. For instance, if a subject
has a slothful character, we could predict that he or she would experience financial problems and
poor health. This principle is based upon the Law of Cause and Effect and is nothing mysterious.
Terence Dukes in his book, "Chinese Hand Analysis," tells us that the hands may be analyzed at
different levels, not only from its physical aspects, but from its psychic constitution as well :
"Because of the principle (Li) of transmutative levels, it also became possible to interpret a hand
from its energy flow rather than its physical attributes, and the 'psychic' element (as we would call it
today) became accepted. The interpretation would differ depending on the level of paradigmatic
and hermeneutical ability of the analyst. From observed hand patterns, a Taoist analyst may be able
to tell that you have rebuilt your home, a Chen-Yen Buddhist that your grandmother's spirit was
watching over you, and a Buddhist-cum- Taoist that your liver was overworking!
The well-trained cheirologist could tell you all three and more, for such training implies trans- level
understanding and not just prognostic ability." Whether a coincidence or not, the palms show a
significant number. The figure nineteen in Arabic numerals may be found etched on them. Using the
terminology of palmistry, the figure consists of the "life," "heart," and "head" lines. Nineteen is
definitely esoteric being one of the two numbers discovered thus far with which the Quran, the holy
book of Islam is structured.
There are several million nerve cells on each fingertip and these are extremely delicate. The surface
of these fingertips are covered by ridges called rugae, which are developed in the fetus
during pregnancy as early as the eighteenth week. The formation of these ridges do not change in
life and remains until death. They cannot be obliterated by any process. Accidents may efface them,
but as
the skin recovers, the original pattern appears once again.
That each individual has a different set of fingerprints were observed by ancient people and they
utilized this to identify themselves to others. For instance, the ancient Assyrians and Chinese made
use of fingerprints to sign legal documents in the same manner that we use signatures. Technically,
the study of the well-defined patterns of ridges on the fingertips is known as dermatoglyphics.
It is believed that the modern study of dermatoglyphia or fingerprints were first conducted by the
Czech physiologist Johannes Evengelista Purkinje in the 19th century. Some time later, the British
scientist Sir Francis Galton proposed the use of fingerprints for identification purposes as did his
ancient predecessors. Modern fingerprinting was first pragmatically implemented by British police
officer Sir Edward Richard Henry (1857-1930) in Bengal, India in the 1890s to identify criminals.
What is the occult explanation of the unique patterns of our finger ridges? As understood
metaphysically, physical man is an expression of the Soul. Patterns upon fingertips are caused by
the Higher Self, or the Ego stamp ing its identity upon the tissues of the body by way of the blood
and forming ridge patterns to be found nowhere else in the world. Since each person has his or her
own Ego, unlike animals, each individual is unique, "one-of-a-kind," like a facet of a cut diamond
that has its own effulgent glory. As we have said previously, the hands are reflective of man's inner
being.
The uniqueness of the Soul may be seen in its shadow, the physical body, together with its micro-
components.
The tactile sense is believed to be the most complex of the five senses. It is said to possess at least
eleven distinct sub-senses. There are millions of sensory end organs in the skin. There are sensory
detectors of cold, heat, pain, texture, pressure, etc.
These senses work through the central nervous system. There are also subtle senses of the skin
related to the autonomic or sympathetic nervous system. These subtle senses capture energies
vibrating beyond the energy-spectrum perceptible to the five senses. The occasional twitching of the
eyes, ears, and various parts of the body that have time immemorial been attributed by occultists
to metaphysical forces are actually true in fact.
The subtle senses of the skin are ultra sensitive to thought and emotional force emission whether
from an internal or an external source. The belief that when the right eye twitches means that
"someone is thinking of you," reveals a basic occult truth often derided by skeptics.
The sensitivity of our skin differ in the various parts of our body. The fingertips and mucous
membranes, as an example, are more sensitive than most parts of the physical structure. According
to embryologists, our skin is sensitive to light and is convertible to sight receptors.
They explain that small cells, called ocelli, are to be found all over the skin, and that these cells
resemble miniature eyes. Among the body parts that are sensitive to light are the forehead, chest,
cheeks, temples, and hands. It is no wonder that some people are said to have the unusual ability to
sense colors or even "read" words through their fingertips.
There is an amazing soothing power in the hands. We often use it to comfort and delight another by
touching, caressing, and stroking. We please and tease our loved ones with our playful fingers. In
romance the touch of the hand is as essential as the kiss. In Act II, Scene II of "Romeo and Juliet,"
a famous Shakespearean play, the young Romeo while admiring Juliet from afar wishes that he were
a glove on her hand caressing her cheek:
"See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!"
Human hands are fascinating, enchanting and evocative. They often fill us with wonder with their
beautiful or repulsive appearance. The pioneer of modern western palmistry, d' Arpentingny,
expresses it eloquently :
"there are hands which naturally attract us, and there are hands which excite in us repulsion. I have
seen hands which seemed covered with eyes, so sagacious and so penetrating was their experience.
Some, like those of the sphinx, suggest an idea of mystery; some betray recklessness and strength,
combined with activity of body, others again indicate laziness and cunning."
Doctors and scientists have recorded the fact that the lack of touch--of fondling, petting,
a n d caressing of babies and children cause them to suffer psychologically and physically--
their emotional condition being affected even in their adult years. Children are most vital and
healthy when exposed to an affectionate dose of touch.
Generally, children who receive more hugs from their parents grow taller and more intelligent
than those who do not. Autistic children who are disturbed, withdrawn, and frightened respond
t o hugs and caresses more readily than they do to any cold clinical treatments. The loving touch
is therapeutic and can be more potent than pranic or Reiki healing treatments that are apathetically
and mechanically given.
We often wonder why without the touch of loving hands we find our lives empty, meaningless,
a n d burdensome. We seem to lose a sense of purpose, enthusiasm, and self- motivation.
Metaphysics has an explanation: energy when imbued with a certain characteristic becomes a force
that when emitted from a person may cause changes in the ambient surroundings. When such a
force is tinged with the power of love and affection it uplifts all that it comes into contact with.
Human beings, animals, and even objects that receive such a force are
transformed and ennobled. This is the reason why it is always preferable to return love for hatred,
and affection for anger. Whatever we touch ought to come from our hearts.
The human touch, affectionately given, also help to anchor or ground the consciousness of those
who are psychologically disturbed to the physical plane and prevent hallucinations from taking place.
Sensory input through the tactile sense is vital for a balanced mind. Adults as well as children require
it to maintain sanity.
The handshake or a pat on the back from a friend is always reassuring--especially when it comes
from one's Guru. In a stressful period of life a massaging hand on the shoulder does wonders to
relieve loved ones of tension and cause them to relax. The touch is truly magical when we consider
how a mother comforts her innocent babe with the touc h of love. In this respect if animals had
hands they would certainly use them to express affection just as humans do. Lacking them, snouts
and beaks are employed instead. Some of course, are able to use their cute and sometimes deadly
paws.
In many cultures the handshake as a traditional custom originated with the intention of showing that
no weapons were held concealed in the hand and that the two persons involved in the handshake did
so in peace and friendship. Hands behind the back or hidden in pockets have always been regarded
with suspicion. To the knowledgeable, the handshake reveals a lot about a person's characteristics.
The firm, strong grip often indicates someone who is willful, determined, and disciplined--all
leadership qualities. Weak grips na turally denote weak natures. Gentleness, enthusiasm, energy,
clumsiness, self-confidence, inferiority complexes, etc.--all these may be sensed by the power of the
grip, the vigor in which the hand is shaken, the length of time in which the hand is held, and the
jerks and movements that it makes.
Hands are applied for various purposes in daily life. They are used for eating, cleansing, working,
creating, worshipping and expressing oneself. Man instinctively clasps his hands in prayer--a very
significant mudra that has the power to intensify inherent energies and may cause precipitations to
take place on the physical plane.
Ever since bygone days, hands have been used as a calculating device. The simple counting of the
fingers was a universal method applied in primitive times. Our most used modern method of
computation utilizes the base of 10. This is derived from the ancient usage of the ten finger-digits
in calculations. Complex systems of counting have been devised using the appendages of the hand.
Javanese mystics, for instance, have unique formulas to calculate certain life's cycles using only their
fingers.
Hand postures are sometimes used to represent numbers. These manual gestures for representing
numeration have been chiefly employed in the past by the Romans and Greeks. There are many
functions of the hand that may not be replaced by robotics. No mechanical hand may ever offer the
same dexterity, sensitivity, grace, and versatility as a natural hand would.
It took millions of years for man's hands to evolve to its present state of perfection. Man may create
machines to do the tasks normally done by his hands, but he will never replace them completely by
his inventions, just as no supercomputer would ever match the intricacy of the human brain--not for
a long time yet anyway.
Hands are used to communicate and reveal thoughts. We often use all sorts of gestures to
emphasize or stress certain words, ideas and feelings that we wish to convey or project outwards.
This is normally done unconsciously without any willful intent, executed through subconscious
impulses; at times willfully, as for instance, the sign of hunger or thirst, or a "come here!" hand
movement. A whole psychological branch of study has developed out of these gestures. As part of
the study of
"Body language," hand gestures have become an important subject in understanding the operations
of the human psyche and human behavior.
Sign language uses the media of the hands in order to communicate. When forced to interact with
someone speaking a different language we often make use of signs.
The American Indians, for instance, developed their own forms of sign languages to communicate
with tribes not of their own native tongue. Things of nature, ideas, emotions, and sensations all have
their particular hand-sign. The gestures that the American Indians possessed were elaborate enough
to carry-out a detailed non-verbal conversation.
Other races or cultures have also developed their own sign languages such as to be found in
certain cultural groups in Assam, Eastern India, and of the Aborigines in Australia. In modern times
manual gestures have been developed for the deaf.
Aside from lip-reading, the deaf are often taught to communicate through definite forms, signs or
poses of the hand. In this communications system, there are basically two types of signs: natural
signs and systematic signs.
Natural signs stand for objects and ideas whereas systematic signs stand for word-by-word or letter-
by- letter renderings of the written language. Among the disabled, the blind likewise benefit from
their hands by reading words in Braille. In contemporary times, the hands are used extensively in the
art and science of speed reading by those who seek to augment and optimize the volume of their
reading input and comprehension ability.
Sign language has also been successfully used to communicate with animals--with the anthropoids in
particular. It has been observed by researchers that apes have a large capacity to memorize and
perhaps understand hundreds of signs representing abstract concepts.
The sensitivity of the fingers of the hands may be increased in order to sense colors and energies as
alluded to above. Psychometry, for instance, is the occult art of reading energies in objects so as to
uncover their personal history. This is especially done through the media of the hands. Impressions
are received through the autonomic nervous receptors in the hands and conveyed to the brain for
translation into images, thoughts and feelings. In yoga teachings, the term sparsha (lit. "touch")
denotes superperception of the tactile sense, of which development is a by-product of meditation.
Hands are often used in healing. Perhaps one of the most famous mystical brotherhoods of the past
to apply the life energy emanating from the hands therapeutically were the Rosicrucians. The
members of this spiritual organization practiced the "laying-of- hands" like their ancient counterparts,
the
Therapeutae in Egypt and the Essenes that lived along the shores of the Dead Sea. In past centuries,
western occultists like Paracelsus and Anton Mesmer similarly made use of this etheric nerve-energy
emanating from the hands for healing purposes, the latter calling it "animal magnetism." Ancient
Greeks called people who healed with the power of their hands, "cheirourgos," meaning "hand-
workers." The word "surgeon" is derived from this Greek term.
The ancient Egyptians believed that the hands emanated a force filled with healing and life- giving
properties. They called this force sa-ankh. Other ancient cultures called this power by various
names. That man emanate energy from the hands is the reason why some individuals are said to
have "green thumbs," meaning that plants are sympathetic to such persons and the life-giving force
that they radiate and respond by growing healthy foliage and producing abundant fruits. Everyone
emanates magnetic rays from their hands and fingertips. Healers naturally have a much more
powerful flow.
That power flows from the palms is recognized by the monks and priests of Buddhists monasteries
in China in past centuries. Mainly used in therapeutics and the martial arts, "the Buddha Palm" as it
is called, has found its way to our modern world and into the Occident.
Hands may be luminescent under the right conditions. The Jews have observed that the hands of
holy people at prayer often become
incandescent; Christians likewise believe that the fingertips of saints often shoot forth rays of light.
It is proven with modern Kirlian and high- frequency photography that the hands and physical body
emits energy. These modern devices reveal indubitably in a concrete manner how we are
surrounded by our own personal bioluminescent magnetic- field that otherwise may only be seen
through etheric sight.
The human aura is generally heterogeneous in its various layers and sections. Each part of the body
emanates a different force in accord with its state of vigor and vitality. The diverse energies of
Man's aura, or bio- magnetic field may be detected through the hands. Negative, sickly, or
congested energies in the aura may be sensed by the trained hands through the sensations of density,
heat, coolness, electrical tingling, etc. In conjunction with this, the hands are also used to clear or
balance energies in the aura. Hands are certainly great instruments used in most alternative
therapies.
Why some are left-handed and not right-handed may seem a mystery to some. There are those who
believe that this is inherited; however, this cannot be conclusively proved. A plausible answer from
the metaphysical point of view, is that this is a karmic habit and is related to a past life injury upon
the major hand. Incapacitated in the use of the right hand, the soul intelligence was forced to apply
the minor hand in daily activities. This became habitual and was later carried over to a future
incarnation where it still remained for the soul the hand of major use.
In ceremonial magick of the Western Tradition, the hands and fingers are used for various purposes
among which is to trace symbols, sigils, and signs in a consecrated space or object. They are
also utilized to banish, invoke and direct forces to certain targets. In contrast to the adepts of
ceremonial magic, stage magicians apply the hands to entertain audiences with their many illusory
tricks. They call this, "prestidigitation," or "sleight of hand." In prestidigitation, the hands are used in
various ways to deceive and mislead the eyes, and also in guiding the mental focus of the audience.
The saying that "the hands are quicker than the eye," is a well-known clich used by stage
magicians.
While still on the topic of entertainment, we have to consider the applause. The clapping of hands in
modern usage is an expression of delight, agreement, an accompaniment to music, or appreciation
for someone's stage performance. Metaphysically, it is said that ovation dispels the presence of
angelic beings. These creatures of light dislike the vibrations produced by the applause. From the
occult point of view, therefore, clapping is regarded as a negative practice.
In dance, gestures of the hands are essential in conveying or expressing symbolic messages and
metaphorical meanings. They possess a rich vocabulary and tell non-verbal stories that evoke our
primordial emotions as well as divine sensations. This can easily be seen and experienced in the
hula-dance of the Polynesians.
These dances and hand movements narrate various myths of the land that transports us to another
world. In Hindu classical texts regarding dance, hundreds of hand gestures are mentioned, together
with descriptions of the thirteen positions of the head, thirty-six of the eyes, and nine of the neck. In
the Hindu dances based on the Carnatic music composition, the following mudras are used among
many others: Raaga mudra, Tata mudra, Aachaarya mudra, Naayaka mudra, Vamsa mudra,
Biruda mudra, Lakshana Grantha mudra, Prabandha mudra, Sthala mudra, etc.
Although the many poses of the hands in traditional dance may portray symbolical meanings, they
are also functional in the sense that they modify the morphogenic or auric field of the human
organism, and likewise meant to regulate the energy flow within the etheric body.
There are numerous forms of dance or dancing style prompted by the various levels of the psyche.
Basically, we can classify three types of dance originating from the subconsciousness, consciousness
and the superconsciousness. The instinctive or primitive dance originating from the
subconsciousness is well known and is displayed by both man and beast.
Most of these movements and their awkward gestures usually are mating courtship dances and the
release of pent-up energies. Cultural dances evolved from these unrefined movements. They are a
projection of what the psyche understands of beauty, grace, form, rhythm, etc.
The third category may be called mystical dances. They originate from higher levels of
consciousness beyond the reach of the conscious mind, but whose energies may be channeled
through the physical body producing divine movements. Some forms of dancing are
the amalgamation of all three classifications.
The traditional dancing styles of Eastern countries such as India, Thailand, and Indonesia are typical
of these. In these dances mudras are often formed to alter the consciousness of the dancer and
indirectly affect the consciousness of the spectators. About 16 years ago the writer personally
witnessed one of the traditional Javanese dances performed by a very talented young man. The
dance was called "Kesadaran," or "Consciousness." We were spellbound from start to finish.
Music often make us move and sway our hands, feet, and body unconsciously. Why does it do this?
For the simply reason that musical energies have the power to possess our beings and cause an
altered state of awareness making us lose a certain degree of control over our physical motor
system. All beings are susceptible to the influence of music. Animals and plants are especially
vulnerable. In Greek myth we often hear tales of Pan, the personificatio n of Nature, dancing to the
mystical tunes of his pan-pipes, and all those who heard him play would also join in the fun, the
mirth, and the merry-making. Similarly, when the Greek sage Orpheus played on his lyre, all
became entranced, even the rocks listened attentively.
In the Hindu tales of the gods, as found in the Bhagavata-Purana and the Gita-Govinda, Krishna is
said to have enchanted the gopis, or shepherdesses of Vrindavana with his lila dance and magical
flute-playing. Each gopi was so mesmerized and distracted by Krishna that they would forget
everything else around them. They would become so one-pointed that they would believe that they
were the only one present before their Lord. Evidently, music has the power to cause ecstatic
feelings.
The god Shiva is often portrayed in iconography in a dancing pose as Nataraja, or "Lord of Dance."
Representing the Consciousness aspect of Nature, why does Shiva engage in a Cosmic dance? It is
because Shakti or divine energy, flows through his being and causes spasms and convulsions at first,
and then rhythmic movements in attunement with the beat of the Cosmos. Amidst spiritual flames,
Shiva dances rapturously, burning and transmuting all of the old outworn forms of life hindering
cosmic progress.
In a microcosmic scale, a Shiva-dance likewise occurs to a practitioner of mudras.
Spontaneous dancing may transpire as a result of the awakening of the life- force in the lowest
psychospiritual center of the etheric body. While conducting the mudras the practitioner's whole
being would often move involuntarily. The physical body might sway forward and backward, left
and right or rotate on its axis. His or her hands would move on their own accord in circles, in
arches, in figure-eights, in a chopping upward-downward movement, or oscillate in a left-right or
forward-backward direction; sometimes the hands are mysteriously placed at various layers of the
aura, or even at certain focus points--at the chakras or energy centers of the body.
While Shakti is active, she may also induce the practitioner to assume unlearnt mudras. The energies
invoked through mudras have an intelligence all of their own and they do their work through
movements. They know what to do to balance, purify, transform, or integrate celestial energies into
the microcosmic system.
In the martial-arts field, hands are used as weapons of defense or destruction. The "Tiger's Claw,"
the
"Iron Fist," "the Drunken-style Fist," etc, all indicate the manifold lethal forms that the hands may
assume to strike an opponent or to ward off blows. In contrast to this, the finer arts make use of the
hands constructively and creatively to produce wondrous objects of art, and to compose and
produce heavenly music. Like the Cosmic dance of Shiva, the movements of Tai Chi, Pencak Silat,
and other forms of self-defense have part of their origin in an awakened source of energy moving
through the limbs producing involuntary movements. These movements were later noted down and
turned into the various steps of martial art discipline and training.
Some systems of metaphysical development teach us to move the body in a certain way. Though
this has an effect in stimulating energies in the body it is not quite as effective in producing the
desired results as when compared to the assuming of mudras that cause the energies to produce
natural movements all of their own accord.
When we clasp our hands by interlacing our fingers, the thumb at the uppermost, whether right or
left indicates which hemisphere of our brain predominates. Psycho logy tells us that if the right
thumb is uppermost it is logic or reason that is predominant within us, or if the left thumb, intuition.
The hands play an important role in empowering the mind to function optimally. Since energy
radiates from the palms and fingertips, they are often unconsciously utilized as stimulators re-
connecting lost or poor links between synapses of brain neurons. In the book Body Magic, an
important work on esoteric man, Benjamin Walker describes how the operations of the hands often
attempt to improve the mental processes by certain placements:
"When the fingertips of the two hands are placed together, a circuit is set up with the brain that is
believed to assist thought. People in deep thought will often talk with their fingertips pressed
together, as if unconsciously aware of the need to establish such a current to assist their
concentration. If a man wishes to recall something he has forgotten, his hand will instinctively touch
his forehead to contact with his fingers the source of his thinking."
From what has been written thus far, it is evident that hands play a prominent role in everyday life.
This can also be seen in the way we have invented all sorts of idioms regarding them. For
instance, "lend me a hand," "hands-off," "hand- in- hand," "old- hand," "hands-on," etc.
The Application of Hands in the Spiritual Path
In the Spiritual Path hands are used for the following purposes:
As an instrument of healing.
As an instrument of blessing and consecration.
As an instrument of general service.
As an instrument of teaching.
As an instrument of purification, invocation, prayer, and communion.
As an instrument of healing
Chakras, or energy-centers are to be found all over the body. There is a chakra to be found in each
palm of the hand. There is likewise a minor chakra at every fingertip. The size, activity, and power
of these chakras are dependent upon various factors. One of these is the purity of the subtle
channels terminating at those chakra points. These subtle channels or etheric nadis convey the life-
force all over the body and may be projected outside of the body through the hand chakras. Healers
of various metaphysical traditions make use of the hands to convey healing energy or to break up
toxic crystals imbedded in the tissues.
Since ancient times Chinese doctors have been diagnosing a person's state of vitality through sensing
the strength of the energy radiating from the hands, from the phalanges of the fingers, and the pulse
at the wrist. Among the many systems of alternative therapeutics that make use of the hands are
acupressure, Shiatsu, Chakra healing, Reiki, Rosicrucian Contact healing, Body Electronics, various
forms of massage work, etc. Like Jesus the Christ, every Initiate on the Spiritual Path is essentially a
healer, though he may not blatantly proclaim or advertise himself to be one.
When circumstances and necessity calls for it he would gladly offer his services to the suffering one,
always stressing, however, that it is not he that works, but the "Father " within him.
As an instrument of blessing and consecration
Metaphysics teaches and proves through various experiments which may be personally verified by
skeptics that energy radiates from the hands. This energy may be used to magnetize objects, places,
spaces or people for various purposes. The religious term for magnetization is consecration.
Blessing is a form of consecration. It refers to the magnetization of a human being rather than an
object with a spiritual force. Generally, in the act of consecration or blessing we seek to raise the
vibrations or frequency of a person or an object, or to empower it with certain energies that would
turn it into a psycho-spiritual generator that would influence its immediate surroundings in a certain
way.
Thought- forms imbued with mental suggestions and emotional power are often attached to these
blessings. Curses operate much in the same way as blessings, they however, bring about negative
effects. The curse on Tutankhamen's tomb is a classic example of this.
Where people are concern in the act of blessing, the metaphysical practitioner would also seek to
clear obstructive or congested energies preventing the person from being aware of or communing
with his or her Higher Self. Once this purification is achieved the person would possess a clearer line
of communication with his hidden god or genius and acquire a stronger sense of protection, faith,
and a constant guidance from the Most High.
In the act of blessing or consecration, the hands work in harmony with the power of the spoken
word to modify the magnetic- field structure of people and objects.
As an instrument of general service
The hands are tools of service and humanitarian aid. Spiritually and socially, it is applied in
extending a helping hand to our fellow beings, to those in need of bare necessities, comfort and
solace. In spiritual teachings, karma yoga is often associated with the hands in active giving without
any thought of remuneration or recognition. This is a vital principle. The desire to serve humanity
must come from the heart without any thought of self or ego.
Selflessness, self-sacrifice, and active service are important virtues that the spiritual aspirant has to
embody and express at every breathing moment. When self-comfort, self- importance, and self-
aggrandizement are the sole motives of help to others then the hands are misapplied and any act
carried-out is unmeritorious. Spiritual disciples should not attract attention to the fact that they are
serving. The best service is done quietly in the shadows without any fanfare or advertisements. The
Master Jesus explained it concisely in this manner: "Do not let the left hand know what the right
hand is doing." Occultly, the left hand is used for receiving energies, while the right ha nd is
employed for giving them.
As an instrument of teaching
Spiritual Gurus teach in various ways. They give teachings orally, in writing, telepathically, through
example, symbols, drama, and by
the use of gestures. The hands can convey lots of information when knowledgeably used.
Symbolic movements of the hands may portray the workings of Cosmic laws and spiritual
principles. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes the hands may tell what
the mouth cannot. A loving touch tells something that words are often unequipped to.
In Zen Buddhism, the Guru often gives shock treatments to his students with the use of the hands.
A rap on the head or a slap on the face at the appropriate moment and psychological condition
after intense meditation is supposed to cause a student to suddenly apperceive the natural state of
his mind and thereby become enlighten.
As an instrument of purification, invocation, prayer and communion
Perhaps the most common use of hands in religious and in metaphysical spiritual work is its
application in prayer. Basically, this does not require any specialized knowledge. The hands are
instinctively used when appealing to God, to higher intelligences for intercession or when used
simply as gestures of adoration or reverence, just as we instinctively scratch our foreheads or pull
our beards when we seek to arouse our mental powers.
The hands may be clasped, outstretched or assumed in any other way that the heart dictates while in
silent prayer. Esoteric teachings, however, teaches various mudras, or hand gestures that have
specific purposes for the invocation of cosmic forces and spiritual beings. The liturgical formula
"The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Amen" in the Christian Tradition accompanied with the touching
of the appropriate points of the head and body at the conclusion of a prayer conveys a certain
power to the etheric body when correctly done. However, the perfunctory manner in which it is
performed provides very little of worth. In Hinduism, such placing of the hands upon certain parts
of the body with magical intent is called Nyasa.
To commune with the divinity within us we may apply various mudras that facilitates mystical
communion. Mudras establishes a psychic condition in the mind and body that temporary elevates
our consciousness, and disperses the etheric webs that protects the psyche from being prematurely
bombarded by psychic/celestial energies.
It aligns and unites our objective consciousness with the superconscious mind. An altered state of
consciousness is easily achieved through the use of the hands in the performing of mudras. Through
mudras our communion with the so-called supernatural is controlled. We open and close the portals
to higher worlds through the application of our will.
In ceremonial magick the hands are extensively used to direct and build up forces in one's sacred
place of worship and practice. Symbols are drawn on the ground or in the air with the power
radiating from the hands and chakras to invoke and evoke cosmic metaphysical forces. The avatar
Sai Baba is often seen making gestures in the air. He does this for the purpose of dispersing and
cleansing the ambient surroundings and atmosphere from negative energies.
The metaphysical practitioner or ceremonial magician makes use of the hands in manifesting certain
things and conditions.
To conclude this article we would like to praise the hands for what they offer us--the opportunity to
grow and serve. The fingers and thumbs of the hands should not quarrel among themselves as to
who is the greatest, as related in some ancient fables, for they all have their place in supporting the
need in us to further pursue our dreams, in fulfilling our earthly tasks and cosmic mission.
The harmonious conjoined functioning of the fingers and thumbs of the hands is a metaphor for the
right relationship and cooperation between the sons of men to manifest the Will of God, just as the
fingers and hands manifests the will of its possessor. The noblest use of our hands is to extend it in
friendship, in kindness and in unconditional love.
****************
Copyright 2001 Luxamore
MUDRAS & HAND SYMBOLISM--THE POWER OF MUDRAS
PART 3: HAND SYMBOLISM & BELIEFS
Human hands have never lost their fascination to our ancient forefathers, and even now in
contemporary times, the novel roles that hands play in the humanities with their dexterity and grace
never cease to amaze us. The wondrous execution of a Chopin piece, or an objet d' art fabricated
carefully by a master hand--they constantly evoke a sense of joy and wonder within us.
The Spirit within us responds positively to the beauty, the harmony, and the symmetry of sound and
form as manifested by Nature and human hands.God's gift to man is the freedom of choice and the
will to implement that choice.
On the physical plane, the hands are naturally the instruments of that will and divine blessing and
have come to symbolize Man, or Adam; for only beings on the evolutionary level of man are given
the prerogative to determine their own fate. It is said that not even angels have this freedom to
choose, for their nature compels them to abide by the divine law. Man on the other hand, through
choice, learns what it means to align himself with, or to disobey Cosmic laws.
Man learns the consequences of his actions, and wise is he who takes responsibility for
them. Through choice man succumbs to his lower nature and builds pandemonium in his mind and
heart or he may give ear to the prompting of his divine Self and form the New Jerusalem--
the new abode of peace in the lower aspects of his microcosm that this condition may become
ingrained in his character and nature. By choosing the latter, the teaching of the Master Jesus--
"Neither shall they say, lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you"
(Luke:17:21)--shall come to pass.
God, Nature, and the higher worlds communicate with Man in various ways--through dreams,
through the intuitive and psychic faculties, through symbiotic energy exchange, signs, omens, and
especially symbols. Basically, symbols may be classified as natural and artificial.
Natural symbols are found in nature. Artificial symbols are those that we invent ourselves and assign
certain basic meanings to them. Certain occult symbols--of the natural and artificial types--are
known to
Adepts and the multitude of beings in the spirit world. Most of these symbols have their origin in
archetypal realms in the mental planes. Utilizing these in metaphysical or magickal ceremonies, rites
and rituals, facilitates communication and the synergy between habitants of worlds and realms.
Objects of nature are outward symbols of inner realities within our psyche. Understand one and we
will eventually understand the other. Master the inner realities and the outward symbols assume a
congenial expression to correspond with the inner psychological condition. Since our hands are
related to the will aspect of the Spirit, empowering one will have its effects on the other. We will not
delve too deeply into this for it will take us too far into the Magical Tradition and beyond the subject
matter of this article.
Suffice to say that contrary to the understanding of most metaphysical students, Masterhood or
adeptship has very little to do with psychicism and much to do with the magick of the divine will
within man--the will to love, the will to serve, the will to sacrifice, the will to self-forgetfulness, the
will to selflessness, the will to give, the will to create, the will to surrender, the will to be pure, the
will to forgive, the will to be open- minded, the will not to be judgmental, etc.--most important of
all, the will to implement the promptings of the Divine Spark within the microcosm.
Our hands should not be undervalued. Without them we are less effective in carrying-out our
mission in life. In the higher worlds we express our creativity through thought--mind-generated
sounds, colors, and light. All of these occur instantaneously with thought as the creator. Because of
the density of physical matter and the factor of time, something other than the above means are
required to fashion things in concordance to our desire and thus assist us to fulfill our purpose for
being incarnated in the three-dimensional realm.
Our hands are a projection of this need. In the higher worlds, our subtle bodies in their primitive
state did not possess hands, and even though now that the astral and etheric bodies have evolved
and assumed the human form, the incorporeal limbs may be dispensed with for they are not
essential for us to function in the higher dimensions.
Having stated the importance of hands here in the physical plane, let us now inquire briefly into
hand esotericism, symbolism, signs and the various beliefs regarding them. Though our treatment of
the subject here leaves much to be desired, the metaphysical student will find many things here of
great interest and they would certainly be stimulated to research further.
Because of their importance, many beliefs grew concerning the hands. Countless symbols and signs
were created using the hands to convey knowledge and information to those who understood the
underlying keys of the secret teachings taught in esoteric schools.
In religion, hands symbolize the divine presence, influence and power. In Catholicism, the power
and influence of God is often portrayed in medieval paintings and murals as an almighty hand
issuing from the clouds to convey something of spiritual importance to saints and prophets. Actually,
the "All-Powerful Hand" has its origin in ancient Egypt. The monotheistic Pharaoh, Akhenaton
(1379-1362 B.C.) and Queen Nefertiti of the 18th dynasty are often depicted in sculpture relief as
receiving energy from Aton, who is represented by a sun-disk.
This can be seen in the tombs at Tel-el-Amarna. Rays of the sun-disk are portrayed as elongated
arms terminating in hands reaching out to the royal couple and bestowing upon them the life- force.
The mystical Qabbalistic tradition of Judaism assigns the human hand as the symbol of the letter
Yod (y). Having the numerical value of ten, which relates to the ten fingers, the letter Yod is
recurrently depicted in esoteric art as "rain drops" showering from heaven. Example of these may be
seen in the Rider-Waite Tarot deck.
Modern Catholics present the hand of Jesus as the Hand of Power or "Mano Poderosa." In the
depiction of the crucified hand, all of the fingers are extended with various saints standing upon the
digits. We present a version of the hand here with a scholar's commentary :
"The image is of a huge wounded (but not bleeding) right hand, which points up through clouds, cut
palm toward us. The lines in the palm are shown, and it looks like the head line is cut. The fingers
are all of eerily uniform length, with a long thin thumb. Small, disembodied, winged cherub-heads
float in the sky above the hand.
"To the left and right of the hand are four kneeling female angels who gaze upward and bear the
tools of the crucifixion. Of the two on the left, one holds a bowl to catch Jesus' blood; the other
holds a spear and vinegar sop in one hand and hammer and nails in the other. Of the two on the
right, one holds a cross and the other a crown of thorns.
"Atop clouds on the little finger stands an older male saint with a book. The ring finger's clouds hold
a female saint; the middle finger's, a younger male saint with a white lily; the forefinger's, the Virgin
Mary; and the deformed thumb's clouds bear the toddler Jesus holding a globe in his right hand and
raising his left."
From the above we may surmise that not only are hands the symbol of Man, the y are also the
symbol of divinity, for the sacred hand of the Divine One have its influence upon the mundane
affairs of humanity when men have gone too far astray from the path of Truth and righteousness.
Scriptures are replete with stories of divine intervention or action with materialized hands as a media
of information conveyance or operation. Not only did the hand of God
"inscribe" the Ten Commandments upon the stone tablets prepared by Moses, it also warned
Belshazzar of his impending doom--a spirit hand materialized and wrote on the wall "Mene, Mene
Tekel, U-pharsin" (Daniel 5: 24-25). From a metaphysical point of view, this is not unusual. Such
manifestations are actually the work of what is called in occultism, "Invisible Helpers."
These are initiates with occult and paranormal abilities working on behalf of humanity. They work
on the higher dimensions in their nightly excursions through "astral projection." Some of the higher
initiates have the ability to materialize their hands or other parts of their body so that they may
function directly on the physical sphere aiding those here who are in dire distress or as in the case
above, as a warning to arrogant, tyrannical rulers.
The ancients attached special occult significance to every part of the huma n body. The symbolism
of the human hand alone may fill several volumes. Symbols may signify abstract or concrete
concepts, imaginative or real events, natural or "supernatural" phenomena, spiritual or material
principles. In what we have found, the ancient sages and philosophers made used of the hands to
portray and symbolize many things of worth to the evolving soul. They taught many things using the
hands as similitude, allegories, analogies, and examples.
The left and right hands were often represented for the many polarities that we find and experience
in life. For instance, hot/cold, high/low, darkness/light, etc. The left hand was often associated with
the negative aspects of life, the right with the positive.
In the Christian scriptures the Master Jesus instructed us to prevent the left hand from knowing
what the right hand is doing; or in other words to be detached from the good that we do without
craving for rewards. Jesus' analogy of the hand, though, has various levels of meaning other than
the one cited above.
The ancient sages observed that generally, the right hand was the active one in comparison with the
left. Whole philosophies grew from this simple consideration alone. The right hand is electric and is
associated with activity; the left hand is magnetic and related to passivity. Gaskell explains this in
another way, he says that hands are a,
"symbol of the directive principle of activity either outgoing (right) or incoming (left).
The positive and negative aspects of Divine action in the soul."
Hands are a prominent feature in Judeo-Christian symbolism. In Judaic mysticism, the ten fingers of
the hand represent the Ten Commandments of the spiritual law just as the ten toes of the feet
represent the Ten Commandments of the physical law. In Esoteric Christianity, the thumb with its
three phalanges symbolizes the threefold divinity or the Holy Trinity--the Father, Son, and the Holy
Spirit, or the creative, preservative and destructive aspects of God, from the point of view of
Hinduism.
Since most religions and philosophies have their trinities what applies in Christianity regarding its
symbolism likewise applies to the rest as well. We might add that hands raised upward as in prayer,
is symbolic of one's aspirations towards the spiritual life.
According to Christian Qaballistic thought, the fingers signify the four elements and the 3 phalanges
of each finger the divisions of the elements: cardinal, fixed, and mutable. The 12 phalanges of the
fingers of each hand when brought together represent the 24 Elders. The 6 phalanges of the thumb
in this context signify the six days of creation.
In hand esotericism, the thumb is regarded as the king. Hindu metaphysics teaches that the thumb
signifies the Paramatma, or the spark of the Universal Soul within the microcosm, and the rest of
the fingers symbolizing the other major components of the microcosm.
Anthropologists consider the development of the thumb as a vital evolutionary step in the perfection
of man's anatomy. The thumb is to the hand what the hand is to the brain. It is the function of the
thumb in hand mechanics that allows for cultural and technological development.
Classical Romans and Greeks regarded the thumb as sacred to Venus or Aphrodite, attributing to it a
phallic significance. Thus, it came to symbolize fertility. The traditional Javanese of Indonesia would
never point with the forefinger as it is considered impolite to do so (the writer found this rather
amusing as a child); the thumb is used instead thus implicitly revealing its sacred and royal nature.
The thumb is all- important in palmistry, especially in Chinese cheiromancy. According to Oriental
palmists, with the thumb alone it is possible to tell the predisposition of a person, his character,
future, and state of health. The quality of a subject's chi, or energy is revealed by the size, color,
and other characteristics of the thumb.
The dimension of the thumb is an indicator of a person's will-expression. A large thumb reveals
great strength of character and practicality; in contrast, a small thumb denotes weakness, and lack of
willpower. The three segments of the thumb disclose certain qualities.
The size of the first phalange or top segment shows whether a subject has good willpower, personal
determination and other leadership qualities; the second or middle phalange, shows logic, judgement
and reason; the third segment, which includes the "ball of the thumb," called "the Mount of Venus"
in palmistry, shows the strength of a subject's passion and ability to love.
One's karmic potential may be seen in the thumb as well as the state of one's relationship to the
environmental surroundings. The thumb is a symbol of power and as such it is the one used in
anointing rites in the Christian churches.
Habitually hiding the thumb in a closed fist indicates a defensive, introverted, disturbed and insecure
person. Sucking the thumb is an infantile gesture. Psychologically speaking, the thumb is related to
the superconsciousness.
Apart from the thumb, in palmistry, the fingers signify various strength or weakness of one's
character according to their size and shape. Generally, long fingers belong to the philosopher and the
intuitive person. It also shows that the subject is painstaking and loves detail. Fingers that are
excessive in length indicate cowardice, cruelty, and a servile attitude. "Spider- fingers," or hands
with extra- long fingers and with amazing flexibility is the condition known as "arachnodactyly," or
the
"Marfan syndrome" which was named after the French paediatric ian, Antonin Marfan (d.1896).
Such fingers are possible signs of various diseases present in the physical body such as tuberculosis,
paralysis, and cardiac problems. Short fingers in contrast to long ones reveal alertness, impatience,
and bluntness.
Fingers with spatulate tips indicate practicality and realistic attitudes.
Individuals with square tips love system, routine, and regularity. Conic, or tapering tips shows
impulsiveness, idealism, intuition, and the love of art.
The index finger or forefinger was regarded as venomous in bygone days. Even in present times it is
rude to point especially with this finger. When using the japa mala, tasbih, or rosary to count beads
while chanting mantras and prayers, the forefinger should never be used for it is normally applied
for mundane purposes and therefore, not considered sacred. The planet Jupiter is represented by
this index finger. Psychologically, it is related to the conscious mind.
The middle finger is known by various names: medius, digitus impudictus (immodest finger),
digitus obscenus (obscene finger), digitus infamis (disreputable finger), and fools's finger. It is a
finger normally not used for wearing rings and is the finger of the planet Saturn. When extended
solitarily while the other fingers folded, the middle finger represents the phallus, like the thumb. The
folded
fingers in this pose represent the testicles. It is often regarded as an obscene gesture. This finger of
Saturn symbolizes the borderline state between consciousness and the unconsciousness.
The ring finger (anularis) is often called medio proximus (next to the middle) and also digitus
medicus, "physician's finger". In past ages it was believed to be the healing finger and was used for
various medical purposes. Wounds were supposed to heal quickly when stroked by this finger.
Apothecaries of medieval days used the ring finger to mix their potions, and ointments were rubbed
on the skin using it. Rings were especially used on this finger thus giving it it s name. Apollo, or the
Sun is the ruling deity of the ring finger. This digit represents the emotions.
The little finger, otherwise known as the "ear finger," is related to one's libido, one's sexual force.
Though a convenient instrument to clean one's ear with, it was named "ear finger" because it had
the power to stimulate one's psychic sense of hearing by its insertion into the ear-canal in
conjunction with chanting, breathing and visualization exercises.
This was especially practiced by the Druids and those connected with the Mystery Schools. In
seances, the little finger is used as a point of contact between sitters, forming a vortex of energy
among them. The little finger represents the planet Mercury and the unconsciousness.
According to Chinese palmistry, the three phalanges of the fingers relate to three animalistic
qualities. The first phalange closes to the palm represents greed; the middle phalange, hatred; the
phalange at the uppermost, ignorance. In pictorial terms, these three vices are symbolized by the
cock, the snake, and the pig. The spiritual opposites and antidotes to these negative qualities as
taught in Taoist philosophy are non-attachment, wisdom, and compassion.
The elements are represented by the thumb and fingers. In Chinese cheiromancy, the thumb
represents chi; the index finger, water; middle finger, earth; ring finger, fire, and the little finger, air.
In Mudra Vigyan, the arrangement is quite different as we shall see later.
The papillary ridges on the fingertips with its manifold patterns have intrigued man since recorded
history. Many believe that the labyrinthine drawings and carvings found in caves, in
ancient catacombs and tombs were marks representing the identity of its possessor, in the same way
that fingerprints serve to identify us in our own era--it represented a person almost like a signature.
It is assumed by some that these engravings or tracings function in an occult way making it possible
for one to invoke from another plane of existence the bearer with a mark similar to the one
represented in concrete form.
In later periods this practice may have evolved to the use of spirit sigils and seals in ceremonial
magick.
Rings are often worn on fingers to strengthen certain elements lacking in the physical, emotional,
and mental bodies. Oft times we unconsciously feel a certain element wanting in our psychological
and physical constitution and we seek to ameliorate this condition by stressing the importance of the
finger that represents the element in question with an ornament. The degree of insufficiency is
indicated by
the size of the finger ornament. We have personally seen subjects wearing huge stones on almost all
of their fingers. Fears and insecurities were apparent in their mien and facial expressions.
There are many so-called superstitions related to hands. According to one old belief found in
European countries, is that the severed hand of a murderer may be used as a charm for gaining
money and breaking entry into houses. This gruesome hand-charm is commonly known as the
"Hand of Glory."
A careful preparation is required to form the charm. After removing the fluid matter from the hand,
it is salted and dehydrated; the fat is likewise extracted and mixed with wax; the hand and
concoction are then formed into a candle--after which it is ready for its nocturnal excursion.
Supposedly, it has the power to open up locks and bolted doors. It is believed to have a hypnotic
effect causing anyone to see it to be petrified--like the mythological Medusa's head--and to
consequently, obey its bearer.
According to its votaries, the hand of the crucified Jesus is believed to possess occult virtues. When
worn as an amulet it is said to be an all- round good-luck charm. Prayers are said in conjunction
with its presence on one's person. One prayer associated with this particular amulet is as follows :
"I carry a likeness of your pierced hand as a fervent symbol of your infinite kindness. Thou who has
known such suffering, reach out your hand with a blessing. Thy pierced hand inspires this humble
prayer that I may call on Thee to grant me peace and happiness. Amen."
Generally, charms in the form of hands, and in any pose-- whether made of metal, stone, or
inscribed--were often carried to ward off the "Evil Eye," or the ietattura as it is called in Southern
Italy, or ain al-hasad, the "Eye of Envy," by the Arabs. The ancient Sumerians referred to it as IG-
HUL, "Eye Evil." The Evil Eye is an ancient belief and not without any metaphysical
substantiation.
From the metaphysical point of view, eyes radiates energy and the quality of this force is tainted by
the will and character of its emanator. Like all forces, the power flowing from the eyes may bless or
curse others. There are many examples of amulets with a single eye on the palm of the hand. It is
believed that this attracts the Evil Eye in accord with the Law of Attraction and absorbs
its malevolent influences.
In order to counteract the malignant rays emanating from the eyes of negative individuals, the
Hamsa Hand, or the Hand of Fatima charm was invented by the Arabs to re-direct these
individuals' willful attention and malefic glances. Fatima was the daughter of the Prophet
Muhammed and Khadijah. She was said to be a very virtuous woman, and it is believed that the
charms representing her embody all of her solid virtues and would protect and bring good fortune to
its bearer.
The fingers of the Hand of Fatima symbolically represent the five pillars of Islam: 1) observance of
the Ramadhan fast; 2) pilgrimage to Mecca; 3) alms-giving; 4) observance of the daily prayers; 5)
profession of faith. The right hand is used to symbolize the Hand of Fatima, for it is the hand of
honor, in contradistinction to the left, which is the "unclean hand." In most Eastern cultures it is
considered rude and inappropriate to give things with the left hand.
Like the Arabs, the ancient Egyptians used a symbol called "the Great Hand" for various protective
purposes, one of which is to ward off evil magnetism. Most hand amulets appear with a single eye
on the palm. There are instances of this in various cultures.
Amulets were not of value only to the living, but to the "dead" as well. In ancient Egypt, an amulet
called dejebaui, or "two- fingers" were often placed among a mummy's swathings to help the
deceased one to ascend and ride on the boat of Ra to the afterlife. This amulet depicted the index
and middle fingers and was usually made out of black basalt, green stone, or obsidian.
During the enunciation of a pledge the right hand is often raised in the air. This originated in ancient
customs where the raising of the hands were used to invoke the presence of the gods. Raising the
right hand while making a pledge is therefore, tantamount to saying, "In the name of God . . ."
Another version is to place the right hand on a holy book while uttering an oath. The significance is
similar to the above.
In the West, many hand-signs have been made popular with its constant use throughout
t he centuries. For instance we have the V-sign with the index and middle finger raised while
the others flexed and clasped by the thumb. This signified victory and triumph. Similar to this is the
Mano Cornuto, where only the index and little finger are raised, and the rest folded onto the palms.
This represents horns, the devil, and the powers of evil. In the Orient, though, this sign is said to
have the power to ward off demons. Kuan Yin is often depicted with this mudra. The Hung Society
of China uses it as a sign of membership and also to signify "Man," who embodies both Heaven and
Earth. In Italian witchcraft, the Mano Cornuto represents the crescent moon of the goddess Diana.
Another prominent hand sign is the Mano Fica, or figa, the sign of coitus where the thumb
protrudes between the first and second fingers of the closed hand. It is of ancient origin The
Romans and Etruscans were well familiar with this sign having made images of it. Lika Mano
Cornuto, the latter sign is a popular amulet against negative forces.
Crossing the index finger with the middle finger also has a sexual significance. It symbolizes
t he generation of life and by association a good outcome in one's hopeful expectations, in
one' s enterprise possessing an ambiguous upshot. Another sexual gesture much more explicit is
the repeated insertion and withdrawal of the forefinger of the right hand (the phallus) into a
circle formed by the thumb and index finger of the left hand (the vulva). The pose of the left hand
in the above gesture is also an "O.K." sign.
One of the old superstitions states that the sexual act brings good luck, good fortune, and prosperity.
Perhaps because of its connection to fertility rites where the energy aroused and released during
sexual ceremonies in open fields is believed to empower crops to grow abundantly. This belief is
also one of the reasons why phallic and coital amulets were carried on one's person. Such charms
were thought to bring about fortunate circumstances to the wearer. Sexual amulets made out of
metal, bone, and wood were very popular in the classical worlds of Greece and the Roman Empire.
A hand sign that is mainly used by the sacerdotal priesthood of the Christian Churches, is the Mano
Pantea. This is the sign of benediction posed by extending the thumb and first two fingers. The ring
and little fingers are folded onto the palms. This mudra can be seen in the various paintings and
murals of Jesus, the Saints, and priests. In Latin countries, the Mano Pantea is also often used as an
amulet against the "Evil Eye," when thus employed it is normally covered with other protective
symbols as reinforcements.
An upraised thumb represents the erect phallus and is a sign for life, success, prosperity, and
acceptability. In contrast, the downward pointing thumb denotes defeat and is the veto sign of
condemnation or the death sentence. The middle finger solitarily extended is one of the obscene
gestures vulgarly referred to as, "up yours." It signifies the command to perform an unnatural or
perverse sexual act.
The famed Buddhist temple, Borobudur in the island of Java was constructed in the form of a
mandala--a symbolic diagram of the cosmos. It is built in tiers, and at every level, there are
numerous statues of Buddhas sitting in silent meditation. At each point of the compass the
contemplative Buddhas assume a certain mudra. Those facing North bear the Abhaya (fearlessness)
mudra, while those in the East show the Bhumisparsha (earth-touching) gesture.
T he Dana (giving) mudra is the hand pose of the Buddhas facing South, and the Dhyana
(meditation) mudra of those facing West. Other mudras in the precincts of the temple are also to be
found such as the Vitarka (debate) and Dharmachakraprayartana (teaching) gestures. This careful
orientation of mudra bearers to compass points is symbolic. It is related to the quaternary principles
to be found in the micro- and macrocosm. Comprehensive teachings concerning these may be found
in the esoteric aspects of Buddhism and esotericism in general.
Symbolic marks or imprints are often found on the palms of statues and icons of Buddhas and
Avatars. These marks indicate the power, virtue, or attribute of these God- incarnates. In Hinduism,
Shiva appears the most with these hand drawings. Many kinds of marks exist. Several are to be
found on just the palms of Gautama (Shakyamuni) Buddha alone. These palmar designs probably
originated from the special marks that do physically appear on the palms. Cheiromancy identifies
several of these as the square, the grille, the island, the cross or star, etc.
Hands were revered by the Hindus for centuries. One of the Shivaic tantrik rituals of India gives the
following liturgical adoration to the fingers of the hands :
"Om Sham I bow to the thumbs Namah.
Om Shim I bow the index fingers Svaha.
Om Shum I bow to the middle fingers Vashat.
Om Shaim I bow to the ring fingers Hum.
Om Shaum I bow to the little fingers Vaushat.
Om Shah I bow to the front and back of hands
Phat."
This chant is accompanied by specific mudras that purifies the subtle channels of the upper limbs.
Not only is this ritual practiced in India but variations of it may be found in Bali as well.
In the marriage ceremonies and sexual rites of Oriental cultures such as in Tantrism, Yoginis or
Shaktis often paint Yantras and other symbolical diagrams on the palms of their hands with henna or
red dye. These diagrams normally have intricate floral patterns and are magical and hypnotic. They
are used to attract, to mesmerize, and to empower themselves and their sexual partners.
In Islamic mysticism, specific gestures are often emplo yed to help produce an altered state of
awareness. Dervishes, for instance, pose their hands in specific mudras and hand signs while
dancing and whirling around on a single spot. Some Sufi sects would trace the 99 names of God on
their bodies with their right hand while engaging in zikir, or recollecting and focusing upon God
through constant chanting.
In ancient times there were the Mystery Schools that taught to the selected few the laws and secrets
of Nature and the Universe. History has recorded numerous of these schools and temples of esoteric
knowledge among which were the mysteries of Isis, Sabazius, Cybele, Eleusis, Orpheus, Mithra,
Asar-Hapi, and Odin. To state the mission and purpose of these metaphysical institutions we can do
no better than to quote the eminent Freemason, Robert Macoy :
" It appears that all the perfection of civilization, and all the advancement made in
philosophy, sciences, and art among the ancients are due to those institutions which, under the veil
of mystery, sought to illuminate the sublimest truths of religion, morality, and virtue, and impress
them on the heart of the disciples. Their chief object was to teach the doctrine
of one God, the resurrection of man to the eternal life, the dignity of the human soul, and to lead the
people to see the shadow of the deity, in the beauty, magnificence, and splendor of the universe."
Within some of these Mystery schools, when the candidate is first initiated and accepted as a
neophyte, he or she is often given an effigy of a human hand filled with symbolic images to
contemplate. This hand is referred to as the Hand of the Philosopher, or the Hand of the Mysteries.
When these symbols are understood, they provide the neophyte the keys to facilitate the
transformation of their lower na ture into divinity--from man to god. Regeneration, transmutation,
and empowerment are the consequence of the application of the laws and principles that these
ancient symbols represent. Among the many secrets that they portray, they teach how one may
commune with one's Holy Guardian Angel, or one's Higher Self. The practitioner of the secrets of
the Mysteries undergo a rebirth as a result of the growing influence and expression of the Higher
Self in everyday consciousness.
The Philosopher's Hand may be regarded as an alchemical manual taking the conscientious student
step by step through the alchemical process. In Freemasonry, the Hand of the Mysteries is known
as the hand of the Master Mason. In some Masonic groups, this is the title for the highest of the
three degrees to be found in the hoary and august fraternity. In this article we have included three
examples of these symbolical hands.
The first illustration shown is a bronze hand to be found in the British Museum. This specimen in
the Mano Pantea gesture, is covered with several important symbols among which are : a ram's
head, serpent, frog, vase, crocodile, turtle, cornucopia, scales, woman with child, table with loaves
of bread, and a cane. It is supposed to be Egyptian in origin.
The second hand is a painting redrawn by J. Augustus Knapp from an 18th century water color, and
is taken from Manly Hall's "Secret Teachings of All Ages"; it was executed with the alchemical
process in mind. In this illustration there is a figure of a fish which symbolizes mercury--the
principle of the Spirit within the microcosm.
This aquatic creature is surrounded by the element of fire that represents the psychological aspect of
man, or the human soul. The rest of the fingers individually refer to the various steps of the spiritual
path of transmutation of the base nature of man into the resplendent gold of divinity. Kaballistically,
the hand shows the mastership of the crowned
thumb (the Will) over the four worlds represented by the fingers. These four worlds are referred to
as Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiah, or the World of Archetypes, the World of Creation, the
World of Formation, and the World of Manifestation. Atop of the fingertips in Knapp's illustration
are symbols representing the various components of the microcosm: the lantern, the Concrete Mind;
the Sun, the Abstract Mind; the Star, Buddhi;
the Crown, Atma. The little finger holds aloft a philosophical key, which reveals the secrets of the
Mysteries. It also symbolizes the etheric body, which is considered by Western Initiates as the key
to occult development. The wings surrounding the hand is a sign for transcendentalism--the things of
the Spirit as opposed to matter. The eyes, on the other hand, indicate the divine aspect of
omniscience unfolded in the Master Mason after having discovered and applied the "Lost Word."
Hindu versions of the Hand of the Mysteries are diagrams known as Hastakara Yantra. Like their
Western counterpart, these hands have various symbolic images depicted on them. Among other
things they illustrate the relationship between man and the cosmic forces.
Like Hindu yoga, in Feng Shui, or Chinese geomancy, there are 5 elements: Water, Wood, Earth,
Fire, and Metal. In Chinese palmistry the little finger is associated with air, the ring finger with fire,
the middle finger with earth, the forefinger with water, and the thumb with chi or metal as
mentioned before. This system differs from the Hindu yogic mudra tradition. First of all, in yoga
philosophy the fifth element is akasha or space, which although correspond to chi, does not relate to
metal at all.
According to mudra teachings, Angutha or the thumb corresponds to fire, Tarjani or the forefinger
to air, Madhyam or the middle finger to akasha,
Anamika or the ring finger to earth and Kanishthika, or the little finger to water. In this work on
mudras, we will stress more on the Hindu yogic assignment of the elements to the fingers and
thumb. The application of elemental mudras in conjunction with the elemental tattvic tides is a great
tool in elemental magick.
Hand Signs in Religious Art
Hand signs are an essential part of life. They are used to convey silently but powerfully the intention
and thoughts of their user. Humanity has for ages utilized sign languages. It originated at a period of
Man' s evolution when he was incapable of communicating his abstract and concrete thoughts with
words and phrases lingually. He was solely dependent upon gesticulations as a media for expressing
his feelings and passions.
This primitive form of communication is still being used by modern man in certain situations and
expediency. Not surprisingly, the intelligent classes of anthropoids also make use of hand-
sign movements such as the beating of the chest in expressing anger or authority. The fictitious
Tarzan could not resist aping this gesture from his Darwinian guardians.
Certain specific hand signs are to be found all over the world. Many cultures preceding and
succeeding the Christian era share common gestures that express particular concepts. It has been
suggested that these gestures all have comparable basic ideas or significance because of their
appearances in similar contexts. This is known through their repeated
portrayal in the many paintings, sculptures, and drawings of the past available for our scrutiny and
study. Mediaeval Christian art of saints, prophets, and the Holy Trinity, and the gods and devas of
Egypt, India and the South American Indians are often depicted with similar hand positions.
Contemporarily, we find school children perpetuating certain traditional signs that have their origin in
religion and pagan practices. For instance, crossing the fingers as a sort of prayer so that they may
be free from chastisement when interrogated of their wrong behavior--this may be a corrupted form
of the ecclesiastical use of the Sign of Benediction.
There are many professions that make use of signs only known to their members or affiliates. For
instance, merchants, masons, tramps, gamblers, prostitutes--all have signs known only to themselves
with which they signal one another.
Because of the profuse use of signs and gestures by the Italians in their everyday life,
anthropologists believe that these descendents of Romulus and Remus are not able to carry out a
satisfactory conversation if they were prevented the use of gesticulation.
Occultists believe that most gestures or hand signs that are found in religion and in society have
a common origin in the prevalent Mystery Schools of the past where they were used in a
ceremonial setting. Modern Freemasonry as one of the many descendents of these Occult Temples
of Wisdom and Knowledge still perpetuates this custom of hand signs in their initiatory rites.
Like the Freemasons, secret societies in the Orient also have ceremonies where esoteric signs are
employed. One of the secret associations of China, the Hung Society, have certain signs and
gestures with which communication is carried-out among the affiliated members--not only in the
ceremonies but in everyday life as well. The aforementioned society, likewise, have plentiful mudras
or signs representing the principles of their philosophy. In its doctrines, the five elements of Taoist
esotericism are signified by poses that are also to be found elsewhere around the globe.
The mystical Dervishes, established by the Sufi Rumi, apply hand signs for occult purposes. They
invoke the Divine Presence by utilizing these signs that corresponds with the 99 names of God in
their dance rituals, as already alluded to previously.
Artists of all ages have secret codes and teachings with which they unveil in their artwork. In archaic
times it was a dangerous matter to openly publicize occult and spiritual teachings that religions
steeped in fundamentalism were dramatically opposed to for these teachings threatened their political
structure and lessen their value in the eyes of an evolving humanity. It is for this reason that the
Mystery and metaphysical schools established by
the ancient sages went underground and operated clandestinely. They promulgated their teachings
through signs and symbols that acted on one level as their calling card.
As a support for our statement above, we might mention the Tarot cards as an example. These
esoteric cards nowadays degraded to a method of divination, was actually a training manual for the
promotion of one's spiritual and divine expression in the world of matter. The pictorial diagrams of
the Major and Minor Arcana holds secrets that the casual operator of the cards are unaware of.
When properly understood the Tarot cards take us step by step to our goal of human perfection
through the alchemical process.
Having gone underground the Initiates of the Mystery Schools were quick to appropriate the popular
religions to embody their secret doctrines and practices. Not only are satanic elements quick to jump
on the bandwagon of spiritual establishments, angelic forces are adept in letting the Dark Ones think
that they have the upper-hand while in the meantime reorganizing their army and infiltrating stealth-
like into their religious camp upsurped from the Light forces.
Like Dante, angelic consciousness wrote books of their spiritual wisdom using Christian imagery; or
painters like the multi- genius Leonardo Da Vinci, who represented important occult precepts in his
artwork using Christian themes.
Music composers too, cleverly inserted mystical formulas and teachings into their symphonies,
concertos, operas and sonatas. As an example, the musical piece,
"The Magic Flute" of Mozart comes to mind. However, what is relevant here is that occult signs are
portrayed profusely, graphically in art, and we would do well to focus on that.
Above we mentioned Da Vinci who conveyed teachings in his art productions.
There were many others, like Albrecht Durer, Fra. Angelico, and Raphael. The signs that these
artists and many others around the world for countless generations represented in their paintings and
drawings were related to the secrets of initiation and the process of spiritual development where
human genius, I.Q., creativity, morality, and holiness were raised to a sublime degree.
The ancient Greeks, Chinese, Hindus and many other cultures and civilizations all had their
initiates who were highly developed mentally, morally, and spiritually--these men and women were
well beyond their time and the lay people viewed them as demi- gods and apotheosized them.
The artists and artisans of the secret Mystery schools made used of almost every material available
for conveying the metaphysical doctrines of the Ancient Wisdom, such as papyri, stone, bronze,
terracotta, clay, mosaics, ivory, enamels, stained glass, gems, crystals, cloth, wood, canvas, tiles,
leather, etc.
The most prominent feature of the art productions of the Initiates of the Mystery Schools were the
hand signs and this was known as the Ancient Sign Language which was transmitted from Age to
Age, culture to culture. J.S.M. Ward made a thorough study of this secret sign language and in his
book, "The Sign Language of the Mysteries," he identifies several of these hand signs and gestures
to be found mostly in Christian art although by no means limited to Christendom.
In his book Ward offers many instances of each sign. He explains that these hand poses are to be
found all over Europe, Africa, Asia, India, Oceania, the Americas, ancie nt Crete, Polynesia,
Babylonia, etc., in short, all over the world. Among the hand signs that he discusses are:
Sign of Preservation
Sign of Faith
Sign of Distress/Surrender
Sign of Death
Sign of Praise
Sign of the Heart
Sign of Prayer
Sign of Benediction or Blessing
Sign of Secrecy
Sign of Destruction
Sign of Exultation
Sign of Reverence
Sign of Horror
Sign or Resignation
Sign of Sacrifice
Sign of Heaven and Earth
Sign of Despair/Regret
Sign of Preservation
There are many variations of this sign. Basically, it is posed by placing one hand over the heart
and raising the other at an angle at the elbow with the hand pointing upwards. In some forms, it is
the index finger that points skyward. In most depictions of this sign it is the left hand rather than
the right that is raised. There are numerous instances of this pose in Egyptian art.
The Egyptologist, E.A. Wallis Budge, interprets the hieroglyph with this sign as Hen, or "praise."
The god Anubis is often represented with this hand posture, and murals in the palaces and tombs
of the pharaohs often illustrate votaries of Ra with this significant gesture. This sign is also found in
the Minoan and Mycenaen civilizations. In Christian art, Jesus is often portrayed assuming
many occult hand signs, among these is the Sign of Preservation. The sun god Damuzi of the
Babylonians while descending into the underworld likewise bears this sign, as depicted on certain
objects. In his book mentioned previously, J.S.M.
Ward tells of a Ro man sarcophagus in the Bardo Museum, Tunis, showing the emergence of Jonah
from the whale that swallowed him for three days, and making the Sign of Preservation--in effect,
indicating that his life was saved. Among the mystical Islamic sects, the Whirling Dervishes
appropriate the use of this important hand pose in their ceremonial rites and practices.
In archaic times, the Sign of Preservation was adopted by those petitioning the deity for the
preservation of oneself or someone else, and with the strong conviction that the request was
granted. In contradistinction to this, it was also employed by those of high spiritual attainment
assuring others of their salvation. In Christianity it is often associated with the Second Person of the
Holy Trinity.
Sign of Faith
This sign resembles the Sign of Preservation with the exception that the hand pointing upwards is
not squared at an angle and not pointing to the sky. It points outwards away from the body. Like the
above sign, many examples of these are to be found distributed all over the world.
Sign of Distress/Surrender
When the two hands are lifted upwards above the head with the elbows bent--this is known as the
Sign of Distress. This is one of those universal hand signs, and it seems almost human nature to
fling the hands into the air when in despair or when faced with overwhelming pressure as a sign of
psychological turmoil and the "giving- in" to a certain situation, or when feeling helpless.
Therefore, it is not surprising when we find the use of this sign all around the globe as depicted in
artistic works, and experientially in everyday life. This sign is an appeal for aid and is universal like
many of the other signs mentioned in this section. Its use can be traced as early as 3,000 B.C.
Quetzalcoatl, one of the gods of the Mayans, is sometimes depicted with this hand pose.
Sign of Death
This hand sign is related to the throat chakra, or psychic center. It consists of placing the hand's
edge-whether left or right hand-at the throat. The thumb points directly at the throat itself. It is
actually a moving gesture and is effected by moving the hand's edge across the throat as if to cut it.
This sign suggests that something is to be terminated or killed, or that it is already dead. The ancient
Romans and Egyptians were well familiar with this sign and in some Christian paintings of the
crucifixion, the disciple John the Beloved is portrayed with this sign of cutting the throat while
standing before the crucified Jesus.
Arabs and Sudanese make use of this sign to swear their innocence uttering that God should cut
their throats should they be telling a falsehood. Several American Indian tribes employ this sign as a
salutation meaning that they are "faithful or true unto death."
Sign of Praise
This sign is similar to the Sign of Distress except that the hands are not lifted above the head but
extended forward in front of the body,
MUDRAS & HAND SYMBOLISM--THE POWER OF MUDRAS
PART 4: MUDRA POWER
Why practice mudras?
Some students on the spiritual path have a faulty understanding concerning mudras. They feel that it
is far beneath their dignity and that they no longer require any kriyas or external methods in order to
attain enlightenment. They even arrogantly belittle others who incorporate mudras into their spiritual
disciplines. Though it may be true that external forms of movement or gestures are not essential,
they do offer a great boost of energy and power to maintain and support one's position on the path
towards the Light.
Individuals who blatantly declare that mudras are not a necessary part of sadhana or spiritual
discipline, or who find such practices beneath them for they are presently engage in "higher
methods" are those that have not reached the spiritual goal themselves and have not acquired a
universal point of view. They seek to fly before they can run, or run before they have learnt to walk
properly; or even stand before able to walk gracefully. They remove the rungs on the ladder on
which they are stand ing. They seek to imitate the state of the enlightened ones without undergoing
the necessary disciplines to reach that state themselves.
May we state emphatically here that we do agree that mudras may not be required by some. It all
depends on their present state of awareness, spiritual development, and psychic purity.
Nevertheless, may we remind our readers that even high beings such as spiritual avatars, Buddhas,
and celestial Bodhisattvas regularly assume mudras to teach, to invoke energies, and to carry out
their spiritual tasks. By stating this we would like to point out that mudras may be practiced by
anyone, no matter where he or she may stand on the evolutionary path, and with great mundane
and supermundane benefit.
Benefits of Mudra Practice
It would be interesting to note the benefits of mudra practices--the effects that they have on the
mind, body, psyche and bio- magnetic fields. Below are just a few worth considering that are
directly palpable or perceptible through personal experience :
Health
I.Q. improvement
Empowerment of the Aura
Expansion of consciousness
Awakening of the three aspects of kundalini
Acquisition of siddhis (paranormal powers)
Transformation & regeneration of the physical body
Health
The power of mudras clears the subtle channels and psychic centers in the etheric body allowing
life-force to flow unhampered to the organs and all parts of the body. Regeneration and improved
health is the result.
I.Q. Improvement
As the cleansing process takes place in the head, clarity of mind is felt and the mental faculties are
considerably enhanced making it possible for the innate soul- intelligence to express itself with
greater intensity.
Empowerment of the Aura
The magnetism produced by the mudras cleanses the bio- magnetic field of the body and empowers
it with greater vitality also forming a protective shield against negative forces.
Awakening of the three aspects of kundalini
The three aspects of kundalini: prana kundalini, chit kundalini, and para kundalini are awakened and
stimulated to greater activity.
Expansion of Consciousness
As a result of the cleansing process and the activation of Shakti in the form of kundalini, one's
consciousness is transformed, transcending ordinary awareness.
Acquisition of Siddhis
In concomitant with the transformation of one's consciousness, certain powers and virtues of the
soul would unfold and dormant spiritual senses would arise.
Transformation & Regeneration of the Physical Body
The overall effect of the constant practice of mudras is the complete transformation and
regeneration of the mind-body principle, a spiritual expansion of the consciousness stylized in the
Mystery Schools as the "Second Birth" and symbolised by the newly-born phoenix bird that grew
out of the ashes of the old.
The Theory of Mudras and its Practice
Mudras attracts cosmic energy into the microcosm. They arouse the etheric body's latent energy
into awakened activity. All of the dormant nerve cells of the brain are vivified and stimulated into
action.
The functions of the organs of the physical body are optimized. The immunity system is
strengthened. The energies that mudras awaken manifests as magnetic and electrical force
depending on their form.
Like the physical body, the etheric body has its own "nervous" system, or channels conveying prana
and other energies of etheric origin. In yoga teachings, these channels are called, "nadi." In Hindu
texts the number of nadis are variably given as 72,000 and 350,000, of which 72 nadis are said to be
particularly important. Every mudra clears some of these channels from impurities and psychic
toxins. There is not one mudra, however, that have the power to cleanse all of them. For this reason
the practitioner of mudras incorporate and employ many mudras in his daily routine.
There are many components of the psycho-energetic system that mudras affect, not just the nadis.
With the power of mudras, the chakras, for instance, are freed from obstructions and congestion;
the aura is cleansed of negative effluvia, and the subconscious mind is purged of its negative
contents.
While practicing certain mudras, especially the types that generate or attract cosmic energies, the
hands if clasped together for some time, wo uld break apart and move independently. The
practitioner should not be too concerned over this but just go with the flow. The hands break apart
for the simple
reason that enough power has been collected and that the cleansing or magnetizing processes are
now under way. When the body accumulates more power than it can handle, or when it has
assimilated enough energy from the incorporeal worlds, the hands would naturally fall out of
formation, vibrate and shake in peculiar ways.
Aside from the invocation of energies, of communion with divine forces, mudras as mentioned
before, also have the power to purify the etheric nervous system and the energy-centers to be found
in the etheric body. It cleanses all obstructions and congestion that prevents the free flow of pranic
and kundalinic forces through the nadis and the chakras. The etheric or "vital" body as it is
sometimes called, is the blueprint and the power house of the physical body.
When the interface between these two bodies are affected adversely in some way because of the
toxins that we generate through negative thoughts and emotions, and the degenerative substances
found in the food that we consume, and likewise uncleared karma and trauma, then the physical
body would suffer as a consequence. Ill health and a poor immunity system would result.
Substances would crystallize in the tissues and the fluid- networks in the body, giving rise to
muscular pain, impaired functioning of the organs, and the ossification of blood vessels which
technically is the diseased condition referred to as arteriosclerosis.
Certain mudras may heal these maladies.
Russian Abbot with a variation of the "Benediction Hand Gesture."
While performing mudras, it is not unusual for the hands, arms, body and head to move on their
own accord. The movement patterns that the mudras generate during practice are countless. In fact,
just when you thought you have seen them all, a new one appears. Mudra gestures and body
motions are kinetic expressions of the elemental forces in the psycho-physical body. The
predominating force propels the mudras in a distinctive pattern.
Earth energy makes the least movements. When the hands in a mudra pose remain in a single
position for long periods is indicative that the earth element is prevailing. The water element moves
the hands in large, wide circles or wavy movements. Fire energy causes the hands to move with
great force in straight movements and jerks. The elemental force of air is graceful and flowing. Its
movement is a combination of curves and straight lines. Most nondescript motions of the hand
belong to the Akasha (etheric) element. In Yogic teachings, this subject of elements belongs to the
field of Tattva Vidya (Science of the Elements).
The directions in which the mudras flow likewise reveal the element in power. Upward movements
indicate the influence of air; downward, that of earth; to the right or forward, fire; to the left or to
the rear, water.
Why do mudras cause the hands and arms to move without any direction or control by the
conscious mind? As we clasp our hands in mudra formation we cause energy to build up in the
various psychic vortices in our hands, arms, and body. These vortices take on different polarities--
positive, negative, and neutral.
These emanating centers fluctuate in their polarity and strength in concordance with the currents
generated. The resultant magnetic fields of these vortices interact with one another causing the law
of attraction and repulsion to take effect. This causes the fascinating motions of the mudras.
However, it should be emphasized that even though the conscious mind does not produce the
swaying and oscillation of the body appendages, it does have the power to cause the motions to
cease.
Therefore, there should not be any fear that mudra practices might cause an impairment in the
conscious control of one's motor movement.
Time and Place for Mudra Practice
Mudras may be practiced at any convenient time--at odd moments of the day. However, as a
discipline, it would be beneficial to practice mudras in the morning and evenings. Practice mudras
prior to meditation, for they are conducive to a more relaxed and deep meditative state.
Mudras should be practiced in an isolated place or room, well ventilated, and free from any
disturbances and prying eyes. Because of the mystifying movements that the hands make we do not
want any outsider to think that we have gone bonkers.
How long should each mudra be held? Generally, each mudra is to be positioned for a period of 5-
30
minutes. Let your intuition function here. It will tell you when you are ready to stop or continue
with a succeeding mudra if required. Sometimes in a practice session, the mudras themselves will
tell you when it has done its work and that you may proceed with the next one. This is indicated by
mudra movements launching from its position in front of the body or chest and then returning to it
to remain still and quiet.
Mayan god with mudras
What Would Occur During Practice?
Having described briefly the effects of mudras, their theory and practice, it is important that some
knowledge regarding the actual occurrences during practice be known as these might cause some
unnecessary alarm and consternation. Below we list some points that are likely to occur during
mudras practices and should be understood as a natural result of the generation, accumulation and
flow of the Shakti principle :
Warm sweat--this is a good sign. It means that the body is undergoing a cleansing and healing
process.
Swaying and rotation of the body--this shows that the body's attunement with the influx of the
invoked energies is taking place.
Hands moving and resting at various chakra points--this is the result of energy being channeled into
specific parts of the body.
Hands moving and resting at various layers of the biofield--this indicates that certain areas of the
aura is being cleansed or being magnetized.
Hands moving in an up and downward chopping movement--this is one of the signs that the nadis
or subtle channels are being opened and unblocked, or that the aura is being cleansed.
Hands moving in a forward-backward movement--same as above.
Hands moving left to right--same as above.
Hands moving in circles or ellipses--same as above.
Hands moving in arcs or in figure-eights--same as above.
Hands moving erratically or with other definite patterns--same as above.
Hands vibrating intensely--same as above.
Sudden jerks of the hands--same as above.
A strong sense of energy surrounding the hands and body--this is a sign of a build-up of cosmic
forces in the body.
A sensation of warmth, tingling, and power in various parts of the body--same as above.
A sense of tingling, and energy flowing throughout the whole body--this means that the nadi
channels have been purified to a certain degree and that energy now flows freely without any
obstructions in its path.
Movement of the head--a sign that the energies have moved up to the head to clean the energy
pathways.
Cold sweat--this is an indication of circulatory problems. Cease mudra practices for the time being
until the body regains a certain degree of health. Physical gymnastics at this point would help.
Breaking up of hand formation--this shows that the body has absorbed enough energy for the time
being or that it is being overcharged. Whatever happens here just go with the flow.
Yawning and belching--this denotes that stagnant chi (prana), or energy is being removed.
Spontaneous pranayama, or control of the life-force flowing with the breath--this shows that the
Shakti flowing in the body has taken control over the respiratory processes and as a result, the mind
may slowly undergo a transformation and the awareness-principle will be heightened. Should
spontaneous pranayama occur, one finds oneself doing kumbhaka (the retention of the breath)
effortlessly and naturally.
Activity of inner perception or the manifestation of psychic visions, sounds, etc.--this signifies that
the contents of the subconscious mind is being cleansed of all dross. During this process visions of
gods and demons may occur, landscapes may be seen, unusual sounds heard.
Jerking movements of the body like a frog-leaping as though levitation were to take place.
Experiencing negative emotional states of anger, hatred, etc.--this is caused by the Shakti force
purifying sushumna, or the central channel of the etheric body corresponding to the spine. All of our
karmas, traumas, pain, and emotional feelings of our past and present lives are lodged there and
when Shakti encounters them she releases and expels their crystallizations and the psyche
temporarily re-experiences them. Positive feelings of bliss, joy, and mirth are also lodged in
sushumna and these may likewise be experienced.
If one were standing while doing the mudras, one might suddenly feel an inner force taking over
and the movements of the hands, feet and limbs in a dance is a possibility as iconically displayed by
Shiva in the Cosmic dance.
It should be noted that all of these sensations and hand- movements are temporary and represent
certain phases of pranic or energy influence. The motions may start out strongly at first in early
sessions but later evolve to graceful movements or even to stillness. Convulsions and spasms are
common manifestations of the activities of energies within the subtle and physical bodies.
These are positive signs so let them happen. Yoga kriyas such as bandhas, and the types of mudra
processes mentioned in the yogic text Gheranda Samhita may likewise happen naturally.
Spontaneous occurrences of these are safe--much safer than doing the yogic exercises through your
own conscious volition and forcing their manifestation. If none of the above are observed during
practice, a knowledgeable spiritual Guru may empower the disciple at his own discretion so that
progress may proceed at a greater pace.
Whatever spontaneous movements or yogic processes occur are necessary and appropriate for you.
The Shakti energy that flows through you knows what to do to spiritualize and transform your
whole being. Shakti is an evolutionary force and she will lift you up to greater heights if you will let
her.
When Shakti flows through your being you may find yourself spontaneously practicing all of the
yoga systems. For instance, you may find yourself withdrawing your senses and focusing within to
your Higher Self, as in Raja Yoga; find yourself emanating an overflowing love for Nature and all
life, as in Bhakti Yoga; or even acquiring divine knowledge effortlessly, as in Jnana Yoga. One may
even find oneself chanting as in Mantra Yoga.
Do not be startled or afraid of the movements that occur naturally without your conscious volition
or direction. You can exert your will at any moment to stop them if you wish; however, by doing so
you will be hampering the occult work that is being done to you by the presence of the spiritual
force. It would be best to let it run its course. Only in this manner will you reap the full benefit of
mudra practices.
There are many stories of spiritual practitioners experiencing spasms and involuntary movements of
the body and hands while engaging in meditatio n. One of the spiritual messengers of God referred
to as "the Seal of the Prophets" is an instance :
One day while meditating in a cave at Mt. Hira, Muhammad, the future Prophet of Islam was said
to have shivered uncontrollably. This occurred when a voice commanded him to "recite" or "read."
Replying to the voice that he was unable to do so, he was instantly seized by a spiritual presence
(Shakti) that was previously sensed to be in his vicinity (forcefield).
What was the real nature of the Prophet's experience? Were the convulsions that he experienced
symptomatic of an unusual energy flowing throughout his body? What were the spiritual yogic
exercises that he was engaged in that brought about such an experience? Did he make use of
mudras, or any other esoteric practices?
It is said that the Prophet was a "widow's son." In esoteric language this refers to an initiate of the
Mystery Schools; the latter was called a "widow" after the goddess Isis lost her husband, Osiris, to
the machinations of their brother Set, who is the personification of evil and materialism. Isis was the
symbol of the Mysteries. In these mystical schools spiritual disciplines and practices were taught to
the initiate. Mudras were undoubtedly one of the many teachings given.
After mastering the teachings and attaining a higher level of consciousness, the initiate would emerge
out of the womb of Isis and become Horus, the would-be slayer of his evil uncle.
Mudras & Spirituality
It is vital to keep in mind that the sensations, effects ,and powers that mudras help unfold are not an
end in themselves--they are simply a means to an end. They are tools that may support us to
achieve Self- Realization. Evolving to a higher state of awareness or experiencing oneness with All
That Is should be our primary aim. Other motives are just baubles that should be given up. Mudras,
meditation, or any other religious discipline when exercised for the sake of acquiring the gifts of the
spirit is not spiritual work nor is it spirituality.
Offering unsolicited advice is not spirituality; predicting people's future is not spirituality;
perpetuating a sense of mortality and helplessness in people is not spirituality; causing others to
maintain materialistic attitudes is not spirituality. To seek the Giver rather than the gift is spirituality;
to give of oneself without thought of self is spirituality; to cease forcing one's desires, or imposing
one's will upon others is spirituality.
So long as the sense of separation exists, the sense of duality, the illusion that we are separated from
everything else, we shall never attain the state of true spirituality where only divine love is the law.
The "heresy" of dualism in one's mental conception and spiritual blindness is what prolongs the
"sleep of the ages" where one is ignorant, unaware, and unresponsive to the eternal Truth of
Oneness.
Spirituality has many expressions, however, none of them have anything to do with acquiring or
vainly displaying psychic powers. Initiates are not always psychic or magickally powerful, but they
are sensitive to inspiration, to spiritual impulses emanating from celestial spheres and the Spirit
within. Those that ambitiously seek psychic powers and abilities for self-centered purposes normally
end up shackled in the astral realm where they become the playthings of malicious spirits.
It is much wiser to first purify the mind, body, and soul of all negative energies, congestions, sense
of limitations, and blockages and developing the love-wisdom- intelligence aspect of the soul before
embarking on any psychic development. Without the proper spiritual and moral preparation we
would be deluded, deceived and entrapped by wayward psychic forces. Mudras are definitely a help
on the Path of Purification, but it should be accompanied by other practices and studies that
awakens the heart, and the acquisition of esoteric knowledge and wisdom.
Preparation
Empowering the Hand
There are energy points in the hands and fingers just as there are all over the physical/etheric bodies.
Called chakras (lit."wheels") in Yoga philosophy, these vortexes of energy may be detected and their
existence verified in various ways. Perhaps the most simple method is to directly feel them in one's
hands. This requires a certain amount of sensitivity though, which may be acquired through an
exercise that we will provide below.
Pendulums may also be used for detection. Hold a pendulum (any sort will do) in your right hand
and hold it above the palm of the left hand. Watch it slowly move in circles. The swing may be
clockwise or counterclockwise depending upon the flow of the energy from the palm whether it is
outwards or inwards. The circumference and velocity of the swing indicates the size and activity of
the chakra. At various points of the fingertips the pendulum might swing too indicating the presence
of a minor chakra.
As related to Mudra-Vidya, or the "Science of Mudras," what sort of unfoldment or empowerment
do the hands require? What sort of preparation is necessary for the successful performance of
mudras?
First of all it would be helpful to massage the hands often so that they would be flexible enough to
assume the positions of the mudras. Most of the mudras are easy to do; some, however, may
require isometric exercises of the hands as a preparation.
Flex your hands often--bend it, contract/relax it, stretch the fingers, and massage them. This would
create a greater flexibility in the hands and would be conducive to a better performance of the
mudras and enhance the circulation of blood. Massage of the hands after mudra practices is also
suggested to help circulation of the blood and remove stiffness.
Those with short, stubby hands may have some problems doing certain mudras, unlike individuals
with long slender fingers that palmistry identify as "philosophical" and "psychic." However, subjects
with short fingers normally are not the type that would be interested in yoga, spiritual training, or
mudras; logically speaking, as the person reading this series of articles is intent in developing
spirituality, they should not encounter any obstacle practicing the mudras or executing the forms.
The next essential step is to empower the hands to increase the sensitivity, activity and size of the
hand/finger chakras. This may be done through such exercises as the focused attention upon the
palm of the hands and the fingertips. This particular exercise enlarges the hand chakras so that there
may be a greater stream of energies flowing bi-directionally according to need. To carry-out this
exercise follow these steps :
1) Focus upon each fingertip for about a minute each. Feel them tingling and vibrating. Begin with
one hand and then move on to the other.
2) Now concentrate upon the palm of either hand for about 3 minutes and then move on to the palm
of the other hand. Feel as though a flower were blossoming in your palms.
Do this every day for about 40 days during which time the size of the chakras should be
permanently extended and greater sensitivity achieved (a magickal item that we carry in our online-
store that helps empower one's hands is the Ajian Tapak Bergetar Power, Code: Magick142 ). In
the meantime, it would be permissible to commence mudra practices simultaneously with the hand-
empowerment exercise.
Meditation Pose and Inner Tranquility
Generally, most of the mudras may be done while seated in a chair, cross- legged, or standing.
Certain mudras may call for specific body-positions. If you are knowledgeable on Hatha yoga and
flexible enough, you may assume the various asanas or body positio ns while practicing mudras such
as,"Padmasana," "Siddhasana," and "Vajrasana."
Before commencing mudra-exercises, the practitioner would reap the most benefit by first relaxing
the mind and body so that a certain degree of inner tranquility may be attained. Any relaxing method
taught in occult schools may be employed; one may use contraction of the muscles, perhaps even
coupled with visualization and auto-suggestion--the point is that the physical body and mind should
be deeply relaxed so that they may no t hamper the energy-flow coursing through the subtle
channels.
Mantras, or Words of Power
Mudras may be accompanied by chanting and vibrating certain bija (seed)- mantras (words-of-
power) that stimulates/activates the chakras and enlarge the subtle channels, or otherwise affect the
psycho-physical body in some metaphysical way. Whenever possible, appropriate mantras would be
given in association with the mudras in the following papers of this Mudra series. Chanting may be
verbal or mental--directions will be given for this.
Seed-mantras should be vibrated strongly as you chant them so that the power of the mantra would
be felt in the various psychic centers. Vibrating the mantras does not imply raising the volume of
your voice, it implies chanting the words-of-power in a peculiar way so that the vibes are felt
palpably in the microcosm; some seed- mantras requires right intonation.
Breathing Exercises and Visualization
Pranayama, or the art of controlling the life- force through rhythmic or specialized breathing, may
be engaged in while simultaneously doing the mudras. Some mudras may specifically call for a
certain breathing technique. Generally, though, if instructions are not given, breathing should be
allowed to flow naturally without any conscious direction.
Visualization may be employed to support specialized breathing. Cosmic energy may be visualized
as a brilliant silver, white, or gold force--each of these colors do have their specific properties. You
may experiment to feel the sensation and know the effects of each of these forces. As a general rule,
always inhale as you visualize energy flowing into you, exhale as you channel energy to a certain
object, area, or space.
In the following papers of these series, an extensive amount of mudras of various traditions will be
presented for practical application.
Copyright 2003 Luxamore
inclining upwards with the hands facing outwards and the elbows bent. This is also a greeting sign
and the initial start of the salaam gesture of the Arabs.
Sign of the Heart
This sign is accomplished by placing the hand over the heart. A survival of this gesture in modern
times is the bowing of a gentlemen to a lady with his hand to his heart as a salutation of respect, or
as it was customary in the 17th and 18th century in Europe, for a man to remove his hat and to
place it at the heart region when greeting the opposite sex.
This is a hoary sign. It is to be found in ancient Egypt, Rome, and even in Crete in the Minoan
period. It is also to be seen in the mosaic art of the many old churches and cathedrals. The meaning
of this sign is a little obscure. It has been suggested that it
signify faith or fidelity. However, with the placement of the hand at the heart we may make a
conjecture and say that it concerns the finer sentiments of a person conveyed to the object of his
attention or affection.
Sign of Prayer
This is probably the best known of ecclesiastical signs which is also used by the lay person. It
consists of placing the palms of the hands together with the fingertips pointing in an upward
direction. Another Sign of Prayer is the folding of the hands together intertwining the fingers.
Sign of Benediction or Blessing
In Christianity, this sign is utilized mainly by the priesthood. It is used by priests to bless people
and consecrate objects. To assume this sign, the third and fourth fingers are folded onto the palms
with the index and middle fingers held upright. The thumb may also be erect or it may be folded
upon the ring finger.
The significance of the erect thumb and first two fingers in the act of blessing is that the grace,
virtue, and power of the Holy Trinity are being conveyed. Occultly, the subtle energies flowing
from the hands are stronger at the terminal points of these digits than they are at the ring and little
fingers.
Sign of Secrecy
This is a sign that has survived to contemporary times and can continually be seen in everyday life.
It probably originated in Egypt during the heydays of the Mystery Schools. This sign was associated
with Horus, or Harpocrates--one of the forms of Horus. This sign is executed by putting a finger to
the lips as though to seal it. Its significance is that of secrecy and silence. In the Mystery Schools the
Initiates were pledged to a vow of secrecy, never revealing the secrets of the Temple unless
authorized to do so.
Even nowadays, the following injunction may be found in occult schools: "know, dare, do, and be
silent."
Sign of Destruction
When one or both of the hands are seen on the solar plexus in religious art, it signifies destruction.
We can understand the significance of this sign when viewed from a metaphysical point of view.
The solar plexus chakra is a storehouse of potent energies that may be used for good or ill. When
this center is awakened prematurely in a disciple's life, it may cause problems that the disciple is not
equipped as yet to handle. Physical, physiological, and psychological--not to mention karmic
difficulties--might arise when a disciple foolishly stimulates this center.
The solar plexus chakra is an emotional focus and by being polarized at this level one may have
trouble extricating oneself from the lower instinctive and egoistic nature. The disciple may be
destroyed by this center and evolutionary progress postponed, thus the hand gesture on the
solar plexus came to be associated with destruction. There are numerous examples of the Sign of
Destruction in Art. In India, Shiva, the Destroyer is often depicted with this gesture. Many Greek
and Christian art-forms also bear personages with this sign.
Sign of Exultation
This hand pose is a sign of joy and satisfaction; it is done by extending the hands above the head
with the fingertips of the hands touching. Though not as numerous as some of the other signs, there
are several examples of these in Christian art. In China, the Hung Society uses this sign to represent
the metal element.
Sign of Reverence
Reverence in the sign language of the Mysteries, is indicated by the shading of one's eyes with the
hand, whether left or right. In some variations of this sign the eyes are fully covered. This sign
originated in cultures where it was impolite to look directly at one's superior; for instance, a soldier
would make this sign when saluting a superior officer.
Another possible origin of this sign is the experiences had by blessed individuals during angelic
visitations. The presence of these spiritual beings compels the beholder to shield their eyes from the
angelic radiance. This hand gesture is not unique to any race for it is to be found distributed all over
the world-- in Ceylon, Australia, Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Sign of Horror
One of the dramatic signs, the gesture of horror is made by extending the right hand, palm outwards,
while the head is turned to the right as though refusing to see something objectionable or frightening.
The left hand is this gesture point outwards and in a downward direction as if trying to expel
something. Examples of this sign in art may be seen in the Vatican and in the British Museum.
Sign or Resignation
This sign consists in crossing the arms upon the chest with the fingertips of the right hand on the left
shoulder and the fingertips of the left hand on the right shoulders. This gesture is sometimes
portrayed with the right hand over the left, but the reverse is regarded as a more
proper representation according to tradition. This is another one of those signs that may have
originated in the Mystery Schools of Egypt. The god Osiris and the statues representing Egyptian
pharaohs are often depicted in this pose by artisans.
For some specific reason the Egyptians also buried their dead in this manner, with the hands of the
mummy crossed upon their breast. Even the sarcophagi or mummy cases of the deceased bear a
pictorial resemblance of them with the same sign. In the Renaissance, artists often depicted Mother
Mary with such a hand pose.
Like the many hand gestures described herein, the Sign of Resignation generates a certain occult
power of which we shall discuss later in an upcoming article when we apply and incorporate the sign
in our mudra practices. The occult function of a sign is just as important as its esoteric meaning,
perhaps even more so.
Sign of Heaven and Earth
This sign is executed by extending one hand above the head pointing skywards, and the other
extended downwards pointing to the earth. According to Ward, the significance of this sign in
Christianity is that someone had descended to Earth and later re-ascended to Heaven. Or
alternatively, ascended to Heaven and later descended to Earth. There are numerous examples of
this sign in Christian art related to the raising of Lazarus, the descent of Jesus into Hell to save the
inhabitants, and Jesus' resurrection.
There are many variations of this sign. Sometimes the hand with its open palm pointing upwards has
its fingers together; occasionally we find examples where the index finger points upwards while the
rest of the fingers folded onto the palm. The British Museum has a collection of Babylonian objects
where the Sign of Heaven and Earth may be seen. In Greece, examples of this sign are associated
with the Eleusinan Mysteries.
Sign of Despair/Regret
Regret, despair, and sorrow is indicated by resting the head upon the right hand and the left arm,
which is horizontally across the solar plexus, supports the right elbow with its hand. Occasionally,
this position is reversed. There does not seem to be any strict rule to this. In paintings with
crucifixion themes, the Virgin Mary is often depicted with this hand position. There are examples of
this sign of Persian and Greek origins preserved in museums all over the world.
Having explained the various hand signs to be found in art it would be appropriate if we were to
emphasize that the signs described above are not merely symbolic or gestures without any occult
significance. It is not too commonly known that these signs generate certain virtues as they modify,
purify, intensify, and empower one's auric energy-structure or one's surroundings in some subtle
manner. These signs are mudras with occult values. Mantras, incantations, and liturgies often
accompany the signs.
Most votaries of religion are unaware that their ceremonies are actually magickal rites and processes
that call forth unseen influences. For instance, making the Sign of Preservation by the spiritually
evolved occult practitioner, evokes spiritual and angelic forces that protects the person or persons to
whom the sign is being directed to. The sign assures the petitioners and recipients that they will be
protected and preserved from negative psychic attack.
It is instinctive for people to assume specific mental and physical attitudes when interacting with
divine forces. We unconsciously feel hand signs and gestures to be efficacious in aiding the
establishment of a contact with higher intelligences and requesting their intercession.
Hand-signs, or mudras are of great benefit to our well-being. In future articles, therefore, we will
apply this mystical science in a practical way that may be practiced by the average person.
****************
Copyright 2001 Luxa more
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luxamore@indotalisman.com