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Opening Palms, Opening Night


Tim Matheson (Animal House, West Wing) sports a double life line. Some call the second line the “general” or “warrior” line. Napoleon also had one. Peter Riegert (Crossing Delancey) on his right hand has a flexible thumb. It bends easily open away from the rest of his hand, showing his flexibility in decision-making. His rounded finger tips indicate a practical nature. Peter’s fingers separate widely into a creative spread. A sign of a true artist. These celebrities were opening their palms for me on the Red Carpet at the opening of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival last night. They seemed to enjoy the pause between grilling questions.

I only had one.

“Would you let me have a look at your palm?”

Staff in the Press Office initially discouraged me. “Aren’t you focusing on women?” Alana asked. I had applied for the pass through Femspec, a popular culture journal I edit about gender. Yes, but the art of palmistry is a lost women’s art. All right. I learned from two men. My first teacher was a Czech gypsy in Tepotzlan. The second, a Hindu palmist, behind the Golden Temple of Annapurna in Varannassi, India. But that’s my point. The ancient women’s art needs to be revived. Slowly, it is. Erich Neumann wrote about the great mother archetype and inspired a women’s spirituality movement. After Neumann and his wife escaped Nazi Germany, they went to Tel Aviv. There, his wife gained notoriety as an international palmist. Visitors flocked to her from around the world.

Still hesitant to dive in, I swung the pendulum once in line. With support from a journalist from Vancouver on my right, I charged ahead.

Tim Matheson was my first victim.

After that, emboldened by Tim’s willing response, I became more assertive. Lack of strong arming by festival staff trying to deport me also made me feel more relaxed. I screwed up my nerve and explained to the luminaries’ handlers that I was starting off a palmistry column for the Independent.

I was hot. I was on.

Tara Sommers, next. She was on the way in as supporting cast in the film of the night, Factory Girl, in which she played one of Warhol’s girls. She sported boxes on her mound of Venus. I peered more closely. Ah hah, I said, seeing she was also boxed in on her mound of Mars. Indications of conflict in relationships. How much should I say? “What is it? Am I going to die?” Before I had time to answer, she was wisked on.

Sienna Miller starred as Edie Sedgwick in the film we were waiting to see. I could see in Sienna’s hands that travel was important. She also had many lines, what we call “watery lines.” Her destiny line up the center of her palm was wavering. Well, I explained to the journalist on my left, after Sienna had moved on, you can’t stay a young beautiful starlet forever. Makes sense.

Guy Pierce played Andy. He wanted to know if his long life line meant a long life in the physical plane, or in the sense that his presence would live on forever in celluloid. He had a very strong destiny line, so could be. I gave him my card and said, email me your question. We can talk about it. Saying he found it soothing and relaxing to be read this far into the line, he moved on.

Jonathan Sedgwick, Edie’s brother, had a curving index finger. An Aquarian finger. Meaning he was ahead of his times. Just like his sister.

When I got inside, not having read all the palms I could but being too cold, I was surprised to hear Edie’s character in voice-over telling a therapist in rehab at Cottage Hospital about what a palmist had told her, close to the first scene. The palmist had taken a look at her hand and frozen. Yes, Edie had told her, I know. My life line stops in the middle. I won’t live to be thirty. She didn’t. She died tragically of an overdose at 28.

Batya Weinbaum reads palms through the Enchanting Cottage in Carpinteria.

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