FEET - HEALING HANDS
A two part series by Beatrice Parvin & Amel Tafsout
2 HEALING HANDS - Amel Tafsout
I always have been fascinated by hands. Even as a child I used
to watch how women in my family used their hands to communicate
with each other when they did not want other people to understand
what they were talking about. At weddings I love watching Algerian
and other Arab women dancing, especially women dancing Andalusian
style. Their hands have a soul of their own. They are snakes,
become birds, change to flames and finish being a flowing river.
Hands are the part of the body which differentiate us from animals
.We use hands in so many various ways: we eat, wash, write,
play music, pray, sew, weave, communicate and express ourselves
with hands. We use hands more than any other part of the body
for most actions whether ordinary, religious or magical.
Hands in Dance
In Berber dances, hand movements enable the contact between
Mother Earth and the Universe. In the Mevlevi Sufi order the
dervishes start their spinning with their hands crossed, then
during the turning they direct one hand toward Mother Earth
and the other towards the Universe. In Indian Dance there are
about 250 hand poses but how many of them are used in any dance
depends upon the theme of the story for the dance. There are
67 essential poses - 24 of one hand, 13 both hands and 30 of
dancing pose. In Flamenco, the female dancer uses mostly the
movement of hands and fingers, the very essence of the feminine
dance. With the palms of the hands facing downwards, the hands
move flexibly from the wrists in a circular motion in either
direction, both slowly and fluidly. The fingers can be placed
together or in exagerated positons, very similar to the Algerian
Andalusian hand movements.
I could spend all my life studying hand movements and their
meaning. The Silk Road [Marco Poloís route through Central Asia
to China] left an real influence on the hand movements of different
dance cultures. I am fascinated by the use of hands in Persian,
Uzbek, Armenian and Turkish dances, not to mention the beautiful
slow and fluid dancing hands of Chinease , Japanease and Javanease
Another important use of hands is the sign language - I can
watch it for hours and intend to study it.
Power and Blessing
The hands have been regarded as a symbol of power. In Semitic
cultures an attack by a ghost on a human being is called "The
Hand of the Ghost". In Scotland where many ancient traditions
still survive, invocation by the hand of a father or grandfather
meant invocation of their power. In the Bible and the Qurían,
the expression "Godís Hand" means "Godís Power".
Gods and heroes are often represented with arms and hands to
signify their power: In Buddhist sculpture the downcast hand
means renunciation, as represented in the gigantic figure of
Buddha at Kyaikpun. In Ancient Egypt, the Ra, or sun disk, is
represented with numerous rays each terminating in a hand.
In Jewish times, each of the fingers of Godís hand was regarded
as having a special meaning, and oathes were taken by holding
up the right hand as this was considered more important than
the left. The Arabs today will not allow the left hand to touch
food, as the left is regarded as unlucky.
Among the early Greeks the hand formed the symbol of significance
and the Romans used it as a special ornament on many household
ornaments, and in their handles and knockers for doors.
The hand is universally used as an instrument of blessing.
As a sacred symbol, the hand was reproduced in early Christian
art in mosaics, in tombs. It was used to represent the Trinity.
A hand is depicted emerging from clouds which were supposed
to conceal the brightness of the invisible Almighty "which no
man could behold and live". When superimposed on a cross, the
ĎDivine handí was regarded as one of the most remarkable charms
used against the "evil eye". We also can see pictures of a hand
sending down rays of light to express the Divine beneficence
shed upon The Mother Earth or on a person. It is shown as a
blessing in two positions called the Greek and Latin benedictions
- the Greek attitude consisted of the middle finger bent and
the thumb crossed upon the third finger forming the first Greek
letter of the name of Christ; the Latin position was when the
two first fingers are extended while the other two bend inwards,
an attitude often seen in pictures of the Saviour.
The use of the open hand is almost universal and its meaning
is to avert or to ward off or to protect, like the hand of the
traffic policeman extended to stop the traffic.The open hand
was largely used as an amulet in the Middle East and North Africa
as a charm to avert negative energies. It is often called the
"Hand of Fatima" (the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, called
"the Mother of all Believers") but in Arabic we call it "Khamsa"
which means five, as five is a magical number.
In the Maghreb, of all parts of the body the hand (with the
heart and the eye) has the most significant symbol - the hand
of protection , also called "kef Meriem" (Maryís Palm). The
symbolism of the hand raised, palm outwards, to repel some threatened
evil, is obvious and the five fingers are believed to represent
the five pillars of Islam or the five most sacred persons in
Islam: The prophet Mohammed, Ali his cousin and son in law (Fatimaís
husband), Fatima (the prophetís daughter), Hassan and Husain
(Ali and Fatimaís children). Nowadays the "Khamsa" represents
North African identity and is often used by the so called "Beurs"
(second and third generation children of North African immigrants
in France) and also by North African artists, musicians, singers
and performers. I personally love the "Khamsa" as a jewellery
because of its symbol for healing and protection. On my trips
to America I was very surprised but also thrilled to notice
that American people are more connected to the "Khamsa" than
British people. I did enjoy buying some to add to my "Khamsa"
Hands are used for praying whether they are joined (in Christian
religion), palms up and open (in Islam), or with the right hand
on the top of the left.
The custom of wearing jewelled rings on the hand was related
to magical powers, as each precious stone was supposed to possess
In some countries, the hand was regarded as a symbol of justice.
The uplifted hand is used to command silence. In religious rites
the laying of the hand on the head signifies blessing, as if
it communicates some unseen power to the person on whom it is
Since Humanity began the touch has been used for magical and
healing purposes. The practice of "Healing by touch", even nowadays
we call it "hands on", can be traced back to a very early period
and was probably a survival of a rite performed in ancient societies
such as Ancient Egypt and Babylonia. It is thought that certain
people had special healing powers, a very good example would
be Jesus. The energy coming from the hands of some people can
be felt very strongly. Many possess such a degree of personal
magnetism that they can relieve pain of nervous origin. The
finger-tips of the hands of some people afflicted with blindness
are so sensitive, that they have almost a visual sense and can
even distinguish colours.
Healing is using healing energy which is psychic energy, channelled
through the healer and released through the heart and the hands
into the patientís energy field. She (the healer) has to allow
that channelling of energy to happen: The energy channels itself,
the healer is just a vehicle through which it moves.
In Algeria, my family used healing on a daily basis. My grandmother
was known for her healing power but she never used it with anyone
outside the family. My parents used healing on us children.
Healing was very natural and obvious as we believed in its power.
When I grew up, my father gave me the so called "healing hands",
which meant that I could start to heal. This was like a ritual
that stayed inside the family. When I came to live in England
I never thought to use my hands to heal people here as they
did not belong to my family circle. One day I met a woman who
was studying spiritual healing, she gave me a brochure about
a specific healing course. I enrolled for the course, studied
spiritual healing and finished my accreditation as a healer.
Before I begin a session with the patient , I need to align
myself with the highest energies available, to clear and charge
all my chakras to allow the energy to come into my hands.Well
balanced chakras or energy centres will create a well balanced
person.The seven major chakras are related to specific colours:
1. Base or root chakra: Basic colour red ,linked at the region
of gonads. It is the connection with the earth and physical
2. Sacral or sex chakra: Orange. Located between the base and
solar plexus and controls the lower digestive system and the
well being of the adrenals.
3. Solar plexus chakra: Yellow. Linked at the area of the pancreas
this centre is concerned with the personís individuality. Fear
and anxiety register here.
4. Heart chakra: Green. Located at the region of the thymus
gland above the heart, it is the link between the physical and
spiritual aspect of the person ,reflecting the emotions and
revealing how we relate to others and to nature.
5. Throat chakra: Blue. Located at the region of the thyroid
gland to which it relates. Here we can see how a person expresses
his whole being. Physically it shows up vulnerabilities around
6. Brow or third eye chakra: Indigo. It is linked at the pituitary
gland which is the master gland of the endoctrine system. An
important centre where past memories are stored.
7. Crown chakra: Violet. Linked at the pineal gland which the
Greeks called "the seat of the soul". Our appreciation of art,
religion and beauty are reflected here.
Back to Part I