A two part series by Beatrice Parvin & Amel Tafsout

Part 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 dances.

Sign Language
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.

The Khamsa
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" collection!

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 special virtues.

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 laid.

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.

The Chakras
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 reality.

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 the throat.

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.

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