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The Academie > Superstition > Magic And Spells

Magic and Spells

  • In Renaissance magic, geomancy was classified as one of the seven "forbidden arts," along with necromancy, hydromancy, aeromancy, pyromancy, chiromancy (palmistry), and spatulamancy (scapulimancy)

Finger Spells

These are the cryptic, secret hand positions embedded in some Medieval art by Da Vinci and others thought to have embedded messages.

There is also a belief that using these hand gestures you can cast silent spells with just your fingers.

"Gestures and finger positions are key ingredients in the various rituals. The “magical finger rituals” are example of an entire spectre of “finger magic”, most of which is now lost.

Hermetic Finger Magic

“Hermetic finger magic” where each finger is assigned an element:

Finger/hand Element
Thumb Water
Index finger Fire The head
Middle finger Ether (the original element)
Ring finger Earth
Little finger Air
Left hand Negative side, chaos, destroys, breaks down
Right hand Positive side, order, purifies, energizes

  • Extending the right index finger would indicate "Positive Fire"

The “John gesture” is a hand position used by da Vinci in his paintings often depicted certain people as raising their right index finger skywards. This is very pronounced in da Vinci’s painting of John the Baptist, but even in the Last Supper, one figure makes the John gesture. (Source: Picknett & Prince) This could indicate the Hermetic finger symbol for "Positive Fire"

  • Example: 16 (1 on one hand, six on the other) is the number of felicity

Jesus is often seen extending two fingers, with the palm towards the audience, “blessing” the audience; The “John gesture” raises a single finger, with the palm towards himself.


Finger spells and Significance

Number Gesture
One bend little finger of left hand and set it in the middle of the palm
Two Bend ring finger and put it in palm
Three Bend middle finger and put it in palm
Four Lift little finger
Five Lift ring finger
Six Lift middle finger
Seven Place the little finger above root of palm (rest of fingers are up)
Ten Place the index finder on first joint of thumb


A mudra ( Sanskrit: for "seal", "mark", or "gesture") is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism. Most mudra are performed with the hands and fingers.
  • In Indian classical dance the term "Hasta Mudra" (hasta is Sanskrit for hand) is used. The Natya Shastra describes 24 mudra's, while the Abhinaya Darpana gives 28 in total.

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Last edited March 8, 2013 (history)

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