William John Warner, popularly known as Cheiro (derived from the word cheiromancy, meaning palmistry) lived from November 1, 1866 – October 8, 1936. He was an Irish astrologer and colorful occult figure of the early 20th century. A self-described clairvoyant who taught palmistry, astrology, and Chaldean numerology, he was celebrated for using these forms of divination to make personal predictions for famous clients and to foresee world events.
Born in a village outside Dublin, Ireland, Cheiro acquired his expertise in India. As a teenager, he traveled to the Bombay port of Apollo Bunder. There he met his Guru, an Indian Brahmin, who permitted him to learn from an ancient book that contained many studies on hands. After studying thoroughly for two years, he returned to London and started his career as a palmist.
Widely followed by famous European and American clients during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Cheiro read palms and told the fortunes of numerous famous celebrities. So popular was Cheiro as a “society palmist” that even those who were not believers in the occult had their hands read by him. Of the Prince of Wales, he wrote that “I would not be surprised if he did not give up everything, including his right to be crowned, for the woman he loved.” Cheiro also predicted the Jews would return to Palestine and the country would again be called Israel.
The book Titanic’s Last Secrets includes a detailed account of one of Cheiro’s palm readings with William Pirrie, chairman of Harland and Wolf, builders of the Titanic. Cheiro predicted that he would soon be in a fight for his life, talking about the battle surrounding the Titanic sinking.
Cheiro ran up against the Church during a period when its powers were growing and the early Fathers were jealous of the influence of this old-world science. Palmistry was persecuted by this early Church and convicted of being the offspring of “pagans and heathens” without even being given a trial. Denounced as sorcery and witchcraft, palmistry was said to be firmly under the devil’s grasp. The result was that the study was outlawed, and fell into the hands of vagrants, tramps, and gypsies. In spite of this persecution, almost the first book ever printed was a work on Palmistry, Die Kunst Ciromantia, in Augsburg in 1475. Palmistry is older than any other system in the world.
In the original Hebrew of the Book of Job (chap. xxxvii., ver. 7), we find these significant words: “God caused signs or seals on the hands of all the sons of men, that the sons of men might know their works.”
As the student of anatomy can build up the entire system from the examination of a single bone, so may a person by a careful study of an important member of the body such as the hand, apart from anything superstitious or even mystical, build up the entire action of the system and trace every effect back to its cause.
Today the science of the present is coming to the rescue of the so-called superstition of the past. Scientists are slowly sweeping aside prejudice and beginning to study occult questions. Perhaps the “whys and wherefores” of such things may one of these days be as easily explained as are those wireless waves of electricity that carry messages from land to land.