Beryl Hutchinson and the SSPP

Beryl Hutchinson and the SSPP

Beryl Hutchinson, the Grand Dame of contemporary chirology

The Society for the Study of Physiological Patterns (SSPP) continues today to provide a forum for chirological discussion and debate and has hosted some of the most eminent chirologists of modern times. For almost every contemporary handreader of note has at one time or another been involved with the SSPP. Aside from Noel Jaquin and Beryl Hutchinson, the founding members of the SSPP included Hilda Jaffa, who was the wife of the then editor of the Daily Express and Jaques Schupbach, a high ranking civil servant. These high powered connections enabled the Society to have access even to the fingerprint department of Scotland Yard, where they met and talked with FR Cherrill, Chief Superintendant of the Fingerprint Bureau.

The leading figure of this founding group, after Jaquin himself, was undoubtedly Beryl Hutchinson MBE (1891-1981). Coming from a well to do background meant that she could direct her considerable energy and indominatable enthusiasm for chirology without having to concern herself with making a living from it. As a consequence she was therefore the main driving force behind the society for nigh on thirty years, a considerable amount of that time being the society's president. She wrote two books on hand analysis, the second of which, 'Your Life in Your Hands' from 1967, is widely acknowledged as being a classic chirological work. She conducted much of her own research and, like Jaquin, was particularly concerned with the significance of dermatoglyphic patterns and the manifestations of physical ill-health in the hand. She also researched the palmar indications of vitamin and mineral deficiencies and made extensive studies of anatomy and physiology in order to demonstrate how this supports the interpretation of the hand.

However, the heyday of the SSPP seems to have been through the 1960's and 1970's, for since Beryl Hutchinson died the SSPP has become more of a forum for arts and disciplines other than hand analysis, such as astrology, graphology and numerology. This is reflected in the annual journal issued by the Society, which frequently only includes one short article on chirology and which itself is often a reproduction of a lecture or talk given in the 1950's or 1960's by one of the old members of the Society. Much of the rest of the journal is given over to other occult arts and it seems that Jaquin's original intention of creating a Society to scientifically study and research purely physiological patterns has been somewhat neglected now. The standard of chirological work seems to have steadily declined since about the early 1980's, for there is little in the way of active chirological research and tuition going on in the SSPP today. However, they still hold monthly meetings in London and hold a weekend conference once a year, many of which are specific talks on specific disciplines but sometimes also include 'Co-relation' evenings. These take the form of collecting a subjects' handprints, handwriting, astrological chart and numberscope and comparing and correlating the analyses together to see how these different disciplines correspond in their assessment of an individual.  These usually turn out to be very interesting comparisons indeed!

Of the many palmistic works that have been written by contemporary authors, very few have anything new or interesting to say. Most modern books on hands are simply rehashes of the Victorian approaches of Cheiro and Benham, sometimes with a few ideas taken from Jaquin, Wolff, Spier or Hutchinson. As well as being unoriginal works, most of these texts also completely ignore much of the most important chirological discoveries of modern times! Although there are a few exceptions to this general observation, the chirological bibliophile has to be extremely diligent indeed to find any insight and wisdom in the majority of the palmistry books published today.


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