Physiognomy, also known today as personology, is an ancient
form of divination based upon reference of the physical
appearance of the individual. It was a widespread practice in
the ancient Mediterranean Basin and in China, and also appears
in India and the ancient Arab world. During the Renaissance,
Gerolamo Cardano and Giovanni Battista della Porta
emerged as popular exponents. As did other forms of divination,
it came under heavy attack by the eighteenth-century Enlightenment
and following the work of J. C. Lavater largely
died. Its post-Enlightenment revival was delayed by the emergence
of phrenology, which could be seen as a form of physiognomy
that concentrated attention on the shape and appearance
of the head.
In China, a form of physiognomy, called Siang Mien, developed
that concentrated on face readings tied to the acupuncture
points. Each of the 100 points on the face are numbered
and named, assigned to a year in one’s life, and carry a range
of meanings. The Chinese measure life from conception, hence
one must add a year to one’s age to find the applicable point.
At age 41, for example, one can make reference to point 42,
the Delicate Cottage. It represents a place of seclusion and may
be interpreted as an appropriate time to shift concentration
from outer to inner concerns. A variety of face readers may be
found throughout Chinese ethnic communities in the West.
In the mid-twentieth century new attention to physiognomy
was proposed by Edward Vincent Jones, a judge with the U.S.
Superior Court who did his primary research on defendants
brought before him over a number of years. His modern development
of physiognomy was called personology. During World
War II (1939–45) he founded the Personology Foundation of
California, which graduated its first class in 1942. Jones’ work
is being carried on by Paul Eisner, who founded the Personology
Foundation of the Pacific. Its Learning Center is located
at P.O. Box 3301, Honokaa, HI 96727. It has a website
The measurable growth of interest in physiognomy associated
with the New Age Movement can be traced both to Personology
and to the influx of Chinese into North America since
1965. Pushing the practice of physiognomy ahead is Rose Rosetree,
a former Transcendental Meditation instructor who
now teaches both aura readings and face readings and trains
teachers in suburban Washington, D.C. Based on her initial
study of both European and Chinese texts, she developed her
own new system of physiognomy. She is the author of one of the
most popular contemporary texts in the field, The Power of Face
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Physiognomy
Reading. She may be contacted through her webpage at http
Lin, Henry B. What Your Face Reveals. St. Paul, Minn. Llewellyn
Publications, 1999.
Personology Foundation of the Pacific. http April 23, 2000.
Rose Rosetree. April 23,
Rosetree, Rose. The Power of Face Reading for Sales, SelfEsteem,
and Better Relationships. Women’s Intuition Worldwide,
Yong, Wu. Face Reading. Longmead, Dorset, UK Element
Books, 1998.