“Oh my gods, that guy just waved with his left hand. This is going to be a bad day. I just knew it and now this!”
These words uttered by a friend a few years back were my introduction to xenomancy, a form of divination in which one looks for signs in the appearance and actions of complete strangers. In response to my completely puzzled expression, my friend impatiently explained that, when the first stranger you see waves with their left hand, it is an ill omen for the rest of your day. She went on to say that omens and signs can be read in the gestures of strangers.
Um… okay? My first reaction to a person waving with their left is… to wave right back. I really don’t take notice of which hand is waving, but if I did I’m pretty sure that my thought would not be that I was going to have a bad day. My thoughts, should it even occur to me to have them, would be something like this: maybe the person waving is a southpaw, maybe they’ve hurt their right arm and cannot raise it, maybe they’re carrying something heavy or bulky in their right hand, heck maybe they’re an amputee with no right arm to wave.
Yet, my friend was hanging the outcome of her entire day on this simple gesture. It seems to me that this kind of reaction becomes a fatalistic, self-fulfilling prophecy. This is one of the pitfalls in relying too heavily on divination for guidance. It is all too easy to get wrapped up in finding signs and omens where there either are not any or are not any of significance. One can quickly get carried away by reading too much importance into something that is actually quite trivial. A man waving with his left hand is not, in my mind, a bad omen or reason for dread and fear. It’s a gesture of friendliness.
On the other hand, a man waving a knife, gun, or machete with his left hand could be interpreted as a precursor to really bad day, particularly if he’s waving it in your direction. It’s the little details that are important in these situations, you know?