Controverscial.Com wrote:The marks of a witch has often been confused with the Devil’s mark and throughout history mistakenly used interchangeably. While both were indicative marks of a witch’s supposed allegiance with the devil, their physical characteristics are quite different.
The witch’s mark is generally described as a natural physical abnormality, most commonly in the form of an extra breast (polymastia) or extra nipple (polythelia), the latter being more common in men rather than in women and a phenomenon that occurs regularly in a small percentage of the population. On the other hand, the Devil’s mark (stigmata diaboli) sometimes called a Devil’s seal (sigillum diaboli) was commonly a scar, birthmark or other blemish on the skin.
During the witch hysteria of the 17th century such people as Matthew Hopkins the infamous Witch Finder General, plus others before and after him in their efforts to persecute witches, used the ignorance and fear of the general public to turn such natural phenomena to their own advantage. It soon became the case that any natural physical malformation, a wart, mole, spot, fleshy skin protuberance or discoloration of the skin would be taken as mark of a witch, and most particularly if it secreted liquid or blood. God forbid if you were found with a bleeding tumour, piles, ulcers or seeping boils.
In the early sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly in England, it was presumed that any such protuberances or teats were used by a witch to suckle imps and familiars, ‘the agents of the devil’, and when found on a person it was taken as a sure sign and condemnation of witchcraft. Similarly, it was thought that the devil sealed his compact with witches by leaving them some mark of identification on the body, hidden in some secret place. Therefore, anyone found with unusual scaring, birthmarks or even tattoos were equally suspect and condemned. As a result, many innocent people were tried, found guilty of witchcraft and executed.
sharyn green wrote:I do thank all who so kindly relieved my angst by explaining the question Mr Shadwell 'popped' to Madam Tracy. Really, I thank you. What a shame I couldn't have worked it out for myself. Sadly, at this time I think I should own up to having a third nipple. Every child in my family had a third nipple. Just thought I'd throw that one in.
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