caul Amniotic fetal membrane that sometimes clings to a newborn's head or body after birth. Being born with a caul, or veil, has significance in folklore related to magical powers. A person born with a caul was believed to have psy- chic gifts such as the ability to see ghosts and spirits and to divine the future. In seafaring lore, such a person can never drown. In earlier times, cauls were brought on board sailing ships as good luck charms against sinking. Cauls were traded and sometimes sold for large sums of money. In certain parts of Europe, a person born with a caul was believed to be a natural vampire. To prevent this, the caul was broken immediately, and prayers were said. In areas where the caul was considered to be a good omen, it was dried and placed in a flask that was worn around the person's neck. Sometimes it was mixed into an elixir that was drunk when the person reached a certain age, in order to initiate the magical powers. In northern Italy, the cult of the benandanti included people born with cauls who could see invisible witches and fight them.
Back to Glossary of Witchcraft Terms
Back to Witchcraft
Back to Home
This post was last modified on