A witch’s mark : In witch lore, an extra treat or nipple on witches for suckling familiars and Imps, who were said to crave human blood. Extra nipples appear naturally in a small percentage of the population, but in earlier times, they had an infernal association. Any wart, mole, tumor, protuberance or discoloration of the skin was thought to be a witch’s mark, particularly if it secreted fluid or blood.
When accused witches were arrested, their bodies and cavities were searched for any irregularities. red spots, bumps under the tongue and fleshy bumps and folds in the vagina were considered paps for familiars. In witchcraft trials, “prickers” pricked the skin of the accused to determine insensitive areas (see Pricking), which also were called witch’s marks.
Out of fear, some people cut off their warts, moles and lumps, but the resulting scars were also taken as proof of being a witch and trying to hide it. The term witch’s mark is often used interchangeably with Devil's Mark, which was considered proof of a covenant with Satan. Witch’s marks also are described as unusual birthmarks.
Sybil Leek believed in witch’s marks and said she and other women in her family line were born with them. Initiation rituals in some traditions of contemporary Witchcraft call for symbolic witches’ marks in an xshaped cross to be made with anointing oIls on the body of the candidate.
According to the Book of Shadows for the Gardnerian tradition, the crosses are traced over the third eye, the heart and the genitals, symbolizing the freeing of mind, heart and body.
In rural Appalachia, a witch mark is a star, similar in shape to a maltese cross, that is etched or drawn over the doorway of a home or barn, to keep witches away. It is also carved out of wood and nailed over the door.
- Guazzo, Francesco-Maria. Compendium Maleficarum. Secaucus, N.J.: University Books, 1974.
- Summers, Montague, ed. The Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger. 1928. reprint, New York: Dover Publications, 1971.