What Is a Witch's Mark?

Updated on June 6, 2019
theraggededge profile image

Born in deepest Cornwall and now living in wild Wales, Bev has been practising her personal brand of witchcraft for years and years.

A witch mark appears in various forms associated with witches and the practice of witchcraft.

The different types of witch marks are:

  • A mark on the witch’s body
  • A raised lump or teat-like protuberance
  • The Devil’s mark
  • A sign or symbol to ward off witchcraft.

We’ll take a look at the various kinds of witch marks, what they signified, and why they existed.

Marks on a Witch’s Body

A witch’s mark can be an irregular mark on the body that indicates that a person could be a witch. However, as there are very few human beings who don’t have some type of birthmark, freckle, wart, mole, scar, age spot, or other natural blemishes upon their skin, it would mean the whole global population are witches.

During the witch trials of the Middle Ages, "prickers" were employed. A pricker was an "expert" with a sharp tool that was used to test for invisible marks. It was systematically jabbed all over the witch’s body. If she didn’t yelp or cry out, that was a sign that an invisible mark existed in that place.

Some favorite places to search on the body included the armpits and even under the eyelids.

Sometimes hereditary witches claim that a certain mark has been passed down the generations within a family. Sybil Leek (1917-1982), the infamous witch and astrologer of the New Forest, Hampshire, England, and later of Los Angeles, claimed to have a hereditary mark that appeared on various female members of her family.

Today, symbolic marks are often made during Wiccan initiation rites. They may take the form of a pentacle or other meaningful pattern. They are traced with a finger onto the initiate’s forehead and/or other points of the body by the High Priest or Priestess.

Witch mark; actually a benign mole (nevus).
Witch mark; actually a benign mole (nevus). | Source

What Is a Witch’s Teat?

The idea that people sought assistance from supernatural beings has been around forever. Witches had their "familiars". These entities had to be sustained, so it was said that witches had an extra, hidden nipple which fed blood to the familiar. According to the witchfinders, a teat could be any raised lump, bump, or skin tag.

What Is the Devil’s Mark?

Similar to the witch’s mark, the Devil’s version was placed upon the skin when the witch pledged allegiance to the Devil. The mark was made by the Devil raking his claws across the skin or by burning the witch with a branding iron.

Many people tried to disfigure themselves in order to remove a possible mark or teat, but the scars themselves were deemed evidence enough.

Harmless skin tags. Once they might have been designated as a witch's teats, where her familiars fed.
Harmless skin tags. Once they might have been designated as a witch's teats, where her familiars fed. | Source

How Did the Idea of Witch Marks on the Skin Begin?

No one is certain where the idea of witches bearing certain marks began. They are probably rooted in ancient superstition as a way to explain birthmarks and blemishes. However, the idea really took hold during the witch trials of the late Middle Ages. Witches were ritually searched, both externally and internally in a humiliating and tortuous manner.

What If I Have a Witch Mark on Me?

Don’t worry for one second. As mentioned previously, it would be a very unusual person who hasn’t got one or more naturally occurring mark on their skin. Of course, if you notice that you have one of an odd or changing appearance, you must consult a medical practitioner. Having any kind of mark or natural skin formation does not mean you are a witch.

Apotropaic marking on a farmhouse from Niemelä Tenant Farm
Apotropaic marking on a farmhouse from Niemelä Tenant Farm | Source

Signs and Symbols to Ward off Evil Witchcraft

Symbols and marks carved on buildings to ward off witch’s and curses were common in Europe throughout the centuries. Many superstitions were attached to them. Frequently the marks, also called "apotropaic marking" and "hexfoils" were a series of interlocking circles, daisy patterns contained within circles, pentagrams, or sometimes the intertwined letters V and M to solicit protection from the Virgin Mary.

These signs and symbols were placed on doors, window shutters and chimneys; anywhere that a witch could gain entrance to a home. They are still visible on historical buildings in Britain and across Europe today.

While such markings were often dismissed as ancient scribblings or attempts to add decoration, a recent book, Medieval Graffiti: The Lost Voices of England’s Churches by architect Matthew Champion reveals their true purpose:

"The world was full of dangers, both physical and spiritual," Champion says. "These markings were made simply as a way to make it a safer, less hostile place; the front line in the defence of the soul."

The fact that a great many of the markings were made on and in parish churches confirms that countryfolk superstition was due to the appropriation of pagan places of worship by Christianity. They were afraid of retribution by witches, even centuries later.

Historic England, an organization that preserves ancient and traditional sites, has called on the general public to search their homes and locality for evidence of apotropaic marks.

Do you have a witch mark?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • What if my witch mark is flat?

    There isn't such a thing as a witch mark. There are hereditary birthmarks, but having a patch of darker skin simply means there is a higher concentration of melanin in that area. It's extremely common, even in animals.

    Should you think your flat mole is changing shape or texture, then have it checked by a physician.

  • My birthmark looks like a paw with extra circles, what does that mean?

    Ask your mother if she was surprised or frightened by an animal during her pregnancy. I've heard it said that if a woman is startled or even befriended by an animal that sometimes a mark will appear on the baby's skin. Personally, I don't believe it, but you never know.

  • I have an oval-shaped birthmark on my left leg. My little cousin from my mom's side has the same birthmark in the same place. Is it a mark passed down in my family? Are we witches?

    It may well be a hereditary mark, but no it doesn't mean you are witches. To be a witch, you have to make the decision to practice witchcraft. Witches are not supernatural beings, they are humans with free choice.

  • I was sitting on my porch and I looked down at my arm and it had glowing gold runes on it. At first, I thought it was a window reflection, I looked around and there was no reflection of anything. I looked down and they were gone. When they appeared, they were in rows of four and columns of about 12 on my forearm. Please explain?

    I can't explain it as it's never happened to me. If you can remember any of them, you could look them up. If it was an important 'message', they will appear again.

© 2018 Bev G

Comments

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    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      4 weeks ago from Wales, UK

      I don't know. But it is only a cyst, Tina.

    • profile image

      Tina 

      4 weeks ago

      I have a raised mark on my head that's been there for years. It hurts once in a while. My doctor says it's only a cyst. Why did it show up only after i started reading up on wicca over 7 years ago

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 

      9 months ago from U.S.A.

      Excellent, Bev. G. This was very insightful. I've heard about "witch marks" on occasion throughout my life. This article is informative also about the hexfoils.

      Thanks a lot and happy New Year.

      Sincerely,

      Tim

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