moles


moles
(on the body)
   The significance of moles featured in *fortune-telling booklets from the 17th to the 19th centuries. They were thought to be signs of character or fate. One over the heart meant wickedness; over the spleen, a passionate nature, and poor health; on the right armpit or ear, wealth and honour, but on the left, the reverse (Hone, 1832: 739-40).
(the animal)
   Much used in folk cures, all of which involved trapping and mutilating the living animal. One or more of its paws would be cut off, sewn up in a bag, and worn round the neck (for *toothache, epilepsy, or * king's evil), or kept in the pocket (for rheumatism); it would then be released to die slowly, taking the disease with it. Its body cut in half, or the skin flayed off alive, would be bound to the neck till it rotted (for wens on the throat and goitre); its blood drunk in white wine cured epilepsy (Opie and Tatem, 1989: 256-7). According to Francis Grose (A Provincial Glossary (1790), 45), if you hold a mole in your hand till it dies your hands will acquire healing power.
   Lincolnshire farm-workers used to rid their fields of moles by the same method as was more commonly used for *mice in a house:
   Moles were a damn nuisance for eating what you'd planted, especially turnips and swedes, they seemed to love them. They were difficult to get shut of; we tried a number of ways but often we wrote them a note telling them to go away. You wrote on a bit of paper, 'I'm sick of you eating my stuff, bugger off to the next field', you put the note under a stone. It worked, but don't ask me why. (Sutton, 1997: 36)

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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