Arts and Leisure

Danger, Disappointment and Desire: Colonial Superstitions About Moles

Colonial New Englanders commonly held superstitions about moles — the spots on the skin, not the small burrowing animal.

One of the most pernicious held that moles and other markings in certain places denoted the bearer had made a pact with the devil. In other words, that person was a witch.

From "Examination of a witch" by Tompkins Harrison Matteson

From “Examination of a witch” by Tompkins Harrison Matteson (1853)

But more frivolous interpretations existed, as well.

The New academy of Complements, a book of sample love letters and advice, enjoyed popularity in England in the 1500s to the 1700s. It went through countless printings and iterations. The early American printer Isaiah Thomas of Worcester brought it to this country in the 1700s for entertainment and advice.

It included a complete treatise on the meaning of moles.

Superstitions About Moles

A mole in the middle of the forehead denotes riches and advancement, by the favor of friends.

On the right part of the forehead, a mole signifies a life prosperous and successful in love affairs; on the left, that you shall meet with many crosses and disappointments.

If you have a mole between the eyes inclining to the nose, you will grow rich by marriage.

A mole on the nose signifies a speedy marriage, and the party to be fruitful in children.

A mole on the right cheek shows the party to be prosperous in worldly affairs, but covetous and desirous to circumvent other people.

Could the colonists have imagined Marilyn?

For a man, a mole on the left cheek means he is cross in his affairs; for a woman, lots of honor and danger of life in child birth.

A mole on the chin demonstrates a perfect wife, but promises no great riches.

A mole on the left arm promises much labor, but on the right, riches gained by industry.

More Mole Superstitions

A mole on the breast promises the party advancement by the favor of the great ones.

On the belly, a mole demonstrates the party to be beloved and to gain riches and advantages by it.

A mole on or near the private parts promises ability in duties, vigorous in love and successful in many children.

Jennifer Lawrence — labor and sorrow?

A mole on the neck denotes much labor and sorrow.

People with a mole on the right hip are greatly to be beloved and fortunate in love affairs.

A mole on the left hip signifies the party shall be rich by death of relations.

A mole on the right knee promises success in love and several marriages.

Finally, much better to have a mole on the right leg than the left. A mole on the right leg promises plenty and an easy life, but on the left, travail and poverty. The same holds true for the right or left foot or any part of the heel.

Thanks to: The New academy of complements erected for ladies, gentlewomen, courtiers, gentlemen, scholars, soldiers, citizens, country-men, and all persons, of what degree soever, of both sexes: stored with variety of courtly and civil complements, eloquent letters of love and friendship : with an exact collection of the newest and choicest songs à la mode, both amorous and jovial / compiled by the most refined wits of this age. This story on superstitions about moles last updated in 2022. Image of Jennifer Lawrence: By IVN News – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67032781.

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