Fortune-Telling with Moles in the Georgian Era

fortune-telling
“The Fortune Teller” in the Nineteenth Century by John Opie, (c) University of Greenwich; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

One person wrote, “Ever since the world began, a laudable curiosity has excited all ranks of people in all countries, to know the events, vicissitudes, the turns of good or bad fortune.” Among those intrigued by the turns of good or bad fortunes were people living in the eighteenth century. Their fortunes were told to them by fortune tellers who used astronomy, physiognomy, palmistry, card tossing, or the reading of coffee dregs. However, one of the most unusual and interesting ways of fortune-telling was the examination of a person’s moles.

Georgian fortune tellers read moles because as one eighteenth-century writer put it, “[moles] bear a strong analogy to the events that are to happen to a person in the future.” When examining moles, fortune tellers looked at a variety of things. For instance, a mole with a few long hairs denoted the person’s undertakings would be prosperous but if the mole was hairy, misfortune was expected.

A mole’s size, color, and shape, also supposedly determined a person’s destiny. For example, the larger the mole, the greater the promise of prosperity or adversity, and the smaller the mole, the less “good or bad luck.” When it came to color, the deeper the color the more “favour or disgrace … [a person was expected to experience and] the lighter [the mole], the less of either.” The shape of a mole had significance too. A round mole meant good fortune, oblong moles indicated moderate good fortune, and angular shaped moles suggested “a mixture of good and evil.” 

Besides size, color, and shape, perhaps the most important aspect of a mole was its placement. Mole placement indicated a variety of things, as indicated by the following list:

  • A mole on the right side of the forehead or temple signified the person would receive “sudden wealth and honour.”
  • A mole on the right eyebrow indicated a “speedy marriage” and the person’s partner was promised to “possess many amiable qualities, and a good fortune.”
  • If a person had a mole near the forehead, right temple, or eyebrow, and it was on the left side of her or his face, the person was to have “unexpected disappointment” in the future.
  • On the outside corner of either eye a mole denoted that the person possessed a “steady, sober, and sedate disposition; but … liable to [experience] a violent death.”
  • A mole on either cheek indicated that the person would never “rise above mediocrity…though at the same time … never … sink to real poverty.”
  • When a mole was on a person’s nose it indicated good luck for the person in any undertaking.
  • A mole near the lip suggested the person was “fond of delicate things, and very much given to the pleasure of love.”
  • Moles on the chin foreshadowed the person would be highly esteemed and enjoy great prosperity.
  • A mole on the side of the neck indicated the person had barely escaped suffocation but afterwards would have “an unexpected legacy or inheritance.”
  • Moles on the throat foretold the person would become rich through marriage.
  • When moles were on the bosom, they portended “mediocrity of health and fortune.”
  • A mole on the left breast denoted “success in undertakings, an amorous disposition, and that their children [would] be mostly boys.”
  • If a mole was on the left breast and over the heart, it indicated that a man possessed “a warm disposition, unsettled mind, fond of rambling, and light in his conduct … [whereas a woman was said to have] sincerity in love, quick conception, and easy travail in childbirth.”
  • A mole on the right side over the ribs meant the person was “pusillanimous,” and any undertakings by the person would be “attended with difficulty.”
  • A mole on the belly indicated the person was “addicted to sloth and gluttony, selfish in almost all articles, and seldom inclined to be nice or careful in…dress.”
  • Moles on the hip, foretold that the person would have many children and that whatever children survived, they would be “healthful, lusty, and patient of hardships.”
  • A mole on the right thigh denoted a person would become rich and have good luck in marriage whereas a mole on the left thigh indicated “that the person suffers much … poverty … and want of friends.”
  • If a mole was on the right knee it promised the person would be fortunate when choosing a partner and that the person and their partner would meet with few disappointments.
  • A mole on the left knee signified that the person would be “rash, inconsiderate and hasty, but modest in cool blood, honest, and inclined to good behaviour.”
  • When moles were on both legs it suggested that the person was “indolent, thoughtless, and indifferent.”
  • Moles on both ankles denoted that a man was inclined to “effeminacy and elegance,” whereas a woman was said to be “courageous, active, and industrious.”
  • A mole on either foot portended sudden illness or unexpected misfortune.
  • A mole on the right shoulder declared “prudence, discretion, secrecy and wisdom, whereas on the left shoulder it meant “testy, contentious, and ungovernable spirit.”
  • Moles on the right arm indicated “vigour and undaunted courage,” and a mole on the left arm declared “resolution and victory in battle.”
  • Moles near the elbow suggested “restlessness, a roving and unsteady temper, also a discontentedness with those [who the person lived with regularly].
  • A mole between the elbow and the wrist foretold a life of prosperity but not until the person experienced many hardships.
  • If there was a mole on the wrist or between the wrist and the ends of the finger, it signified “industry, parsimony, fidelity, and conjugal affection.”
  • A mole found anywhere from the shoulders to the loins meant “imperceptible decline, and gradual decay, whether of health or wealth.”
  • A mole on the loins indicated “vigour, especially in the duties of love.”

Whether or not moles could provide a glimpse into the future and whether or not they were lucky, Georgians clamored to know about them. Numerous articles and books were published related to fortune-telling with moles in the 1700 and 1800s. In fact, the idea that moles had significance remained a popular topic of interest to people throughout the nineteenth century. Moles also inspired a number of poems and sayings, including the following gems:

A mole on the neck,
You’ll have money by the peck.

Five moles in a span,
You shall have houses and land.

If you’ve got a mole about your chin,
You’ll never be beholden to any of your kin.

References:

  • Burne, Charlotte Sophia, Shropshire Folk-lore, 1885
  • Every Lady’s own Fortune-Teller, Or an Infallible Guide to the Hidden Decrees of Fate, 1791

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