What Do Birthmarks Mean


People often ask what do birthmarks mean? Well birthmarks – we all have at least one. And these days, we tend to be thoroughly acquainted with our ‘identification marks’, that need to be made official note of in every document and application. Some of them are small, merely a speck on an ear or eyebrow. Others are large, like a wine stain across a patch of skin. They’re just something we’re born with- or are they?

What Do Birthmarks Mean?

Medically speaking, birthmarks or Nevi are nothing more than a collection with a higher concentration of pigment cells called Melanocytes. They’re not always black or ‘beauty spots’. Some of them are milky brown, the Cafe au lait spots, that live up to their name and look like an oval splash of milky coffee. Larger, vascular birthmarks include Strawberry marks or Port Wine stains, pink to red in color, and much more noticeable, especially when they’re on the face. Vascular birthmarks sometimes create problems for people, because they are very large and prominent, and often do not fade with age. Sometimes, they’re indicators of disease as well. But sometimes, they’re indicators of more than disease.

Birthmarks have been associated with folklore and uncertainty since time immemorial. The question – are they just a mark or anomaly in blood vessels or pigment cells, passed down from the parents to the child? Or are they more than that. A popular belief in Arabic culture is that birthmarks are the unfulfilled wishes of the pregnant mother, such as if the mother was craving strawberries or plums a lot, the child would be born with a reddish birthmark. Strangely enough, this is one belief that is not limited to any one country. Many far flung cultures hold this belief in common, such as the Israeli belief of the same, except with the small change that the mother had to have scratched herself when she got that particular craving. Dutch and Danish traditions also reaffirm it, that the mother’s wishes become the marks on the child.

But it’s not always so benign. Birthmarks have also been linked to deeper and more sinister fears. Almost every country has a closely guarded fear of letting pregnant women go out during a solar eclipse. A pregnant woman who goes out under an eclipse, is in danger of bringing her child under a shadow, which leaves a birthmark behind. Or, when a pregnant woman cuts cloth during an eclipse, she dooms her child to have a cleft lip and cleft palate, because of the cutting motion she made when his stars were unaligned. To the modern mind, it sounds silly. But modern medicine has no explanation for birthmarks. And these folklore based stories may very well be just stories, but how is it that they are common across countries, in some cases, on different continents?

The maternal influence, for example. The exposure of a mother to bad or harmful influences was thought to be responsible for birthmarks on the baby, especially if they deeply impacted the mother’s psyche. Physical inheritance from the mother is a fact. But inheritance from the impressions left upon by experiences, that may well be true, too. There were a lot of reported cases of pregnant women who’d seen house fires or had been caught in a house fire, and had had a child with a flame shaped birthmark. Or who had been outside under a lunar eclipse, and the child had a moon shaped mark. Moon shaped marks were considered particularly ominous, serving as conduits for witches to anchor their spells through, using children as the medium. In medieval times, a moon shaped birthmark was considered almost irrefutable proof of communion with the devil, and as proof of witchcraft.

It’s not just superstition that inspired distrust and suspicion of birthmarks. The Greeks believed that what a woman saw would influence her child, not just in the way of birthmarks, but also appearance wise, which is why they were advised to surround themselves with beauty. But it’s not just the mother’s memories that may be responsible. There are strong associations that birthmarks may actually be carried over from a past life, the ties to which were so strong, that they extended to this birth as well. This belief holds ground in multiple cultures, that the sins of the past life that could not be left behind, follow one into the next. Or, people who had suffered in a past life or died suddenly, as a result of trauma or injury, carried marks on their body from where they’d been injured. The researcher Dr. Ian Stevenson, author of Reincarnation and Biology, published extensive research documenting cases like these. If someone had died because they’d been stabbed, they would carry a knife cut or stab wound mark. In some cases, the marks would be fainter or smaller in size, but in some cases, would be perfect replicas of the size and shape of the wounds of the past life.

And he’s not alone in this theory. Variations appear culturally and in research circles, tying birthmarks to the experiences of the past life. The soul, or mind, if you’ll have it, remains unfiltered and undiminished in capacity even in a new form. And when so, it stands to reason that the impressions of the consciousness would shape themselves on the new form, if they’d had so lasting an impact. Many cultures attribute this influence to the mother, but equally many others, to the consciousness of the child itself. There are uncountable reports and narratives from people who developed awareness of their past lives, and when their stories were corroborated, were found to have died or suffered in a way that their present birthmarks indicated. Some people had recognizable birthmarks in their past lives, that they had in this one as well, that the previous family could confirm, too.

So how did that happen? Do birthmarks signify a bridge in consciousness? Are they thoughts or wishes so powerful that they manifested themselves physically? Or yet another mark of inheritance from our ancestors? But whether it is because birthmarks are an angel’s kiss, an unfinished plum, or the mark of something sinister, one thing is for sure- birthmarks are more than just a stray spot on the skin.


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