Our blog this week comes from our Chairman, and retired GP, Dr James Grant, who is a regular visiting lecturer for the Arts Society. Dr Grant is particularly interested in the history of medicine, and he takes a look at one of Innerpeffray’s curiosities: A Treatise of Moles.
In the library of Innerpeffray you will find a very rare text from 1653, “Sanders Chiromancy.” Here is all you need to know about chiromancy, physiognomy, metoposcopy and oneireoscopy. Space does not allow an explanation of all these fabulous pseudo sciences suffice to say they have a lot to do with lines on the skin and dreams! Do check though if you have crossed lines in the centre of your forehead –it indicates that you are going to be hanged! (Metoposcopy is the ancient art of interpreting the lines of your forehead in relation to the planets!)
Perhaps the most interesting and bizarre of these psuedo sciences was the study of the significance of the position and colour of the moles on the body. A total of 112 primary mole positions are identified in Sanders and to each is attached a paragraph on its significance to the physician (or quack!):
“If you have a mole in the midst of the forehead under the line of Jupiter (don’t ask) and it is in the first figure and number (16) (see above!) and in the midst of the breast he has similar this prenotes the man to have a discourteous , cruel mind, floating brain, dull and incapable. If red he is sullen and furious, if black he is inexpert and unskilful. It shows a woman to be foolish, simple and idle, if it appears black she is a slut, a lazy slow creature”
And so it goes on, paragraph after paragraph, he is tough on men but he really hates women! It finally ends with position 112: “a mole in the lower part of the neck towards the left shoulder describes a man much more inclined to do evil rather than good. In a woman it describes her to be impudent, not regarding her manner and common civility and full of moles elsewhere.” It is amazing how many wives have left shoulder moles. (I dare you to check!) Saunders makes misogynists look like fully paid up feminists!!