In the dark ages during the witchcraft craze, the fear that the devil was winning over god was at its height. One of the most famous inquisition methods was to find the mark of the devil upon the accused witch.
The Devil’s mark, the mark of the beast was an identifying mark that was given to a witch after she dedicated her soul to Satan, in a gesture that was considered to be a mockery of the christian baptism. This accusation came from the book known as the Malleus Maleficarum, The Witch’s Hammer, designed to be a legal and social guide for the inquisition of witches.
According to these witch hunters, the devil marked the bodies of those that served him, as a pledge of obedience to him. This mark was considered by the inquisitors to be the proof that the one they were accusing was a witch. The mark was usually hidden in a secret place, under the clothing, inside the armpit or underneath the eyelid, at the bottom of the foot and other places.
These marks that were found, could have had an environmental cause. The author M. M. Drymon, who studied the witchcraft trials diagnosed the Witch’s mark not as a mark of the devil, but as an epidemic of Lyme disease in Europe during the middle ages that had caused lesions which were often found in dark and warm places on the body. These were the same places that the inquisitors searched and claimed that the mark of the devil was to be found.
According the Encyclopedia of witches and witchcraft, all of the people who were accused of witchery were searched in front of a public gathering of people, while their skin was searched and pricked with pins. Natural skin conditions like scars, birthmarks and blemishes were also considered to be a mark of the devil. The story of the devils mark was often confessed to by these ‘witches’ as a way for them to end the torture. If the witch had no marks to be found, she was stuck with pins by a person officially known as awitch pricker until they found a place that caused no reaction.
Margaret Murray, an English author had theorized that the mark of the devil were actually tattoos, a type of identification shared by witches in the middle ages. This was an attempt to try and prove that witchcraft had ancient pagan roots. Murray’s theory has been proven by anthropologists and academics to be inaccurate and not historically true.
I have the mark of the devil upon me. In the same week of my initiatory ritual of 2004, I got my first tattoo, an eternal pentacle, a very symbolic gesture. The sting of ten thousand needle pricks upon the back of my neck, one of the most sensitive and painful places to tattoo, was a small sacrifice to symbolize my re-initiation into satanism.
Blessed Beast! Happy Winter Solstice!
Sources: Disguised as the Devil, M. M. Drymon; Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, Rosemary Guiley