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Related to Warts: plantar wart, HPV


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The archetypal witch is invariably depicted as a hag with a humped back and a large wart on her face or nose. During the persecutions it was important to be as unlike this depiction as possible, to avoid accusation. The wart caused by a viral infection was often seen as the "teat" from which the witch fed her devilish imp. Removal of warts was therefore important.

Many cures (some of which are used today) involved rubbing the wart with another object, perhaps a piece of bacon fat, a snail or frog, a horseshoe nail, a potato, a bean, or a piece of meat. Other cures involved transferring the wart to another person by direct contact or by touching an object to the wart and then ensuring that another person touches that object. One such old cure/charm states, "Buy a new, red, silk ribbon twenty-one inches long and tie as many knots in it as there are warts on the body. Drop the ribbon near a school or where many children or adults pass by. Whoever picks up the ribbon will take on the warts." Commenting on this, Dr. Henry E. Sigerist pointed out that there were no incantations and that the purchasing of a new length of ribbon, to be later discarded, involved a minor sacrifice. The disease was transferred to the ribbon through the tying of the knots and then further transferred by being picked up by another.

Professor H. J. Eysenck, of London's Maudsley Hospital, conducted an experiment with two groups of children. One group was given conventional medicine to get rid of the warts while the other group was led through a "magical" ritual, involving drawing the wart in progressively smaller size on a piece of paper. The group practicing the old folk magic had a far greater success rate in eliminating the wart than did the group with the medicine.

Vance Randolph said that warts may be disposed of by hiring a boy to "take them off your hands." He said that "two or three more warts don't matter to a chap who has a dozen or so already. Just give the boy a penny or a nickel for each wart and they will pass from you to him as soon as he spends the money."

Some people stipulate that a wart must be removed at a crossroads or, even better, where three roads meet, because such a meeting or crossing of roads is special to Witches. As a goddess of magical charms and enchantments, Hecate frequented crossroads where her image could be found, either as columns or as statues of the goddess, with three faces called Triple Hecates. Offerings would be left there for her, on the eve of the full moon, usually in the form of food, known as "Hecate's Supper." Three is considered a magical number in many ways, and the place where three roads meet was therefore a mystical spot, often the site of magical rituals and religious rites. Dame Alice Kyteler was accused of sacrificing cockerels at a crossroads at her trial in 1324.

One old folk cure for warts involved placing a grain of corn for each wart in the road at a crossroads, each under a small stone. The person or animal who moved a stone and uncovered the grain would take on the warts.

The exact number of warts can be important when using a spell to get rid of them. Randolph quotes an old farmer who would apply stump water to the warts and say "Stump water, stump water, kill these (number) warts!" The number stated had to be the exact number of warts that were there. If not, then none of the warts would go. Another countryman would squeeze a drop of blood from the wart onto two grains of corn. He would feed one of the grains to a rooster and carry the other in his pocket. At some point he would find that he had lost the grain from his pocket, and he then would find that the wart had disappeared.



infectious, benign neoplasms of the skin, having the appearance of a nodule or a papilla. Warts are classified as common warts, fiat warts, pointed condylomas, and senile warts. Common and flat warts and pointed condy lomas are caused by the same virus. The incubation period is two to five months.

Common warts are compact, dry, circumscribed, painless, cornified elevations with a rough, villous surface, ranging in size from the head of a pin to a pea. They may fuse, forming large patches. They are most often located on the hands. Plantar warts, a variety of common wart, appear on spots subjected to pressure from footwear, especially in people who perspire profusely. These very dense, cornified, dirty gray plantar warts are distinguished by severe painfulness that hinders walking; they sometimes cause temporary loss of ability to work. Flat, or juvenile, warts usually appear in children and young people. They appear as either rounded or irregular flat nodules located on the back of the hand and also on the skin of the face. Irritation of the skin fosters the occurrence of flat warts, which often appear along scratches, cuts, and so on. Pointed condylomas are pink nodules, which, in fusing, form a papillary growth of soft consistency on a base in the form of a peduncle. They usually develop on the sex organs and in the inguinal and gluteal folds when the skin is not kept clean. Senile warts or old-age keratomas develop in elderly persons; they are not caused by viral infection. They consist of gray, brown, or black patches covered with friable, horny masses impregnated with cutaneous fat. They are located mainly on the face, neck, and trunk.

Since certain other skin neoplasms, which may have an unfavorable course, may resemble warts, a dermatologist should be consulted when warts appear. There are a number of treatments for warts. Common, senile, and flat warts are destroyed by freezing with liquid nitrogen, chlorethyl, or a snow of carbonic acid, as well as by electrocoagulation, galvanic current, or d’Arsonval current; medicinal preparations are also used. Common and juvenile warts may be cured by suggestion. Plantar warts are sometimes destroyed by repeated injections of a novocain solution under the base of the wart. Pointed condylomas are treated surgically.


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