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A SKEPITCAL LOOK  AT  FAMOUS OCCULTISTS
By The Notorious Doctor Zoom Zoom   

MOTHER SHIPTON (invented 1667)


 A literary invnetion by struggling English writer
Richard Head.  Head published the first book of "her" writings, which contained many "predictions" that had already been "fulfilled" by 1641, eighty years after her reported death...so it wasn't hard for Head to fabricate such a book! The book foretold two prophetic verses – but neither of which foretold the end of the world.

    In vain attmepts to prove Mother Shipton a real person, it's been claimed she was a woman named  Ursula Southill (or Sowthiel, or Southiel), as well as  several other women who were said to be the legendary "Mother Shipton". 

    In 1667 the first  book was published published about her called The Strange and Wonderful History of Mother Shipton (later republished in 1686) which included some of her "predictions". Before that there seems to be no record of her, and this apparently where the hoax originated. 

    A later edition of her purported "prophecies" published in 1684, states that she was born in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, in a cave now known as "Mother Shipton's Cave" which, is operated as a visitor attraction along with "The Petrifying Well" and an amusement park of sorts. The book also claims that she was reputed to be hideously ugly and married a local carpenter named Toby Shipton in 1512.

    Many almanacs published up to the 19th century used Mother Shipton's name freely, such as New Universal Dream-Book; or The Dreamer's Sure Guide to the Hidden Mysteries of Futurity By Mother Shipton (1838). 

    One of her miraculous predictions was that the world would end in 1884. It didn't, as you may have noticed! The date was changed in later books to 1984. (The Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural by James Randi, pg 214-215) It didn't end then either, as you probably noticed again! Presumably, the date will be changed to 2084 in new editions. An example of a Mother Shipton “prediction” is this often misquoted one:  


  Eighteen hundred and thirty-five
  Which of us shall be alive?
  Many a king shall end his reign
  Many a knave his end shall gain.


     Apparently Kingdoms were to end in 1835...and in fact none did. Later editions in the 1930's changed the date to 1935...which was still wrong! In the 1970's, the date was changed to 1985...and still failed to come to pass!  

    In the 70's many Wiccans (such as Raymond Buckland) promoted Mother Shipton, trying to pass her off as a Wiccan...she wasn't. Nor was she a prophetess.  Books still continue to be written today by modern authors, claiming they are actually written by Mother Shipton!

    Mother Shipton; A false prophetess  who never actually even  existed!

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