May 1, 2012

Prophets and Prophecies - Part Nine

Mother Shipton

Ursula Sonthiel was born in 1488, supposedly in a cave in Yorkshire, England. According to legend, her conception was the result of a union between her mother and the devil; she was reportedly extremely plain and deformed.

She exhibited prophetic and psychic abilities from an early age, writing them down in the form of poems. At twenty-four she married Toby Shipton, and became known as Mother Shipton, although she never had children.

One of her most famous opponents was apparently Cardinal Wolsey. She made the prediction that he would never see the city of York, despite the fact he was its Archbishop. A short while after this prediction, Wolsey left London for York. He was just ten miles from his destination when he was recalled to London, where he was to stand trial for high treason.

Mother Shipton predicted important historical events many years ahead of their time - the Great Fire of London in 1666, the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and the death of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587, to name just a few.

The most famous of her prophecies described future technology:

Carriages without horses shall goe,
And accidents fill the world with woe.
Around the world thoughts shall fly
In the twinkling of an eye….
Under water men shall walk,
Shall ride, shall sleep and talk;
In the air men shall be seen,
In white, in black and in green….
Iron in the water shall float,
As easy as a wooden boat.

She was also believed to have predicted her own death in 1561. No-one knows where she was buried, thought it is believed she was laid to rest in non-consecrated ground on the outskirts of York.

There have been more than 50 different editions of books about Mother Shipton and her prophecies. The first known edition of her prophecies appeared in print in 1641, eighty years after her death. However, the most important editions of her work appeared in 1684, edited by Richard Head, and in 1862, edited by Charles Hindley.

It is believed that many of Mother Shipton’s prophecies were in fact hoaxes. Almost all of them were written by others after the events they described had already happened. For example, the first record of her prophecy about Cardinal Wolsey dates from 1641, long after the man had died. Her prophecies about future technology first appeared in print in the 1862 edition of her sayings, and Charles Hindley, the editor of that edition, later admitted that he had composed them.

Even the existence of Mother Shipton herself is uncertain. Her 1684 biographer, Richard Head, may have invented most of the details of her life. In fact, she may never have existed outside of Yorkshire legend. Historian Arnold Kellet, however, believes Mother Shipton did exist. He argues that if this had been a fabricated tale about a mythical figure, a far more fabulous and sensational prophecy could have been written.

If you’d like to read more about Mother Shipton’s prophecies, I recommend THIS SITE. If you’d like to read more about Mother Shipton and the tourist attraction the cave she was reported to have born in has become, I recommend THIS SITE.

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