Prophets and Diviners

Mother shipton

Often called the world's most famous prophetess, Mother Shipton was born in a cave beside the River Nidd in North Yorkshire, England in 1488. Previously known as Ursula Sontheil, she would display supernatural powers by the age two that earned her the nickname of Child of the Devil.

Although little is known about the rest of her youth, stories circulated about an incident that occurred early in her childhood. Upon returning to her house after doing an errand, her foster mother found the door wide open and Ursula missing. Reporting dreadful wailing and strange noises coming from the house, the neighbors told a story of an invisible force that wouldn't let them enter the kitchen. Together, they all returned to the house to discover the girl sitting in the kitchen. Completely naked, Ursula was sitting on the iron bar in the chimney from which the cooking hooks were suspended, pleased that she had wreaked havoc. From that time on, gossip spread and rumors abounded about her growing uncanny abilities.

In addition to being mischievous, Ursula made rhymes or prose of events or circumstances that would often come true. She suffered from a physical deformity that made her a victim of merciless teasing, and she soon developed what seemed a power to reap revenge on those who did so. For the most part, Ursula was an oddity, and said to even be feared by many.

Accused of using witchcraft in order to make a man fall for her, she married Toby Shipton, a carpenter, in 1512. Ursula Shipton continued to tell fortunes and predict events. Her fame spread throughout Europe, for her predictions in riddle that forecast such events as the Fire of London in 1666, the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and future technology. Born fifteen years before Nostradamus, it is reputed that she predicted the end of the world and even predicted her own end, with her death in 1561.

Although the first known edition of Mother Shipton's prophesies appeared in print in 1641, (The Propheceyes of Mother Shipton…Fortelling

Charlie Chan portrayed by actor Sidney Toler as he gazes into a crystal ball. (CORBIS CORPORATION)
Charlie Chan portrayed by actor Sidney Toler as he gazes into a crystal ball. (
the Death of Cardinall Wolsey, the Lord of Percy, and others, As Also What Should Happen in Insuing Times), by an anonymous author, eighty years after her death, it was also published in London by Richard Lowndes. It was a 1684 edition by Richard Head and edited by Charles Hindley, which included her earliest biographical data. Both Hindley and Head, in later years, said the whole thing was a hoax and they made up and invented most of the details of her life.

There is controversy as to whether or not Shipton ever really existed outside of legend. Some say thirteen of her prophecies were accurate and fulfilled; while others say she may have been a real person, but her prophecies were all part of the legend and were written after the events had already come true.

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