“Cornelius Gemma tells of a child that was born with his forehead wounded and running with blood, the result of his father’s threats toward his mother “… with a drawn sword which he directed toward her forehead”; Sennertius records the case of a pregnant woman who, seeing a butcher divide a swine’s head with his cleaver, brought forth her child with his face cloven in the upper jaw, the palate, and upper lip to the very nose.
In Van Helmont’s De Injectis Materialibus, some very astonishing cases are reported: The wife of a tailor at Mechlin was standing at her door and saw a soldier’s hand cut off in a quarrel, which so impressed her as to bring on premature labor, and her child was born with only one hand, the other arm bleeding. In 1602, the wife of Marcus Devogeler, a merchant of Antwerp, seeing a soldier who has just lost his arm, was taken in labor and brought forth a daughter with one arm struck off and bleeding as in the first case.
Van Helmont gives a third example of another woman who witnessed the beheading of thirteen men by order of the Duc d’Alva. The horror of the spectacle was so overpowering that she “suddenly fell into labour and brought forth a perfectly-formed infant, only the head was wanting, but the neck bloody as their bodies she beheld that had their heads cut off. And that which does still advance the wonder is, that the hand, arm, and head of these infants were none of them to be found.”
If it was possible to conceive of such a thing as a miracle in nature, the above cases of the sudden disappearance of portions of the unborn human body might be designated.
We have looked in vain through the latest authorities upon human physiology for any sufficient theory to account for the least remarkable of foetal signatures. The most they can do is to record instances of what they call “spontaneous varieties of type”, and then fall back either upon Mr. Proctor’s “curious coincidences” or upon such candid confessions of ignorance as are to be found in authors not entirely satisfied with the sum of human knowledge.”
H. P. Blavatsky