We have found a witch, may we burn her?
How do you know she is a witch?
She looks like one!
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
Hmm… what exactly does a witch look like?
The sad truth is that by most estimates, up through the 1700s, 40,000 or more people were executed under suspicion of practicing witchcraft; based primarily upon their religious beliefs, independent or rebellious behaviors, and some interesting physical characteristics including… left-handedness.
Being a southpaw myself, I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by societal views of left-handedness. However, it was not until I read a recent news article that I came to understand that left-handers have been feared and persecuted for thousands of years.
In the English language, the term left is derived from the Anglo-Saxon lyft meaning to be weak or broken. But it’s not just limited to the English language: The German for “left-handed’ is linkisch, which means awkward, clumsy, and maladroit. In Italian, mancino is derived from crooked or maimed. In Russian, to be called a left-hander (levja) is a term of insult.
It’s a wonder that left-handedness hasn’t been wiped out – after all only 10% of the population is left-handed. However, scholars note it appears we’ve held steady at this percentage for about 30,000 years (Coren, Stanley. 1992. The Left-Hander Syndrome: The Causes and Consequences of Left-Handedness. Detroit, MI: Free Press). Despite the persecution, the fear (left-handedness having once been considered the mark of the devil), and a propensity to be accident prone, we’ve survived. There are a few theories as to why this is true:
- It’s genetic. One premise is that the gene LRRTM1 is a strong contributing factor for left-handedness. Scientists discovered the gene during a study of dyslexic children; it is believed to be inherited from the father. At the most, this seems to account for 25% of all lefties. In my family, the only other leftie I’ve ever been able to identify is my Uncle Tommy, on my mama’s side; so go figure.
- It’s the environment. There might be conditions during pregnancy that contribute to developing into a left-hander. Here is my favorite: left-handers were originally in the womb with a twin that did not survive, or a “Vanishing Twin.” Two of me? I do not think my mother would have survived two teenage Kimbas.
- It’s a choice. For whatever reason, some infants may just chose to be lefties. Are we more rebellious? Are we stubborn? Do we choose to be left-handed because we are more creative? I find this one particularly funny because I can tell you: I was born a leftie. I’ve never been able to do anything right-handed. For me it would be like trying to choose my eye color or my height or my shoe size. My GeeGee tried desperately to teach me to knit. I remember clearly the day she exclaimed, quite exasperated;
Kim, you’re just going to have to choose to knit right-handed.
My response: No Grandma, you’re gonna have to choose to teach me left-handed.
To this day “knit one, purl two” is lost on me.
It’s not all gloom, doom, and bad luck for us lefties – though I admit it’s hard to ignore sayings like this Scottish one: “He’s so unlucky, he must have been baptized by a left-handed priest.” There have in fact been quite a few famous and successful people who are or were left-handed, including: scientists –Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Marie Curie; presidents – four of the past seven have been southpaws including Ford, Bush (Sr.), Clinton, and Obama; and actors such as Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, and a personal favorite Hugh Jackman.
I’ll admit, I may have just been looking for any excuse to post a picture of Hugh Jackman here …
The truth is, I like being unique. I like being tall, big footed, green-eyed and yes, left-handed. To celebrate our uniqueness, we even have our own day: August 13th is International Left-Handers Day (I am sure that unlucky thirteen must have been chosen on purpose here). I’m happy to represent just 10% of the population; and have you noticed that I haven’t exactly denied the whole witch thing….
What makes you unique? What characteristics and attributes do you celebrate?
Ana Ramoz saysJanuary 1, 2014 at 4:26 am
O my god! I'm tall 5'7 at age 14 I have big feet and have green eyes and I'm a lefty :O
Kim Dalferes saysJanuary 1, 2014 at 9:23 am
We’re practically twins!!
Jen Duchene saysSeptember 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm
Had a good giggle at this even though being a leftie was not always welcomed. I am left handed and my dad was. He got hit until he learned to write with his right. Interestingly enough 13 is the Divine Goddess number. Left people are creative thinkers -its in their hands and brains. 13 was the number of the white witches, which is why it given the unlucky monniker. I am happy to be part of the 10% and possibly a witch too….
Kim Dalferes saysSeptember 13, 2013 at 11:01 pm
Lovin’ all the white witches who are connecting here! Tell me again, when is our next meeting?
Frank Montrose saysSeptember 12, 2013 at 5:54 pm
I was, but they wouldn’t let me remain, so I changed, partially, with a lean to the right, which changed the pitch of my voice, my hair color, and it forced me to give up my broomstick in favor of a Harley. Go figure.
Kim Dalferes saysSeptember 12, 2013 at 6:02 pm
Oh but a Harley is a mighty fine replacement for a broomstick!! Just curious – voice pitch changed to higher or lower? 😉
Vicki saysSeptember 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm
What a fun read! I have 2 close friends who are lefties & they are both…like you…creative & fun. I always knew you had special talents, just never attributed it to your left-handedness. And the witch part? Nah!
Kim Dalferes saysSeptember 12, 2013 at 6:04 pm
LOL Vicki – noticed that you didn't respond to the potential of two Kimba's in the house!
Kate Lindsay saysSeptember 12, 2013 at 9:23 am
I am right handed through and through. My left is not without use but it's certainly the weaker of the two. I have always thought that left handed people were cool. My nephew is a unqie soul. He writes with his left. Throughs a baseball with his right and eats with his right. But shoots a hockey stick and swings a golf club left.
Kim Dalferes saysSeptember 12, 2013 at 10:59 am
Lovin your nephew! He might be King of the Warlocks – 😉
Deanna Heiliger saysSeptember 11, 2013 at 8:04 pm
What a fun post! I love all the trivia about being left handed. My dad and my oldest daughter are left handed…I think being left handed means you are brilliant! 🙂
kimba saysSeptember 11, 2013 at 10:29 pm
Thank you for the compliment – brilliant – I'll take it!
Karo saysSeptember 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm
Hi Kimba, what a great article! A couple of years ago, I was doing research about the history of gays, and they were often treated just the same way as the left-handed people, and so were people who were in any way "different" from the established norms. I'm so happy that this long period of Persecution of Difference is behind us! I am told I was born left-handed but was taught to use my right hand at a very early age. Still, I'm a rebel who weites about socio-cultural taboos and lives what many would consider a pretty extreme lifestyle (plant-based diet), and is kind to others but does not care how others will judge her. So there, a right-handed rebel with leftist roots! 🙂
kimba saysSeptember 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm
Lovin' your leftist roots – keep on challenging those who would want you to confirm.
Louise / Priestess Tarot saysSeptember 11, 2013 at 5:06 pm
Hey Kimba, great to connect with you via #Fabandfearless on Facebook! 🙂
Now, here's the thing! I'm a righty, I've neat hand-writing but there was a girl at school (birthday was the same day as mine) and she was corri-fisted (Scottish slang for south-paw) and she had the neatest hand-writing I've ever seen, even against my mothers beautiful scroll!
I'm married to a corri-fisted fella and so far, our 2 boys are like me: righties. I'm hoping our wee girl is corri-fisted!
I had to learn to write with my left hand during my high-school (secondary school) years as I damaged my writing hand and it was bandaged up for six weeks, so I spent 6 weeks learning to print-write with my left hand.
Enjoy being able to do things countershins, I find it awkward but I can tell you this: I punch just as well with my left as I do with my right! 🙂 *lol* 🙂
kimba saysSeptember 11, 2013 at 10:19 pm
Corri-fisted" – I've learned a new word today! And thanks for the tip about ducking your right – and left – hooks!
Don Decker saysSeptember 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm
Funny, I always kind of wished I were left handed. I celebrate my brain and my eyes. And I'm unique because I can wiggle one ear and because computers seem to actually want to help me. There are other things of course, these are just what I can think of right now. 🙂
kimba saysSeptember 11, 2013 at 10:11 pm
Don, you are the only person I've ever known (even just via the blog) who can wiggle just the one ear. You, my friend, are a super hero.