You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on widesmiles.org.

This one is about: More on the Term Harelip


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Some comments by Lark Jarvis, after reading various books:

More about the term harelip: Some who study the history of "witches" in Europe, theorize that possibly because there were so many hares in the British Isles, hares were among the animals considered to be the consorts of witches.

[Side comment by Lark: But -- it's a stretch, really, to think that a hare's mouth looks like an unrepaired cleft -- I've heard it said that manatees are actually closer to what a real cleft looks like . . .Manatees unfortunately don't figure in the story, though. But they're cute, smart, and affectionate, which is handy to know . . :) ]

The real background -- during the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe and elsewhere, probably about 100,000 people lost their lives in witchhunts, carried out with the authority of the Church. The majority of those who died were women, and many among them were midwives, who seemed to be the target of husbands' and others' wrath and frustration whenever a woman delivered a baby with anomalies or died in childbirth, which was often. An anomalous birth was naturally attributed to the "forces of evil" at work.

The causes of all of the persecutions were rooted in the deep social/religious/political changes of the period. And they make for fascinating reading. . .It's been said that all across Europe during that period, people in the countryside were developing habits (toiletry, cleanliness, sexuality and otherwise:) that served to *finally* separate
them from the "filth and chaos" of the animal world. (Europeans before this point were pretty gross, animalistic characters! Eeeuww!)

I've read in several places that it's possible that the people's extreme reaction to clefts at that point in history could have to do with the fact that clefts brought up the similarity in how human and animal faces are fused -- which visually reminded them again of the fact that humans ARE animals -- So, the cleft brought up some kind of deep, primal anxiety about what it means to be human vs what it means to be an animal . . .Makes sense to me, I guess!


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