Today I speak about one of the best-known talismans of the Western World.
Since ancient times, the Horseshoe is used as amulet against demons and evil spirits. Accordingly, this simple object takes on the meaning of powerful lucky charm and positive energies catalyst.
The origin of this tradition is traced back to the legend of Saint Dunstan, a blacksmith that became Archbishop of Canterbury in 959. He nailed a Horseshoe to the Devil’s hoof, instead of his horse, and, before freeing him, Saint Dunstan made him promise that he would never enter in a place protected by a Horseshoe hanging on the door.
According to other sources, the Horseshoe shape recalls the female genital and, if hung in a visible place, it can distract the evil force that, attracted by the sexual reference, would immediately lose interest in entering.
Another interpretation says that bad luck is trapped in the round structure of the Horseshoe, without finding a way out.
In some cases, if we consider Christian tradition, the Horseshoe is hung horizontally in order to represent the C of Christ.
Its powers come from three structural characteristics:
- The metal of which it’s made (IRON)
- The crescent moon shape, symbol of Isis (MOON)
- The connection with the horse, an animal with a strong magical connotation. Furthermore, the horse doesn’t show signs of pain when it’s shoed, so in the ancient times this positive attribute was associated to the iron and not to the horn layer of the hoof.
Given this, it’s important to say that the Horseshoe symbology has very ancient origins.
In Chinese culture, it has a good-luck meaning because of its similarity to the sinuous body of a snake, sacred mythological animal. Moreover, both the snake and the horse are celestial beings connected to the Water element.
In Ancient Rome, the beliefs linked to the Horseshoe mostly have military origin: the loss of a Horseshoe could mean a forced stop of the marching troops and, in a society where the army plays a key role, we can understand why these objects are so important. Anyway, many Latin sources reveal that it was also uesd as a protection against the plague.
During the Middle Ages it was even used in medicine to promote healing and births. It was also considered a cure for the bites of rabid dogs and poisonous snakes.
In the cultures of the Mediterranean it is nailed to the door to ward off the evil eye; it frees guests from envy and malicious intents, wiping the bad energy out. But, in order to be effective, the Horseshoe must have the ends facing upwards, like magnets for the superior cosmic powers.
There is no agreement whether the Horseshoe should be new or used, found or purchased. What is sure is that the endings must never face down, at the risk of attracting the infernal forces.
It is reported that, to drive away witches, it was used to throw a Horseshoe into the fire, so that the energy released by the red-hot metal pushed away evil spirits. They did this because Mars, associated with Iron, is considered the antagonist of Saturn (witch ruler), so any iron tool could be used as a talisman against witchcraft.
In Ireland it was the classical lucky charm of the rural world, used as good luck amulet in ceremonies and weddings (little Horseshoes were sewn inside the bride’s dress).
Sailors often hung a Horseshoe on the mast to protect the boat from storms. The reason is analogical: as the Horseshoe makes the mount stable, so it can also stabilize the ship.
Finally, the Horseshoe is considered sacred also because it is a product of the forge, bringing us back to the Alchemical tradition.
Thanks for reading, this is the first post I write after the COVID emergency and I’m so relieved that things are slowly improving.
Stay safe and see you at the next post!
by Alice Colombo
Images from Web