The horseshoe symbol is found all over the world. In the United States, the horseshoe is a good luck charm and worn on jewelry or hung as decoration. Growing up, my mom always had a horseshoe hanging above the door of our house and barn. In this article, dive into the folklore of the horseshoe, horseshoe magic and symbolism. We will also learn how to hang a horseshoe for good luck.
The metal horseshoe itself dates back to at least 500 AD but may be older. People began “shoe-ing” horses’ hooves for protection from wear and injury in ancient times using various materials. The iron horseshoe has been in use since at least the Medieval Age. In a reference circa 900 AD, the horseshoe is called a “crescent figured iron” which connects the symbol with the moon and lunar goddesses. When it became a good luck symbol is unknown but perhaps was used for magical purposes since ancient times. Horses are sacred animals in many cultures and therefore the shoe itself holds the magic of the horse’s spirit.
In Europe, the horseshoe symbol has been used for centuries to ward off evil. Hung beside or above doors to a home or barn, the horseshoe symbol protects the building’s inhabitants from evil spirits, harmful witchcraft, and malevolent fairies. In Ireland, the iron that makes up the horseshoe itself is thought to have protective powers against the fay. This belief may correlate to the Iron Age when the Milesians conquered Ireland and its “magical” fairy inhabitants known as the Tuatha de Danann. The iron was used in battle and to drive away these beings, and therefore is used as a ward against the fay. Horseshoe magic is powerful on many levels.
Although the horseshoe as a protective symbol dates back to pre-Christian times, there is a Christian legend explaining its sacred powers that dates back to the eighteen hundreds. The True Legend of St. Dunstan and the Devil was written by Edward G. Flight and tells the tale of a man who asks Dunstan to shoe him. When Dunstan goes to shoe the man with a horseshoe, he notices the man doesn’t have feet but has cloven hooves. Which tells him this man is actually the Devil himself. St. Dunstan drives a nail into the middle of the man’s cloven hoof while shoe-ing him and runs the Devil off for good.
The horseshoe symbol wards off the evil eye in Middle Eastern countries. The horseshoe symbol wards off the evil eye in Turkey. Posted on a blue plaque, it wards off evil in various countries. Beliefs the horseshoe is linked to Yoni (sanskrit) or sacred feminine womb also makes the horseshoe a powerful symbol.
Do you hang a horseshoe up or down for prosperity or protection? Horseshoe luck comes to those who hang the horseshoe up in many traditions because the prongs are pointing to the heavens. There’s also the connection with the upward prongs symbolizing the horns of sacred livestock such as oxen. Note the similarity between the ancient Norse rune Uruz (the letter and shape U) and the horseshoe. Uruz is a protective symbol that also brings abundance and strength, like the horseshoe symbol.
Still others claim the horseshoe should be turned down because if the horseshoe is turned up, fairies sit in them and wreak havoc on a household or barn. Horseshoe up or down? It’s up to you! My family always hung them up so as to “catch the luck”.
Once you’ve acquired a horseshoe from ebay, amazon, or an antique store, hang it for good luck and protection. Old horseshoes are the most powerful. Here’s how to hang a horseshoe for good luck:
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