The horseshoe is probably one of the most well-known good luck symbols of the Western world.
The horseshoe has a long history of being a protective symbol.
The symbol is quite common in Egyptian iconography. It is also known in Islamic art.
The horseshoe is a very auspicious symbol, a charm used to protect against any form of evil and bring good luck.
The horseshoe has always been an auspicious symbol.
It was considered especially lucky if you found an old horseshoe.
Many believe the horseshoe which if found by chance has tenfold the power of a purchased horseshoe. The best find is an old horseshoe with the nails still in place.
It is told the ship of Admiral Nelson called “Victory” had a good luck horseshoe nailed to the mast.
Which way should a good luck horseshoe hang?
All superstitious people agree that hanging horseshoe above your door will protect the home and promote good luck.
This tradition dates back to the 16th century.
That is just about all that they agree about.
Some say it is most important to hang your horseshoe with the points upwards. They argue that this must be done if not your luck will escape.
You need to capture your luck inside the horseshoe; this will secure the home from evil encounters and keep the luck secure.
Others believe the opposite.
They claim that hanging your horseshoe with the points down will ensure good luck pouring down on everyone who walks underneath and will pour good luck into the home.
During the First World War the horseshoe with the points facing downwards on printed cards was most common.
Now it seems the wind has changed and more and more people tend to prefer the points of the horseshoe pointing up.
Why the horseshoe is considered lucky.
Many believe that it is the iron the horseshoe originally was made from is one of the main reasons it is auspicious.
Iron is a strong metal which withheld fire. This gave a strong resemblance of strength and power.
Iron and fire were considered extremely powerful. The blacksmith who created such a prodigious item was also considered to be very auspicious and was well respected.
Some say that many people of ancient times did not really understand why the horse felt no pain when the horseshoe was hammered into the horse’s hoof.
It was told it was the power and the magic of the horseshoe that ensured the horse never felt any discomfort. Naturally they wanted this power for themselves.
Some said it was the iron that made the horseshoe auspicious.
An old superstition said that if you found an old horseshoe (or a piece of old iron) you should instantly spit on it, then throw it over your left shoulder making a wish at the same time.
You needed to keep your wish a secret in order for it to come true in due time.
It is claimed it resembles the crescent moon and the magical powers go as far back as Ancient Egypt.
This is only a theory and those who do not agree argue that if that is the case why was the horseshoe never pictured sideways?
Speaking of hanging the horseshoe sideways; this has been the case in some Christian communities. They have created their own symbolism.
Choosing to show the horseshoe sideways they say it may be considered a symbol of Christ as it resembles a “C”; the power of the iron being the strength of Christ.
Some say the horseshoe represents the heavens and also the roof of the home. It represents both the spiritual and material needs of humans.
Saint Dunstan, the Devil and the Horseshoe
Many believe the origin of the lucky horseshoe can be traced back to an old legend about Saint Dunstan.
Saint Dunstan (924-988) is the patron saint of blacksmiths, goldsmiths, jewelers, locksmiths, musicians and the blind. He was a reformer, statesman, abbot, and archbishop of the tenth century in England. The feast day of Saint Dunstan is May 19th.
There are several very old legends about Saint Dunstan and the Devil. Most stories tell the tale of how Saint Dunstan constantly was tempted to do wrong by the Devil disguised as a beautiful woman.
Saint Dunstan was a brilliant blacksmith. One story refers to his exceptional talent as a blacksmith. The Devil was hard at work trying to win Saint Dunstan over.
On one occasion the Devil corned Saint Dunstan and made him promise to nail a horseshoe on the Devil’s horse.
Saint Dunstan pretended to agree on taking on this task. The devil stood close by to make sure Saint Dunstan was true to his word.
Saint Dunstan then suddenly grabbed hold of the Devil’s foot and with strong determination nailed the horseshoe on the foot of the Devil instead of his horse.
The devil screamed as the pain was horrific. The Devil in extreme agony begged Saint Dunstan to remove the horseshoe.
Saint Dunstan agreed to remove the horseshoe from the Devil’s foot under one condition; the devil was to swear never to enter any house that had a horseshoe hanging by the door. The Devil agreed instantly.
That is why the horseshoe forever more will keep evil out of the home, according to this old legend.
No matter what the reasons may be there is no doubt that the horseshoe remains an everlasting symbol of good luck.