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Horseshoes are the Door of Life

On land or at sea, the horseshoe provides luck and protection against the Evil One.

In North America the horseshoe is by far the most well-known good luck charm, we see it constantly represented in jewelry, wall hangings and even furniture. But why do we consider this symbol one of such good luck? Even though many of us are fond of this symbol, most are not completely familiar with the origins and symbolism connected to the horseshoe.

Traditionally, horseshoes have been crafted by blacksmiths, this action alone gives the horseshoe good luck powers due to the fact that blacksmithing was considered to be an extremely lucky trade because the work required the use of one of the main elements - fire.

The origin of the lucky horseshoe is traced back to Saint Dunstan, a blacksmith who later became archbishop of Canterbury, and the legend of his run in with the devil. There are several versions of the tale but all have the same outcome. The stories can't seem to agree on how he did it but he is believed to have nailed a red hot horseshoe to the devil's hoof causing the devil great pain. The saint bargained with the devil and agreed to remove the shoe if the devil agreed to never enter a house or building with a horseshoe hung above the door. Other versions say that the devil simply avoided homes with horseshoes due to the turmoil it had once caused him.

The use and meaning of the horseshoe is dependant upon your background culture. The horseshoe is used as an ancient religious symbol in Assyrian and Egyptian cultures, it is often seen depicted in historic sculptures and hieroglyphs meant to signify the enigmatic "door of life". Any symbol that has an open end such as a horseshoe is considered female because it symbolizes how life enters the world.

Early civilizations in Scotland made note that the arc of the horseshoe is emblematic of the hooded serpent king. This makes the horseshoe useful as a protective and beneficent power due to the arc so closely resembling the mark of the Nagendra (hooded serpent king) a chief deity in Ceylon tradition.

In Mexico, horseshoes are used to create a "El Secreto de la Virtuosa Herradura" (the secret of the virtuous horseshoe) which is a large amulet. To create the amulet they wrap a horseshoe in colorful thread and decorate it with sequins and prints of San Martin Caballero (he became a monk after he had a vision of Christ) usually with a prayer of the horseshoe (Oracion de la Herradura) affixed to the back. The horseshoe prayer invokes the Holy Trinity and asks the powerful horseshoe of iron to bring the holder luck, health and wealth as well as help them rid themselves of gossipers and enemies.

In Turkey and adjacent areas of Greece, the horseshoe is used as a magical protecting agent against the evil eye which is a look given by a person who is envious or dislikes you that is said to cause you harm or bad luck. Horseshoes from this culture are usually metal or blue glass and are often integrated with an all-seeing eye emblem making them into a charm that averts evil.

Another legend originating in Europe is that worn out horseshoes were thought to posses special powers and are used as magical protective amulets. Many believe it is the shape alone that gives horseshoes their magical powers since it replicates the very shape of the pagan crescent or horned moon from which it is believed that horseshoes draw their power. When being used a for protection the horseshoe was hung over barn and stable doorways with its open end pointing downwards. It is said that no witch will pass under an upside down horseshoe.

There seems to be a bit of a discrepancy over which is the correct way to hang a horseshoe. For the majority of people in the countries of Europe, Middle East and Spanish Colonial Latin America the horseshoe is placed with the open end down so that the luck may pour down on you. In Ireland, Britain and North America, the shoe is positioned in the upward position to ensure the "luck does not run out".

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