Yes, once again a post about an animal other than a cat. I hope readers accept this diversion which is necessary from time to time as there are 20,000 pages on cats 😎❓. Sounds mad but it is true. A change is as good as a rest as they say. So here are 15 facts on the superstition that the horseshoe brings good luck.
- All over the world, people believe that horseshoes bring good luck which is why you sometimes see them today over doors and on the outside walls of buildings. You see them over the entrances to stables. Sometimes sailors fix one to the mast of their ship. Nelson did this on the Victory.
- Taxi Drivers (in the UK?) have their own horseshoe superstitions. They try to ensure that their vehicle registration number has a U in it with the U being the symbol of a horseshoe.
- One reason why it is believed that the horseshoe brings good luck is because it is protective of a horse’s foot when worn. It prevents rough terrain damaging a horse’s hoof and therefore it should be able to protect people in general.
- And in days gone by, when people were less educated about horse anatomy, some thought it magical that you could attach a horseshoe hot from the fire and nailed into the hoof without causing pain. The reason is because the hoof is made of keratin (the same material as our nails) and contains no nerves. The horseshoe was magical.
- And to add to that magic, the shoe was fixed to the hoof with seven nails. To some, seven is a lucky number.
- Also iron was considered to be a magical substance believed to be able to keep the devil at bay. Many years ago, it was considered to be able to repel evil spirits and sometimes people would “touch iron” as they “touch wood” now.
- More precisely, the horseshoe takes the shape of the capital letter U. This resembles a pair of horns. Horns were used to protect buildings. This superstition has existed for thousands of years.
- Originally the horns were those of the ancient Horned God who in the world of pagans became the devil for devout Christians. But the horns of the devil have become a protective device.
- Desmond Morris says that Christians “[are] always on the lookout for possible symbol takeovers” and did their best to de-paganise the lucky horseshoe. They suggested that horseshoes should be nailed on their side so that the U-shape became a C-shape. In this way it became the first letter of “Christ”. This made it acceptable to Christians.
- And in some countries and for other people, the U was inverted, and, in that position, it was said to be particularly defensive. It was concerned with good luck and the inverted U was said to symbolise the female genitals. This appears to have been a reflection of what happened in mediaeval England when many mediaeval churches displayed clear images of female genitals above their doors according to Dr. Desmond Morris.
- These figures were thought to function as distractions to divert evil spirits. They were called sheela-na-gigs.
- The sexual meaning of the inverted horseshoe symbol is supported by a German saying namely Sie hat ein Hufeisen verloren which means that if a girl had been seduced, she had “lost a horseshoe”.
- In terms of symbolism, the horseshoe shape represents a halo and when hung over the house affords the residence sacred protection.
- And some people believe that the shape of the horseshoe is reflected in the crescent moon which invokes the protection of the celestial Moon Goddess!
- This combination of symbolic strands leads to the conclusion that the horseshoe is a lucky object and it is still used widely today.
Of course it is all based on superstition. The human is a very superstitious creature.