Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tradition of The Horseshoe


How It Came to Be Protection Against Evil Spirits

In Morocco iron is considered a great protection against demons, who are the lineal representatives, after all, of the hostile spirits. Hence it is usual to place a knife or dagger under a sick man's pillow, his illness being, of course, attributed to demoniacal possession. In India the mourner who performs the necessary but somewhat dangerous duty of putting fire into the dead man's mouth carries a key or a knife in his hand to keep off the evil spirits. In short, a bit of iron is a very useful thing to have about you at any time if you desire to escape the unfavorable attention of the ghosts, the trolls, the fairies and the demons generally. This is good reason for buying a pocketknife. It is also a reason for nailing up a horseshoe. "But why a horseshoe in particular," you ask, "more than any other odd piece of iron?" Well, primarily the good luck depends more upon the iron as iron than on the special shape or function of the horseshoe as a horseshoe.

But there are also many reasons why the superstition should happen to fix itself more particularly upon horseshoes. We must remember that in Europe at least it is the cattle, the horses and the domestic beasts in general that are specially liable to the hostile attacks of "the little people." Therefore the elves and trolls are most likely to be dreaded on farms or in the country, where horses and cattle most do congregate. Now, if you went to nail up a bit of iron as a protection against the fiery darts of the evil ones on your stables or cowhouses, which is the place where one oftenest sees them, nothing is more likely to come handy to your purpose than a cast horseshoe. Besides it has obvious congruity for the place and object, and it can readily be picked up in the road almost anywhere. Furthermore, it is provided beforehand with convenient holes, by means of which you can readily hang it up, either over your own house door or over your sheds and stables. These various advantages of cheapness, ease and readiness for fixing would have given the horseshoe a fair start in life, it is believed, as a charm against fairies, trolls and evil spirits generally, even without any other and more special advantages. — Cornhill Magazine.

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