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The supernatural qualities of the horse-shoe as a preservative against imaginary demons have been supposed to be due to its bifurcated shape, as any object having two prongs or forks was formerly thought to be effective for this purpose. As with the crescent, the source of this belief is doubtless the appearance of the moon in certain of its phases.

Hence, according to some authorities, is derived the alleged efficacy as amulets of horse-shoes, the horns and tusks of animals, the talons of birds, and the claws of wild beasts, lobsters, and crabs. Hence, too, the significance of the oft-quoted lines from Robert Herrick's "Hesperides:"--

Hang up books and sheers to scare
Hence, the hag that rides the mare.

The horn of the fabulous unicorn, in reality none other than that of the rhinoceros, is much valued as an amulet, and in west Africa, where the horns of wild animals are greatly esteemed as fiend-scarers, a large horn filled with mud and having three small horns attached to its lower end is used as a safeguard to prevent slaves from running away.

In the vicinity of Mirzapur in central Hindostan the Horwas tie on the necks of their children the roots of jungle plants as protective charms; their efficacy being thought to depend on their resemblance to the horns of certain wild beasts.

The Mohammedans of northern India use a complex amulet, composed in part of a tiger's claw and two claws of the large-horned owl with the tips facing outward, while in southern Europe we find the necks of mules ornamented with two boar's tusks or with the horns of an antelope.

Amulets fashioned in the shape of horns and crescents are very popular among the Neapolitans. Elworthy quotes at some length from the "Mimica degli antichi" of Andrea de Jorio (Napoli, 1832), in illustration of this fact. From this source we learn that the horns of Sicilian oxen and of bullocks are in favor with the nobility and aristocracy as evil-eye protectives, and are frequently seen on their houses and in their gardens; stag's antlers are the favorites with grocers and chemists, while the lower classes are content with the horns of rams and goats. The Sicilians are wont to tie pieces of red ribbon to the little horns which they wear as charms, and this is supposed vastly to increase their efficiency.

In southern Spain, particularly in Andalusia, the stag's horn is a very favorite talisman. The native children wear a silver-tipped horn suspended from the neck by a braided cord made from the hair of a black mare's tail. It is believed that an evil glance directed at the child is received by the horn, which thereupon breaks asunder, and the malevolent influence is thus dissipated.

Among the Arabs the horn amulet is believed to render inert the malign glance of an enemy, and in the oases of the desert the horned heads of cattle are to be seen over the doors of the Arab dwellings as talismans.

In Lesbos the skulls of oxen or other horned creatures are fixed upon trees or sticks to avert the evil eye from the crops and fruits.

In Mongolia the horns of antelopes are prized on account of their alleged magical properties; fortune-tellers and diviners affect to derive a knowledge of futurity by observation of the rings which encircle them. The Mongols set a high value upon whip-handles made from these horns, and aver that their use by horsemen promotes endurance in their steeds.

Inasmuch as the horns of animals serve as weapons both for attack and defense, they were early associated in men's minds with the idea of power. Thus in ancient times the corners of altars were fashioned in the shape of horns, doubtless in order to symbolize the majesty and power of the Being in whose honor sacrifices were offered.

Apropos of horns as symbols of strength, the peasants of Bannu, a district of the Punjab, believe that God placed the newly created world upon a cow's horn, the cow on a fish's back, and the fish on a stone; but what the stone rests upon, they do not venture to surmise. According to their theory, whenever the cow shakes her head, an earthquake naturally results.

The Siamese attribute therapeutic qualities to the horns and tusks of certain animals, and their pharmacopoeia contains a somewhat complex prescription used as a febrifuge, whose principal ingredients are the powdered horns of a rhinoceros, bison, and stag, the tusks of an elephant and tiger, and the teeth of a bear and crocodile. These are mixed together with water, and half of the resulting compound is to be swallowed, the remainder to be rubbed upon the body.

The mano cornuta or anti-witch gesture is used very generally in southern and central Italy. Its antiquity is vouched for by its representation in ancient paintings unearthed at Pompeii. It consists in flexing the two middle fingers, while, the others are extended in imitation of horns. When the hand in this position is pointed at an obnoxious individual, the malignity of his glance is believed to be rendered inert.

In F. Marion Crawford's novel, "Pietro Ghisleri," one of the characters, Laura Arden, was regarded in Roman society as a jettatrice, that is, one having the evil eye. Such a reputation once fastened on a person involves social ostracism. In the presence of the unfortunate individual every hand was hidden to make the talismanic gesture, and at the mere mention of her name all Rome "made horns." No one ever accosted her without having the fingers flexed in the approved fashion, unless, indeed, they had about them some potent amulet.

It is a curious fact that the possession of the evil eye may be imputed to any one, regardless of character or position. Pope Pius IX. was believed to have this malevolent power, and many devout Christians, while on their knees awaiting his benediction, were accustomed slyly to extend a hand toward him in the above mentioned position.

In an article on "Asiatic Symbolism" in the "Indian Antiquary" (vol. xv. 1886), Mr. H. G. M. Murray-Aynsley says, in regard to Neapolitan evil-eye amulets, that they were probably introduced in southern Italy by Greek colonists of Asiatic ancestry, who settled at Cumae and other places in that neighborhood. Whether fashioned in the shape of horns or crescents, they are survivals of an ancient Chaldean symbol. It has been said that nothing, unless perhaps a superstitious belief, is more easily transmissible than a symbol; and the people of antiquity were wont to attribute to every symbol a talismanic value.

The modern Greeks, as well as the Italians, wear little charms representing the hand as making this gesture.

But not alone in the south of Europe exists the belief in the peculiar virtues of two-pronged objects, for in Norway reindeer-horns are placed over the doors of farm-buildings to drive off demons; and the fine antlers which grace the homes of successful hunters in our own country are doubtless often regarded by their owners as of more value than mere trophies of the chase, inasmuch as traditional fancy invests them with such extraordinary virtues.

In France a piece of stag-horn is thought to be a preservative against witchcraft and disease, while in Portugal ox-horns fastened on poles are placed in melon-patches to protect the fruit from withering glances.

Among the Ossetes, a tribe of the Caucasus, the women arrange their hair in the shape of a chamois-horn, curving forwards over the brow, thus forming a talismanic coiffure; and when a Moslem takes his child on a journey he paints a crescent between its eyes, or tattooes the same device on its body. The modern Greek, too, adopts the precaution of attaching a crab's claw to the child's head. In northern Africa the horns of animals are very generally used as amulets, the prevailing idea being everywhere the same, namely, that pronged objects repel demons and evil glances.

Horns are used in eastern countries as ornaments to head-dresses, and serve, moreover, as symbols of rank. They are often made of precious metals, sometimes of wood. The tantura, worn by the Druses of Mount Lebanon in Syria, has this shape.

In the Bulgarian villages of Macedonia and Thrace the so-called wise woman, who combines the professions of witch and midwife, is an important character. Immediately upon the birth of a child this personage places a reaping-hook in a corner of the room to keep away unfriendly spirits; the efficacy of the talisman being doubtless due partly to its shape, which bears considerable resemblance to a horse-shoe.

And in Albania, a sickle, with which straw has just been cut, is placed for a few seconds on the stomach of a newly born child to prevent the demons who cause colic from exercising their functions.

The mystic virtue of the forked shape is not, however, restricted to its faculty of averting the glance of an evil eye or other malign influences, for the Divining Rod is believed to derive from this same peculiarity of form its magical power of detecting the presence of water or metals when wielded by an experienced hand.

Next: IV. The Symbol Of The Open Hand