Friday, 14 September 2012

As Luck Would Have It

The hanging of horseshoes as good luck charms is a widespread practice.  I’ve seen them on barns and houses across North America but never given them much thought before my arrival in Keels.  Although not an ancient tradition, it is deeply rooted in many places.  As with any custom, the beliefs surrounding the use of these good luck charms vary from region to region and community to community.  The prevailing wisdom in Keels is that horseshoes must point up, so that they can catch luck.  There are, however, a few proponents of another school of thinking, who believe the horseshoe must point down, to allow luck to pour out onto the residents of the home in question; an upward facing horseshoe is thought to hold luck in, rendering the charm useless.

This question of horseshoes has got me thinking about good luck charms and protective charms.  There are hundreds and thousands of things that people do to bring luck to their homes or to keep their homes safe.  What might appear fairly straightforward customs are undoubtedly as complex and varied as the people who practice them.  It would take several lifetimes even to begin to explore the lore surrounding these charms, and it would make for fascinating study.  With luck perhaps I’ll learn a little more before leaving Keels.  I know that my first order of business when I return home will be to acquire a horseshoe (or perhaps even two) to hang over my door.               

Horseshoes in Keels

(Photos: Claire McDougall)

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