The horse was a major symbol of energy, power and fertility, and horse worship
perhaps persisted from the earliest nomadic stages of proto-Celtic tribal
culture. "Celt" is what the people called themselves. They referred to themselves, when talking to the Greeks, as the
"Keltoi" or "strangers, hidden, or secret people".
With the entry into the iron age around 500 b.c.e., the Celts invented the horseshoe. The
horseshoe changed the way people traveled and worked and spent their leisure. The
iron semi-circle of the shoe is shaped at the forge to match the hoof of the horse. The hoof
is an enlarged toenail. The shoe is nailed into the hoof. The nails pass though
the part of the hoof that has no feeling. The shoe enables the horse to walk on
any terrain, just like shoes for humans. The nails for the shoe have a
key-shaped head, so that later they can later be removed as the hoof grows and
the shoe no longer fits. This design has not changed
over thousands of years.
Why is the horseshoe a symbol of good luck?
Legend has it that a true lucky horseshoe was once worn by a horse. Think
empowerment. In order to have a true lucky charm on your hand though, you had to find (not buy) one with nails still intact. The number of nails left in the shoe equaled the number of years of good luck it would bring.
If one hung a horseshoe above their door upside down it would hold the good luck in. If one had it right side up then it would drain the bad luck out. A
miniature charm around the neck at times proved to be as effective. Horseshoe
jewelry might be included for the bride in an Irish wedding.
Art by Miranda Gray & Courtney Davis
Epona is the Celtic horse goddess from Gaul whose authority extended even beyond death,
accompanying the soul on its final journey. She was worshipped throughout entire
Gaul, and as far as the Danube and Rome. Her cult was eventually adopted by the
Roman army and they spread her worship wherever they went. She was the only
Celtic Goddess to be honored by the Romans with a temple in their capital city.
Among the Gaulish Celts themselves, she was worshipped as goddess of horses,
asses, mules, oxen, and, to an extent, springs and rivers.
Epona is depicted sitting side-saddle or lying on a horse, or standing with
multiple horses around her. Her symbol is the Cornucopia ("horn of
plenty") which suggests that she could (originally) have been a fertility
goddess. In modern times her legend has been transformed into the stories of
For the Greeks the horseshoe represented the crescent moon which was regarded as a symbol of
fertility and thus prosperity. Some have suggested that the shape of the
horseshoe corresponds to that of the cauldron. The cauldron is another symbol of
fertility and power, but it lies upon a separate path.
Thus, horseshoe is a tool of magick unto itself. And just for those who are
interested, Spelcastor, who is of Irish and Germanic decent, was born on Horseshoe Hill Farm.
Visit the Epona Shrine