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The use of worn-out horseshoes as magically protective amulets -- especially hung above or next to doorways -- originated in Europe, where one can still find them nailed onto houses, barns, and stables from Italy through Germany and up into Britain and Scandinavia. Additionally, wall hangins made in the form of horseshoes are common. In the Middle-East, one finds the terra cotta blue-glazed horseshoe plaque. In Turkey small metal or blue glass horseshoes are blended with the protective all-seeing eye to form a unique apotropaic charm i call the horseshoe-and-eyes that is believed to ward off the evil eye.

There is good reason to suppose that the crescent form of the horseshoe links the symbol to pagan Moon goddesses of ancient Europe such as Artemis and Diana, and that the protection invoked is that of the goddess herself, or, more particularly, of her sacred vulva. As such, the horseshoe is related to other magically protective doorway-goddesses, such as the Irish sheela-na-gig, and to lunar protectresses such as the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is often shown standing on a crescent moon and placed within a vulval mandorla or vesica pisces.

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