Horseshoe in Slavic rituals

Bulgarians in Thrace, during the “wolf days”, used to toss horseshoe into the fire so that the “wolf’s mouth would burn”. Housewives in Poland and Western Belarus used to heat a horseshoe on fire until it was red-hot, and then poured milk from a “spoiled” cow on it. Or they could throw the red-hot horseshoe into a milk pan in order to return the milk “stolen” by the witch to the cow and to punish that witch. They believed that the witch would come running to this house and try to steal something – if she did not succeed, she would die. In the Carpathian region of Ukraine, people believed that in order to free a witch from the power of evil spirits, one should nail a horseshoe to her bare foot.

Among the Bosnian Muslims, women, to cure infertility, girded themselves with an iron hoop, which was forged by a blacksmith at midnight from the horseshoe of a dead horse.

Sometimes, a horseshoe was used as a sacrifice. In Bulgaria, if a person got sick in some area, a horseshoe was left to the mythological owner of this place to “shoe his horse”. And in Serbia, a horseshoe and a nail were presented as a gift to the mythological creature Vileniak (half-human and half-vila with special powers over nature).

What other rituals with a horseshoe do you know?

More interesting facts can be found in: “Slavic Antiquities” encyclopedia by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.