In the preceding pages an attempt has been made to furnish plausible reasons for the horse-shoe's universal popularity both as an amulet and as a token of good luck. It is evident, however, that this superstition cannot be referred to any one particular starting-point. Just as the sources of a river may be manifold, consisting of numerous springs and tributaries, so too, the belief in the horse-shoe's magical virtues is of complex origin and can be traced to diverse beginnings.
It may be profitable, therefore, briefly to enumerate the different theories which have been advanced:--
1. At the rite of the Passover, the blood sprinkled upon the lintel and door-posts formed the chief points of an arch. Hence the value of arch-shaped talismans.
2. The magical virtue of the horse-shoe against witches and fiends has been attributed to its bifurcated form, and to its resemblance to the crescent. Charms of similar shape are known to have been in use among the ancient Chaldeans and Egyptians.
3. Iron and steel, metals having traditional power against evil-disposed fairies and goblins.
4. The serpentine shape. Serpent-worship was nearly universal among primitive peoples, and amuletic symbols of this form were in use in the days of ancient Rome.
5. The so-called horse-shoe arch as typifying a beneficent, protecting power.
6. The ancient conception of the earth as having the shape of a round boat turned upside down and corresponding to the Egyptian Put-sign.
7. The Horse. This animal was worshiped among the early Germanic tribes, and an English myth accredits to it luck-bringing qualities.
8. The Scandinavian, superstition of the Demon-Mare.
9. The old astrological principle that Mars, the God of War and the War Horse, was hostile to Saturn, the liege-lord of witches.
10. The legend of Saint Dunstan and the Devil.
11. Phallic Symbolism.
12. The Aureole or Nimbus.
13. Supernatural faculties ascribed to blacksmiths.
14. The Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol [upside down U], signifying the mystical door of life.
15. Horses' hoof-prints in mythology and tradition.
16. The horse-shoe a symbol of the heathen god Wodan.