Iron is in folklore, one of the best charms against witches, sorcerers, Demons and other evil spirits. In Europe, folklore holds that witches cannot pass over cold iron, and burying an iron knife under the doorstep of one’s house will ensure that no witch will ever enter.
In some rural locales, iron has been used to protect entire villages. In India, iron will repell evil spirits; in Scotland, Ireland and Europe, iron also keeps away mischievous and malicious Fairies.
In some parts, iron keeps ghosts away as well (see ghosts, Hauntings And Witchcraft). In some cultures, iron has been sacred. The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians and Aztecs believed it came from heaven, perhaps because meteorites are comprised of iron and other metals.
In ancient Greece and rome, iron was forbidden inside temples and for use by priests. The ancient Saxons would not put Iron rune wands in cemeteries because they feared the iron would scare away the departed spirits.
Iron has been used to make Amulets to protect against danger, bad luck and the Evil Eye, as well as against evil spirits and witches. Baylonian and Assyrian men wore amulets fashioned of iron in the belief that they would enhance their virility; the women rubbed themselves with iron powder in order to attract men.
Ancient Egyptians inserted iron amulets in the linen wrappings of a mummy in order to invoke the protection of the Eye of Horus. In some parts of Burma, river men still wear iron pyrite amulets as protection against crocodiles.
The 18th-century magnetist, Franz Anton mesmer, used iron in his attempts to heal illness. Patients sat in tubs filled with water and iron fillings, with protruding iron rods. mesmer believed the iron conducted animal magnetism, the vital energy he said was in every human body. See horseshoe.
- Leach, Maria, ed., and Jerome Fried, assoc. ed. Funk & Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend. New York: Harper & row, 1972.
- Opie, Iona, and moira Tatem. A Dictionary of Superstitions. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.