To protect a house from witchcraft – “Probably the commonest way to keep witches out of the house is to nail a horseshoe over the door; this is regarded as a sort of general prophylactic against witches, bad luck, contagious disease, and other evil influences. Many hillmen insist that it doesn’t work unless the open end of the horseshoe is upward, but the reason for this has never been explained to me.” ~Randolph OMF 283

To keep witches from the butter churn – “Some people put a horseshoe into the churn…Most of them say simply a horseshoe, but sometimes one hears that it should be a hot horseshoe. It may be that a hot horseshoe really would make the butter come, and not by any supernatural spells, either.” ~Randolph OMF 295

“If your butter won’t come, the cream is bewitched. The spell can be broken by heating a horseshoe and putting it into the churn.” ~Parler FBA IX 8386

Hung up to pass on bad luck – “Many hillfolk think that the man who finds a horseshoe with the closed end toward him will do well to ‘leave it lay.’ If the open end is toward the finder, he sometimes spits on it and throws it over his left shoulder, a procedure which is supposed to bring good fortune. Or he may place it in a tree or on a fence, saying: ‘Hang thar, all my bad luck!’ In this case, whoever touches the hanging horseshoe falls heir to the misfortune of the man who placed it there. In some parts of the Ozarks one sees dozens of bad-luck horseshoes hanging in trees along the roads, but no real old-timer will touch one of them for love or money. Near the village of Day, Missouri, I have noticed that even my old friend ‘Doc’ Keithley walks wide of these horseshoes, although he is scornful of most taboos and superstitions.” ~Randolph OMF 62

Horseshoe hung to divine future husband – “Sometimes a widow gets up before dawn on May Day and hangs a horseshoe over her door. The first creature to enter will have a complexion and hair color like that of her future mate.” ~Randolph OMF 176


Parler, Mary Celestia Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)

Randolph, Vance Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)