Iron has played a curious role in witchcraft, sorcery, and the supernatural. It is found mentioned in folklore around the world. Belief holds than iron is one of the best charms in providing protection against demons, ghosts, evil spirits, and other malevolent supernatural creatures.
Iron is a symbol of strength, protection, and life-giving warmth, as it is seen as a combination of the elements of Earth and Fire. Until the introduction of steel, iron was the most durable metal known to man, and this was reflected in mythology and folklore as well. Thor's hammer Mjolnir was forged of iron, and even in the Norse myths the legendary heat retention properties of iron were demonstrated: the hammer would become so hot when thrown, Thor wore iron gloves to protect his hands.
Iron has been considered sacred in some cultures. The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians and Aztecs believed it came from heaven, perhaps because the composition of meteorites is of iron and other metals.
The earliest iron artefacts were made millennia before the Iron Age, from meteoric iron that had fallen from the sky. This was when the sky was still the realm of the gods. Therefore, iron was a gift from the gods, and must be imbued with godly powers. Accordingly, these first artefacts were fit for our gods on earth. For example, the pharaoh Tutankhamen.
Being that iron is a mineral buried within the earth, once it was uncovered that you could obtain iron not only from meteorites, but deep within the earth, certain cultures regarded iron as the lifeforce of the earth. It was regarded as a magical substance because it could withstand both the elements of fire and a deep freeze of the cold, and because it was still harder than most if not all metals at the time.
Many people have heard that horseshoes are good luck, but not many sections of the lore go into depth that they are only good luck because they are made out of – you guessed it – iron.
Iron has been a popular metal for making amulets with which to ward off danger, bad luck, and the evil eye.
Ancient Saxons would not put iron rune wands in cemeteries for fear that the iron would scare away the departed spirits.
In India iron is believed to repel the Djinn and other evil spirits.
The Chinese sometimes wear outside of their clothing a piece of an old iron plough-point as a charm; and they have also a custom of driving long iron nails in certain kinds of trees to exorcise some particularly dangerous female demons which haunt them.
In Morocco it is customary to place a dagger under the patient's pillow, and in Greece a black-handled knife is similarly used to keep away the nightmare.
In Germany iron implements laid crosswise are considered to be powerful anti-witch safeguards for infants.
Iron amulets were worn by ancient Babylonian and Assyrian men in the belief that it would enhance their virility; the women rubbed themselves with iron powder in order to attract the men.
The ancient Egyptians inserted iron amulets in the linen of mummy wrappings in order to invoke the protection of the Eye of Horus.
In certain areas of Burma, the river men still wear iron pyrite amulets for protection against crocodiles.
In Scandinavia and in northern countries generally, iron is a historic charm against the wiles of sorcerers.
Picture: A trollkors or troll cross is an amulet made of a circle of iron crossed at the bottom (possibly in the shape of an odal rune), a charm worn by early Scandinavian peoples as a protection against trolls and elves, and to ward off malevolent magic.
The legendary strength and durability of iron makes it a natural component in spells of protection. Witches and sorcerers have constantly used iron throughout history for items as cauldrons, wands, and utensils they employ in magical practices.
If magic is an energy, a physical force, then perhaps iron makes more sense as wand material. We know that iron can attract and conduct electricity, focus and release it, store it as magnetic energy, or disperse it by returning it to the earth. Iron can change form. It can be made molten, fluid, and malleable, and then set into unbending forms of our design.
In the 18th century Franz Anton Mesmer used iron in his healing treatment (see Mesmerism). He believed iron conducted animal magnetism, a vital energy which every body had and needed.
Alchemically, iron is associated with physical strength, protection, energy, masculinity, and Mars, which makes sense considering that iron was one of the first metals used for weapons of war and has often been a display of power.
It also makes sense given that too little iron in our blood causes fatigue and weakness—anemia.