Heads of State, film, music, athletic stars, common people – even Donald Trump, all flash ubiquitous ‘sign of horns’; what is its significance?
The “Corna” or sign of the horns is a hand gesture with a variety of meanings and uses in various cultures. One is to conjure supernatural protection. It is formed by extending the index and little fingers while holding the middle and ring fingers down with the thumb.
Its earliest known use can be seen in India, as an apotropaic gesture very commonly used by Gautama Buddha (who was born in Nepal) as Karana Mudra which is synonymous with expulsion of demons and removal of obstacles like sickness or negative thoughts.
The sign of the horns is used during religious rituals in Wicca, to invoke or represent the Horned God.
The apotropaic usage of the sign can also be seen in Italy and Mediterranean culture as well where, when confronted with unfortunate events, or simply when these events are mentioned, the sign of the horns may be given to ward off bad luck. It is also used traditionally to counter or ward off the “evil eye” (malocchio).
With fingers down, it is a common apotropaic gesture, by which people seek protection in unlucky situations (It is a more Mediterranean equivalent of knocking on wood). Thus, for example, the president of the Italian Republic, Giovanni Leone, shocked the country when, while in Naples during an outbreak of cholera, he shook the hands of patients with one hand while with the other behind his
back he made the corna.
This act was well documented by the journalists and photographers who were right behind him, a fact that had escaped President Leone’s mind in that moment. In Italy, one can also “touch iron” (tocca ferro) or touch
one’s nose. Males in Italy and some other countries may grab their testicles when confronted by bad luck; however, this is considered more vulgar.
In many Mediterranean and Latin countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Uruguay, when directed towards someone and swiveled back and forth, the sign implies cuckoldry; the common words for cuckolded in Italian, Greek, and Spanish are cornuto, κερατάς (keratas) and cornudo respectively, literally “horned.” During a European Union meeting in February 2002, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was photographed performing this gesture behind the back of the Spanish foreign minister.
Contemporary use by musicians and fans
The 1969 back album cover for Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls on Mercury Records by Chicago-based psychedelic-occult rock band Coven, led by singer Jinx Dawson, pictured Coven band members giving the “sign of the horns” and included a Black Mass poster showing members at a ritual making the sign. Starting in early 1968, Coven concerts always began and ended with Dawson giving the sign on stage. This began the common use in heavy metal music.
On the cover of The Beatles‘ Yellow Submarine album (1969), the cartoon of John Lennon‘s right hand is making the sign above Paul McCartney‘s head. Some fans interpreted this as one of the many supposed “Paul is dead” clues. Some may think it is possible that the cartoonist misrepresented the sign for “I love you,” which is very similar and more in keeping with the band’s public message and image. However, the 1969 cartoon is based on many photos of Lennon making the hand sign in 1967. One of these photos of Lennon doing the hand sign appears on the cover of a Beatles single release shortly after, making it the first time the hand sign appears on a rock release.
The sign is also used in various Disney movies. It can be seen in the medieval-style opening sequence of the 1971 British-American Disney movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks as a goat-legged figure with a jester’s cap leading a procession of outlandish looking figures, flashes the sign.
Beginning in the early 1970s, the horns were known as the “P-Funk sign” to fans of Parliament-Funkadelic. It was used by George Clinton and Bootsy Collins as the password to the Mothership, a central element in Parliament’s science-fiction mythology, and fans used it in return to show their enthusiasm for the band. Collins is depicted showing the P-Funk sign on the cover of his 1977 album Ahh… The Name Is Bootsy, Baby!
The gesture is quite common within heavy metal culture. Ronnie James Dio was known for popularizing the sign of the horns in heavy metal. He claimed his Italian grandmother used it to ward off the evil eye (which is known in Southern Italy as malocchio).
Dio began using the sign soon after joining the metal band Black Sabbath in 1979. The previous singer in the band, Ozzy Osbourne, was rather well known at using the “peace” sign at concerts, raising the index and middle finger in the form of a V. Dio, in an attempt to connect with the fans, wanted to similarly use a hand gesture. However, not wanting to copy Osbourne, he chose to use the sign his grandmother always made.
The horns became famous in metal concerts very soon after Black Sabbath’s first tour with Dio. The sign would later be appropriated by heavy metal fans under the name “Maloik,” taken from the original “Malocchio.”
Terry “Geezer” Butler of Black Sabbath can be seen “raising the horns” in a photograph taken in 1971. The photograph is included in the CD booklet of the Symptom of the Universe: The Original Black Sabbath 1970–1978 compilation album. This would indicate that there had been some association between the “horns” and heavy metal before Dio’s popularization of it.
R.J. Dio once said he doubts being the first to openly flash the sign. “That’s like saying I invented the wheel, I’m sure someone did that at some other point. I think you’d have to say that I made it fashionable,” he said. “I used it so much and all the time, it had become my trademark.
Dio went on, “I was in Sabbath at the time. It was a symbol that I thought was reflective of what that band was supposed to be all about. It’s not the devil’s sign like we’re here with the devil. It’s an Italian thing I got from my grandmother called the ‘Malocchio.’ It’s to ward off the ‘evil eye’ or to give the ‘evil eye,’ depending on which way you do it.
“It’s just a symbol but it had magical incantations and attitudes to it and I felt it worked very well with Sabbath,” said Dio. “So I became very noted for it and then everybody else started to pick up on it and away it went. But I would never say I take credit for being the first to do it. I say because I did it so much that it became the symbol of rock and roll of some kind.”
Evangelist Texe Marrs’ book Codex Magica contains dozens of pictures of members of the elite flashing similar hand signals on the cover of magazines and newspapers. According to Marrs, “the employment by the elite of the hand sign of the horned devil can actually be tracked all the way back to Babylon. On the great wall of Babylon, adjacent to Ishtar’s Gate, was a mosaic image of a horned bull, representing the sun god. The horns were symbolic of the Babylonian god’s power over the hearts of men.”
Marrs reveals that in Rome, Julius Caesar’s military legions and millions of common people worshiped the sun god, Mithras. Mithraic initiates were baptized in the blood of a horned bull, slain and sacrificed by temple priests.
The Knights Templar, predecessor to Scottish Rite Freemasons, worshiped the grotesque horned goat god, Baphomet. Reportedly, the so-called Illuminati take great delight in seeing the masses adopt their ancient symbol of satanic worship on such a vast scale. It is believed that many Illuminists continue to sacrifice to this deity to the very day.
Wikipedia contributed to this article