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THE CORNO
(ITALIAN HORN AMULET)

The cornuto, corno, or cornicello is an Italian amulet of ancient origin. Corno means "horn" and cornicello means "little horn" -- these names refer to a long, gently twisted horn-shaped amulet worn in Italy to protect against the evil eye. Cornicelli are usually carved out of red coral or made of gold or silver. The type of horn they are intended to copy is not a curled-over sheep horn or goat horn but rather like the twisted horn of an African eland or something similar. Over the years they have become rather stylized and now look less like a natural animal horn than they once did. A regionally popular amulet, they are primarily found in Italy and in America among descendents of Italian immigrants. You can buy cornicelli at any Italian jewelry store in New York to this day.

These little horns (like the horns of all horned animals) are presumed to have once been sacred to the Old European moon goddess, before the rise of Christianity. Some modern evangelical Catholics disparage the continued use of cornicelli among Italian Catholics and refer to them as "Satan's horns" or "Lucifer's horns" but this is absolutely nonsense, as they were always seen as the horns of the moon goddess -- and hence, in Catholic symbolism, would be related to the Virgin Mary, who is shown standing on a lunar crescent.

Related to the corno is the mano cornuta or "horned hand." This is an Italian hand-gesture (or an amulet imitative of the gesture) that can be used to indicate that a man has been cuckholded ("wears the horns") and also to ward off the evil eye. Mano means "hand" and corno means "horn."

The evil eye is believed to harm nursing mothers and their babies, bearing fruit trees, milking animals, and the sperm of men -- the forces of generation. The Neapolitan custom of making cornuto charms from silver (formerly sacred to the moon goddess Luna) and blood coral (formerly sacred to the sea goddess Venus) hints at the cultural survival of a link between the horned animal head and ancient worship of a neolithic-era mother- or fertility-goddess whose consort was a male deity sometimes called the Horned God. Whether or not this is the case, the cornuto is still a popular amulet worn by Italian men to protect their genitalia from the evil eye.

The apotropaic use of coral is evident in another Italian charm against the evil eye -- the coral twig. This is nothing more than a polished branch of pink or red coral, worn as a pendant or pin. Unlike the corno, which has a phallic import, the coral twig, which may resemble the branched horns of a deer, is considered suitable for girls or young women to wear. Also, not being hand-carved, it is a cheaper charm. It can be found in the form of a brooch as well as the traditional pendant.

The amulets shown at the top of the page are, from left to right, a red coral corno purchased in Florence, Italy in 1970, a coral twig amulet, and a modern pewter reproduction of a 19th century silver corno amulet. My mother, knowing how much i liked cornicelli, bought the coral one because i was pregnant. She intend to give it to my child if he was a boy -- but she did not show it to me at the time because my child turned out to be a girl, and the corno is only worn by boys and men. In 1995, when i started the Lucky W Amulet Archive, she brought it out of wherever it is that mothers keep such things and donated it to "the collection."

Less traditional than the coral corno is the giant red plastic one surmounted by a gold-toned crown shown at right. I first saw these in the 1970s in New York and California, both regions with a large Italian-American population. Too big to be carried as a key ring, this 6" long crowned corno is designed to be hung from the rear-view mirror of a car. This usage derives from the ancient custom of protecting draft horses and mules from the envious eye of strangers, concern for their well-being being transferred to the automobile. This plastic charm is stamped "Italy," faintly visible below the crown. Non-Italians who see them in cars sometimes think these cornos are giant chili peppers, but such is obviously not the case.

Americans of Italian descent often ask me if i carry these crowned corno car decoration cornos in the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. store -- the answer is, "i sure would if i could only locate a source!" -- but alas, i have not been able to. I found my red platic corno at the Goodwill thrift store in Santa Rosa, California in the 1990s; i do not know if they are still being manufactured or imported into the United States.

Mediterranean evil eye charms:
the evil eye
eye-in-hand amulet
eyes-all-over amulet
hamsa hand amulet
hamsa hand and cresecent amulet
horseshoe
horseshoe-with-eyes amulet
horseshoe plaque
mano cornuto (horned hand) amulet
mano fico (fig hand) amulet
hand of Power, ancient Roman
mano poderosa, the Powerful Hand (of God), Catholic
mano poderosa, the Powerful Hand (of God), on votive candles
"Your Name on Rice" amulets

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LUCKY MOJO is a large domain that is organized into a number of
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THE LUCKY W AMULET ARCHIVE by cat yronwode.

Here are some other LUCKY MOJO web sites you can visit:

OCCULTISM, MAGIC SPELLS, MYSTICISM, RELIGION, SYMBOLISM
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by cat yronwode: a materia magica of African-American conjure
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy and sacred geometry
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
The Lucky Mojo Esoteric Archive: captured internet text files on occult and spiritual topics
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century occultist
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, and more
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
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      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races

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Hoodoo and Blues Lyrics: transcriptions of blues songs about African-American folk magic
EaRhEaD!'S Syd Barrett Lyrics Site: lyrics by the founder of the Pink Floyd Sound
The Lesser Book of the Vishanti: Dr. Strange Comics as a magical system, by cat yronwode
The Spirit Checklist: a 1940s newspaper comic book by Will Eisner, indexed by cat yronwode
Fit to Print: collected weekly columns about comics and pop culture by cat yronwode
Eclipse Comics Index: a list of all Eclipse comics, albums, and trading cards

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Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course with cat yronwode: 52 weekly lessons in book form
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catherine yronwode: the eclectic and eccentric author of many of the above web pages
nagasiva yronwode: tyaginator, nigris (333), nocTifer, lorax666, boboroshi, Troll, !
Garden of Joy Blues: former 80 acre hippie commune near Birch Tree in the Missouri Ozarks
Liselotte Erlanger Glozer: illustrated articles on collectible vintage postcards
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OTHER SITES OF INTEREST
Arcane Archive: thousands of archived Usenet posts on religion, magic, spell-casting, mysticism, and spirituality
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: psychic reading, conjure, and hoodoo root doctor services
Candle Ministry: Missionary Independent Spiritual Church deacons will set lights for your petitions and prayers
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic, plus shopping
Crystal Silence League: online prayer request network; upload your prayers here and pray for the welfare of others
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Hoodoo Psychics: connect online or call 1-888-4-HOODOO for instant readings now from a member of AIRR
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith; prayer-light services; Smallest Church in the World
Mystic Tea Room: tea leaf reading, teacup divination, and a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Satan Service: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including ex-slave narratives & interviews
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective, plus shopping
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Yronwode Institution: the Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology

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