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The Native Americans have many rituals and practices that reflect their spiritual connection and rootedness to nature. Their beliefs are typically manifested and expressed through symbols, which they etch onto their jewelry, clothes, weapons, and tepees.
In general, Native American symbols are said to have deeper, philosophical meanings. While some Native American symbols reflect an individual’s achievement or valor, others, like the Healing Hand are used as an emblem of strength, healing and protection. A now universally recognized symbol, the Healing Hand, or the Shaman’s hand, is widely used for good luck and fortune.
In this article we will be exploring the origins of the Healing Hand and its various symbolic meanings.
Origins of the Healing Hand
The Healing Hand features a spiral within the palm of a hand. It’s made up of two symbolic components – the hand and the spiral.
- The Hand:
The origins of the Healing Hand can be traced back to earlier Native American wall paintings or cave art. Native American tribes would paint their hands and imprint it upon their shelter or abode. This was a way in which they could mark their presence and express their thoughts, emotions, and stories. Unlike today, there were no easels or paints, and Native Americans typically made use of natural dyes for color, and caves for canvases. The mark of the hand was said to symbolize human life and energy.
- The Spiral:
The spiral was another ancient symbol used by the Native Americans. Spiral designs were prevalent in caves and pottery and is believed to have multiple meanings and interpretations. Some people believed that the spiral symbolized the rising sun, and others saw it as an emblem of evolution, progress, journey, and change.
When the two symbols were combined, to create the Healing Hand symbol, the image represented strength, renewal, and protection.
Symbolic Meanings of the Healing Hand
The Healing Hand is layered with meanings and is one of the most popular Native American symbols. Here’s what it signifies.
- Symbol of Strength
In the Native American Culture, the Healing Hand was etched onto the bodies of those who were victorious in hand-to-hand combat. Although the Native American warriors used weapons, fighting with the hand was still prevalent. Those who won the battle were revered as heroes of great strength and courage. The Healing Hand was also drawn on the bodies of the horses, who aided the men in victory.
- Symbol of Positive Energy
A belief existed among Native Americans that the war paint contained positive energy and magic. Medicine men, or Shamans, carefully mixed the paint and drew the symbol of the Healing Hand on the bodies of the warriors. Both the paint and the symbol were said to give a positive energy to the soldiers and uplift their spirits. The contemporary usage of the term ‘war paint’ comes from this tradition begun by the Native Americans.
- Symbol of Power
The symbol of the Healing Hand was drawn on warriors before the battle in order to prepare them both mentally and physically. It was said that even cowering warriors would feel more confident after having the symbol painted on their body or shield. Warriors who wore this symbol were considered to be very powerful and protected by a higher spirit. Very often, enemies would be intimidated by seeing this symbol. Additionally, an upside-down hand was drawn on horses for battles that were challenging and fierce.
- Symbol of the Shaman
The Healers Hand is also considered to be the Shaman’s symbol. The Healers Hand is believed to have the powers of the earliest Shaman or the spiritual healer, who could communicate and connect to God.
- Symbol of the Spirit
The spiral that is embedded within the Healing Hand is of great importance. For the Native Americans, the spiral resembled an eye and represented an all-seeing spirit, that was to guide and protect the hand. The spiral is known to be one of the most ancient Native American hieroglyphics.
- Symbol of Healing
The Shaman’s hand is also called the Healing Hand because it is said to keep an individual healthy, both mentally and physically. The symbol is believed to have healing powers that restores and renews the mind, body, and spirit. The Healing Hand is bound to give protection to the one who wears it.
- Symbol of Good Luck and Fortune
In contemporary times, the symbol of the Healing Hand is not used for healing or warfare. It is engraved upon amulets and bracelets and is said to bring good luck and fortune to the wearer. It is a popular gift for those who are trying out a new job or have new goals.
The Healing Hand in Use Today
The quirky Healing Hand symbol is visually appealing, making it an ideal option for charms, jewelry and fashion. It’s often worn on pendants, as earrings or engraved on rings as a symbol of protection, good luck and good health, similar to the Hamsa Hand.
The Healing Hand is also popular in tattoos and is used in artwork, prints and retail items.
The Native American Healing Hand is one of the very few symbols that has numerous meanings and multiple interpretations. It is a symbol that continues to grow with the passage of time, and for this reason, The Healing Hand still continues to be relevant even today.