Khamsa (Arabic) or Hamsa (Hebrew) is the word for five. It is commonly known as the Hand of Fatima (Islam) or the Hand of Hamsa (Judaism). We have seen this symbol everywhere and this popular emblem is known to protect the owner from the evil eye and bring happiness to the holder, it is also to protect the holder all negative energies especially from envious glares from people who wish you no good (yeah I see you over there giving me the evil eye) Hamsa or Khamsa is believed to be representative of the right hand of human body. The hamsa or Khamsa hand is worn by many people throughout the world, regardless of their religious faith.
The Hamsa appears in two forms: stylized with two symmetrical thumbs and asymmetrical, with a clearly defined thumb and pinkie finger. Either form may be displayed with the fingers pointing up or down. The centre of the hand often contains further symbols, especially that of an eye, however different cultures may fill the hand with images relevant to them.
Now a little bit of a background story on this symbol…
The hamsa or Khamsa is a palm-shaped amulet popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and commonly used in jewelry and wall hangings. Depicting the open right hand, an image recognized and used as a sign of protection in many societies throughout history, the hamsa is believed to provide defense against the evil eye. The symbol predates Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Early use of the hamsa has been traced to ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) as well as ancient Carthage (modern day Tunisia). A universal sign of protection, the image of the open right hand is seen in Mesopotamian artifacts in the amulets of the goddess Ishtar or Inanna. Other symbols of divine protection based around the hand include the Hand-of-Venus (or Aphrodite), the Hand of Mary, that was used to protect women from the evil eye and/or boost fertility and lactation, promote healthy pregnancies and strengthen the weak. In that time, women were under immense pressure and expectation to become mothers. The woman’s upbringing was centered on becoming a mother as an exclusive role, and it indicated child bearing as necessary. It was also thought that marriage was a sense of protection for both the man and the woman. (Wikipedia you are amazing).
The Hamsa are also known as the Hand of Fatima, the Hand of Mary, the Hand of Merriam, and the Hand of the Goddess.
Why are they known with different names and why does it associate with women’s name? well because we women are awesome! Just kidding… read through to find out why.
The Hand of Fatima– to commemorate Fatima Al-Zahra, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad SAW (Al Zahra is a title often used meaning “The Shining One”) According to Islamic folklore, Fatima’s hand became a symbol of faith after her husband Ali, came home with a new wife one day. Fatima, who at the time had been cooking, dropped the soup ladle she had been using. Yet she was so preoccupied by the new arrival that she continued stirring using her bare hand, hardly noticing that she was burning herself. It represents femininity and referred as the woman’s holy hand. The Hand of Fatima is considered a strong symbol of protection, power and strength. It also illustrates the Five Pillars of Islam: Faith, Prayer, Pilgrimage, Fasting and Charity.
The Hand of Merriam– Merriam was the sister of Moses and Aron. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. Aron became the first High Priest. and Merriam? well she played an important role in the story of Moses and was highly respected (women power!) Legend has it that it was due to Merriam’s virtues that the Israelites always found water during the forty years they wandered through the desert on their way towards the Promised Land. The well that seemed to follow the people of Israel is according to legend called Merriam’s well. Thus, Merriam came to represent protection, luck and happiness.
The Hand of Mary– Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Bible mentioned that God sent his Son down to earth as a savior to mankind through immaculate conception of Mary. Hence, it was only Mary who was given the incomparable privilege of being part of the birth of Jesus, Son of God, placing her in an exalted position over all women, and possibly all of mankind. The Hand of Mary in this context becomes a powerful representation of the power of God to exert His will through the actions of ordinary human beings, imbuing them with gifts and capabilities far exceeding the ordinary.
The Hand of Goddess-One theory postulates a connection between the khamsa and the Mano Pantea (or Hand-of-the-All-Goddess), an amulet known to ancient Egyptians as the Two Fingers. In this amulet, the Two Fingers represent Isis and Osiris and the thumb, their child Horus and it was used to invoke the protective spirits of parents over their child. Another meaning of this symbol relates to the sky god, Horus. It refers to the eye of Horus, which means man cannot escape from the eye of conscience. It says that the sun and moon are the eyes of Horus.
So as you can see, in conclusion, these historical empowering women (and Goddess) provide their nurturing, compassionate, protective nature to mankind since the beginning of time. Hence, they represent protection, power, strength, happiness and luck.
This symbol have been widely used as jewelry, wall hangings, decoration, tattoo, doorknockers and such. And I myself am in possession of one Hand of Fatima that was given to me for my protection. Many pieces of Hamsa jewelry are adorned with a prayer on the back of the hand. Translated from Arabic, the beautiful empowering poem is as follows:
Let no sadness come to this heart,
Let no trouble come to these arms,
Let no conflict come to these eyes,
Let my soul be filled with the blessing
Of joy and peace.
May your Hamsa Hand bring you love, light, luck and protection.