The Universal Beauty and Power of the Hamsa Hand Symbol
The Hamsa Symbol
This symbol is one you have most probably seen before, but may not know the name of. It is an image of the palm of a hand, with decorations on it, including an ‘evil eye’ at the center of the palm. The hand is thought to bring luck and fortune. What makes this symbol so interesting and beautiful is that it is present in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, and each religion has its own interpretation.
While there are differences in interpretation of the Hamsa Symbol, there are some common threads, including themes of protection, luck and fortune. Indeed, what makes the Hand of Hamsa so beautiful and powerful is that it has been adopted and used by so many religions, that it has now become a symbol of unity and peace, a common symbol across so many world religions.
In Buddhism and Hinduism, the five fingers represent the elements in nature and the chakras, with the interplay of energy throughout the body being the major theme. They are as follows:
- The Thumb- Fire element, solar plexus chakra.
- The Forefinger- Air element, the heart chakra.
- The Middle Finger- Ethereal elements, the throat chakra.
- The Ring Finger- Earth element, the root chakra.
- The Pinkie Finger- Water element, the sacral chakra.
In Islam, this symbol is known as the ‘Hand of Fatima’, named after Fatima, the prophet Muhammad’s daughter. In Judaism they refer to it as the hand of Miriam, to honor Miriam, the sister of Moses. In Christianity, it’s known as the hand of Mother Mary, after Jesus’ mother. In these religions, it tends to symbolise protection and good luck, but it also has strong feminine qualities and represents female energy and power.
Originally, the Hand of Hamsa comes from Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq. Early images from this part of the world show female goddesses with amulets of the Hamsa symbol. It spread through North Africa and the Middle East, and then down into India, where it was readily adapted by different religions and peoples.
How to use the Hamsa Symbol to Enhance Your Practice
The Hamsa symbol can be used to enhance your yoga practice through the use of mudras. There are two main mudras associated with the hand of Hamsa and the meaning changes depending on whether or not the hand is facing up or down.
Varada Mudra: This is where the hand is facing down. The hand placed in this position represents the abundance of the universe, including luck, fortune and fertility. Often, in this position, the fingers are closed together to bring good luck. It is associated with positive energy through prayer and so it is not a passive receiving of good luck, but rather a charm to help bring luck through meditation and prayer.
Abhaya Mudra: This is when the Hamsa hand is facing up. In this position, the hand displays a powerful symbol of protection, seen as a shield to negative energies. Through providing protection, it is often a symbol to shun fear and live a fearless life, accepting love and positivity in the space created.
These two mudras can be drawn in any yoga pose to enhance the meaning. For example, bringing the hands in the Varada Mudra at the beginning of yoga practice can be seen as setting an intention to receive luck and fortune in your practice, finding positivity within your poses. Bringing the hands into Abhaya Mudra whilst seated at the start of yoga can free the mind of fear when attempting new and challenging yoga poses.
The power of this ancient symbol can also be utilized by having the symbol present in both your yoga practice and throughout daily life off the mat, serving as a reminder of its power. Often people have this symbol on keyrings, hanging charms in cars and houses and magnets. It is commonly worn in jewelry as well, and can be found as pendants on earrings, necklaces, bracelets and anklets. By wearing this symbol close to the body, it is thought to be more powerful and bring more fortune. Similarly, this symbol can also be worn on clothing, such as t-shirts and yoga tops, as well as on yoga pants (my personal favorite). You can deepen your connection with this symbol through having it close to the body, serving as a reminder of its strong energy.
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Stephanie Johnson, CYI, Yogini Soul Staff Writer, is an elementary school teacher, yoga teacher, meditation student and writer. She is looking for ways to explore this beautiful, crazy life that we have been gifted and to live it with meaning. Stephanie fell in love with yoga as a teenager and has since traveled across the globe in search of gaining knowledge and experiences to deepen her understanding of yoga, from her home country of Australia, to India and across Asia, to Chile, in South America, where she now lives with her partner and two sons. Connect with her on Instagram.