The Healing Hand

This is the talisman that has begun my journey with me:

A few months ago, my mom invited me to a women’s luncheon at her church, where Catholic author and lecturer Gertrud Mueller Nelson was to be speaking.  Before the talk, we browsed the table set up at the back of the hall, where Gertrud had displayed her books as well as the silver jewelry that she designs.  This jewelry is then made by artisans in small towns in Mexico, using fair trade practices.  She had several pins and pendants on display that afternoon: crosses, girls jumping rope, frogs, and this one wonderful bi-colored, swirly hand.

I picked up the hand and showed it to my mom.  “I like this,” I said.  “What is it?”

“Oh, I’ve seen those in my yoga classes,” Mom said.  (She didn’t mean yoga classes like in a studio; she meant classes about yoga.  At 61, my mom has just finished a two-year certificate program to become a yoga instructor, and plans to teach through the church and on retreats, thus blending the Eastern and Western spiritualities that have guided her equally through life.  I think this is brilliant.)  She then went and asked Gertrud about the symbol and came back with this report: “It’s called a healing hand, and it’s used in many cultures.”

I think there was a moment of mother-daughter standoff when I asked my mom if she would buy the pendant for me: she saw it as a symbol that she could wear proclaiming her yogic abilities to heal others; I saw it as a symbol that I could wear while attempting to heal myself.  And of course, there was only the one.  But my simple statement of, “I need healing,” won over my mother, and it occurred to me that this may have been the first time I admitted that to her.  I’m quick to bemoan my situation, but not so good at asking for help.  So she bought me the pendant.

Dawn, my sister, has promised to make me some pretty strings of beads to wear it on, just as soon as her two babies happen to be napping at the same time.  Meanwhile, I’ve got it on a simple chain, and have been wearing it since Saturday morning when the project started.  One of my coworkers told me how much he liked it, two days in a row, and I thanked him both times, then realized I had almost no information to offer him on its meaning.

So I did a little research.  A search for “healing hand symbol” brings up, largely, the Hamsa or Hand of Fatima, which is used by both Muslims and Jews for protection against the evil eye, and is believed to have originated in ancient Middle Eastern cultures “to represent the Goddess whose hand wards off evil intent and radiates love.”  One site said it represented the hand of God Himself.  Many cultures indeed: this Muslim/Jewish amulet was created by a Catholic artist and gifted to me by my East-meets-West mother.

Still, this explanation didn’t seem to quite fit the symbol I believed I needed, and a lot of the drawings of Hamsas showed an eye in the center of the palm, or a heart.  Only one had the spiral I was wearing around my neck, and it gave no additional explanation.  So I searched “hamsa symbol spiral” instead, and then came upon this site, which not only gave a nicer description of the Hamsa (sans the term “evil eye,” and partially quoted above), but had a whole separate paragraph for the Spiral, as a symbol in its own right.

“The Spiral… reflects the universal pattern of growth and evolution. The spiral represents the goddess, the womb, fertility and life force energy….  The Spiral is a sacred symbol that reminds us of our evolving journey in life. When used as a personal talisman, the Spiral helps consciousness to accept the turnings and changes of life as it evolves….”


I will be wearing this symbol daily for the duration of this project.  Which means it will be my main accessory at my best male friend’s wedding, my ten-year high school reunion, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, etc.  I’m okay with this; it’s obviously a talking piece (same coworker, two days in a row), and once we can convince my niece and nephew to fall asleep, I’ll have some color-coordination options.  The only thing I can’t quite reconcile with is that, at least for a while, I’ll no longer be wearing the little sterling-silver-and-cubic-zirconia heart pendant Doug gave me, back when we were broke and happy.  And I feel like I need that symbol, too.

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8 Responses to The Healing Hand

  1. Sara Shelton says:

    I love this. I love the hand, and what it means. Sometimes, I think I could use something like that too.
    You could add the heart pendant to a bracelet, if the pendent isn’t too big. Then you could have both with you, feeling the benefits of both.

    • bakeryclosed says:

      It’s not too big, but it’s one of those where the chain goes through the heart at two points (so it sort of hangs sideways) – not sure that would work on a charm bracelet.

  2. Saundra says:

    Definitely. I wear a St. Christopher when I travel (and the first time my boyfriend took me on a motorcycle ride). I’m Lutheran if anything, but to me Christianity feels like a big tent in terms of taking on other people’s saints (decannonized or otherwise) and anyway, Tom Waits did a song about him.

    More importantly, I wore the St. Christopher when I was on a transatlantic flight and worried I’d get a panic attack related to claustrophobia. I’ve worn it on elevators. I think when you find a symbol that resonates for you, it almost feels like having the entire culture (Middle Eastern, say) behind you, letting you take advantage of that meaning.

    Also I think you can mix and match talismans. And sometimes it’s best when someone else gives it to you.

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