Hamsa Hand Meaning - The Significance of Each Finger and Hand Position
Symbols are powerful images invoking various meanings and importance to people. We have the famous Yin and Yang circle and the Star of David as examples. These tie into a belief system and are recognizable as they can be.
One such symbol you may have noticed is an ornate hand with two thumbs and an eye on the palm. This one is called the Hamsa hand or known as the Hamsa. We will talk about this symbol in length in this article right now. Read on!
What is the Hamsa Hand Meaning and Why People Use It
The Hamsa or the Hamsa hand is a symbol or an amulet originating in the ancient Middle East. Described as an open palm, its function is to protect from the "Ayin Ha’ra" or the evil eye. It is also known as the Hand of Miriam (the biblical Miriam, sister to Moses) or the Hand of Fatima (daughter of Muhammad ibn Abdullah, founder of Islam). On its other names alone, this symbol is rooted in spirituality and religion.
The Hamsa hand meanings are varied to a degree. But they all lead to the same thing - warding off the negative and attracting positivity. To expound further, we will digest the various uses and perceived effects of the Hamsa hand.
1. Protection - as explained, it is a charm that brings protection against evil. To be exact, the evil eye. To know more about the Evil Eye, we have articles that you can read about here.
2. Good Fortune - same as the evil eye protection use, the Hamsa hand effects are also two-fold. It protects the wearer or bearer and also bestows good fortune.
3. Increase Positive Energy - Attracting hope and positivity underlies the Hamsa hand. It is one of the not-so-hidden effects that its wearers believe to have. This is also one of the reasons why you see versions of it hanging at homes.
4. Connect with the Higher Being - this is true especially with Judaism. We'll get to why later but the gist is the Hamsa hand is a reminder to praise God. It's also called the Hand of God or Hand of Goddess for a reason.
The Hamsa hand is a unique and widely recognized symbol seen at homes, vehicles, or people. Necklaces, bracelets, and other adornments are worn by regular and famous people alike. In the next section, we will get to its origin and later history.
Hamsa Hand Origin and History
The history of the Hamsa hand can be traced back to the ancient Middle East or Mesopotamia. Hamsa, Khamsa, or Hamesh, in its literal translation, means the five fingers of the hand or the number five.
The Hamsa hand origin in Mesopotamia is believed to be represented by Ishtar. Ishtar or Inanna is the goddess known for a lot of things (love and war, among others) being the "Queen of Heaven." But the one thing representing the Hamsa from Ishtar is fertility and plenty. This is due to the goddess' association with the storehouse, being representative of a harvest's gain. Ishtar's cuneiform symbol is a "hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds."
It was then seen in other regions of the world - Syria, old Tunisia (Carthage) until such time that belief in Ishtar waned. A North African lineage of indigenous Moroccans and Algerians, known as the Berbers, were responsible for the spread of Hamsa. They carried the belief of the symbol around the world, thus reaching Judaism and Islam around the fifth and sixth centuries.
What Each Finger of the Hamsa Hand Represent
For those who are aware or into the New Age, you might know that Buddhists and Hindus believe that the body circulates energy. This is the reason why they believe in Chakras. Chakras are so-called "energy centers" and it is highly recommended that they are unhindered. In popular culture may it be from tv or otherwise, you might have heard of "chakras being blocked" when shown as affected with negative energy. So in short, both religions promote this belief and the Hamsa is no exception. And now, we will get to the representation and importance of the Hamsa's five fingers with Hinduism and Buddhism. If you're interested in learning more about chakras and their relation to the hand, check out the article on chakras of the hand.
Thumb - This is the confidence center of energy among the fingers. It is linked to the solar plexus chakra. The solar plexus chakra is responsible for self-esteem and confident motivation. It is also associated with the fire element. Any imbalances to this chakra will lead to aggression or having low self-esteem or ailments in the digestive system.
Forefinger or Index Finger - The Anahata or Heart Chakra is the main connection with the index finger. This is the energy center for self-love as well as love, joy, and compassion for others. The element associated with this is the air element. The key areas for this chakra are the heart, lungs, chest, arms, and hands. The negatives are fear of intimacy, codependency, manipulation, heart and lung ailments, and a lack of self-trust.
Middle Finger - Next up is the middle finger. The Throat Chakra is the connective energy wheel and its core is verbal and body language. Effective communication, to be exact, is what should be the target. The element is ether and the indications for imbalance are hesitation in speaking and fear of being misunderstood. Frequent use of negative words and ailments like sore throat are also indicators.
Ring Finger - The root chakra or the base chakra is located at the tailbone. It is the first chakra, and the one linked to the ring finger. Being rooted to the earth element, it is apt with the choice element. It is associated with being firmly grounded to the world - family, friends, and a sense of security. Misalignment signs are anxiousness, increased exhaustion, and rushing from one task to another. The health dangers are weight gain and loss, pelvic pain, and constipation.
Pinkie Finger - The last Hamsa finger is associated with the sacral chakra and the water element. This is all about creativity, healthy emotions, synchronicity, and sensuality. This is also the chakra where feminine power is prevalent, being close to the womb and all. The negatives of an unbalanced sacral chakra are being secretive, feeling detached, and lack of creative inspiration.
What are the Hamsa Hand Meanings in Every Culture and Religion?
Every religious institution recognizes the Hamsa and has its DNA embedded in it. It even extends to pagan belief. Here are the most popular ones and we will delve into them one by one.
The Hand of Fatima
This is what Islamic nations call the Hamsa. It is rooted in rich Muslim history being that Fatima is the daughter of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Fatima is the Marian equivalent in Islam as she is considered "pure and without sin." Thus, the Hand of Fatima is a rightful symbol of protection.
Khamsa or the Humes Hand
Khamsa is the Arabic word for five, which has connections to the core of the Islamic faith. However, the belief exists pre-Islam, specifically with the Punic religion and Carthage (now Tunisia). At around the same time in the belief of Ishtar and the spread of the belief by the Berbers, it has also been associated with the goddess Tanit.
Islam, apart from the Five Pillars, also make known the five holy persons from the Prophet’s lineage.
- Muhammad - the founder of Islam
- Ali - next in line to Muhammad, the first Imam, and Fatima’s husband
- Fatima - Muhammad’s daugther and Ali’s wife
- Hassan - Ali’s eldest son and the second Imam
- Hussein - Ali’s youngest son and the third Imam
Another significance of the number five comes to these Shia beliefs important to Islam.
- Tawhid - belief in one God
- Adl - belief in divine justice
- Nubuwwah - the aspiration to prophethood
- Imamah - the aspiration to Imamship
- Mi'ad - belief in the end times and the day of judgment
Hamesh in Hebrew (5 Books of Torah)
The five books of the Torah are Bresheit (Genesis), Shemot (Exodus), Vayicra (Leviticus), Bamidbar (Numbers), and Devarim (Deuteronomy). These books are known as the books of Moses. Jewish belief states that God told Moses on Mount Sinai what would now be the contents of the Torah. In general, it contains 613 commandments. This includes the famous 10 Commandments from the Catholic bible, which is called the Ten Statements by Jews. To explain further, the Torah is what Jews believe God would want to live their lives. The Torah, as it exists for thousands of years, is written in Hebrew. The link between the Hamsa and the Torah is the numerical five.
Praying to God with 5 Senses
The Hamsa is not just a symbol for protection and good luck. It also serves as a reminder to praise God using all five senses. In the tradition of religious belief, praise should be given to God as he was the one who bestowed us all five senses in the first place.
1. Taste - It's not just with being satisfied, but the emotions that come with tasting. St. Ignatius preaches about "tasting interiorly" likening it to the love and care felt from a prepared meal.
2. Touch - Same with tasting, touch invokes emotions. The cold or warmth of an inanimate object calls to mind a sense of dread or comfort. Relationships are also being nurtured through touch. That's why there's touch therapy!
3. Sight - In all of God's creation, we appreciate and are in awe of the world and its magnificence. And the way we do that is with sight.
4. Hearing - With life comes sound. Everything around you - animals, mechanical things, people - make it!
5. Smell - Certain scents harken you back to a feeling or a memory that is dear to you. It is this connection that enables deep appreciation.
Buddhist's Abhay Mudra
The Abhay Mudra is a famous "mudra" or gesture that ensures safety where the right hand is upright with the palm facing outwards. It is also a gesture that speaks protection and warding of fear, thus a symbol of reassurance. This is prevalent in Hindu and Buddhist cultures.
Hindu Chakras and 5 Senses
The five fingers of the Hamsa hand represent each of the five chakras, which align with the five senses to clear the mind and body. These chakras are the sacral chakra, the throat chakra, the root chakra, the solar plexus chakra, and the heart chakra.
5 Elements Present within Us
In each of the Chakras explained, there are connected elements of the world that are within us, metaphorically. These are Fire, Air, Ether (the space between the world and the universe), Earth, and Water.
Hamesh of Khamsa or Hand of Miriam
Judaism holds Miriam in high regard because she was the sister of Moses. She was the reason why Moses was saved from persecution when he was little. She was also there during the Jewish exodus out of Egypt with her brother lending her support.
As she is a prominent figure in the Jewish faith, the Hand of Miriam brings her reputation and history with it. Thus bringing them a great fortune.
5 Pillars of Islam (Suni)
Islamic belief also extends to the five fingers of the hand as "Khamsa" means five in Arabic. These also symbolize the five pillars of Islam.
- Charity or Alms
The Hand of Mary (Christians)
As the Hamsa hand already is part of other religions and cultures, Christianity does too in some parts. Christians see the symbol as being representative of "the hand of Mother Mary." This in turn earned the ire of some who consider it not canon to their faith and choose the cross as their protective symbol.
But that does not mean that Christians are not putting their stamp in. Instead of the eye, they replace it with the Christian "ichthys" or the familiar fish symbol. Regardless, the hand has its deep roots with the Christian history as well as the others.
Hamsa Hand Position Meaning
If you were wondering, there are two different positions of the Hamsa hand. You might see it pointed up or down, it does have meaning and it matters. It depends on what you would want it to do for you or the bearer.
The Hand of Hamsa, if pointed upwards, means that the hand is on "protection mode." It is like how you imagine yourself saying "Stop" with the hand facing up towards somebody. This position also stops ill intent arising from jealousy and insecurities.
Now, the meaning of the Hamsa hand when pointing down is different. Imagine yourself asking for something, a gift, or what have you. This is how the position works. It is an attraction for blessings and good fortune, whatever intent it would be - a new job or a baby.
Closing / Conclusion
The Hamsa hand is a famous symbol and amulet crossing generations and religions. It is pertinent, however, that the wearer is aware of cultural and spiritual connections to the symbol. This way, they would understand what it means and the effect it brings.
Nonetheless, humanity and religions, though divisive, have this unifying symbol. It's not just a symbol of protection and good fortune, but one of hope and unity.