Who Invented THE DEVIL HORNS & Why Do We Use Them?

Who Invented THE DEVIL HORNS & Why Do We Use Them?

By Randy “Rocket” Cody

“You can take the road to good or you can take
the road to bad… we have a choice, uh, the optimum
way to go is to do the good thing.”

– Ronnie James Dio

Heavy metal music has spawned one of the most indelible hand signs of all time with “The Devil Horns.”

Kids and old folks alike all around the world flash “The Devil Horns” religiously out at concerts and sporting events, not fully understanding its true meaning and origins. I am here to help educate y’all .

There has been a long running debate on who created the sign in rock music, Gene Simmons or late vocalist Ronnie James Dio.

The ‘horns’ hand gesture has a variety of meanings and interpretations in various cultures, so I wanted to
get as in depth as possible to see if we can’t get some answers to the obvious questions.

1. Who invented the ‘horns’ sign first?

2. What is the meaning of this sign?

Theology expert Hermann Gunkel’s psalm commentary informs us of the origins of the term “horns”:

“The metaphor of the horn, originally used by God (‘the Babylonian crown of horns’) was then transferred to the king, and finally to the normal prayer.”

1. In the accompanying instruction to the psalms, he calls the horns a “symbol of God’s power”.

2. “It pleased holy David more that God was his strength than that He gave him strength… that God was his fortress, his buckler, his horn, his high tower.”

Last year, Gene Simmons of KISS fame tried to trademark “The Devil Horns” sign. He later withdrew his filing.

Speaking with TheWrap this year, Wendy Dio said: “To try to make money off of something like this is disgusting. It belongs to everyone; it doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s a public domain; it shouldn’t be trademarked. It’s laughable, I think, quite honestly. I think he’s made a complete fool of himself. It’s disgusting; what does he want?”

I wanted to launch my own mini-investigation to determine what this hand gesture actually means once and for all.

It’s time to fully understand the true origins and meaning behind the most popular hand sign in America.

For most of my life, this hand gesture with the index finger and pinky pointed out has been something I have done since the early eighties as a teen when I first began going to IRON MAIDEN concerts, specifically their tour in support of the classic album “The Number Of The Beast.”

I recall Ronnie James Dio, the greatest metal vocalist ever, one time during an interview describing how earth is both ‘Heaven & Hell’, so that is what I always accepted this sign to mean to me, personally. It represents both good and evil.

For to acknowledge one, you must acknowledge the other.

In the DIO song titled “Hungry For Heaven”, the legendary singer/songwriter did not shy away from the fact that man is always tempted by the sins of the flesh.

“You’re hungry for heaven… but you need a little hell.”

– Ronnie James Dio

As the story goes, Italians have a long and deep-rooted tradition of beliefs about luck and things that give either good or bad luck. In Italy there are colloquial names for bad luck. They call it “sfiga” or “jella” (read it as “yella), but the most terrifying thing for Italian people is “Il Malocchio”, which basically translates to “the evil eye.”

Ronnie James Dio claimed his Italian grandmother used it to ward off the evil eye (which is known in Southern Italy as ‘malocchio’).

An Italian historian details the story behind this term:

“Il Malocchio is a condition of unluckiness that comes from someone or something else. Its origin usually lies in envy and according to elders the bad luck can be caused intentionally and unintentionally. The origin of this belief can be dated back as far as the ancient Greeks and Romans. They believed in the negative power of envy. A state that can cause an enormous amount of bad luck to the envied subject. Humans were warned to not brag too much because even Immortal Gods could become jealous of human happiness and luck and destroy their life. Many Italian still don’t say a baby or child is beautiful, neither do they want to hear someone saying this about their child. This can cause il Malocchio. The Roman poet Catullus wrote to his lover, after asking her thousands and thousands of kisses “conturbabimus illa ne sciamus, / aut nequis malus invidere possit, / cum tantum sciat esse basiorum” that can be translated: we will mix and confuse all of them, so evil people will not be able to give us the evil eye because of this high number of kisses.”

Today you will see all kinds of goofy celebrities and politicians flashing the horns, such as Illuminati rapper and MK Ultra poster boy, Eminem, who blatantly uses the sign as a corruption of its original intent, to invert and change the meaning, just like changing good to bad or love to hate, to go against the laws of the Bible.

Defender of Rock site details more background of RJD and the Horns:

“Ronnie James Dio spoke out in regards to the frequent over use of the ‘devils horns’ sign. Ronnie has brought up a very important point. With the younger generation flashing it around every chance they get, it seems to be diminishing the impact of the metal hand gesture.”

“It was a symbol of darkness… not something to be passed on to BRITNEY SPEARS!”

– Ronnie James Dio

“You’ll notice that a lot of people are using the thumb now” Dio noted, “When the thumb comes out, it means ‘I love you’ in either Hawaiian or sign language — I’m not sure which.”

Back in the old days the metal sign was a very “sacred symbol” which was used only for special occasion but with the blatant overuse Ronnie felt it was starting to lose its impact.

The ‘horns sign’ became a sensation at metal concerts very soon after Black Sabbath’s first tour with Dio at the start of the eighties. The sign would later be called by the name “maloik”, a corruption of the original malocchio.

Bassist “Geezer” Butler of Black Sabbath can be seen “raising the horns” in a photograph snapped in 1971, that was included in the CD booklet for the Symptom of the Universe, the original Black Sabbath compilation album.

“If you went to see a Dio gig you will have noticed that he will wait until 2-3 songs before he breaks out the symbol, waiting for the most opportune moment where it would get maximum effect.”

There is no doubt Dio is the performer who promoted the sign to the masses in the most profound way.

In 2004, Ronnie James Dio was interviewed by Sam Dunn of Banger TV and he was very candid about the ‘horns sign’ and what it meant to him, in terms of the battle of Good Vs. Evil that is being waged on earth.

“There has to be some emotion behind it… It might sound stupid but I never once did that on stage unless it was to punctuate something that was a little more dark.”

– Ronnie James Dio

Jinx Dawson of occult rock band COVEN weighed in on the debate June of last year, claiming she was the one who first created the use in 1967, termed “The Sign Of The Horns”:

“My FB has been bombarded, so here is my answer to Gene Simmon’s claims… I did the Sign of the Horns when Coven started in late 1967. Again this sign was pictured on our 1st album released in 1969, and on our 1971,1974,2013 albums.This information is in more than 25 books. Also mentioned at our Wikipedia Coven page.I never trademarked MY sign because it was meant for all to do, though it is legally ‘grandfathered in’ to me for use in music by all the history.Gene does not even DO the sign properly. He is doing the deaf sign for ‘love’.”

One of COVEN’s songs was titled “Pact With Lucifer.”

An Italian historian gives us his two cents:

“If you don’t have a horn pendant or keychain, you can always make them with your hand—index and pinkie extended with thumb over the middle fingers, folded into the fist. Do this out of view of the malocchio-er in order to avoid even more nasty looks. A sprinkling of salt around the outside of your house works too. So, back in Calabria, one morning, P and I were enjoying the morning sun and cappuccini before a trip to the weekly farmer’s market when I suddenly felt sluggish, my head heavy and headachy — classic malocchio symptoms, P informed me through violent head nods. Lucky for me, nearby was Nato, an elderly man who knew just what to do. Normally prone to mumbling anyway, Nato mumbled in my general direction while making the sign of the cross and kissing his fingertips repeatedly. He then informed me that it was a man far away who had given me the Evil Eye. Perhaps a whole ocean away? Interesting, and food for later thought, but my head still throbbed. Then he said a bunch of prayers, mostly inaudible although I made out the name of Saint’Antonino, a “Hail Mary,” an “Our Father,” and a “Glory Be,” which took about three minutes in total, and poof! Malocchio gone, I was assured.”

On the Vernal Equinox (March 21st) WitchVox explains what happens:

“We are faced with the celebration of Light and Dark being in harmony. The Darkness does not conquer Light, nor does the Light conquer Darkness. They are at equilibrium. This is when the “battle” between the two is at its strength. It is a time of high energy and of the concept of killing off the old and bringing in the new. Many ancient Pagan celebrations consisted of burning straw men at this time, when they took dried corn/wheat from last year’s harvest to burn at this time. The Christian myth of Jesus dying on the cross (of the year) and rising again came from these ancient rituals.”

As I researched further, I learned that the “horns” sign is undoubtedly popular all around the world. In Peru, one says contra (meaning ‘against’). In the Dominican Republic it’s said that the expression is called ‘zafa.’

It’s said that these gestures are meant to summon “supernatural protection.”

The ‘horns’ has become trendy in the United States, often you will see them flashed out at football games, where in Texas, the “Hook em” horns sign is commonly used by elderly people, little kids and housewives.

Ronnie broke it down to Kerrang, putting to rest any misconceptions:

“It was a more serious thing at the time, when I was with [BLACK] SABBATH. That was a band that was very dark, and that’s what I wanted it to be. It was symbol of the darkness of that band, and not something to be passed on to BRITNEY SPEARS! An invention is an invention, I guess. It’s become so damn polluted now. The people who are doing it don’t know what it means and they have no idea that they shouldn’t be doing it.

“It’s a trend,” Dio added. “It’s a popular trend and so it will probably become like the hula hoop. During a show, I sometimes think ‘Maybe I won’t do that tonight’, because it’s become so damn ludicrous now. Everyone’s doing it and it has no meaning anymore. Now I wait until two or three songs into the show, and until there’s a stop in the music and I’m doing something on my own, and then the response is incredible because people are wanting that from me. It’s like OZZY and the peace sign, you know? So I never find myself not doing it, but I’m definitely doing it less and less these days.

“The point is that you can’t just flash it. You have to have a face that goes with it. There has to be some emotion behind it. It can’t just be the raising of the arm, trying to get your fingers in the right position. And you’ll notice that a lot of people are using the thumb now, too. When the thumb comes out it means ‘I love you’ in sign language. So that’s proof, once again, that these celebrities don’t really have a clue. As stupid as this might sound, I never once did that on stage unless it was to punctuate something that was a little more dark. So when I did it, it was never about starting a trend. It’s a natural thing for me to do. It’s important to know that it’s not something I did frivolously it was just a spontaneous response to something that I sang. A lot of times, bending of the knees always puts it in a slightly different perspective. It puts you in the Sumo position. Now you’re ready to charge!”

The sign is also known to be used during religious rituals in Wicca, to ‘invoke or represent’ the Horned God.

Who is the Great Horned God? Pagan’s Path site helps us understand this mythic entity:

“The consort of the Goddess and symbol of male energy in the form of the divine, The Horned God reigns. He is the lord of the woodlands, the hunt and animals. He provides for the tribe through the hunt and is honored or rewarded for his deed by being permitted to copulate with the Goddess through the Great Rite.”

The lover of life’s not a sinner
The ending is just a beginner
The closer you get to the meaning
The sooner you’ll know that you’re dreaming

– Dio, ‘Heaven & Hell’

“The Horned God is is the lord of life, death and the underworld. And is the Sun to the Goddess’ Moon. He alternates with the Goddess in ruling over the fertility cycle of birth, death and rebirth. He is born at the winter solstice, unites with the Goddess in marriage at Bealtaine, and dies at the summer solstice to bring fertility to the land as the Sacred King. He is not just a Celtic representation of the God, nor does he solely belong to Wicca, as he has been associated with many deities throughout the world.”

Cernunnos, The Celtic God of fertility, animals and the underworld.

Herne The Hunter, a specter of Britain.

Pan the Greek god of the woodlands,

Janus the Roman god of good beings.

Tammuz and Damuzi, the son, lover and consorts to Ishtar and Inanna.

Osiris, the Egyptian Lord of the underworld.

Dionysus, the Greek god of vegetation and vine.

The Green Man, the lord of vegetation and the woodlands.

In British Traditional Wicca, he is generally regarded as a dualistic god of twofold aspects.

He represents bright and dark, night and day, summer and winter, the Oak King and the Holly King.

According to Thought Co. site:

“In some Wiccan traditions, the Oak King and the Holly King are seen as “dual aspects” of the Horned God. Each of these twin aspects rules for half the year, battles for the favor of the Goddess, and then retires to nurse his wounds for the next six months, until it is time for him to reign once more.”

Franco over at WitchVox says that the Oak and Holly Kings “represent the light and the darkness throughout the year. At the winter solstice we mark “the rebirth of the Sun or the Oak King. On this day the light is reborn and we celebrate the renewal of the light of the year.”

“Why do you think we ‘deck the halls with boughs of Holly?’ This day is the Holly King’s day – the Dark Lord reigns.”

“He is the god of transformation and one who brings us to birth new ways.”

“Why do you think we make ‘New Year’s Resolutions’? We want to shed our old ways and give way to the new!”

Like “The Figure In Black”, a CIA backed mythical entity that is believed to have killed more kids in the name of Satan than anyone that has ever lived, the beast is dualistic in its sexual identity, represents the two horns symbolized in jewelry, tattoos, or other ways, to display a dual nature.

“Often, these two entities are portrayed in familiar ways – the Holly King frequently appears as a woodsy version of Santa Claus. He dresses in red, wears a sprig of holly in his tangled hair, and is sometimes depicted driving a team of eight stags. The Oak King is portrayed as a fertility god, and occasionally appears as the Green Man or other lord of the forest.”

“The use of horns to symbolize duality is also reflected in the phrase ‘on the horns of a dilemma.'”

The theology lesson concludes with the most crucial information:

“The three aspects of the Goddess and the two aspects of the Horned God can be mapped on to the five points of the Pentagram.”

In the end, we all currently reside in a world of both good and evil, and it is up to each individual to do “what thou wilt,”, but in the end, recognize that judgment day is real, and you will face consequences for the life that you have lived.

“RJD was pretty much heavy metal personified, a tiny 5-foot-4-inch sorcerer with a mangy mane, demonic eyes and sly grin, all coupled to a simply huge, operatic voice, a diminutive powerhouse who prowled the stage like a feline elf and who was, it turns out, also finely intelligent and well spoken, an actual gentleman in a genre known all too well for its bombastic, monosyllabic doltbuckets. A rare thing indeed.”

― Mark Morford


Facebook Comments Box