Why on earth did Macron use the horn symbol?

It seems strange that nobody seems to have commented on this photo.

In holding hands with the President and First Lady, President Macron seems (inadvertently?) to be holding up the sign of the horns.

This sign can have many meanings. In Southern Europe, it has long been known as the symbol for the “cornuto” (Italian for ‘the horned one’) – the cuckolded husband. Seeing as much of the talk is about Trump’s potential shenanigans rather than his wife’s, it seems unlikely that we can make much of this as its significance.

In Spain, it is, additionally, the sign for “cabrón” – “a person of bad character” (male) as politely put in Spanish dictionaries. Or, to put it as intended in Spanish slang, a son of a bitch.

But throughout Southern Europe (and also in France), it is also the sign used to ward off the evil eye, a spell of bad fortune cast by those who are envious of one’s position or achievements.

My mother used to flash it around constantly whenever someone whom she didn’t particularly like, or with whom there was a degree of rivalry, gave her a compliment.

In Wicca, it is said to represent the dualistic nature of the Horned God – bright and dark, night and day, summer and winter – and is believed to be the origin of the phrase “on the horns of a dilemma”.

I guess we should assume that the gesture was inadvertent, in spite of it appearing in both hands. But maybe it’s not totally inappropriate. Many are starting to feel somewhat envious of Marcon’s success. Some feel he is too full of himself, excessively ambitious and straying outside the boundaries of his position (heard to imagine how one might do that give the near monarchical position of the French presidency).

His state visit to the US has drawn either grudgingly positive reporting (well short of praise) in the mainstream left-ish media or indignation that a European head of state would dare be so chummy with Donald Trump. In such an environment, it might be as well for the superstitious to want to ward off the evil eye.

How to deal with Trump certainly presents a dilemma for many leaders – as evidenced by Merkel’s stilted working visit to Washington hot on the heels of Macron’s expansive state visit, and, as I outlined last week on this blog, Theresa May’s flip-flopping approach. But Macron seems to have made up his mind. No horns of a dilemma for his self-assured self.

When John Lennon was depicted holding up the same sign above Paul McCartney’s head on the cover of Yellow Submarine, it set off years of speculation as to what was meant. It seems a shame that we can’t have some fun speculating about this latest appearance of the horns – accidental though they may have been.

But then again, does Macron, a President whose tenure so far has been characterised by deep symbolism, do anything inadvertently? Or is it that we have lost the ability to interpret symbols even when they stare us in the face?

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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