The cornuto, corno, or cornicello is an Italian amulet of ancient origin. Corno means “horn” and cornicello means “little horn” — these names refer to a long, gently twisted horn-shaped amulet worn in Italy to protect against the evil eye. Cornicelli are usually carved out of red coral or made of gold or silver. The type of horn they are intended to copy is not a curled-over sheep horn or goat horn but rather like the twisted horn of an African eland or something similar. Over the years they have become rather stylized and now look less like a natural animal horn than they once did. A regionally popular amulet, they are primarily found in Italy and in America among descendents of Italian immigrants. An Italian charm for protection against the evil eye. It resembles the branched horns of a deer, and is considered suitable for girls or young women to wear.
These little horns (like the horns of all horned animals) are presumed to have once been sacred to the Old European moon goddess, before the rise of Christianity. Some modern evangelical Catholics disparage the continued use of cornicelli among Italian Catholics and refer to them as “Satan’s horns” or “Lucifer’s horns” but this is absolutely nonsense, as they were always seen as the horns of the moon goddess — and hence, in Catholic symbolism, would be related to the Virgin Mary, who is shown standing on a lunar crescent.
Related to the corno is the Mano Cornuta Amulet or “horned hand.” This is an Italian hand-gesture (or an amulet imitative of the gesture) that can be used to indicate that a man has been cuckholded (“wears the horns”) and also to ward off the evil eye. Mano means “hand” and corno means “horn.”
“The use of the Corno, or Devil’s Horn, is a curse of impotency or of the cuckold. The twisted phallic red coral, gold or silver amulet (cornicello) is often worn or carried by men to ward off curses on their “manliness” or mojo. Although many claim the amulet represents one of the horns of the devil, the Corno predates Christianity by thousands of years. The horned god Faunus was known for his wild nature and interest in fertility. The ancient Romans knew well Cernunnos, the horned Celtic god of fertility, life, animals, wealth, and the underworld.