Amulet – Charm for Securing Good Luck

Amulet – Charm for Securing Good Luck

An amulet was a charm attached to the body of a human being or animal to avert calamities or secure good fortune. The shapes of ancient jewelery and ornaments were in great measure decided by a belief in their magical powers. Directions for the choice and application of amulets form no small part of many ancient documents on medicine, and it is often difficult to draw a distinction (which did not exist in the minds of many ancient physicians) between a medicine and an amulet. Sometimes a connection can be traced between the amulet and its purpose, for example when teeth of animals are used as a charm against dental diseases, but typically the relationship between the charm and its use seems entirely arbitrary.

Below are some of the materials used for amulets and their magical purposes:

Amethyst – believed to counteract the effects of wine
Opal – believed to be beneficial to the eyes
The ant, wasp, caterpillar, snail, and spider – used against fevers and mental disorders

Amulets assumed the forms of necklaces, pendants, rings, bracelets, earrings, hairpins, etc. It was a very common practice to avoid bad luck by wearing some ill omened, grotesque, or obscene shape which would instantly catch the ‘evil eye’ and divert its malice.

Amulet 6th century

Amulet from the 6th century (Eastern Europe)

SOURCE: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, Volume 1 edited by Sir William Smith, William Wayte, George Eden Marindin

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