Amulets & Talisman
Amulets are objects believed to be imbued with mysterious and magical powers.
From the earliest days of the caveman, amulets have been used to provide people with protection, health, luck, fertility, power, success or any other need imaginable. To ancient civilizations these needs were controlled by the forces of good and evil. Prayers, offerings and sacrifices were offered to the good spirits to grant blessings. Amulets supposedly stopped evil spirits from taking them away.
Originally amulets were only natural objects. But as civilizations progressed, amulets were fashioned into animal shapes, symbols, seals, rings and plaques. They were believed to have magical powers and were used to cast powerful spells.
Generally, an amulet is worn on the body, usually around the neck, but some amulets are used to guard homes, tombs or other buildings.
Ancient Assyrians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Arabs and Hebrews placed great importance in amulets. The frog protected fertility, Ankhs for everlasting life, udjat for health, scarab for resurrection after death. Some of the Egyptian amulets are massive such as the stone beetle mounted on a pedestal at Karnak. It measures five feet long by three feet wide and weighs more than two tons.
Babylonians and Syrians used cylinder seals which were embedded with precious stones. Hebrews wore crescent moons to ward off evil. African natives carry amulets, usually a pouch or box of medicine containing herbs or other plants.
Universal amulet symbols are eyes and phallic symbols. Eyes protect against evil spirits while phallic symbols protect against evil. In magic using the name of a deity is the equivalent of tapping into the divine power. In the old testament, Hebrews gave the personal name of god as a four letter word called the tetragrammaton, translated as YHWH and pronounced Yahweh. This name appeared in spellings on amulets to help magicians conjure demons and also to protect from attack.
Amulets in various cultures also appeared as bits of parchment with scripture quotes that were carried in pouches. Ancient pagans wore figurines of their gods as amulets. In neo-pagan witchcraft the most powerful amulet is the silver pentacle, the symbol of the craft. The sign of the pentacle, called a pentagram, is used to protect sacred sites.
The Egyptian word for amulet is mk-t which means protection. The substances used to make amulets were believed to possess magical powers that would be passed on to the wearer. The most powerful of these amulets were those that were inscribed with the names of Gods. The oldest of the Egyptian amulets dates to the Neolithic period.
Scarab: The symbol of the God of creation. It was frequently placed on the dead to effect their resurrection. The scarab itself was based on a type of dung eating beetle.
Djed: Believed to strengthen the back.
tjet: Represents the sexual organs of the God Isis. Usually this amulet is found in the hands of statues.
Urs: Headrests of pillows usually made of wood or ivory and placed under the mummy's neck.
Ab: Inscribed on the breast of the mummy to replace the heart.
Ner-T: Commemorates the wanderings of the Goddess Isis. Gives its wearer her strength.
Usekh: Tied to the mummy's head to protect the chest and neck.
Uadj: Gave the wearer youth and virility.
Udjat: Worn for good health, protection and well being.
Ahat: Made in the form of a cow wearing the solar disk with plumes between the horns.
Frog: Fertility symbol usually made of gold.
Nefer: Represented a musical instrument worn for good luck.
Ba: Made in the form of a human headed hawk, usually made of gold and placed on the breast.
Sma: Believed to give the mummy power to breathe.
Aakhu: A symbol of life after death.
Shuti: Represents the two feathers on the heads of Ra, Osiris and Amen-Ra.
Shen: Symbol of eternity.
Ren Name amulet. In some cases the name of a king was inscribed.
Menat: Amulet of virility, fertility and sexual power.
Maq-T: Provided the dead with the ability to ascend to heaven.
Uraeus: Represented the sacred cobra.
The Hebrews took most of their magic from the Babylonians, Egyptians and Summarians. But the Bible is the strongest source of Hebrew magical lore. The most powerful amulets of the Hebrews were the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each letter was believed to have cosmic energies. Here are some of the most common.
Saharon: Form of a crescent, worn by Kings, women and camels. It protected its wearer from evil forces.
Teraphim: Shaped in the form of Gods or men and used in divination.
Lehashim: Used to describe any object that was used for magical purposes.
Pomegranates: Ancient symbols of love and fertility.
Phylacyeries: Usually worn on the arm and made of leather.
Mezuzah: Small cylinder found at the entrance of the home of a Jew.
Tzitzith: A tassel commanded by God to be worn on the borders of all Jewish garments.
The Tiki is a Polynesian amulet usually worn around the neck. It is of a human figure and is usually made of wood and Mother of Pearl. Tiki depicts the first man created by the Sky God Tane.
Talisman are objects that possess magical power of their own and transmit it to its wearer. Talisman perform a single function with powerful effects. Fairy wands and even King Arthur’s sword are considered talisman. They can be any object, but their powers can only be given by the forces of nature, the gods or by being made in a ritualistic way. Precious stones have been considered as talisman because of their magical or healing powers. Talisman have been found among all cultures in history.
They were especially common in Babylonia and Egypt where they were used to alter the forces of nature. Alchemists performed elaborate rituals to make talisman, waiting for certain astrological signs, then reciting incantations to summon spirits who would imbue the talisman with power. The most sought after talisman was the Philosopher’s stone which many believed would turn metal into gold.