Archaeologists have found items that suggest that everyday objects have been imbued with magical properties since the dawn of man. These talismans and amulets can be made from items such as horns and shells, as well as intricately made jewellery and other pieces. An amulet is normally small and has magical qualities, that bring the owner good luck or shield them from bad luck. They can be used for specific purposes or general well-being, and include: crystals, coins, drawings, statues, rings, plants and animals. An amulets is most often worn as a necklace or pendant, as the closer they are to the owner the greater the protection they provide.
A talisman is believed to be more powerful than an amulet, and can be magically charged to transfer this power to the owner. Talismans are normally made for specific purposes with intricate designs and delicate carvings, often bearing magical symbols. They are carried in pockets or purses, not worn on the individual like amulets are. Linking a talisman with a spell also increases its effect, but the magic is so powerful that this additional step isn’t necessary.
Precious and semi-precious stones are often used in the making of the items. The stone is chosen based on its unique properties, for example amber may be used in a protection amulet as it wards off evil. Symbols and shapes, that are used in the design of the amulet or talisman, have distinct levels of power and different meanings. Many of them also include seemingly randomly placed numbers and letters, but the combinations are meant to induce powerful vibrations.
In many cultures, religious objects are used as amulets or talismans, such as the Eye of Horus in Ancient Egypt and the cross in modern day Christianity. Many times, the items have a connection with the supernatural and are used to communicate with spirits, demons and gods. Magical items used include:
- Arab Countries – Two popular designs that developed to ward off the evil eye, and have been adapted for use by other cultures in western civilisation are the Hamsa (Hand of Fatima) and the Nazar (Blue Eye Stone).
- Ancient Rome – Extending back to the peak of the Roman Empire, ‘touch pieces’ were worn to cure diseases, bring good luck and influence the behaviour of others. These were made from coins or medals pierced and worn on a necklace.
- Asia Minor – ‘Pyramid-shaped pendants’ were believed to be very powerful because they pointed to the gods, and were normally black and white to represent the contrast between good and evil.
- Western Wiccans – The pentacle is the most powerful and widely used witchcraft symbol in the modern world. Those that practice Wicca wear it as an amulet which can be used in spells.
- Scotland – The Pictish tribes of northern Scotland used ‘cold-stones,’ which were small round beach pebbles painted with dots, wavy lines and geometric shapes. They were believed to be able to cure illnesses in both humans and animals.