Amulets have been worn for protection for thousands of years. Early peoples lived in a world where strange and frightening things occurred that defied explanation. Consequently, amulets were used to protect homes, families, and livestock.

Amulets were also used to protect people from the “evil eye.” Amulets were originally natural items, such as an animal’s tooth or a semi-precious stone. However, you can choose anything you like. Medals, bells, keys, and photographs can all be used as amulets. Many police officers in early twentieth-century New York carried St. Jude medals with them for protection. St. Jude is the patron saint of policemen.

Because talismans are intended to provide power, energy, and specific benefits they are often made at times that are believed to be spiritually or astrologically significant. They are frequently made from stone, metal, or parchment as these substances can easily be inscribed with words or pictures to add additional power. Many talismans come from predatory animals. A leopard’s claw, shark’s tooth, or eagle’s feather, for instance, are believed to endow the wearer with some of the qualities of the animal from which it came.

Here is a list of amulets, talismans and their traditional meanings:

Acorn: attracts the opposite gender, increases income, divinatory powers, and prosperity

Agate: Good luck, meditation, protection, health, purification

Akhet: Ancient Egyptian amulet representing the rising sun. It is said to give the wearer the vigour of the sun God, Ra.

Aladdin’s Lamp: a charm shaped like Aladdin’s Lamp means happiness and good luck

Alligator teeth: protection from sorcery and danger

Amber: balance, harmony, protection, psychic power

Amethyst: power, peace, protection, spirituality, intelligence, luck, psychic power, true love

Animal shapes: supposed to give the wearer the desirable qualities of the animal

Ankh: an Egyptian amulet meaning life or soul. It symbolises enduring life and grants the wearer a hundred, thousand, million years of life

Bell: an amulet used by primitive and Western people whose sound was intended to ward off the evil eye and dispel hostile spirits

Billiken: a good luck ornament in the shape of a human figure

Cat: cat-shaped jewellery represents prophecy, luck, protections nd the granting of secret wishes.

Chai: a symbol of life. Usually made from gold or silver. It supposedly grants the wearer longevity

Cross: life and divine protection. The Christians believes it to be a supreme amulet against all evil forces. The sign of the cross was thought to cure sickness and drive off demons

Cylinder Seal: a seal, in cylindrical shape, made of clay, precious stones, or limestone, worn around the neck by the Sumarians and other ancient people as a signature to authenticate business agreements

Dragon: dragon shaped amulets offer love, happiness and fertility, as well as balance

Eye of God: Amulet used to counteract the evil eye. Made of sticks and coloured yarn by Huichol Indians of Mexico and attributed with power of protecting people, homes and fields.

Eye of Horus: Egyptian eye of God made of stone, gold, copper, silver, faïence or wood an worn to acquire strength, vitality, and protection against the evil eye

Four Leaf Clover: good luck amulet. The four leaves going clockwise from the left side of the stem represent fame, wealth, love and health

Fox Tail: good luck amulet attached to personal possessions. Primitive people thought it endowed the wearer with the cunning of the animal

Heart: a symbol of love and devotion

Hexagram: a figure of six lines forming a six pointed Star. It is worn by many as a protection against evil

Horn of Plenty (Cornucopia): a contemporary amulet symbolising prosperity, modelled into the legendary cornucopia overflowing with flowers and fruits

Horseshoe: a popular amulet nailed to barn doors for good luck

Knot: an amulet usually of knotted string or cord hat was believed to hold the love of a sweetheart or ward off illness

Magic Triangle: Kabbalistic amulet based on the belief that by reducing the size of an inscription, line by line, an evil spirit could be eased out of the sufferer

Jupiter: brings honour and riches to the wearer

Mars: induces courage, persistence, and recklessness. Usually made of red stone such as ruby

Mercury: brings success in arts and science. It also gives skill of detecting thieves. Best made out of agate, carnelian and sardonyx

Mezuzah: doorpost amulet designed to keep a house safe from evil spirits, ghosts and demons

Moon: Amulet worn in ancient and modern times to bring success in love and good fortune in travel. To assure good fortune, it should be worn as a waxing moon, not a waning (that is, with the points to the left)

Nefer: an amulet worn by the Egyptians representing beauty and goodness. It is probably in the shape of a heart or a windpipe, and was thought to bring youth and happiness

Pentagram: a five pointed star representing the five elements of air, fire, earth, water and spirit. Also represents the figure of a human being. It is thought to protect the wearer from evil spirits. Can be used by magicians to control spirits. Should be worn with one point up.

Ra: thought to give long life and strength

Rings: worn as amulets to treat illness, dispel forces of evil, keeps lovers together and prevent flight of the soul from the body

Saturn: promotes dignity, industry, trustworthiness and success in business. Best made from black stones such as jet, obsidian or black coral

Scarab: a variety of beetle; image of the beetle in clay, faïence, precious stone or other material. Acquire the strength and long life of the God of creation. Was also thought to speak up in the judgement room for a favourable verdict for their master

Sma: an amulet representing the shape of the lungs. Was used by Egyptians to give breathing power to the dead by placing on their mummies

Star: ward off evil or encourage good fortune

Sun: said to bestow prosperity and friendship. (of Egyptian origin)

Tassel: an amulet made of a bunch of cords, threads or strands hanging from a knot or roundish head

Turtle: a tortoise shaped charm provides courage, creativity, intelligence, spiritual protection, compassion, fertility, sexuality and protection

Venus: grants love and appreciation of beauty

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