Amulet

Thursday, August 02, 2007

An amulet is a consecrated object used for protection, for good fortune, luck, health, to attract, or to repel. It is a natural object, as opposed to a talisman, which, while used for much the same purpose, is a human-made object. C. Nelson Stewart (Man, Myth and Magic) likens a talisman to a sword and an amulet to a shield, saying the former is a reinforcer while the latter is a protector. Certainly amulets are primarily preventive, while talismans are transmitters.

Although amulets are frequently made and used by Witches, they are not exclusively so. They and talismans are a part of the larger world of magick and can be utilized by magicians who are not necessarily Witches.

Amulets are basically natural objects --amber is an excellent example--they may be modified by carving or inscribing, or used in conjunction with other amulets and/or talismans. Most users will consecrate an amulet before using it, but others feel that the very essence of the amulet is that it is natural and therefore requires no consecration. An example of these two schools of thought may be found in the mandrake root. The mandrake naturally grows in the shape of a human figure. For this reason it was thought to have great magickal properties, especially to heal and protect. Yet the more similar to human being the mandrake appeared, the greater the magickal power it was believed to possess. For this reason it was permissible to carve the root to make it more lifelike and more powerful.

Another example of an amulet is a stone with a hole through it, known variously as a Witch Stone, a Goddess Stone, or a Hag Stone. This may be slipped onto a piece of cord or leather thong and worn around the neck for protection. Some would first cleanse the stone in salt and water and hold it in the smoke of incense, at the same time requesting from the gods that it protect its wearer. This act of consecration made the stone amulet even more powerful.

In Africa, elephant hairs are commonly used as an amulet, as are lion's teeth or claws. Elephant hair is frequently woven into a bracelet, for ease of wearing. In Europe and America, a rabbit's foot is perhaps the most common amulet, worn or carried for good luck.

There is a doctrine of correspondences, or "doctrine of signatures," associated with amulets. This is a belief that there is a magickal connection between things which look alike, and things that have at one time been connected but that are now separate. Consequently, a bear claw might be carried to five its owner the strength and fearlessness of a bear, or a monkey's paw might be
carried to bestow agility. A hag stone might be thought to aid in childbirth, because of its similarity to the female vagina. A piece of iron (a horseshoe nail, for example) might be believed to give its owner strength.

Among Scottish Witches the acorn is a popular amulet, symbolizing strength and protection. It may be carried in the pocket or a Witch may make a necklace of strung acorns. Plants, or plant parts such as seeds, pieces of wood or nuts and berries are used universally as amulets. A four-leaf clover is a popular example.

The circumstances under which an amulet is found can have great bearing on its significance and importance. For example, if a climber found a feather at the foot of the mountain, it would behoove the finder to carry the feather with him or her to the top of the mountain, since the feather symbolized the ability to rise. That particular feather would be a very potent amulet in that instance.

Certain items, although not natural in the sense of not having been manufactured, may still be regard as amulets, rather than talismans, based on the circumstances in which they are found. For example, finding an old key at a time when one is wishing to gain access to something -- be it a building, a new job, or even a marriage -- would be regarded as fortuitous in that the key symbolizes access. The key should be carried or worn until the goal is achieved.

From: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism by Raymond Buckland (Possibly)

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