Amulets Sacred Charms Of Power And Protection

by Sheila Paine

  • 192 pages soft-cover book

All over the world and throughout history amulets have offered protection against negative forces. The power of amulets is based on the underlying, widespread belief that all things in the natural world have a spitit and a power that links them together. Intricatley beautiful or starkly simple, amulets come in an astonishing variety of guises: from stones, shells, and seeds, through animal tails, teeth, and claws, to beads, mirrors, needles, and bells. Used alone or combined to intricate patterns, they are all part of a system of natural and magical forces that can be used to redress evil influences.

When the Great Plague swept across Europe and hit London in 1665, the disease was believed to be caused by the wrath of God and spread by the bad odors emanating from the sick. On still days, church bells were rung and shots fired to drive off the diease by moving the air. Birds were kept in rooms to sing and create drafts. But strong-smeling amulets, pomanders of cloves and spices, were considered the bet protection.

It is particularly in such a climate of deadle pestilence caused by forces unknown and not understood - as in the case of AIDS in Africa today - that the power of amulets thrives. Until well into the 19th century illness was commonly believed to be the work of evil spirits, demons, witches, the eil eye, angry gods or even ancestors. In the face of such supernatural forces a magical defense acquired its own rationality.

Babies are particularly vulnerable to evil forces and illness. High infant mortality rates - the causes of which are not understood - are confronted by a plethora of beads, stones, and bags of herbs hung around the child's neck. In the Golden Triangle, the reagion where Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), and Laos all meet, neck rings are put on a few days after birth and kept on at night and day. These hold the soul in the body ensuring the humanity of the child and protecting it from evil. Tribes in souther China hold evil spirits at bay by dressing their children in hats that foold the spirits into thinking the child is a flower, and owl, or even a tiger or dragon.

Amulets are not just something from the distant past. When astronaut Edward White went to the moon, he took in his right-hand pocket of his space suit a Saint Christopher medallion, a gold cross, and a Star of David. Perhaps the newest amulet to emerge is a silver circular pendant that protects the wearer from the electromagnetic field of his or her cell phone.

To unearth the mythology, symbolism, traditional practices, and modern uses of amulets, the author traveled to more than 30 countries around the world. She reveals her findings not only in the unusual stories and commentary but also through more than 400 color photographs. 

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