Amulet refers to any object that is believed to have the power to ward off evil and protect its owner or wearer from injury, harm or danger. The word is often used interchangeably with ‘Talisman‘. However, the ‘talisman’ is specifically a good luck charm that is believed to bring good fortune and prosperity, though it may offer protection too.
The term ‘amulet’ is derived from the Latin ‘amuletum’ that means an object that guards a person against trouble. An amulet can take any form including gems, engraved gems, coins, rings, pendants, statues, drawings, plants, animals and even incantations or magical spells. It may be worn or otherwise carried on the body, hung upon the bed or used externally like placing it in the bath.
Amulets have been a part of the traditions and folklore of nearly all societies and cultures through the ages. In the ancient Roman society, they were linked with religion as well as magic. In fact, several gemstones have been connected with particular gods and supposed to have their associated powers.
The star and crescent symbol originated in Sumeria. The moon was associated with the god Sin and the star with the goddess Ishtar. The star was set beside the crescent moon. The star represents Venus and the crescent represents the moon. The star crescent symbolized power.
The star crescent was also found in Greece where it was used to represent the moon goddesses, Luna and Diana. The crescent is pointed upward and the star is directly above the moon. It was a symbol of virginity and female chastity.
In the early Roman period, the star crescent was associated with the goddess Hecate.
The star crescent symbol was also used in early Christianity. It was found on coins and seals used by the crusaders.
The star crescent symbol became prevalent in the Ottoman Empire after 1757. The national flag bore a crescent with a star beside it. This symbol was used in mosques and minarets which led to the association with Islam. However, not all Muslims associate the star and crescent with Islam.
Today the star and crescent can be found on flags in Turkey, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Malaysia, Mauritania, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Northern Cyprus, and Um al-Quwain. It also appears on numerous coats of arms.
Shinto is the religion of the people of Japan, which is characterised by public shrines devoted to the worship of many gods. It is described as an action-centred religion made up of repeated practice of set rituals. These rituals are thought to cleanse impurities caused by wrong thoughts and deeds.
The word Bahá’ has a numerical equivalence of 9, according to the to the Abjad system, and therefore this 9 pointed star is frequently used to represent the faith. The number 9 is associated with perfection, unity and Bahá’, as shown in the following quote by Shoghi Effendi, who was head of the religion in 1944.
“Concerning the number nine: the Bahá’ís reverence this for two reasons, first because it is considered by those interested in numbers as the sign of perfection. The second consideration, which is the more important one, is that it is the numerical value of the word “Bahá’”… “Besides these two significances the number nine has no other meaning. It is, however, enough to make the Bahá’ís use it when an arbitrary number is to be chose.”
Also known as Double Happy, this is a traditional Chinese ornament design, often used as the symbol of marriage. It is comprised of 2 characters of the Chinese alphabet which translate to ‘Joy’. Double Happy is said to attract a special relationship, romance, and bliss.
It is frequently used in branding today, on everything from jewellery to soy sauce.
Confucianism, represents by this symbol, while often described as a religion is more accurately a system of socio-political and philosophical teachings. Confucius was thought to be the author of the Five Classics which were the basic texts which underpin the system. The five ‘constants’ of the system are humaneness, righteousness, proper rite, knowledge and integrity. These are accompanied by a whole host of other forms of ethical behaviours which are thought to result in social harmony when adhered to.
Many cultures use the symbol of the Eagle to represent great or eternal spirt. It is particularly prominent in Native American Tradition, where it was thought to be the creator or all, and ruler of the skies.
The Khanda represents the Sikh doctrine Deg Tegh Fateh, and is made up of four weapons. A double-edged khanda (sword) in the centre, a chakkar and two single-edged swords, or kirpan, crossed at the bottom. The weapons represent the dual characteristics of Miri-Piri, which shows integration of spiritual and temporal sovereignty.
The snake is one of the most established spiritual symbols known, worshipped in some religions and detested in others. In Christianity the snake was held responsible for luring Eve to eat the forbidden fruit – which changed the entire course of mankind. While in Eastern cultures, the snake is considered to be a symbol of regeneration, death and rebirth.
The Caduceus is the traditional symbol of Hermes, who was said to carry it in both Greek and Egyptian mythology. It depicts two snakes winding around a winged staff. This ancient symbol is often confused with the Rod of Asclepius, which is used as a symbol of medicine.
The Caduceus represents the planet Mercury and is used to represent an individual’s own primal life force energy. The snakes, represent Kundalini energy (one masculine and one feminine). As the snakes rise and intertwine as person is filled wth life energy and opens the wings of new life.