In association with Melissa Hart
Have you ever kept a four-leaf clover close to your side? Or how about attached a horseshoe to your front door? What about hanging a crystal above your bed? All of these objects, commonly known as amulets, have provided humanity with tools for luck since time immemorial.
Humans have always been a profoundly superstitious species in need of objects to navigate the world, both in good and bad times.
Most amulets evolved from folklore, and were traditionally worn around the neck for the sole purpose of giving the owner luck and protection, but the idea of them have been passed on from generation to generation and change shape depending on which culture you’re looking at. The word “amulet” originally derived from the Latin word amuletum, which meant an object that protects one from trouble.
The earliest use of the word comes from the Roman writer, Pliny the Elder, who wrote that an amulet is an object that protects people in his much-renowned compendium, Natural History in 78 CE.
Amulets can and are still used in almost any setting: from tradesmen carrying lucky coins for protection tiptoeing around skyscrapers, to cab drivers attaching holy beads around their rear-view mirror, or even some eating a lucky hotdog when playing poker.
Here are a just a few of the world’s most cherished and popular amulets, which are still used today by millions of people across the world.
Originating from Thailand, the Buddha amulet and the ritual of rubbing its belly has become a massive trend in recent years. Originally associated with a more earthly spiritual path, this amulet has been transformed, quite literally, into a money-spinner.
Thai people spend up to £500 million on these amulets every year. If you wear this amulet, it is believed that you will become very wealthy or eventually have some type of financial success. For Thai people, collecting Buddha belly amulets have become as popular as collecting stamps and remain so to this day.
Crystals remain one of the most popular, yet mysterious of amulets; not only for their healing properties, but also because they are still somewhat misunderstood.
Crystals are generally portrayed for their powerful properties, even in pop culture. We’ve all heard of Superman being weakened by the radiation emitting Kryptonite, and Lithium crystals used as an energy source in the sci-fi favourite Star Trek.
Going back in time, the ancient Greeks believed quartz had supernatural powers. However, quartz crystals are still revered today because they also possess scientific properties, such as emitting electric charges and heating properties. They are mainly embraced in alternative medicine as a form of healing, with some of the most powerful crystals being rose quartz, amethyst and lapis lazuli.
This small vegetable has been used in folklore for thousands of years — everyone knows garlic from its association with vampires. But it has also traditionally been used as a way of warding off evil in general. It was originally used by Roman soldiers as a way to keep themselves safe from evil spirits when they went into battle.
If you trace this superstition back to its origins, you’ll find that it has nothing to do with bad omens or spirits, but all to do with its smell. When people started adorning it, others were put off by the odour because it was so pungent and they eventually did not want to hang around — hence its bad reputation.
However, there is one caveat to making this amulet work, and that is this amulet must be given to you and not purchased. Remember that the next time you come across a vampire.
One of the most popular amulets still known today in modern folklore; if a worn horseshoe is found on the ground, it is said to bring the owner a lot of luck.
In some countries, horseshoes hung downwards represent a way of welcoming healthy fertility into the house. But in the UK and USA, horseshoes need to be hung with the tips pointing upwards to invite luck into the home, especially when attached to the front of a door.
The origin of this particular superstition is quite remarkable. Back when horseshoes were first developed, the owners fitting the animal with these iron slippers were shocked that their horses felt little pain through the process.
Little did the owner know, this was because these things don’t conduct heat. Nevertheless, the owners thought maybe they possessed some natural powers, which is why they are revered today.
There are many more objects that have been used over the centuries for their lucky charms, from wishbones to rabbit’s feet; however, the above examples remain some of the most popular even by today’s standards.
It’s incredible if you think about it, considering the religious implications of amulets (in the Christian Bible, for example, wearing amulets is strictly forbidden), yet millions of people employ them today for a host of different purposes. But even with the amount of empirical knowledge we possess today, people remain as superstitious as ever, and these objects are proof that lucky charms will always be around no matter what.
Who knows maybe one of the above resonates with you.