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What is an Amulet?

An amulet is a charm in the form of a stone, or crystal often inscribed with a protective incantation or symbol to ward off evil. Prayers or spells were recited over amulets to activate the power inherent in the material the amulet was made of (e.g. gold, crystal, precious stone, etc.) as well as the inscription carved into the amulet (1). Amulets were then imbued with the power to protect the body (living or dead) from evil influences as well as the physical or supernatural attacks of others.

There were spells which detailed the rituals to be performed in order to create an amulets, many of which were inscribed with anagrams or palindromes of gods’ names or secreted in lockets on papyrus texts of mythical tales (2). Greek and Roman amulets were often made of cheap materials, but precious stones were thought to have special powers, and could be worn around the neck or as a ring (3). Metal rings had special powers which could be increased via a direct engraving, or an inset precious stone engraved with an image or words (4).

In ancient Egypt, mummies were protected by amulets which were slipped between the linen bandages during the ritual wrapping of the corpse (5). Many of the amulets found on mummies were inscribed with words of power or spells meant to assist/protect them in the underworld/otherworld (6).

  1. Budge Wallis E.A. 2015. Egyptian Magic.
  2. Blackett-Ord, R & Fischel, A. editors. A History of Magic Witchcraft & the Occult.
  3. Luck, G. 1985. Arcana Mundi: Magic and The Occult in Greek and Roman Worlds.
  4. Ogden, D. 2008. Night’s Black Agents.
  5. Davies, O. 2017. The Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft and Magic.
  6. Spence, L. 1990. Ancient Egyptian Myths and Legends.

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