Talisman and Amulets A Universal Human Need
In all cultures around the world and throughout the ages, men have created talismans and amulets believed to have supernatural mystical powers, which provide their owners with protection against evil or trouble as well as promise of luck and good fortune. Amulets and talismans include gems, stones, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants, animals, and even certain books, words and phrases. Some are worn on the body for personal protection. Others are hung over the bed of an infirmed person, for their presumed medicinal qualities and others are magical inscriptions, which are written or inscribed onto food, transferring healing and magical qualities to the consumer. Even the holy books themselves play a role in a talisman-like manner, sometimes placed next to a seriously-ill person, in order to help him recover.
In many societies, religious objects which represent the gods, serve as amulets and talismans having powers of protection, healing and good fortune. These include the cross in Christianity and the "eye of Horus" in ancient Egypt. In fact, the ancient Egyptians used many amulets for different occasions and purposes, one of the most popular being the scarab (dung beetle), representing the solar god Khepri and associated with rebirth and resurrection. In the Far East, the image of Buddha is often worn around the neck as a talisman of protection and good luck.
Popular legends of magical powers attributed to animals, plants and objects are a widespread universal phenomenon. An ancient Chinese tradition, for example, involves capturing a live cricket and holding it in an osier box, to attract good luck. Rice, too, has a reputation of being a carrier of good fortune. Rabbit's foot, a four-leaved clover and a baby's caul are also popular symbols believed to bring good luck. Corals, horseshoes and lucky bamboo, too, are generally believed to promise prosperity, fortune and happiness to their owners. However, amulets and talismans are not only associated with magical and supernatural powers. Some are also used for protection against evil intent of other people, i.e. sprinkling of salt on a person, to ward off jealousy and curses.
In the Jewish tradition, the Kimiyah (kameya) is an example of the use of letters on an ornament, as an amulet for various purposes. The Kimiyah consists of Hebrew letters representing angels' names, written on a piece of paper or parchment and worn on the neck or chest, for good fortune and good health. The parchment is usually placed in an ornate case to be born on its owner's body. The series of magical letters are often molded on a pendant. The three-letter word Shadai, a biblical name of God, is found on many Jewish artifacts, especially on the Mezuzah, the ornament affixed to the doorposts of Jewish homes. The three-letter name is also an acronym of "Shomer Delatot Israel" (guardian of doorposts of Israel) and it too is believed to have magical or supernatural powers which can promise good fortune to the residents and protect them from evil.
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