If you think of good luck charms, protective amulets and talismans as things of the past, something modern life has somehow done away with, then think again. Look around you are count just how many people are wearing astrological pendants, St Christopher medallions and Egyptian Ankhs for example. It seems that we are still turning to protective symbols as much as we ever did, and there is a belief that their use is actually increasing.
While charms, amulets and talismans are considered by many to be exactly the same thing, doing the same jobs, there are in fact a number of subtle differences between them. Charms are associated with luck, and an amulet is traditionally worn to protect the wearer from danger whereas a talisman is worn to attract a benefit of some kind to its wearer.
Charms: Rather than a physical thing, the original charms that were thought to bring luck were either sung or spoken. Think about the blessing which a priest gives at the end of a service, the one which is traditionally sung; this is a blessing for good things upon all of the congregation and in effect is a lucky charm. Over time words were regarded as insubstantial, and solid objects were sought, often items which had some kind of spiritual or religious significance. Coins are popular good luck items as are rabbits feet. These are items which are carried or worn at all times.
Amulets: Amulets have been protecting people for tens of thousands of years. At one time the world was a much more strange and scary place than it is now, and much happened that was seemingly inexplicable; events such as an eclipse, earthquake or anything else we have since used science to explain. Amulets were called upon to protect not only individuals but also their homes, families and any livestock they owned. Amulets were used to shield wearers from the ‘evil eye’, or evil intent from another. Amulets were originally created from natural substances such as wood, bone and semi precious stones. Ancient warriors were know to wear amulets to help protect them from injury or death, with many being carved from bloodstone, carnelian and haematite. In Ancient Greece amulets of amethyst were worn by men in the hope that it would protect them from the effects of alcohol.
Talismans: Talismans are believed to provide the bearer with the benefit of power, energy or insight and are generally created at times of astrological or spiritual significance. Talismans are generally crafted from metal or stone or even parchment as they can all carry an inscription of power. Often tokens from powerful animals are used such as eagle feathers or shark’s teeth; in the hope that some of the nature of that animal is passed on to the wearer. Sportsmen and women often use talismans to promote strength, speed or endurance for example. Unlike charms and amulets a talisman is a magical item which needs charging with energy and power, a ceremony which can be performed in many different ways.