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Posted on Monday, December 05 - 2005

" Picture these: a pewter angel, a copper medal depicting the Hindu elephant god Ganesh, a blue glass anti-evil eye charm, a clay scarab, a rose-quartz pendant, a walnut carved with 108 likenesses of Buddha.Though the wearing or carrying of amulets may seem to be a material flourish of thi..."

Amulet - Hexagram of Solomon

Picture these: a pewter angel, a copper medal depicting the Hindu elephant god Ganesh, a blue glass anti-evil eye charm, a clay scarab, a rose-quartz pendant, a walnut carved with 108 likenesses of Buddha.Though the wearing or carrying of amulets may seem to be a material flourish of this generation's New Age movement, the practice is as old as human history itself. Every culture and every major world religion has a particular way of enfolding amulets into its spiritual practice, though there are differing interpretations on why or when to use them.Though we're not always aware of it, we use amulets throughout our lives, ascribing sentimental or symbolic significance toinanimate objects: a wedding ring that reminds the wearer of loving vows made to another, or a "lucky" pen given at graduation with blessings for future success. The Roman naturalist Pliny first described differing types of amulets, drawing a distinction between those that offered ameliorative or healing effects to the wearer and those that served a protective function.

As George Frederick Kunz wrote in his 1915 work, "The Magic of Jewels and Charms," "It is sometimes difficult to establish a hard and fast dividing line between the two classes, as everything that conduces to the happiness and well-being of man also affects his bodily health." Others have used the term talisman to refer to a charm that wards off negative influences and amulet for a charm that serves as a magnet for good--though, interestingly, the word amulet isderived from the Latin amuletum or amoletum, meaning "means of defense." Using amulets can become a prayer practice when the object connotes a communication to the Divine or is carried as a reminder of that which is most sacred to the wearer--although it could be argued that any intention behind the amulet is itself a prayer. The ancient Egyptians were great employers of amulets, many of which depicted Egyptian deities; ancient pagans also wore figurines of their gods. Pieces of paper holding quotations from sacred religious texts--including the Torah, New Testament, and Koran--have been carried in containers that served as amulets; today, mezuzahs containing inscribed verses from the Old Testament are fixed near the door of Jewish homes as a sign and reminder of their faith. The carved fetishes of indigenous cultures pay homage to the sacred qualities embodied by the subject;tiny Bud......

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