Amulets have a long and established place in occult circles, of all the ancient civilizations the ancient Egyptians are perhaps the most well known through the prolific use of amulets associated with the dead and everyday life with many of them still in use in one form or another today. They may have been busy, but by no means the only ones and from them amulets were and still are a popular device, evolving into very complex systems appearing in many differing forms.
However you look at amulets, essentially it comes down to the symbolism used to represent an item, person or event you want to repel or attract. The object can visually represent, associated with, or be purely symbolic as in a combination of words or items with the the target.
For example, to ward against a dangerous animal such as a snake (a real hazard in antiquity), some options could be a picture of a snake etched into a stone or bit of wood, or a model of the snake in clay (representative). A bit of twig that’s shaped in a fork to represent a snakes tongue, or some clay shaped into a fang (associative). Then on the more abstract levels having the name of a snake deity etched into something you carry (the view being in this case that having the associated deity means you are under their protection so snakes wont bite, or that you are able to coerce the deity to fend them off), another abstract item could be a ball of string so that the snake will tie its self in a knot or become tangled in something if it approaches you.
The effectiveness of them depends on so many things, the spell cast on them, sympathetic magical effects, the belief in the power of that amulet to protect (and that too goes for the viewer of the amulet you are wearing – the effect can be psychological and not magical). Apart from the physical amulet there are a number of other features that are common to their use. Primarily the material and colour are important design choices, then the charging of the amulet to take it from a simple material item to a magical device.
All of these attributes are defined by what you are trying to achieve, how you intend to use it and how effective you want it to be. The properties and shape of the design obviously depends on how it’s going to be used such as it hanging around your neck, in a pocket, on table, wall or by the window. The rest are really related to its effectiveness.
The choice of materials and colour for example can come form either the target of the amulet or what symbolic associations you want to call on for help, be that from your own deity or deities, or that of the target. There are lots of well known correspondences used for a multitude of uses and it can be down to what you feel comfortable with and your intuition how you choose. For example, I don’t really use crystals and don’t know much about colour correspondences as they are not a huge feature of my path, so I would perhaps go more with general association of colour such as gold if I want to invoke the sun god Ra, blue I associate with my goddess so I might pick that and silver for any lunar goddess. Material wise I usually go with clay or wax as they are easy to fashion by hand and are traditional ones on many paths. If it was something significant and long lasting then perhaps I would go to a more expensive material such as the various stones common to my path.
The craftsmanship of the physical item does not really have to be perfect, it can be if you want and have the skill, the key aspect is the intent you put into its creation and then the later charging and use. This is why I prefer to use wax or clay, they are very tactile, hands on materials that can be moulded in the hand. Sometimes uttering a charging spell at the same time as the material is worked to give it that extra boost as it all adds up. I tend to avoid shop made items as much as possible, this is because I don’t know what vibrations etc. they may have picked up on their travels and as I’ve not literally had a hand in making them I don’t have a connection with its purpose? That’s not to say bought amulets are ineffective, countless amulets have been manufactured for third parties all through history and again it comes down to what its purpose is and the personal spin to place on it. Anyway, you can always cleanse before you if you want to be sure, I just prefer to create from scratch as I have the materials around me most of the time.
Once physically made, then on to charging the item. This is as varied as the choice of material and colour, on the simplest level your normal rituals of initially cleansing and raising a circle followed by a blessing of any connected deities that you may chose, or you go the full works and do something elaborate such as calling on multiple divinities or that of the targets, threatening them if they come close etc. Again its all down to personal taste and ritual you want to attach and appropriate levels of effectiveness you want to place on this amulet.
Going back to Egyptian examples and there are a lot of them, there are so many to choose, many of them making use of puns (they loved word play, even more than us today), multiple levels of mythology and magical knowledge. I will present three of the least obscure and quite possibly the most familiar to people.
First in the list is the very popular Ankh symbol. The hieroglyph of the looped cross which forms the word Ankh is the symbol for life and health, so a very literal amulet, the amulet is a word and the word describes what the wearer wants. As a small aside, I’ve said the Egyptians liked puns and another common form of the Ankh is as a mirror, the handle formed from the vertical part and the mirror itself held within the looped section. The reason for forming a mirror apart from the handy shape was that the word Ankh also meant mirror, the word and the object suggests multiple connections of use in an everyday object. Hold that thought for a bit later.
A second but with a slightly less obvious meaning is an equally well known amulet called the Eye Of Horus or Uadjet Eye. This amulet makes use of the power of god Horus and with it grants luck and health through the mythology and magical association of this symbol with that god. This amulet instead of being a literal request like the Ankh this one uses a variety of symbols within the amulet to draw on magical powers.
The third amulet is an another well known one and that is the scarab beetle. Another amulet for good luck but this one is not quite so obvious. The scarab beetle was observed in antiquity to roll balls of dung across the ground. These balls occurred to Egyptian to represent the sun and the beetle s rolling a representation of rolling it across the sky. The imagery stuck and embedded itself among the the mythology elevating the beetle to an aspect of divine power.
There are certainly more obscure amulets and plenty of text on them, and not just under the Egyptian banner. Simple is usually best so you don’t have to be exotic or obtuse in the design and construction. Another angle to take on amulets is to look at the last few centuries with the craft has been forced to do in hiding magical function beneath everyday items (like the Ankh above but they were not trying to hide it) and the use of most basic items can be very successful if approached in the same way. If they have been charged they wont be visually magical to the passer by unless you’ve managed to make it glow, so any protective amulets (which most tend to be) can be easily ignored on a neck chain, keyring, wrist or in a window. An amulet to us is just a lucky charm or something eccentric to someone else, though an unusually placed item may appear to a passing observant witch as something of magical use but most would go unnoticed by the vast majority of people who are on the whole not that observant.
Think about the possibilities of constructing or reusing something different and everyday. Here are some completely random thoughts on that:
- A razor blade. To grant you razor sharp wit?
- A piece of paper with lots of writing on so you don’t suffer a writers block?
- A small mirror to ward against ageing?
- An empty crisp packet to ward off munchies?
- A broken watch so you are never late or always have lots of time spare.
- A party blower so that life is just one long party and full of fun.
- A key. So you wont get locked out of any door.
- A bit of paper with ‘I will not….’ with lots of them of things you don’t want. You can be quite literal with amulets.
- An umbrella so it does not rain.
I’ve only tried out the last one and it seems to work most of the time, might give the others go sometime.
OK a lot of silly and trivial ideas but possibly usable especially when you think about some off our traditional ones for example horse shoes for luck a common and familiar item to people of those times. Look around and see how it relates to something you want or want protection from.
Another form of amulet use relates to purely written requests employing magical alphabets or symbols. Of the many forms that exist common ones include letter to number correspondences, magic squares and runic forms. Again the selection will most likely be based on your particular path, and for me, I regularly use hieroglyphic and runic forms, I perhaps now use this form of amulet above the previously described physical ones due to the ease, speed and my preference for ritual work through visualisation.
This form does impose a few limits which were employed with the previous amuletic forms, namely form, colour and material. OK you have the colour and material that it is written on so you don’t completely lose them, so how else do we apply an effect?
Some alphabets rely on number correspondences such as the Greek and Hebrew forms, others make use of calling on certain deities or spirits evoking the power associated with them. Or magical words such as the word Abracadabra. Or you could go all out and just write a spell on them, even if its not actually uttered, the mere fact that its written down means its just as effective. Again you path may have some bearing on this.
The most flexible I have personally used are runic characters either individually or in a compound form, by that I mean they lend themselves to fit very nicely around and into each other, so a few lines can encode half a dozen runic characters. And these compound runic forms contain a very potent power and they are worth investigating as I have a few I’ve regularly used for many years with great success.
Again the purpose of these amulets cover the same basic functions as with all other amulet form.
With such a large and wide subject matter, I’ve barely scratched the surface, should anyone have any questions then ask them here or IM etc. If anyone wants a follow up session on a sub-set of what was discussed then I am open to doing something on that topic.