An amulet is a wearable object to which magical powers are ascribed, with which it is supposed to bring luck (energetic, sacramental effect) and protect against damage ( apotropaic effect). It is also known as a talisman because of its auspicious quality and mostly larger execution . With its magical effect, the amulet has parallels to the votive offering. While the votive offering is typically deposited in a suitable place, the amulet is used to be carried on the body or in a bag. Apart from its intended magical aspect, the amulet can also be worn visibly as a piece of jewelry or as a sign of belonging to a mostly religious community.
The exact etymology of the word is unclear. The Latin term amuletum , from which the German word is borrowed from the beginning of the 18th century, can be found several times in the Naturalis historia Pliny the Elder (1st century AD) and is removed by various authors on amoliri , to turn away 'returned. Other scientists have suggested an origin from the Arabic root ḥ-ml (حمل ḥamala 'wear'), against which Johann Gildemeister arguedin the magazine of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft . Possibly there is a relationship with the Greek-Latin amylum or amulum (starch flour)as a (health- promoting or harm-averting ) 'food made from starch'.
Amulets are worn on the body (often also as jewelry ) or in clothing, stored in vehicles or in the dwelling or hung around the cattle . They can be made of a variety of materials and are intended to passively protect the wearer.
Even in prehistory, people hung the remains (teeth and claws) of their prey. They should give the wearer the strength of the animal.
Amulets were used in medicine , as protection for pregnant women, against the evil eye and - for example nutmeg - as love spells and against a variety of diseases. The animistic idea works on the amulet that magical forces act on the human being, which he can counteract with the amulet.
Amulets are known in all cultures. Shells or pearls and special stones such as amber and rock crystals have been used since the Stone Age . In Celtic settlement remains , polished, pierced skull fragments (amulets?) Were found during excavations.
For the Arabs , amulets are leather bags with sewn-in paper on which a Koranic sura or a magical sign is written. They spread the Islamic blessing power of baraka . According to popular belief, non-ferrous metals, especially copper and brass, have an amulet-like positive effect .
The belief in the medical effectiveness of amulets experienced a heyday in Europe, especially from the early modern period to the 17th century, and can be found in Paracelsus , Marsilio Ficino , Cornelius Agrippa and Giordano Bruno .
The following are considered amulets:
- Ancient Egyptians : scarab , knot , eye of Horus
- Assyrians : tablets with incantations
- Chinese : perforated coins , magic formulas (“fu”) in secret writing
- Christians : crosses , symbols on the cult robes, relics , pilgrim signs
- Ancient Greeks : Abaskanton , Batylien and Golden Fleece
- Germanic-pagan religions : Donarskeule , Thor's hammer
- Indians of North America: medicine bag
- Persians : glass heads
- Maghreb states to the Middle East : Hand of Fatima
- Mauritania : Five motifs on household items made of decorated leather, such as the Rahla camel saddle and the Surmije cushion . The "bowl amulet" is a geometric motif on the wooden bowl Gdah
- Romans : various symbols of fertility and sexual potency
- Tuareg : leather bags or silver amulet containers hanging around the neck, silver triangular or cross-shaped necklaces for women
- Turks : Nazar , black eye against the evil eye
- USA, mostly among African Americans : Mojo
Understanding in Christianity
The Baghdad mathematician, philosopher and doctor Qusta ibn Luqa ( Qusṭā ibn Lūqā al-Baʿlabakkī ) was a Melchitic Christian of Greek descent and, in his work on the value of amulets, made belief and human imagination responsible for their effect as early as 900 . He denied occult or astral properties. In Europe , the Christian church also turned against superstition in the Middle Ages , which also included amulets. However, this did not prevent popular belief from clinging to amulets with a Christian reference.
High church men also have good luck charms. For example, 15 adder-tongue trees are recorded in the Holy See's treasury inventory from 1295 . When Prince-Bishop Anselm Franz von Würzburg , a lifelong fighter against superstition and witchcraft, died after a stroke on February 9, 1749, an amulet made of sheet brass was found on his chest, on which a pentagram and some magic formulas were engraved.
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