The amulet or talisman as a symbol

Almost everywhere in the world people carry some kind of talisman or amulet with them, its shapes are different from country to country and from culture to culture. In general, the amulet or talisman was taken very seriously and was endowed with helpful, magical powers. Sometimes it had to protect the owner from bad luck and sometimes he had to bring luck to the owner. There are also funny cultural differences in Africa many women wear fertility figures in their clothing to increase the chance of pregnancy, in the West it is the opposite and contraception is used to prevent pregnancy. Especially in the Middle East people make much use of amulets and inscriptions of sayings from the Quran. In many cultures the so-called evil eye is known and there are also many antidotes in the form of an amulet or talisman or special gestures and magical objects to ward off evil eye. From the new age movement there is an interest in the protective and healing power of crystals and this too has developed very quickly and is distributed in America and large parts of Europe. Even people who do not believe in superstitions and protective amulets often have an object to which they are attached and that they always carry with them.

A talisman is an object that attracts energy and stimulates positive forces. An amulet repels negative energy and protects against accident. So a talisman brings luck and an amulet gives protection against evil. The word amulet comes from the Latin "amuletum", which means "method of protection". A talisman and amulet is usually worn on a chain, cord or string around the neck for protection of the carrier. The use of amulets and talismans is very old and goes back far in history. Many people think of an amulet as something like the well-known rabbit's foot but also the Christian cross on a chain around the neck is in fact a widely used amulet. Most amulets and talismans are made from natural products such as wood, stone, bone, herb pouches or shells. Also there are, amulets and talismans in the form of hollow tubes or crosses containing earth from holy places.

Usually an amulet will be worn on the body and supernaturally protect the wearer against disaster. An amulet can also be worn as a piece of jewelry and, for example, attached to clothing. But there are also amulets that are put down or hung in places that need extra protection such as door frames or above a baby's crib. About the difference between amulet and talisman there are several conceptions but nowadays the words amulet and talisman are used interchangeably. Lots of amulets and talismans are ancient symbols such as the eye of Horus, but everyday objects such as the well-known horseshoe are also believed to have special powers. In many Islamic countries, jewelry is worn with handwritten Quran texts on or in it. This could be about simple leather bags to beautifully decorated precious metal pendants. In East Asia, envelopes containing Buddhist texts also apply as powerful amulets. Nevertheless, wearing amulets is often dismissed as superstition and, for example, Islam rejects the belief in the supernatural power of objects. Often the amulets are associated with witchcraft and idolatry. But the amulets with Quranic texts and pendants with a cross or effigy of a Christian saint are in fact amulets. A well-known Catholic example is a saint Christoffel medal which was given to protect travelers. Even in our secular society there is still a belief in this kind lucky charm or security guards in the form of lucky dolls and dice hanging from car mirrors. Amulets seem to be a universal human need to feel safe and protected. Regards, Hein Pragt.

Copyright © Hein Pragt.

Abracadabra talisman

Abracadabra talisman This is a very famous talisman, it has been in use for centuries as a general good luck charm against ailments and pain. The full word is on the amulet and one letter is dropped each time until only the A is left, this will represent the ever-decreasing power of a demon. There is some doubt about its origin, some think it is from Roman origin, an invention of a court physician against fevers, others think it has its origins in the ancient Babylonian phrase "abbada ke dabra" which means disappear, a clear command to the demons. Anaothe source could be the Jewish culture, the word abacadabra was thought to come from the Hebrew words for the holy trinity: the father (ab), the son(s) and the holy spirit (ruach acadah). The triangle can either point up or down.

Akuaba symbol

akuaba amulet The akuaba also called aqaba or akapa is a good luck symbol of the Ashanti people from Ghana. The amulet is mainly used for childless and pregnant women to increase fertility and give birth to beautifully healthy children. The akuaba must, according to the beleives be treated like one's own child and only then will the akuaba be satisfied and will ensure pregnancy and a healthy child. The akuaba figurine is usually given to the woman by a priest, the figurine has a large round head, which represents the uterus of the woman.

Allah Mohammed bead amulet

Allah amulet The Allah Mohammed bead is a very modest amulet and only has two words on it. On one side is Allah and on the other hand Muhammad, written in Arabic script. Compared to the amulets from other religions, this amulet seems very small, the great power therefore lies not in the small shape but in the power of the words.

Anchor amulet

anker symbool als amulet The anchor is the general symbol and amulet of hope. In Christian culture it stands for hope in Jesus Christ. This symbol was also the emblem of Saint Clement, the Bishop of Rome who, according to tradition, was tied to an anchor was thrown into the sea. The anchor occurs as a tattoo, but also as a charm on a bracelet or on a pendant on a chain.

Ankh cross symbol

ankh of hengselkruis The ankh or handle cross (Lat. crux ansata), is an ancient Egyptian symbol and amulet meaning 'life'. It looks like a T-shaped tau cross, with a loop at the top that serves as a handle. It is a sculpture which represents the survival of physical death. In early Christian times in Egypt the ankh cross was used as symbol of eternal life. Because the shape also resembles a key, it is also called called the key of life or Nile key, as an emblem it is sometimes used by esoteric groups.

Ayat amulet

Ayat amulet The Ayat is a most popular Islamic symbol and amulet. It is a small rectangular plate usually made of gold or silver. On this picture is an inscription from the Quran in Arabic script. The verse written on the amulet state is called Ayat al Kursi and this is the translation:
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Allah! There is no God but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting, the Eternal. No slumber can seize Him, nor sleep. All things in heaven and earth are His. Who could intercede in His presence without His permission? He knows what appears in front of and behind His creatures. Nor can they encompass any knowledge of Him except what he wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them, for He is the Highest and Most Exalted.

Guardian angel symbol

Guardian angel amulet The guardian angel or the lucky angel are well-known protection and good luck symbols for many centuries. Very old religions before the origin of Christianity already knew angels and elves who offered protection. According to Christian teachings, we have a guardian angel who guides us throughout lief and will protect us and warn for danger. Many people wear a guardian angel as an amulet or talisman because it's always nice to know that there is someone who is watching over us and bring us a little happiness and prosperity.

Saint Christoffel talisman

Saint Christoffel talisman This is a well-known talisman or amulet of Saint Christopher who is the patron saint for the traveler. It prevents accidents and ensures that people get home safely. Its origin is the story of the great strong giant Offerus, he was looking for mightiest and through the king and then the devil he came to a hermit who told him about Jesus Christ, the real King who had come to help people. Offerus wanted to find that king and every day he brought people across the river carrying them on his shoulders, until he carried a child across the river who was really Jesus Christ, who said that from then on he would be called Christopher the Christ Bearer. Since then Christopher is the Christ bearer, the patron of the travelers, because he takes people safely to the 'other side' and back again. The amulet is usually some kind of metal pendant on a chain that can be worn around the neck.

The laughing buddha amulet

The laughing buddha The laughing buddha is also known as the maitreya buddha, or the buddha of the future and it is a symbol of happiness, kindness and innocent joy. He could bring great wealth and he was the patron saint of the goldsmiths in ancient China. His round belly is considered a bodily representation of luck and wealth. Who rubs his belly once a day would increase his chances of fortune. The amulet is the image of the cross-legged sitting and smiling fat figure of the laughing buddha. He was considered especially lucky and he would also protect anyone who wears his likeness from a sudden death. This amulet is nowadays common in large parts of Asia, in Central and North America and in Europe.

Devil trap amulet

Devil trap amulet This symbol and amulet is a spell used to ward off evil. The symbol contains a spiral spell (often in illegible script) to catch evil and misfortune. It serves as a talisman to banish evil and attract good fortune.

The acorn amulet

The acorn amulet The acorn amulet is used by the Norwegians who believe that by placing an acorn in the window frame, a house gets protection against a strike of lightning. This is easy to explain because most houses there are made entirely of dry wood. When choosing an acorn one looks how old is the oak from which the acorns come, because the older an oak, the better it is resistant and provides protection against strikes of lightning. By bringing an acorn from this tree into the house, one hopes to get a little protection from the oak.

Fallus symbol as amulet

fallus symbool als amulet A fallus (penis) in the form of an amulet was also used as a remedy against the evil eye, since there is also an element of threat posed by a fallus, it is also thought that evil could be averted in this way. In the old Rome this amulet was called a 'cenfascinum'. In Rome these striking amulets were openly worn mainly by soldiers when they went into battle. In Thailand there is such an amulet that has a very clear shape, the 'palad khik' which means 'reputable vicarious penis'. Men wear this amulet on their protect their genitals and increase their happiness with woman.

Fica amulet

Fica symbool This symbol that would ward off the evil eye would generally protect against hostile creatures and forces. In a clenched fist, the thumb is placed between the index and middle finger stabbed, which as an obscene gesture is supposed to represent the symbol of the sex act. The protective effect depends on the fact that demons are spiritual and thus sexless beings.

Gau symbol

Gau amulet This symbol and amulet is actually a box, worn by high-ranking Tibetans. This is to protect them against misery, misfortune and disease, especially when traveling. The boxes often contain small relics or other blessed objects.

Sign of the horns

horns sign The sign of the horns or Corna (in Dutch de bokkegroet and in Italian mano cornuta) is a vulgar gesture performed with the fingers that originally was used in Mediterranean countries to ward off evil or the evil eye. The gesture is made by hand to pointing forward like a fist with only the index fingers and little finger stretched out. The hand thus takes on a primitive shape of an animal head with horns. If one wants to hide this gesture, it can also be made with the arm hanging or in the pockets. The symbol itself has been around for more than two thousand years old and even before Roman times. The first interpretation had nothing to do with the devil but with the mighty protective horns of animals, such as the bull. Eventually the meaning changed to the horned devil. As an amulet it is a protection symbol, it can hang in the shop window as a tufted glove to ward off disaster (in Italy) or painted on the bow of a ship. (Malta). When you make the Corna gesture towards someone In modern Italy, it means that the person is being cheated by his or her partner. By influence of the metal rock the symbol has also become a symbol for the devil, or a plain rock symbol. In Mediterranean countries it's still used as ring or other jewelry.

Crossed fingers

crossed fingers This was probably a religious symbol, that eventually became a superstition. It was a method of making a cross with the fingers without anyone noticing. It is suggested that by the crossing fingers while lying the devil has no chance to seize the soul at the time when sin is committed.

Hand of Fatima

hand of fatima amulet This symbol and amulet represents the hand of Fatima, the youngest daughter of the prophet Muhammad. Arabs also call it Hamsa that stands for the number 5 and wear it as jewelry. The symbol stands for happiness but also for support and the virtues of patience and faithfulness. It is also a defense against the evil eye, for this reason there is sometimes an blue eye in the symbol. It is a variant of the Xomsa.

The horseshoe amulet

The horseshoe amulet The horseshoe amulet represents protection and good luck. You often see horseshoes nailed above doors and on masts of ships. Many people today still attach a horseshoe with 7 (the lucky number) horseshoe nails. Most of the times you see a horseshoe hanging on the wall with the opening upwards like a letter U so that the luck can fall into it.

Kara bracelet

Kara bracelet amulet This is a metal bracelet that is worn as an amulet by the followers of the Sikh religion and is used for protection. This religious object, which is permanently worn on the right wrist, it must be made of iron or steel its forbidden to make it of gold or silver.

Frog amulet

Frog amulet The frog's life stages were associated by Christians with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the ancient Romans, a frog amulet was supposed to protect the house and its inhabitants from harm and believed that wearing a frog amulet could prevent the loss of love. In the Middle Ages, the dried body of a frog was often placed in a silk bag and worn around the neck to protect against epilepsy. Nowadays people often wear a small frog as a charm on a necklace around the neck, or as a brooch near the heart to avoid bad feelings between friends. There is also a Chinese variant of this frog talisman that is worn around the neck to ensure longevity and wealth.

Four-leaf clover

shamrock or Four-leaf clover symbol If the clover brings luck, then the much rarer four-leaf clover brings extra luck. In many Celtic cultures and especially in Ireland, people have long believed in the good luck that a clover brings. There are different explanations for the origin of this lucky symbol. A story tells of druids who used four-leaf clovers for their potions but also that the four leaves of the clover represent the four elements of alchemy: water, earth, fire and wind. This amulet also protects against evil enchantments.

Rabbit foot symbol

Rabbit foot symbol The rabbit's foot is used as a good luck charm almost all over the world. The popularity of the rabbit's foot was on its peak in the first half of the 20th century, especially during the First and Second World Wars, today it seems to lose interest. The most effective talisman is the left leg, and in addition, it should be cut off at full moon by someone who squints and the fur must not be dyed. In Wales it was customary to run a rabbit's foot over the rubbing the forehead of a newborn baby as a pagan baptism promising the child a happy life. The loss of a protective amulet brings bad luck, but for a rabbit's foot this applies double. Losing it was a serious, sometimes desperate case, a harbinger of disaster that would strike the owner and even death. For this reason, rabbit feet were never discarded.

Ma Shaa Allah amulet

Ma Shaa Allah amulet This amulet is especially popular with Muslim parents who seek protection for their babies. The amulet is attached to the clothes of babies and there are only three Arabic words on it "ma sha`a allah" The message translates as "It is God's will" and it indicates the acceptance of God's will regarding good or bad fate befalls a person.

Moon symbool

moon symbool This is the sign for the Moon in astrology, it stands for: Feelings and emotions, receptivity, nourishing and conditioning. The symbol for the Moon is a crescent moon. The Moon was called Luna by the Romans, Selene and Artemis by the Greeks and had many other names in other mythologies. The crescent is also the sign of the moon goddess Isis, and was worn in ancient Rome by mothers and children, to provide protection. It was also by worn by young women for bearing healthy children, against witchcraft and misfortune in love.

Maneki neko symbol

maneki as symbol The beckoning cat is a very popular symbol in Japan. There are small ones to wear on the body and much larger to sometimes very large for in vehicles or buildings. When the cat beckons with its left paw, it invites people, when he beckons with his right paw, he invites wealth into the house. The white cat invites happiness and the golden cat prosperity. When carried on the body, the cat brings good luck to its owner.

Maria water or Lourdes water

Maria water or Lourdes water Maria water or Lourdes water is actually not an Amulet or Talisman in the correct sense of the word because it cannot really be worn but more used for drinking. Maria water or Lourdes water is for sale at some churches in the Netherlands, but many people who come to Lourdes also take home a few bottles of Lourdes water. When one examines the water, it is chemically "normal" water and yet there are many cases known that it has a medicinal effect. Because this is a form of spiritual power, Maria water or Lourdes water can be called amulet or talisman. Many bottles with Mary water or Lourdes water have the shape of a statue of Mary that people use as protection and are put in their house against illness and adversity. Tens of millions of pilgrims have visited Lourdes in the last hundreds of years. In 1858 is here the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God appeared to Bernadette and gave her a message to the world that was later recognized by the Church. According to believers, the water from Lourdes has a special sacred power. Many older people also drink it against the complaints of old age.

The munachi symbol

munachi symbol amulet This is a popular symbol from the Andes and as an amulet it has the function of sexual attraction and passion and keeping love. The literal meaning of the word 'munachi' is therefore "make love happening". The symbol has a sexual meaning although the act is not really visible. The symbol is usually made of soapstone or terracotta and under the kissing lips is usually a hole for a cord on which the amulet can be hung. Nowadays it is usually worn around the neck as a good luck charm. It traditional custom is that hairs of both partners are passed through the hole and fastened with a special knot. After this, the amulet is hidden and it is a secret symbol for a long-lasting love.

Eyes amulet

Eyes symbol amulet This symbol and amulet originates from the ancient Egyptian civilization, and is often placed on the bow of a ship as the protective painted eyes look away the evil eye. This is something that is still taken very seriously in Mediterranean countries.

OM symbol

OM symool The ohm (or aum) sign represents a sacred syllable from Hindu and Buddhist prayers. It is placed at the beginning of most Hindu texts as a sacred exclamation at the beginning and end of a reading of the Vedas or should be uttered at any prayer or mantra. The syllable is also found in scriptures such as the Bhagavad gita and the Yoga Sutras. The mantra Om is often represented by a symbol called not Om but Omkar. The OM symbol stands for eternity, infinity and the universe. The origin of the OM symbol is not certain but it's probably dating back to more than 3000 years before Christ. As a talisman, this symbol helps to find tranquility and peace.

Eye in hand amulet

Eye in hand amulet This symbol and amulet is found throughout the Middle East and is a common symbol against the evil eye and to protect from evil. The blue eye in hand comes from Turkey, the color blue is generally common here for the evil eye. The bleu eye will reflect the evil eye of the one who casts a jealous look, back to him or herself.

Blauw eye amulet

blauw eye amulet This symbol and amulet is of Arabic origin and it is the counterpart of the eye of Horus. The symbol is also known by the name Nazar boncugu and means evil eye stone and is worn as jewelry or as keychain. People also hang this symbol as a talisman in their car or hang it in their home. Young girls and newlywed women wear eye beads around the ankles and blue beads are also used in the braids of girls' hair. To protect a child as birth and to protect the mother a bleu eye is pinned on her and in the cradle of the baby. The nazar (blue eye) reflects the evil eye, the evil eye of the one who casts a jealous look back to him or herself. It is also important for the working of the blue eye that you get it from someone and do not buy it yourself.

The orang malu or Yogi man

The orang malu or Yogi man The saga about the orang maloe has its origin in Java (Indonesia), later the saga has spread further, among other things due to the migration of what are now the Balinese. It tells about a man who was so ashamed of humanity that he chose a life of meditation in the position in which he still always known for. The Orang Maloe is said to weep for the suffering of the earth. Yet he can go deep be happy in his heart, for he has discovered peace and happiness in himself. Because meditation and the cult of the Orang Malu are often confused with each other, the Orang Malu is also called Yogi man. If you the words orang (human) maloe (shy) would translate directly you get shy human. But here the meaning of the word malu is modesty, the introverted and the to itself turned. The Orang Maloe has a subdued power in it. Place the Orang Maloe in the house on the left from the entrance, the Orang Maloe will influence everything that passes it with its positive power. Negative energy will be destroyed and the evil cleansed. If you take good care of the Yogiman and him caressing it takes away your worries and it gives you peace of mind.

Padma sambhava

Padma sambhava symbol as amulet This is one of the founders of Tibetan Buddhism and his image is used by many Tibetans worn as a protective amulet. For some devout Tibetans, he is the second Buddha. His name means born as a lotus and he would have emerged as a boy from a lotus in the river Indus. He was famous for beating demonic powers, making it ideally suited as a protective amulet. In the 8th century he was taken by a Tibetan King invited to assist with the establishment of Buddhism in that country. The conversion has already taken place, but demons (the gods local religion) would resist. Padma Sambhava was called in to present them with his remarkable powers. He did this not by killing them, but by enlisting them and appointing them as the protectors of the new teachings.

Pei disk amulet

Pei disk amulet This symbol and amulet originates from China and is a lucky amulet, it is a very simple round flat disc which is made of jade with a hole in the middle. This is the Chinese symbol of heaven, (sometimes also called bei-disk) that in protects hard times. Whoever is afraid that trouble is coming should rub the amulet with his fingers until the danger has passed. Sometimes the disc is incorporated in a gold chain and can be worn around the neck as a piece of jewelry. The tradition of the pei disk is centuries old and dates back to five thousand years ago in China. As many as 24 pei disks were found in an ancient grave, which were placed on the body as "protector of the dead". The explanation of the hole in the middle is that the hole is the path of transcendence, in other words, through the hole in the center of the flat disk one will end up in heaven. Although our modern pei slices can be bought for little money in the stalls in oriental markets, the older ones are very very expensive.

Scarab amulet

Scarab amulet The scarab is the sacred beetle from ancient Egypt, it is still popular today as a good luck charm as a pendant, earrings or brooch. In ancient Egypt the scarab was therefore connected with the strong sun god Ra, Ra pushes the sun rises every day. The scarab was also associated by the ancient Egyptians with reproduction, potency, wisdom, renewal, resurrection and immortality and in this form also used as an amulet. The scarab is next to it also the protector of the heart, in mummies scarabs have been found between the bandages at the place of the heart.

The spider as a symbol

Spider symbol In England, a little spider that comes into the house is often called a money spinner or a money maker and it would bring bad luck to kill such a spider. A spider amulet carries the same message and such amulets, made of gold or silver, were common in ancient Rome, where they were worn to enforce commercial success. In parts of the United States it is believed that it is bad luck if a spider is killed and that you will suffer from bad weather. Believe in many countries it is said that sharing the room with a large house spider will bring prosperity and happiness. Among various tribes of American Indians hang a fake spider web over a baby's crib to catch and dispel his bad dreams, this are the dream catchers.

Tooth in pendant amulet

Tooth in pendant amulet This is still a very powefeull amulet these days, the tooth comes from a dangeroes or stong animal. A sharp tooth or claw of an animal is a valuable amulet, as it is said to possess the power of the previous owner. It also gives the wearer extra physical strength and is a symbol of strength and courage.

Tau amulet

Tau amulet The Tau amulet is shaped like the capital letter T and is an ancient symbol from Egypt and the Middle East. It stands as an amulet for wisdom, power, life, recovery and fertility and it was often worn for protection. The Tau amulet would especially be helpfull against skin disorders and injuries. Today it is also a symbol of people who see themselves as followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. The Tau is also seen as the cross of Christ but the Tau is much older than the cross of Christ. When the Roman soldiers held roll call after the battle, a Tau sign was put after their name as symbol that they were saved from death.

Seal of Salomon

Seal of Salomo This symbol and amulet is worn as an amulet to protect against all forms of danger, adversity and evil. The Seal of Solomon symbol appears in many religions and it was considered to be a very powerful amulet. The triangle with the top up symbolized all the good and the inverted triangle all the bad and the two combined reflects the triumph of good over evil. The seven disks represent the seven (then known) planets. It symbol is also known as shield of David.

The yin yang talisman

yin yang hanger talisman The Yin and Yang symbol originates from China from TAO, which means way, but also the 'all' or the 'primordial law'. They are two opposites that you will find in everything. Yin includes the feminine part, the cold and the dark; Yang it is masculine, the warm, the light part. There is no Yin without a little Yang and vice versa, hence the dot of the opposite color in both commas. As a talisman, this symbol is worn to maintain inner balance, to stimulate personal growth and promote communication.
Last update: 20-08-2021

Disclaimer: All pages on this Web site are copyrighted by Hein Pragt, unless otherwise noted. I strive for accuracy but cannot be held responsible for any errors in the content. For questions about the content of this site or persmission to copy you can contact me at: (email: is registered under KvK number: 73839426.