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date: 22 October 2019


  • Sian Jay


Object worn or placed somewhere special in the belief that it has magico-religious powers, such as to protect against danger, cure disease, give strength or promote good fortune. In this sense it is more or less synonymous with ‘talisman’. Amulets are commonly worn as jewellery or carried within the clothing, but they may also be incorporated into such objects as weapons or placed within buildings or near crops. They have been treated as goods to trade in several cultures. A charm (i.e. magical formula) may be recited over an amulet, which may then itself be referred to as a charm. The term ‘amulet’ also denotes a medical or prophylactic treatment and a substance used in medicine.

Scholarly views on how and why amulets are perceived by their users to have power include the theory of ‘sympathetic magic’ based on similarity and contiguity. The perception here would be that like produces like—that intrinsically connected things act on each other even if the contact is broken. ...

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