Israeli Jewelry - Israel Gifts
An amulet (from Latin amuletum; earliest extant use in Pliny's Natural History, meaning "an object that protects a person from trouble"), a close cousin of the talisman (Arabic: طلاسمý / transliterated: tilasm), consists of any object intended to bring good luck and/or protection to its owner.
Potential amulets include: gems, especially engraved gems, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants, animals, etc.; even words said in certain occasions—for example: vade retro satana—(Latin, "go back, Satan"), to repel evil or bad luck.
Talismans in the Abrahamic religions
A Crucifix, considered in Christian tradition as a defense against demons, as the holy sign of Christ's victory over every evil.
In antiquity and the Middle Ages, most Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Orient believed in the protective and healing power of amulets or blessed objects. Talismans used by these peoples can be broken down into three main categories.
The first are the types carried or worn on the body.
The second version of a talisman is one which is hung upon or above the bed of an infirm person.
The last classification of talisman is one with medicinal qualities. This latter category of item can be further divided into external and internal. In the former, one could, for example, place an amulet in a bath. The power of the amulet would be understood to be transmitted to the water, and thus to the bather. In the latter, inscriptions would be written or inscribed onto food, which was then boiled. The resulting broth, when consumed, was assumed to transfer the healing qualities engraved on the food into the consumer.
Jews, Christians, and Muslims have also at times used their holy books in a talisman-like manner in grave situations.
For example, a bed-ridden and seriously ill person would have a holy book placed under part of the bed or cushion.
Amulets are plentiful in the Jewish tradition, with examples of Solomon era amulets existing in many museums. Due to proscription of idols, Jewish amulets emphasize text and names—the shape, material or color of an amulet makes no difference. See also Khamsa.
The Jewish tallis (Yiddish-Hebrew form; plural is tallitot), the prayer shawl with fringed corners and knotted tassels at each corner, is perhaps one of the world's oldest and most used talismanic objects. Some believe it was intended to distinguish the Jews from pagans, as well as to remind them of God and Heaven. An incorrect conjugation of the plural form (with Ashkenazi pronunciation), "tallisim," is very close to the term "talisman;" however, this is an incorrect etymology as the word talisman is of Greek origin.
A little-known but well-worn amulet in the Jewish tradition is the kimiyah or "angel text." This consists of names of angels or Torah passages written on parchment squares by rabbinical scribes. The parchment is then placed in an
Back of the Catholic Saint Benedict Medal with the Vade Retro Satana abbreviation: "Step back, Satan."
The Catholic Church, and Christian authorities in general, have always been wary of amulets and other talismans. However, the legitimate use of sacramentals, as long as one has the proper disposition, is encouraged in traditional Christianity. For example, the crucifix is considered a powerful apotropaic against demons and fallen spirits, and rosaries or St. Christopher medals are frequently hung on rear-view mirrors of vehicles in Christian cultures as a way of invoking God's protection during travel.
Lay Catholics are not permitted to perform exorcisms but they can use Holy water, blessed salt and other sacramentals such as the Saint Benedict Medal or the Crucifix for warding off evil.
The Crucifix is one of the key sacramentals used by Catholics and has been used to ward off evil for centuries. The imperial cross of Conrad II (1024–1039) referred to the power of the cross against evil. Many of the early theologians of the Catholic Church made reference to use of the sign of the Cross by Christians to bless and to ward off demonic influences.
The crucifix is still widely used as a talismanic sacramental by Christians. In Christian culture, it is considered to be one of the most effective means of averting or opposing demons, as stated by many exorcists, including the famous exorcist of the Vatican, Father Gabriele Amorth.
A well-known amulet among Catholic Christians is the Saint Benedict Medal which includes the Vade Retro Satana formula to ward off Satan. This medal has been in use at least since the 18th century and in 1742 it received the approval of Pope Benedict XIV. It later became part of the Roman Catholic ritual.
Some Catholic sacramentals are believed to defend against evil, by virtue of their association with a specific saint or archangel. The Scapular of St. Michael the Archangel is a Roman Catholic devotional scapular associated with Archangel Michael, the chief enemy of Satan. Pope Pius IX gave this scapular his blessing, but it was first formally approved under Pope Leo XIII.
The form of this scapular is somewhat distinct, in that the two segments of cloth that constitute it have the form of a small shield; one is made of blue and the other of black cloth, and one of the bands likewise is blue and the other black. Both portions of the scapular bear the well-known representation of the Archangel St. Michael slaying the dragon and the inscription "Quis ut Deus?" meaning Who is like God?.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (number 301) specifically refers to the use of Holy water for "protection from the powers of darkness." Catholic saints have written about the power of Holy water as a force that repels evil. Saint Teresa of Avila, a Doctor of the Church who reported visions of Jesus and Mary, was a strong believer in the power of Holy water and wrote that she used it with success to repel evil and temptations.
Muslims also wear such amulets, called Ta'wiz, with chosen text from the Qur'an. The text is generally chosen depending on the situation for which the amulet is intended. Generally however, usage of amulets and other talismans is considered superstitious among more mainstream Muslims.