Healing Amulets, Talismans, and Fetishes

a collage of colorful amulets and charms
Amulets and Talismans. Getty Images

You may not realize it, but it's likely that you have objects in your home that have a history as being healing amulets, protective guards, or good luck charms.

Lucky pennies, four-leaf clovers, and a rabbit's foot are all examples of good luck charms. Aside from these commonly known good luck amulets, there are many other objects that can be used as intentional tools to attract good luck, happiness, or prosperity. These include the Beckoning Cat, horseshoes, wishbones, Buddha statues, Saint Christopher pendants, bamboo plants, wishing wells, witch balls, worry dolls, hand symbols, and heart charms.

Sacred items such as crystals and gemstones, dried herbs, feathers, ancient symbols, and more are often used during healing rituals and ceremonies and by holistic healing practitioners.

These healing items can be found tucked inside medicine pouches, crafted in jewelry to be worn as bodyguards, their use incorporated into healing sessions, or displayed in sacred spaces and home altars.

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Turkish Evil Eye Charms

Evil Eye Charm
Evil Eye. Scott Hailstone / Getty Images

Evil eyes are protective charms designed to protect the wearer from distrustful or menacing persons with "evil eyes." The charms also guard individuals against any unseen negative forces that may come looking for them. The idea of some people possessing "evil eyes" originated from instinctual feelings or "hunches" assumed whenever a person's eyes did not appear trustworthy (shifty or mean). Unfortunately, this means that people with squinted or crossed eyes have been unfairly scapegoated throughout history.

An evil eye charm works by deflecting harmful intent whenever evil looks in your face. Possessing or wearing the evil eye charm as a protective amulet is based on the belief that evil can only harm you if it peers at you directly into your eyes. The evil forces are tricked by the evil eye charm. Rather than evil looking at you eye-to-eye, it directs its focus on the evil eye charm, where it can do no harm.

Protective evil eye charms are typically worn, carried, or placed in homes. They are also used to guard individuals and corporations against financial losses or poor business dealings.

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Eye of Horus

an eye of horas hanging on a chain
Phylameana lila Desy

The Egyptian Eye of Horus, also called the all-seeing eye, is a protective amulet that keeps guard with an open eye to evil, blocking its menacing ways. It is likened to the falcon god (son Geb and Nut). Potential evils include ill health, thievery, ignorance, and poverty.

Some new agers believe the Eye of Horus symbol serves as a gateway between the third and fourth (astral plane) dimensions. Pairs of eye of horas images are representative of the sun and moon.

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Zuni Fetishes

Zuni Fetish
Zuni Fetish. Premium UIG / Getty Images

Zuni fetishes are Native American objects used as a meditation tool to assist inner reflection and enhance personal insight. Zuni refers to a specific tribe originating in the southwestern region of North America (New Mexico, west of Albuquerque). The animal-shaped carvings were initially made to help the hunter communicate with the game being sought after. For example, a hunter would focus on the animal spirit asking for the animals to honor him by sacrificing its own life so that his tribe could survive.

Other Zuni fetishes were used to learn the lessons various animals could teach mankind. They were also used as gateway tools for communication with the spirit world.

Recommended Book: Zuni Fetishes: Using Native American Sacred Objects for Meditation, Reflection, and Insight written by Hal Zina Bennett

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Beckoning Cat / Maneki Neko

Collection of Beckoning Cat Figurines
Collection of Beckoning Cat Figurines. Andrew Watson / Getty Images

Japanese in origin, the Beckoning Cat or maneki neko, is a protective and good luck talisman. This cat figurine with its raised paw brings success, prosperity, good health, and happiness.

Beckoning cats come in different colors. Each color offers a different focus as to what it invites into your life. A gold cat beckons prosperity, black cats beckon good health, and white cats beckon happiness.

A Beckoning Cat with its left paw raised is commonly placed in the entryway of a business or near the cash register inviting sales and successes. In the home, a Beckoning Cat with its right paw raised will typically be placed near the entrance of the home or will sit on a window sill to attract happiness and good luck.

Smaller likenesses of the Beckoning Cat are worn on the body to ward off illness and protect the wearer from pain and suffering.

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Egyptian Scarabs

Egyptian Scarab Pendants
Egyptian Scarab Pendants. De Agostini Picture Library / Getty Images

The Egyptian scarab amulet represents immortality and the belief in reincarnation. Egyptians wore scarab amulets to protect them from death. Scarabs were also included in their burials to ensure a safe journey into the afterlife.

The Egyptian scarab symbolizes the dung beetle, which was revered by the ancient Egyptians for rolling dung balls across the earth. Egyptians believed the beetle's laborious activity emulated the rotation of the sun, thus awarding the scarab "God Status."

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Rosary Beads

Rosary Beads
Rosary Beads. Getty Images

The rosary or prayer beads are used by many different religions and cultures. Beads, gemstones, seeds, or knots are strung together in a continuous loop or on a singular strand. They are also used as a counting tool for reciting prayers.

Although the utilitarian purpose of the rosary is to track prayerful recitations, it is also used as a protective amulet against evil forces and to help its owner stay on a moral path.

Over the years, beads have been considered to be protective amulets when worn around the neck or hung up somewhere long before they were ever crafted in rosaries. The hole in the center has also been interpreted as a watchful eye to ward off evil and illness. For this reason, beads were a perfect choice for counting prayers.

Catholic rosaries have 150 beads strung in a circular fashion. The beads are divided into five sets of 10 beads each. A larger bead is placed between the sets. A crucifix is typically used as the beginning/end of the prayer session.

The Greek Orthodox rosary, called kombologion, consists of 103 knots. These are separated into 25 smaller knots. Three large beads and a pendant are used as markers between the sets.

The Russian Orthodox rosary, called vervista, has 103 knots or beads. The beads are placed in groupings of 17, 40, 12, and 33.

Buddhist and Hindu rosaries (mala beads) consist of 108 beads. The mala bracelet typically has 21 beads.

The Muslim rosary, called tasbih, consist of 99 beads. There is also a lesser rosary of only 33 beads. Both of these rosaries have a tassel on the end of the string.

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The Hagoday

Hagoday Door-Knocker
Hagoday Door-Knocker. Chris Mellor / Getty Images

The Hagoday is a door-knocker fashioned after a fierce looking beast holding a ring inside its mouth. The Hagoday is commonly found on the entryway of safe haven locations such as churches, monasteries, cathedrals, etc. Legend has it that a fugitive could seek refuge and protection inside buildings with the Hagoday adorning its front door.

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Shiva Lingam Stones

Shiva Lingams
Shiva Lingams. Phylameana lila Desy

The Shiva Lingam is also known as a "love" stone and is often paired with the Yoni. The Shiva Lingam symbolizes the male genitals and the yoni symbolizes the female genitals. The Shiva Lingam is also representative of both the male and female energies because of its egg shape. Gemstones and amulets of this shape are used in rebirthing and creation rituals.

Remedy Benefits of Shiva Lingam Stones

  • Activates Kundalini
  • Energy Booster/Balancer
  • Enhances Fertility
  • Treats Impotence
  • Manifestation Power
  • Resonates with the Heart Chakra
  • Balances Yin and Yang Energies
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Shaman's Feather Fan
Shaman's Feather Fan. Alex Wilson

Feathers are our connection to the "air" forces. A healer can incorporate the use of feathers in different ways. The healer may breathe through a feather during a toning session. Chanting sounds through a feather on client's body can elicit a powerful healing.

The feather can also be useful in cleaning auras. An individual feather can be used or several can be tied together to be used as a fan or whisk for sweeping away stagnant or negative energies. This sweeping technique is called feathering.

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Mandala Painting
Mandala Painting. Bjorn Holland / Getty Images

Mandala is a sanskrit word meaning "circle" or "encircle." The mandala, and circles in general, symbolize the cycle of life. Although not all mandalas are circular, they are traditionally symmetrical, tapping into the wisdom behind sacred geometry. Mandalas themselves, as well as depictions of mandalas, can be used for transformational or meditative purposes.

Mandalas can be displayed as beautiful pieces of art in the home, but they serve a larger purpose. The Location of a mandala is important; they should be placed in sacred spaces as a shield to keep negative energies from infiltrating the area, or in another spot where you sense an air of vulnerability. This could be in an entryway, hallway, bedroom, or even inside a closet or bathroom.

Mandalas can be made using a variety of different art mediums including paint, glass, fabric, macrame, sand paintings, computer graphics, and more. Macaroni glued to a paper plate could even be considered a mandala if that was the intent behind making it. Consider how a chef artfully prepares a nutritious and colorful menu. The plate on which he serves the meal represents a "whole universe" filled with his culinary creation.

The process of creating your own mandala can be healing, as it is truly an introspection process. Simply allow yourself to discover your creative juices.

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Cowrie Shells

Ethiopian Woman Wearing Cowrie Shells
Cowrie Shells Worn as Amulets. John Warburton-Lee

Cowrie shells were worn as amulets in several ancient cultures and have varied meanings and purposes.

  • Eye amulets placed in the eye-sockets of corpses to give sight and a new perspective in the afterlife.
  • Protective evil eye guards for beasts of burden.
  • Necklaces made from cowrie shells were placed on elephants, horses, and camels to protect them from attacks.
  • Ceremonial headdresses adorned with cowrie shells were common in Nigeria.
  • Serves as a fertility symbol and used as a protector against infertility and to ensure an easy childbirth delivery. They're also worn in the girdles of young women seeking to become pregnant.
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Ganesha Statue
Ganesha Statue. Stockbyte / Getty Images

Ganesha (also called Ganesh or Elephant God ) is a prominent god in the Hindu religion. It has an elephant head and a human-like body with multiple arms and hands. Ganesha is depicted as sitting standing, and dancing. Original figurines were carved out of jade, ivory, onyx, and ebony. Today, you can find inexpensive Ganesha statues made of molded resin materials. There are also figurines made from metal such as copper. Silver and gold charms are also crafted.

Ganesha's power is that of good luck in general, but its primary talent is to crush ills with its formidable trunk. For that reason, it is called "Remover of Obstacles." It keeps trouble and difficulties at bay and serves as an excellent guardian of the home, protecting the dwelling itself and bringing fortune to the inhabitants.

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Shamrock. G.G.Bruno / Getty Images

The shamrock, a three-leaf clover, is known across the world as a lucky charm. The shamrock originates from Ireland, where it was first used as a protective amulet. A shamrock was carried whenever a person was in a situation that could possibly bring harm, such as a battle or while traveling far from home.

The shamrock emblem was adorned on garments as protective symbols that were worn in India and Arabia. The Celts were attracted to the shamrock because of its heart-shaped leaves and viewed it as a magical totem.

The Christians adopted the pagan shamrock, attributing its three leaves as representative of the Holy Trinity (the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit). St. Patrick is recognized in the Christian faith as giving the shamrock symbol its sacred status.

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Armadillo Amulet

Colorful Armadillo Figurine
Armadillo Figurine. Glowimages / Getty Images

The armadillo is used as a shielding amulet because of its armor. The armadillo has a hardshell, defensive body that protects it from its natural predators. A small carved amulet can be carried in a pocket, while a piece of jewelry depicting the animal can be worn. A larger one can be placed in a retail business to guard against break-ins. Another idea is to place an armadillo in your car to keep you safe from car accidents. A more modern-day shielding amulet could be a knight in armor figurine.

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Witch Balls

Amethyst Glass Witch Ball
Amethyst Glass Witch Ball. Phylameana lila Desy

Glass orbs called "witch balls" are hung in the window to protect homes from evil spirits. The witch ball attracts any evil spirits that may be lurking about. Once lured to its beauty, negative energies are trapped inside the witch ball, where they can do no harm.

Other names for the witch ball include fairy orbs, spirit balls, and gazing balls. An outdoor version is the reflective garden globe found in gardens that sit upon pedestals among flowers.

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a hand holding a wishbone
Mel Curtis / Getty Images

The wishbone of a chicken or turkey is broken as a ritual for wish fulfillment. Breaking the wishbone is a traditional good luck ritual often used after a family holiday dinner, usually Christmas or Thanksgiving.

The wishbone is set aside for three days to allow it to dry and become brittle. The wishbone is named "merrythought" and is handed over to two individuals to pull apart.

Each person wraps their little finger around one side of the wishbone and makes a secret wish. They tug at the bone when a signal is given; when the wishbone snaps, the person holding the piece with the center section still attached will supposedly have their wish fulfilled. The term "getting a lucky break" originated from the wishbone ritual, referring to having received an abundance of something or winning a prize.

As an amulet, the wishbone represents wish fulfillment and is sometimes artistically represented in gold or silver pendants or brooches.

The wishbone has also been used as a fertility charm. Maidens would hang wishbones over the doorway of their homes to attract a suitor.

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Mistletoe Sprig
Mistletoe Sprig. Foodcollection RF / Getty Images

Historically, sprigs of mistletoe were hung above the entryways of homes as a protective amulet to keep demonic forces such as witches and devils from entering. Mistletoe was also hung inside barns as a defensive measure.

The Christmas tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is thought to have happened as a result of the season when mistletoe is abundant and because of the entrance of the home being where greetings and welcome kisses were commonly exchanged.

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Pi Disc

Pi Disc
Pi Disc. Getty Images

A simplistic good luck charm originating in China is a pi disc, also known as a pi stone. It is to be worn or carried in the pocket as a type of worry stone. Whenever someone is facing difficulty, they should hold it between their finger and thumb and rub it until the danger or struggle has ebbed.

The hole in the middle represents a passageway to the afterlife and was used as protective amulets for the dead in their burial rituals.

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Worry Dolls

Worry Dolls
Worry Dolls. Kate Renkes / Creative Commons (Flickr)

Worry dolls, sometimes called trouble dolls, are miniature dolls made from scraps of colorful woven cloth, yarn, and wee sticks. The dolls generally measure 1 to 2 inches from head to toe and are used as protective amulets or healing talismans. They originate from Guatemala and are widely available in world markets and on the internet. You will often find them packaged with four to six worry dolls tucked inside a cloth drawstring bag or small box, along with a slip of paper detailing the folklore story about how the dolls got their name.

The dolls are not meant to be played with as toys, but worry dolls can be given to children to teach them how to express worries and handle anxieties. They can also be used as a fashion statement by attaching them to barrettes and headbands. You can purchase worry dolls in bulk for your art projects or craft your own using things like glue, dental floss, yarn, embroidery floss, toothpicks, beads, pipe cleaners, and fabric swatches.

How to Free Yourself From Worries

At bedtime, you tell your dolls what your worries are, assigning one worry per doll. Your dolls are then placed underneath your pillow. The dolls are now in possession of your worries, leaving you free to sleep peacefully. In the morning, all your worries are gone, having been processed and scooted away by the dolls.

References: Body Guards: Protective Amulets and Charms by Desmond Morris; Zuni Fetishes: Using Native American Objects for Meditation, Reflection, and Insight by Hal Zina Bennett; The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images by Taschen

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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Desy, Phylameana lila. "Healing Amulets, Talismans, and Fetishes." Learn Religions, Sep. 9, 2021, learnreligions.com/healing-amulets-talismans-and-fetishes-1728673. Desy, Phylameana lila. (2021, September 9). Healing Amulets, Talismans, and Fetishes. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/healing-amulets-talismans-and-fetishes-1728673 Desy, Phylameana lila. "Healing Amulets, Talismans, and Fetishes." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/healing-amulets-talismans-and-fetishes-1728673 (accessed June 9, 2023).