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Basic Information

An amulet is a piece of jewelry (traditionally a necklace) which is intended to serve a supernatural protective function, whether as a simple ward against "bad luck", to invoke the protection of a deity or saint, a ward against "the evil eye" or more hard-core magical functions. A ritual pentacle is likely to have this function to some degree.

Materials of construction will depend on culture and what is being warded against - blue materials, especially blue stone are considered protective against the evil eye in the Mediterranean and Middle-East and are typically eye shaped or contain an eye, the Roman bulla was generally rounded and was made of leather or lead (or gold for the rich) and filled with phallic symbols (and phalli generally are seen as apotropaic as amulets). Roman or Eastern Christian "saints medals" are usually made from gold or silver and stamped with an image or symbol of the saint they are meant to invoke, whilst more powerful magical protection will generally require a pentacle or a written magical spell. The Hebrew tradition holds the Star of Solomon to be extremely effective. The witch bottle is another good example of a popular type of amulet.

In the Hermetic tradition, an amulet may well consist of a square grid containing numbers or letters arranged in significant patterns - these may be engraved on a pendant, but can equally well be written out on a piece of paper.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • In an appropriate setting, the right sort of amulet may provide boni to saving throws or other luck based checks and/or protection against some forms of magic effects. The "folk magic" type should probably be pretty weak and/or limited in scope but the more powerful type, may be extremely effective. An amulet targeted against a particular working (or even better, a particular worker - especially when exploiting laws of magic by means such as including their blood, hair or the like) might grant full immunity.
  • Many small time practitioners and religious shrines make a significant part of their income by creating/blessing amulets for people.
  • Speaking of folk magic, something as simple as a a page from a holy book can be considered to serve as an amulet (tying a page from a Bible to the horn of a cow was said to drive off curses that were making it sick, barren or milk dry). The two main problems with this are that the sort of people who do this often can't read and could be tying anything to the wretched animal, and that people who own works of scripture (especially in pre-printing days when they were expensive) tend to disapprove of them being torn apart and used as amulets. They may also consider it sacrilege.
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