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A talisman is an object (and in some cases a special gesture or conspiracy) capable of protecting the owner or his property from various kinds of disasters and troubles.
There is no consensus on the etymology of the word "amulet". Some researchers argue that it comes from the root "ber" - as our ancestors called the uncontrollable elemental spirit, as well as the connecting rod bear, which is a particular danger to people. It was for Ber's humility that amulets were created that harmonize the surrounding space.
Depending on the origin, amulets are divided into several types:
• natural (natural) - plants, animals or minerals that initially possess protective properties (garlic, thistle, malachite, etc.);
• artificial amulets - objects created by a man, bearing any protective signs or symbols (images of eyes or figures of deities, sayings from the Holy Letter, written on a piece of leather or parchment, etc.);
• enchanted amulets - items (natural or artificial) that have been magically affected, most often not bearing any symbolism;
• living amulets - magical objects that carry a specially created or summoned essence (guardian spirit) are considered the most powerful and effective;
• amulets of the mixed type - combine several of the above properties.
By the type of impact, amulets are also divided into the following varieties:
• keepers - preserve and accumulate various qualities or material benefits (health, strength, knowledge, money, etc.);
• defenders - protect a person from any kind of attack, warn of danger, avert the eyes of envious people and ill-wishers;
• guides - help to achieve any goal in the shortest possible way, find a source of knowledge or information, attract the energy of love and respect of others to life.
The best amulet is the one that can protect from many misfortunes. Yes, provided that we are talking about a living amulet, which is really capable of protecting the owner from many troubles with equal strength. Other types of amulets are usually designed to protect the owner from problems of one type (for example, from damage), and in the case of tuning to several different events, they show protective properties less effectively.
In some cases, architectural elements served as amulets. It really is. For example, apotropes (translated from the ancient Greek as "averting trouble") were located in the corners of buildings (from the point of view of our ancestors - the most vulnerable places of the building), as well as on the walls, at the entrance (in order to protect the house from evil that could penetrate through the door ) and on the drain (to protect the building from the wrath of the gods of thunder). In addition, protective symbols appeared in floor and wall mosaics. Most often, the mentioned amulets were images of eyes, faces or sculptures of deities (Silenus, Dionysus, Gorgon), phallic symbols, hands, whose fingers were folded in a special way. You can often find apotropes in the form of animal muzzles (a griffin - a mythical creature that combined the features of a lion and an eagle; a panther, who was part of the retinue of many gods - Dionysus, Aphrodite, Rhea-Cybele (the later mentioned animals were associated with Jesus Christ)), and in in some cases, other parts of the animal's body (for example, the supports of the royal throne in ancient Egypt were made in the form of lion's paws) or sculpted images of real or mythical animals. The same lions, as well as gargoyles or gargoyles (according to legend, the prototype of this architectural element was the dragon-shaped snake that lived in the Seine and tamed by St. Roman), carved from stone and located at the corners of the building, guarded castles and fortresses from enemies, and temples - from evil forces.
Some details of clothing were amulets in themselves. According to our ancestors, a fabric made on a machine traditionally decorated with an ornament that has magical significance was itself an excellent amulet, impenetrable to evil forces. This means that the clothes made from it also had protective functions. In addition, shoes of a certain color (most often red) were also considered a talisman. In Ukraine, for example, young boys and girls preferred exactly this kind of boots, which, in their opinion, were not only beautiful, but also protected the owner from the evil eye. Protective functions were also attributed to a wreath, consisting of certain colors and trimmed with ribbons (and the length of the ribbons should correspond to the length of the girl's hair), red beads (the more rows of beads, the better) or monistas (necklaces made of coins).
Garments were often decorated with embroidery. Those places where the fabric (which itself was a talisman) ended (the hem, sleeves and collar of the shirt) were considered very vulnerable, therefore they were abundantly decorated with a protective circular embroidery. Most often, it was performed with threads of all shades of red (scarlet, cherry, lingonberry, currant, etc.) without first applying a pattern to the fabric (it could only be outlined with large stitches) and without knots on the seamy side of the product. The motives of the embroidery were selected depending on the gender, age of the future owner of the clothes and the purposes for which it will serve. For example, in order to gain luck and protection in love affairs, one should wear clothes decorated with red-orange patterns of a cruciform or round shape, and for successful business conduct, embroidery made with threads of golden-green or blue color was suitable.
Not all threads are suitable for embroidery. Much depends on what the purpose of the embroidery is and where it will be located. Cotton threads are suitable to protect against damage and the evil eye, but to solve career problems and clarify thoughts, it is better to use a pattern embroidered with silk. The most ancient symbols (trees, birds, stars, sun) were most often embroidered with linen threads, to which our ancestors attributed the ability to instill peace in the hearts of people. If a person needed to be freed from the influence of evil forces that brought him considerable harm, woolen threads were used, and the embroidery was located at the level of the lower abdomen, solar plexus, heart and on the collar of clothing. It should be remembered that wool is suitable for embroidery of silhouettes of animals, trees, fruits and the symbol of the sun. But it is better to embroider the stars and birds with other threads.
Amulets sometimes protected not only individual houses, but entire settlements. Yes, to protect the house, red figures of birds were painted on the shutters, decorative dishes painted with a pattern of red and black were placed opposite the entrance, a cross was carved above the entrance to the house (and this symbol also existed in the pre-Christian era). Since ancient times, a stone cross-amulet was installed in front of the entrance to the settlement (in the mountainous regions of some countries, the same function was performed by a detached large stone, revered as a shrine) - it was believed that evil forces would not be able to penetrate into a village protected in this way.
Plants and animals can perform the function of amulets. For example, wormwood and nettles, hung in the corners of the house and on the windows, according to herbalists, serve as protection from evil spirits. A wreath made of St. John's wort, placed above the front door or in the kitchen, is a reliable talisman against all evil. For the same purpose, a cactus can be placed on a window or opposite a door. A lemon cut into slices, according to popular beliefs, protected from failures and shocks. The thistle protects from damage and the evil eye, aloe bestows longevity, the willow brings love and fun to the house, the black mulberry - good luck in all endeavors, the mountain ash - happiness, the immortelle - long life. A bouquet of wildflowers not only brings good luck, but also nullifies all the efforts of envious people and ill-wishers to harm the house and households.
Some animals also served as amulets. For example, a black cat guarded the house from thieves, thunderstorms and the evil eye, the same function was performed by a snake living underground, which the owners often treated to milk. The black goat served as a reliable protection from evil spirits encroaching on the life and health of various livestock, and the horse helped to establish contacts with the brownie (it was only necessary to weave a ribbon - a gift for the brownie - into the tail of a newborn foal). The neighing of a frightened nulliparous mare, in the opinion of healers, could heal a baby from fright.
Some actions or conspiracies can perform a protective action. With the help of conspiracies, you can protect yourself from any misfortune - you just need to know when a particular conspiracy is read and what actions are accompanied by. In addition, according to our ancestors, some actions can also become a good amulet. For example, three times spitting over the left shoulder, tapping on a tree, a fig, or crossed fingers can protect from troubles. You can protect yourself from the negative effects of a black cat that ran across the road by holding on to the button of your own clothes, and going around the house with an iron object heated on fire (knife, scissors, tongs, etc.), which should have been circled around, helped to protect the newborn from trouble. the ceiling and all corners of the room where the baby was.
In ancient times, cult objects were not used as amulets. Only during the period of the forced baptism of Russia, the sacred objects of the new religion were used by former pagans as adornments, thereby expressing their protest against Christianity. This is not entirely true. It should be remembered that, firstly, our ancestors in all ages used sacred objects as amulets worn on the body or on clothing. Secondly, any jewelry (temporal rings, rings, earrings, bracelets, etc.) was originally just amulets, had a certain sacred meaning, and only much later began to be positioned as jewelry.
Charms in ancient times were divided into male and female. In Russia, women most often wore a horse figurine (a symbol of wisdom, happiness and goodness) as a talisman, framed by a circular ornament (the symbol of the Sun). This amulet was attached to a chain at the left shoulder, and often coexisted with images of waterfowl (geese, ducks, swans), also associated with the worship of the Sun. According to the beliefs of our ancestors, it was these birds that were harnessed to the chariot of Dazhdbog. In some cases, these images were replaced by one, combining the features of a horse and a bird, or round pendants symbolizing the solar disk and in some cases decorated with a cross (in pagan times it was a symbol of the Sun). In addition, various images of household items (combs, keys, ladles, spoons, etc.), which helped to increase order and prosperity in the house, as well as lunar pendants made in the shape of a crescent from silver (pure or in alloy with tin) and decorated with a triangle (symbol of the goddess Mary) or crosses and dots (symbols of the Sun). This amulet was closely associated with fertility. Symbolic images of various types of weapons (knives, swords, spears, etc.) were considered exclusively male amulets. But the image of the hatchet (the symbol of Perun) could be worn by representatives of both sexes.
Among the ancient peoples, even toys played the role of amulets. Yes, and some of them were not given to children, using only during the performance of certain rituals. For example, "krupenichka" ("grain") - a doll filled with grain, bringing prosperity and satiety, was surrounded by the respect of the whole family and was kept in the red corner of the hut. The Vepp doll ("rag", "cabbage") was made, like many other ritual dolls, without the use of a needle and scissors, both for children (as a talisman against damage) and for adults. Married girls put such a doll on the window (a sign to the guys that this girl can be wooed). The Vepp doll was also a talisman for a married woman-nurse. The swaddling doll protected young children from the evil eye, and was also used during the wedding ceremony (it was put on the bride's lap as a talisman that increased maternal strength). The welcome doll was made by a young girl and kept in a secret place, away from human eyes. Our ancestors endowed this doll with the ability to fulfill desires, subject to a simple rite: a bead or a button had to be sewn onto the doll's dress, and then a mirror had to be brought to her face, praised for beauty and asked for what she wanted. Little dolls, with coins wrapped in their heads, arms and hem, were given for Christmas so that money could be found in the house. Couple dolls were used in love magic (a girl gave such dolls into the hands of her beloved, and then put them together in a certain way - this promised a harmonious marital relationship). Ash dolls (made of ash from the hearth mixed with water and pieces of fabric) could be both children's toys and ritual amulets. Such a doll in the form of a mother and a swaddled child was handed over to the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony - it was believed that in this case they would have many healthy children. In some cases, amulets dolls were made of wood (Pannochka and Panok) and were a symbol of fertility and prosperity. It should be noted that such ritual dolls did not have a face - it was believed that a doll with facial features marked in some way gained a soul, and became just a toy, and not a powerful amulet. An exception is a face drawn with an oblique cross made of threads (a sign of fertility placed on the doll's face and thus inscribed in a circle - the symbol of the Sun).
Bread and salt are powerful charms. Since ancient times, bread has been revered as a symbol of abundance and prosperity, given to people by God. His well-being and luck largely depended on how a person relates to bread. According to our ancestors, bread is able to protect it on the way, protect it from thunderstorms, hail (to prevent these troubles, bread had to be taken out into the street), fire (a house on fire had to be bypassed with bread in hand or thrown a crust into the fire), and a good amulet for a small child (because the bread was laid next to the newborn). Utensils used during the preparation of bread (a bowl for kneading dough, a shovel), as well as an oven, were also endowed with protective magical properties. Salt, according to popular beliefs, had the ability to protect against evil forces, and was often used (both separately and together with bread) in many ritual activities (wedding, baptismal, funeral, etc.).
Also, many peoples made ceremonial cookies, which played the role of a talisman. For example, larks ("birds", "tsivilushki") were baked on March 22 and distributed to children who ran with these "birds" through the streets, calling out to birds and spring. In the Murmansk region, the so-called. "Kozuli" - biscuits made of flour, water and salt, made in the form of various figures (depending on the goal). For example, roe deer in the form of a bear or a rider bring good luck and success, roe birds (grouses) bestow happiness in family relationships, deer figurines protect friendships or love relationships, and also drive away evil spirits. "Crosses" ("sacrum") were baked for many holidays, but special importance was attached to this baking at Epiphany. The hostesses carefully looked at the finished cookies: if the cross is well baked and has an even color, health and success are guaranteed.Breaks and cracks were signs of future difficulties, and if the product was not baked or burnt, it promised sorrow, illness and misfortune (in this case, the failed baking was given to the birds).