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Amulets(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
The use of amulets, objects believed to have magical or supernatural powers that will protect the wearer from some evil, have been common among people in all religious traditions since ancient times. They have generally been distinguished from talismans, objects designed to accomplish goals desired by the object’s possessor, although in practice, amulets and talismans are difficult to distinguish. Amulets come in all shapes and sizes, indicative of the many cultures from which they derive and the spectrum of uses for which they are employed. They are often used in conjunction with specific magical formulas, prayers, or devotional activity.
In the premodern world, amulets were often associated with the spirit entities that were seen as freely populating the world. They were seen as the home to spirits, and often as a protection from the actions of evil or mischievous spirits (demons). Amulets could thus protect someone from illness, injury, impotence, or various mental disorders deemed to be caused by demonic possession or obsession. Relative to the social order, amulets were seen as providing protection from the wrath of neighbors, arrest, unfavorable decisions in court, and downturns in business.
In the West, a magical strain remained after Christianity came into dominance, especially at the popular level, and sacred objects were frequently viewed as having talismanic value. In some European cultures, concern with the protection from the veil has been strong, and amuletlike objects designed to protect one from the evil eye remain popular. However, Protestants attacked many of the magical elements remaining in Roman Catholicism (including the assigning of amulet-like efficacy to sacred objects, such as the relics of saints). Later, during the Enlightenment, amulets were largely relegated to the dustbins as superstitious objects and driven out of mainstream use.
With the revival of magic in the nineteenth century, amulets, shorn of much of their pre-scientific association with spirits and demons, began to make a comeback, at least within the magical community (admittedly a very small community relative to the total population). However, in the decades since World War II, not only has the Western Esoteric community expanded greatly, but cultural and religious practices from a variety of cultures where amulets remained popular have been disseminated by immigrants and the forces of globalization. Amulets of all varieties have become available from practitioners of Western Esotericism (especially Neo-paganism and ceremonial magic), practitioners of various Eastern and Middle Eastern religions, and commercial establishments supportive of both.
Today, amulets are generally seen as objects that contain or focus cosmic magical power, rather than the abode of spirits or demons. At the same time, ancient amulets have become popular items worn simply as jewelry or decoration.