Luck, Protection, and Magic: Modern and traditional talismans and amulets

The last few years threw some difficult trials at so many of us, and the holiday season can act a reminder of pandemic hardships we've collectively endured and the isolation we've survived. But now we want to fill our spaces, enriched by the company of family and friends, with luck and magic to carry us through the uncertainties of the upcoming new year. Whether you wear religious symbols to call upon your guardian angels or cleanse your auras with crystals and Reiki, we can all benefit from a belief in the gift of universal magic.


When we share gifts, we unknowingly imbue them with all the emotions we feel for the recipients. The objects themselves may have no intrinsic charms aside from those we ascribe to them, but if you've ever experienced a rushing flood of emotion when you receive a thoughtful, personal gift you can appreciate that there is powerful and moving magic in presents. With this understanding of meaningful gifted magic and a strong desire to share luck and protection with our loved ones, we present you with a collection of tradition and contemporary talismans. But don't be put off by the word 'talisman'! Think of these items as beautiful accessories that serve as comforting reminders to your gift recipients of your fondness for them.



 



Last holiday, the father of one of the team members gifted each person in his home one of these bronze totems designed by Yusuke Hayashi and they take our breath away. It was these objects, perfect and personal, that were the inspiration for this feature. Produced by the unfathomably fantastic Otera Kohachiro Shoten, a Japanese shop established in 1867, each animal sculpture within the menagerie collection is a deceivingly heavy, tactile talisman that one can carry with them as their spirit animal or guarding mascot. Because of their delicate, smoothed forms of cold bronze and their weight (between 20 and 70 grams) the totems call to our touch like sculptural Sirens.



As the collection includes totems that take the shapes of mice, cows, tigers, hares, snakes, horses, sheep, monkeys, birds, dogs, and boars, you can offer everyone on your list a gifted animal that reflects who they are. Whether your loved ones are best represented by reliable bovine, curious simians, flexible serpents, or loyal hounds, they'll be as breathless as we were to receive one of these talismans as a gift; a gift that, we can attest, will make them feel protected, accepted, and simply seen.



 



In his exploration and compilation of folkloric botanical remedies, philologist Thomas Oswald Cockayne records that wood thistle can keep away ill gaincomers: "as long as though bearest it with thee, naught of evil cometh against thee" (1). Rather than pocketing a handful of petals, we recommend this stunning 18k gold thistle necklace by NYC based Doyle & Doyle. A pair of spirey leaves frame a delicate thistle bud, forming a contemporary crest that bestows on the wearer an unspoken strength and protection.

Thistle represents protection and nobility, a perfect symbol for the care and sanctuary provided by the New York Humane Society to our animal friends. The net profits of our Heirloom Thistle Necklace by Doyle & Doyle are donated to the New York Humane Society in memory of Sara Campbell. (2)

 



Joanna Tofilo

For another contemporary necklace featuring a botanical talisman, visit Joanna Tofilo and request the date seed pendant.

It may have been the first tree cultivated by humans, who started harvesting its fruit more than 7,000 years ago. [The date tree's] fruit is mentioned in the Quran at least 20 times, ...and twice as many times in the Bible...The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said “few plant species have developed into an agricultural crop so closely connected with human life” [including the] date palm and its traditions ...on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. (3)

With this recognition of the date's storied, millennial relationship with humankind, it should come as no surprise that cultures around the world ascribe power to this dulcet fruit. Whether you believe it brings lucky, prosperity, wealth, or success or you simply love the dimpled, almond-shaped design of this sculpted seed, we hope you find the same magic intrinsic to dates in this spectacular hand cast, oxidized silver date seed pendant.



 



If the good-fortune-luring power of a single seed feels insufficient, try the Fennel Kissing Seed necklace from Alex Monroe. Handmade in England, the necklace is a delicate, glistening wreath of ornate, sculpted gold fennel seeds. The fragile abundance of the design transports us to Ai Weiwei's porcelain Sunflower Seed landscape. As an art piece, the Fennel Kissing Seed necklace is an idyllic collar and as a talisman, we think it holds the same goodness as the seeds it represents. Many cultures, separated by time and geography, found healing from medicinal fennel and we're confident the aesthetic power of this glorious shower of petal-like seeds alone can heal the tired spirits of those on your gift list.



 



If you are looking to gift a contemporary seed talisman with more visually weight, the handsome, handmade Seed Talisman Necklace from Susan Fauman may be the perfect choice.

Five layers of textured silver represent the five elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Ether. The inside, accented with rich 24k gold applique, has a place to rest your thumb as you reflect on the seeds you’ve planted and their potential. (4)

The necklace is an invitation for self-actualizing meditation. We introduced this list by saying objects hold only the powers you imbue them with, and this elegant pendant literally puts the power back in your hands, calling on you to remember the depths of your ceaseless potential.




 



Should you decide your loved ones could benefit from the incorporation of real flowers or some other added charms, the Protection Necklace from Āyurituals holds space for all the magic you and they need. A concealed lid at the side of the rippling gold pendant opens to reveal a small cavity where you can slip petals, prayers, love notes, or just positive, encouraging energy that your loved ones can then carry with them over their hearts. Inspired by traditional Ta'wiz amulets and handcrafted by artistans in Jaipur, the Protection pendant is a modern masterpiece with a shimmering undulating surface that distracts passersby from the secret the magic within.




 



Another deceivingly mystical accessory is found in Stockholm at the AWNL studios. While the other talismans on our list offer benefit through good luck and healing, the Starry Night Meteor Bracelet is unique in that it ties us to the universe by touching us with the remnants of space from beyond our orbit.

The design is inspired by Nordic lightchaser, 'I will be following you no matter where you go, as we are meant to be together'. The CZ diamond embedded arch is the day, as the meteorite is the starry night. (x)

The iron core of a planetoid 20 million years older than the Earth, the Muonionalusta meteorite impacted northern Scandianiva a million years ago and rested quietly under the northern lights through four ice ages, only revealing itself to humanity in 1906 when a fragment was discovered 140 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle (x) . If that isn't a story of magic we don't know what is! By gifting this bracelet you are penning your loved ones into the celestial history of this fallen star.



 




While not as rare as fragments of fallen stars, the Eye of Saint Lucia is an uncommon talisman with its own power. The Eye is actually an operculum, a small corneous plate attached to gastropods that serves as a door which, when "closed", covers the entrance of the surrounding shell and protects the delicate creature within. Gastropods discard these tiny doors when they outgrow them and the discs are then turned by the torrent currents of the sea and arrive on the shores of the Mediterranean as smooth whitened ovals, each with a recognizable spiral fractal pattern that emerges, like the rings within ancient trees, as the operculum is grown. Named after the Christian martyr, Saint Lucia of Syracuse, who legends narrate lost her eyes at the hands of persecutors, the shells are said to offer the same defensive shield against the Evil Eye as the more commonly available blue nazar charms of Turkey. Warding off envious ill-doers, the Eyes of Saint Lucia will watch over your loved ones and adorn them with mesmerizing fractals. We especially love these earrings, handmade in the Horabaiza Shop studio on the Balearic Island of Mallorca. Prominently placed on either side of the face, these stunning earrings offer punctuating beauty and legendary shielding from negativity.




 




If you're searching for a nazar alternative with more impactful colour, we recommend the Assyrian Evil Eye Necklace from Evin Jewelry. The design, "inspired by the Mesopotamian ancient culture, stories, and mythology"(x) is a modern manifestation of a traditional talisman. Natural turquoise, nestled in a ribbon of white gold, is carved to reveal two watchful holes that deflect ill will and inspirit any stylistically anhedonic outfits. These apotropaic pendants, featuring the under-appreciated Assyrian motif, are excellent alternatives to ubiquitous nazars and offer a sense of distinctiveness, originality, and power that we simply adore.



 



Following the smooth simplicity of the the Assyrian Evil Eye, the True Reflections necklace offered by Thousand Fibres is nothing less than a treasure. "Hand-carved, cast, plated and finished in the UK", each pendant is an irregular plane, a luminous golden sky defined by the horizon of a single colored band of mercerized cotton thread, a talismanic tongue weaving an incantatory tale of aesthetic design and secouring charm. We could never articulate the magic that surrounds the design as well as the brand has, so here is the spellbinding symbolism as introduced by the Thousand Fibres founder:

As a child, comfort-thumbed ruby-red threads wrapped around my wrist. Hand-tied by my mother, they were secret, silken talismans for the moments we were apart. Second-skin reminders of our connection. It was only when I came to be without them - without her, that I realised just how significant those strands really were. Not only did they weave between us, those vivid red strands crossed continents and cultures, languages and religions - held tight for centuries as amulets for love, protection, courage and connection. And so, we reimagined those threads. Wove them around love-worn gold. And transformed them into meaningful, modern heirlooms in multicolour. Tactile, and talismanic - each piece intended to inspire a sense of belonging; offering comfort, strength, and protection to the wearer. Emblems of the life-stories they weave around. (x)


What better gift than one that illustrates, with a profound depth of love and belonging, the power we find in shared connections?