A look at the traditional items believed to attract good luck and fortune.

What is a lucky charm?

Do have a lucky shirt? It sounds humorous, but many people say they opt for a particular shirt, or tie, or pair of shoes, to bring them luck on a first date or in an important business meeting. Or perhaps you carry around an item which you feel brings you good fortune, such as a pendant, charm or coin? Perhaps you always choose a certain colour car because you believe it's lucky, or you use a particular set of balls to play sports matches? All these ideas are examples of lucky charms or talismans.

Lucky charms have been used throughout the ages to protect their wearer against danger and physical harm. The charms were hung around homes, worn, placed in burial chambers and etched onto walls. Charms are still very much used today for many of the same reasons - a sense of protection. People also use them to repel negative energy or emotions.

Any object can be used as a charm. The only requirement is for the item to be meaningful to you.

Common charm items include:

  • Beads
  • Shells
  • Rings
  • Pendants
  • Stones
  • Watches
  • Buttons

Any item inherited or passed down through your family can be especially potent as a lucky charm because of the personal history and meaning attached to it. Likewise, a gift from a lover or friend can become a lucky charm to you because of its positive association and consequently the positive energy that is likely to be linked to it.

Traditionally, an amulet has the power to protect its owner from danger, while a talisman attracts good luck or blessings as well as being protective. But both terms have become interchangeable.

How does it work?

Originally, people thought that an amulet or talisman was imbued with powers to repel evil forces. So the object itself was charmed. This idea still continues in some religions where the relics of saints are revered, or in the belief that objects blessed by their ministers become sacred.

But the modern take on lucky charms is that the object you consider 'lucky' can give you a confidence boost, providing you with increased self belief in tricky situations.

Carrying around a lucky charm to increase your self confidence is like a spiritual helping hand. It's a positive idea as long as you don't place too much emotional value on your lucky charm. Think of it as a useful support rather than a necessity that you depend upon.

How to use your charm

Once you've decided upon your charm, you can carry it with you when you need a confidence boost. Many people wear their lucky charms as jewellery or you could carry it in your purse or pocket. The idea is that you have it as close to your person as possible.

If it's a place or building you are aiming to protect with a lucky charm, try hanging the charm in your home, car or placing on your desk at work.

Find your lucky charm

Take a look at these popular lucky charms

Crystals

The ultimate lucky charm, natural rock crystals are often used for protection from negative energies. A small chunk of crystal in your pocket is a powerfully protective talisman.

Choose black crystals for protection, such as onyx, black tourmaline, snowflake obsidian or jet (which is fossilised wood).

Cleanse the crystal regularly under cold water to remove any negativity that has been drawn into it.

Blue eye amulet

The traditional Turkish nazar boncugu or evil eye pendant is a bead made from molten glass, iron, copper, water and salt crafted into the shape of an eye. This combination of materials is said to provide a shield from negative forces.

The eye is always blue in colour as many countries around the Mediterranean believe this shade is protective. The blue eye amulet is usually worn as a pendant or hung outside buildings.

Horseshoe

A longstanding British and European tradition exists of hanging horseshoes in your home, especially over doorways, to keep evil spirits away. The horseshoe should be hung with the points facing upwards. The iron these objects are made from has long been considered a protective material. Interestingly, the horseshoe may also be linked to the protective powers of Moon goddesses, such as Artemis, because of its crescent shape.

Maneki Neko

Also called the lucky cat, maneki neko literally means 'beckoning cat'. This Japanese lucky charm is the golden statue often displayed in oriental restaurants and shops. The raised paw of the cat is said to attract good luck and wealth.

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