From The Bench

Good Luck Charms: The Ultimate Guide for 2022 and Beyond

Good luck charms are found in every culture on the planet and in every era, regardless of societal norms, religion, and form of government.

Good luck charms, comprising physical objects and spiritual or magical symbols, have been a silent witness to how the world has changed since the beginning of the last millennia. Yet, there must be something to  

Take, for example, pervasive symbols found in jewelry that some people consider lucky or important: animal charms, wedding charms, fairy and dragon charms, spiritual and ritual charms, zodiac and celestial charms, and so many more.

What are Good Luck Charms in Jewelry?

In modern magic or the occult, a “charm” refers to an expression or utterance bound with magical meaning and power. In jewelry, a charm refers to an object that often carries a deeper meaning, whether to the larger community or the wearer. There’s not much difference between the two if you ask us.

This is probably why people who wear different symbols with the help of sterling silver charms feel a natural, more profound connection with themselves, their deeply held beliefs, and what they believe to be good luck charms in their lives.

When did jewelry symbolism begin?

Symbolism in jewelry often has more profound meaning than we give it credit for. Jewelry can carry significant emotional and spiritual weight, whether a necklace, earring, ring, or something else. Our present-day association with jewelry has its roots in a deep history. Since then, people worldwide have found ways to include them in special ceremonies and celebrations.

The jewel’s past illuminates humankind’s travels. I’s not just humans who feel the urge to dress up; some animals do too.

At the same time, the use of jewelry was regulated by law in that era. One of the featured methods was enameling.

Cardinals, bishops, and the Pope all wear their ecclesiastical rings today. The bourgeoisie relied on rings engraved with monograms to sign official documents. Belts and broaches served practical purposes in addition to being decorative accessories.

The clothes were also elaborately decorated.

The hems of the fabrics were embellished with gold threads and gems. The role of gemstones was especially notable. Some had a thin layer of metal to improve their color.

As a result of its careless application, laws have been passed to limit its use. The most popular gems were pearls, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and garnets. Facetted stones join the more traditional cabochon cuts. This was the time when the practice of stoning became common.

Women’s chatelaines held practical items like small sewing items and magnifying glasses, and decorative charms, most of which were designed in sterling silver—primitive versions of modern charm bracelets. Charms of various kinds dangled from men’s watch chains, which were attached to waistcoats to hold the timepieces.

Most of these fobs were intaglio works bearing heraldic arms. Initially, they used these fobs for signing official documents. Eventually, they evolved into a poetic language of love, freedom, and overcoming obstacles and were designed to reflect the wearer’s hobby or profession in English or French.

Jump forward to the 1930s and 1940s, when Elsa Schiaparelli was one of the world’s most influential fashion designers. She is seen wearing an antique watch chain with antique fobs and intaglios that belonged to her grandfather. It was a piece that she had become known for.

Queen Victoria’s reign saw the zenith of charm popularity, and the Queen’s fondness for charms of all kinds made them the height of fashion among Europe’s nobility and wealthy. The sentimental and romantic charms she wore and gave as gifts were a new phenomenon.

Her impact was so profound that contemporary charm designs, as well as those created in the middle and late 20th century, incorporate many of the same motifs and symbols popular during her lifetime.

What Good Luck Charms Exist in History?

For leaf clovers are well known good luck charms not just in Ireland but around the world.

Good luck charms and jewelry have been worn by people of all cultures and periods. In addition, every society has superstitions to keep its members from meeting an untimely end.

Numerous cultures, both ancient and modern, use the practice of wearing a lucky piece of jewelry to show their respect and devotion to that item. There is a parallel rise in the use of amulets, talismans, charms, stones, and crystals. Many people put their faith in the power of amulets and bracelets to bring them a fortune, safety, healthy children, profitable crops, and protection from harm.

Check out these examples of good luck charms and jewelry in history:

1. Every day, Romans wore amulets, pendants, and other forms of good luck jewelry because they firmly believed in the mystical powers these items possessed. Likewise, a tintinnabulum, or wind chime, was a talisman used by the Romans. The jingling noise was thought to chase away bad luck and protect the household.

2. The cornicello is highly valued in Italian culture. The origins of the cornicello can be traced back to prehistoric and pre-Columbian cultures. An attractive metal charm in the shape of a twisted horn. They are thought to protect their owners from the glare of the Evil Eye and any evil spirits they may encounter. Eland horns, like those used in the design of the Cornicello, are symbols of masculinity, strength, and fertility. It is hung from the rearview mirrors of vehicles and homes in addition to being worn as jewelry.

3. Native American cultures regard dream catchers as amulets of protection and success. From the Ojibwe peoples, it spread to other groups and countries. The dream catcher has its origins in the Pan-Indian Movement of the 1960s. Children who hang dream catchers over their beds claim they no longer experience night terrors while sleeping.

4. The Irish have a deep and abiding faith in talismans, amulets, and other forms of lucky jewelry. In addition, the shamrock is widely recognized as the symbol of Irish good fortune. Saint Patrick is widely believed to have used this as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity.

The earliest documented use of the shamrock to represent Saint Patrick dates back to 1675 when it appeared on a coin issued to celebrate the holiday.

Since St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, the shamrock has come to represent the entire country.

5. Originating in Japan, the Maneki-Neko means “beckoning cat” or “welcoming cat” and resembles a calico Japanese Bobtail. To the Japanese, having such a trinket on display at home is a symbol of prosperity and good fortune.

Maneki neko good luck charms from Japan
Japan’s Maneki Neko should be part of people’s collections of good luck charms, too!

The earliest known mention of the Maneki-Neko was in 1852. According to urban legend, a poor monk lived in Tokyo in the seventeenth century and fed his cat from his bowl.

The cat saw a hunter in the area and waved its paw to invite him into the temple, where he would be safe from the lightning. The Maneki-Neko has since gained cultural significance as a bringer of good fortune and a ward against harm. The Maneki-Neko is a popular addition to stores and homes as a symbol of good fortune.

Here’s Why Good Luck Symbols Are Here to Stay

Good luck charms and symbols continue to abound. Clovers with four leaves can be found in abundance in Ireland. Dala horses with Swedish folk art paint jobs. Possessing one of these lucky charms—whether in your hand, around your neck, or hung above your front door—is sure to improve your chances of success. These amulets and talismans protect their owners from harm and bring good fortune.

It’s important to note that some totems are rooted in religion, while others are rooted in custom. All the same, they all seem to have qualities that are specific to their respective countries of origin while also being indicative of human nature more generally. The fact that such beliefs have surfaced in every culture throughout history is evidence of the deep-rootedness of luck and superstition in human nature.

Many of us turn to a lucky charm when we need reassurance or comfort. Superstitions are common among performers who must deal with a degree of risk in their work, such as athletes and actors. These are unsettling times in which to live. People will look for any sign that better times are on the horizon when they feel things are at their worst. While World War II fighter pilots commonly used fuzzy dice, rabbit feet were all the rage during the Great Depression.

Milagros of Mexico

People in Mexico and Central America have traditionally turned to Milagros for comfort (miracles). Small metal charms, often depicting parts of the body or animals needing healing or divine intervention, can be found everywhere, from churches to souvenir shops. The words can be taken both literally and figuratively. For example, one can use a milagro of the arm to get rid of the tennis elbow or gain strength, and one can use a dog charm to ensure their pet’s wellbeing.

Those shiny trinkets are typically affixed to a corazón, a small sacred heart made of wood or metal. They are worn as symbols of faith and love in the Catholic faith, but it is also believed that corazones protect their wearers from heartbreak and cardiovascular disease. The corazón is a city symbol and a typical souvenir in colonial San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where it is meant to be hung on the wall and is often sold with a milagro written on it.

Apotropaic objects, or symbols used to drive away evil spirits, have been used by humans for thousands of years. For example, those blue and white circles and orbs known as “evil eyes” can be found stacked high in souks and bazaars across the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The concept of the evil eye, or destroying glance, dates back to the ancient Sumerians of the Euphrates Valley, some five thousand years ago. Likewise, the unblinking eyes stare out from bowls, bracelets, and doormats in Turkey and other parts of the Islamic world.

The Hamsa or Evil Eye

Good luck charms - the Hamsa
Good luck charms – the Hamsa

The hamsa, a hand-shaped amulet is another relic from the era of the Silk Road. Brass, tin, enamel, and other materials depict the palms, which comes in so other names like the Hands of Fatima and the Hams of Mariam.

Knockers, rugs, necklaces, tapestries, and mugs are almost certainly meant to be protective candles all feature these symbols.

These customs and beliefs are not unique to the Moroccan, Muslim, or Arab world. Moreover, these people traveled the routes used by merchants, indicating that they engaged in cultural exchange.

Evil eyes can be represented by abstracted triangular patterns in a carpet or rounded mirrors on a tapestry. A hamsa may appear as a cluster of five objects rather than as a full hand.

Other Eye Symbols

Ancient Egyptians believed wearing an amulet would ward off the afterlife and evil spirits, and they can also be used as good luck charms. The ‘eye’ of Horus, the falcon-headed sky god, was among the earliest. His right eye, complete with the characteristic “teardrop” that can be seen under it, is meant to represent that of a falcon. Mother Isis asked her son Horus to fight and kill her evil brother Set, and in the process, Horus lost an eye.

It was thought that the restored eye had supernatural abilities. Wadjet, a deity associated with the Sun, was another name for the eye symbol. Symbols of the eye were often crafted from precious metals, bestowing their owners with the power of the sustaining Sun.

Amulets were used to safeguard newborns and even priceless livestock. Christening presents are a holdover from this tradition. Gold, silver, jewels, or semiprecious stones are common materials for amulets or talismans worn as bracelets, necklaces, rings, or belts.

The five-pointed “wizard’s star” was widely used in the Middle Ages. It was thought to fortify the spirit and stood as a symbol for cosmic mysteries. St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers, so it is considered good luck to display an image of the saint while on the road. Legend has it that the saint offered to carry a child, who grew to become heavier than anything else the saint had ever carried. In the end, he admitted to being Jesus.

How Do Actions Influence Luck?

It’s widely believed that a person’s fortune can be changed through various means. Crossing one’s fingers to ward off misfortune and the even older and luckier practice of crossing one’s legs in front of a gambling table are thought to have their origins in the Crucifixion. When you hold your thumb with the fingers of the same hand, you’re less likely to see a ghost, a practice that dates back to Roman times.

In medieval times, doing the same thing was thought to prevent a witch from seeing you. The practice of touching or knocking on wood in search of good fortune likely originated with the ancient belief in tree spirits. However, not any old wood will do. Ashes and yews are the luckiest trees, while hornbeam was the preferred material for wizard staffs. In the event of blasphemy at sea, men believe that touching iron will provide the most excellent protection from harm.

In some cases, doing nothing is the best option. Forcing criminals to climb a ladder before they were hanged likely contributed to the modern-day fear of passing under one. The Chinese believed that opening an umbrella indoors insulted the Sun, their deity of warmth, and could bring bad luck or even death.

Your luck could also be affected by the creatures and people you encounter. For example, in ancient African and Egyptian culture, hares represented death and rebirth as omens of good fortune and evil. They served many purposes in Native American culture, but their most universal symbolism was that of the Sun’s vitality.

More recently, they’ve been viewed as unlucky because of comparisons to which covens. Even cats have their share of good fortune and bad luck. In ancient Egypt, they were treated as deities, but later, they were burned at stake because of their supposed ties to witchcraft. There’s a reason for their coloration. Although black cats are considered fortunate in Britain, white cats are generally viewed as lucky elsewhere and are even credited with bringing financial success in some cases. It is good luck to come across a flock of sheep, but counting them is dangerous and potentially fatal.

How Do You Keep a Household Lucky?

When constructing a home, it was common practice to embed the skull of a human or animal, most commonly a horse, into the walls as an offering to the guardian spirits. Its durability and anti-decay properties gave ancient peoples hope that their homes would stand the test of time. Similarly, grotesque faces are still used in Africa and Mexico as magical protection against evil spirits and as general good luck charms.

A key in the door is a precaution against evil entering the home or faeries kidnapping a newborn child through the keyhole. Similarly, this clarifies why losing a key or having one break is considered unlucky. Windows, also known as “wind eyes,” is another entry point for the wind.

A multicolored glass ball hung in a window can deflect a witch’s gaze and take the sting out of her poisonous breath. However, avoiding misfortune requires that furniture and other household items be strategically placed with energy lines running through the landscape, as prescribed by feng shui, an ancient form of geomancy.

Feng shui has been linked to astronomy, which explains why. The Chinese used astronomy to establish a connection between humans and the cosmos and the pole stars, with the latter’s location dictating the north-south orientation of human settlements on Earth. According to these guidelines, a house should be located so that the positive and negative influences of cosmic breath (chi) are in perfect balance with hills or tall trees to the north or back and running water to the south or front.

Screens inside prevent uplifting vibes from seeping back in through the entrances. A mirror should never be hung directly across from a bed, as it could disturb the soul as it departs the physical form during sleep.

Please contact us if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for reading!

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