Many anthropologists believe that the origin of all jewelry and beads lies in the amulet. Amulets by definition are power objects used to either draw a specific good fortune (money, love, glory) or to serve as a general protective device. Once you start carrying a power object for a specific intent, it becomes an amulet.
Perhaps the most common “species” of amulet, known virtually everywhere on Earth, consists of a small container holding at least one highly charged item. This type of amulet answers to many names: mojo hand, charm bag, huangi bag, conjure bag, medicine pouch—or for those in an anthropological mood, phylactery. The simplest consists of a few nuts or rocks carried in a knotted handkerchief. The most sophisticated are intricately bejeweled containers. The container itself becomes part of the charm, the color and material carefully chosen to incorporate the correct power. The standard American charm bag comes in a red flannel bag.
Amulets may be objects left just as they are found in nature: cowrie shell girdles, necklaces and charms are among the earliest amulets, discovered in Paleolithic graves. Cowries are used to draw fertility, health, wealth and spiritual protection.
The word amulet indicates that an object's inherent power is being used for the benefit of a person. Cowries exist independently; it takes a person's recognition and intent for them to be transformed into an amulet. The simplest amulets are nuts, shells, rocks and botanicals in their original form. Carry a hazelnut in your pocket to attract desired wealth.
Amulets are also fashioned by human hands. As soon as humans perceived the existence of power objects (pretty early in our history, based upon burial evidence), we set about to take advantage of that power, to control it, isolate it and enhance it. The finest amulets manipulate objects, putting them together to create something more potent than merely the sum of its parts. There are professional amulet makers, skilled in the magical arts who not only manipulate materials but are able to infuse the finished product with their own personal power, imbue it with that extra boost of magic.
Once created, an amulet becomes an independent force: it radiates its own energy. Most amulets can be transferred from one person to another; they benefit whoever carries them or is in contact with them, somewhat akin to Aladdin's genie, in service to whoever possesses his lamp.
Amulets are not identical with each other nor are they completely interchangeable. They tend to have very specific purposes, they're luck-drawing specialists, so to speak. In order to know which amulet is right for you, you need to know what you are trying to attract. A gambler's charm for success can't be counted upon to help you retain your boyfriend or vice versa.
Protection: Blue Eye Beads ✵ Peacock Feather Fan ✵ Magic Hands: Horned Hand, Hand of Fatima, Hamsa
Wealth: Horseshoes ✵ Maneki Neho: the Beckoning Cat ✵ An image of a frog kept in your wallet
Romance: Mistletoe ✵ Charms in the shape of doves or dragons ✵ Wishbones
Fertility: Bivalve shells and cowries ✵ Akuaba Doll ✵ Russian Nesting Dolls
Health: The Endless Knot ✵ Pomanders ✵ Lion-shaped Charms