An Amulet/Good Luck Charm meaning “an object that protects a person from trouble”, is a close cousin of the Talisman, from the Greek, which means “To initiate into the mysteries”, consists of any object intended to bring Good Luck and/or protection to its owner. Potential Amulets include: gems or simple stones, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants, animals, etc., even words said on certain occasions, – for example – Namo Tassa Bhagahato Arahato Samma Sambuddhasa, are used to repel evil or bad luck.
Amulets and Talismans vary considerably according to their time and place of origin. A religious amulet might be the figure of a certain god or holy monk. In Thailand one can commonly see people with more than one Buddha image hanging from their necks. Every zodiacal sign corresponds to a gem that acts as an Amulet, but these stones vary according to different traditions.
An ancient tradition in Chinainvolves capturing a cricket live and keeping it in an osier box to attract Good Luck (this tradition extended to the Philippines).
Figures of elephants are said to attract Good Luck and Money if one offers bank notes to them.
In India small bells make demons flee by their sound in the wind or when a door or window opens. Amulets are also worn on the upper right arm to protect the person wearing it. In fact this method was more popular in ancient India than wearing it as a pendant or around the neck.
Buddhism has a deep and ancient Talismanic tradition. In the earliest days of Buddhism, just after the Buddha’s death in circa 485 B.C., amulets bearing the symbols of Buddhism were common. Symbols such as conch shells, the footprints of the Buddha, and others were commonly worn.
After the second century B.C. Greeks began carving the actual image of the Buddha. These were hungrily acquired by the native Buddhists in India, and the tradition spread.
In addition to protection against supernatural powers, amulets are also used for protection against other people. For example, soldiers and those involved in other dangerous activities may use Good Luck Charms to increase their luck.
Amulets can be found among people of every nation and social status. They can be seen in Jewelry-artisan fairs, museums, shops and homes.
To gain “maximum” power, the amulet and its ingredients have to be prayed over by monks for days. A top-of-the-range gold-leaf edition Amulet from a well-respected temple, costs 10,000 baht or more, (300-325 dollars), more than a month’s wages for many Thai’s.
The nation of 65 million people, most of whom remain very superstitious despite the rapid modernization of places such as Bangkok, has spent more than 20 million baht (625,000 to 650,000 dollars) on the Amulets/Good Luck Charms this year, newspapers say.
The scale of the phenomenon is now so large the Thai Revenue Department is looking into ways of taxing Amulet sales despite a convention that donations or money going to Buddhist temples are exempt from tax.
An Amulet/Good Luck Charm is instilled with magical qualities that keep away bad spirits. Usually worn around the neck or seen in ring form, amulets are also seen on dashboards and rear view mirrors of cars. Amulets/Good Luck Charms are particularly big in Southeast Asia.
Buddhist amulets/good luck charms have been worn for centuries in Thailand. Nowadays it seems almost every Thai has at least one. The Amulets are said to ward off evil spirits and bring Good Luck and Prosperity. In Buddhist countries Amulets are blessed by monks, usually one held in high regard by Thai society.
The prestige of an Amulet/Good Luck Charm is based on:
Who made it?
Where it was made?
The material it was made from
The beauty of the Amulet
It’s reputation for bringing Good Luck
Thai amulets are not just made on a factory assembly line. Instead most amulets from Thailand are made by long time monks, who use their experience to cast spells, make sacred scripts (included in the amulet) and create magical pictures for them.
One of the lesser know facts about Thai Buddhist amulets/good luck charms, is the monks use ashes of old and sacred handwritten books as part of their magical ingredients. Each Thai amulet/good luck charm is really unique and each serves the purpose of protecting the one who wears it.
Those who wear protective amulets/good luck charms generally believe that an impersonal power is inherent in them. Although many rational and scientific minded people may scoff at those who wear them, millions of people world wide still wear them and believe in their powers.