AMULET

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AMULET ; a piece of stone, metal, or other substance, marked with certain figures or characters, which people wear about them as a protection against diseases and enchantments. The name, as well as the thing itself, is derived from the East. The word comes from the Arabic hamail (locket, any thing hung round the neck). The derivation from the Latin amollire has less probability. Amulets serve as a convenient substitute for the talismans of stone or metal, and must be thought of more recent origin. Among the Turks, and many people of Central Asia, eveiy individual thinks an amulet necessary to secure him from harm. They were introduced into Christian Europe by the Jews. With the ancients, e. g., the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, they were frequently found. From the pagans they were introduced among the Basilidians. Their amulets were stones with the word Abraxas (q. v.) engraved on them. The Jews had many superstitious notions about amulets. Many Christians of the first century wore amulets, which were marked with a fish, as a symbol of the Redeemer. To the Christian divines, the use of amulets was interdicted, by the council of Laodicea, under penalty of dismission from office. With the spread of Arabian science and astrology, the astrological amulets of the Arabians, the talismans (q. v.), came into use in the West. The small images of saints, which the Neapolitan seamen, and almost all the Greeks, wear about them, are nothing but amulets. The Turks, the Chinese, the people of Thibet, and many other nations, have yet great confidence in them.