Amulets, charms & totems: no such thing as too many blessings

June 2, 2011
We Catholics love our talismans.

Antique French holy card

Contemporary holy card. Yes, indistinguishable from the antique, except for the bar code.
God & mammon.

We Catholics hang scapulars* and holy medals around our necks, St. Christopher** medals from the rear view mirror, we carry holy cards* for our loved ones and finger rosary beads.

Catholics prefer St. Christopher medals to fuzzy dice

Talismans are found in every religious tradition, going way, way back. I’ve seen them in exhibits of antiquities at just about every museum I’ve been to from the British Museum to the Tampa Museum of Art.
Thai Buddhist amulet

Of course, it’s not the object itself that protects us–the devout believe it’s blessed with God’s grace and that’s what gives it power: the power of God.
Catholic scapular; wool is the only official cloth it can be made of

Maybe I need more protection and good luck than most, but if there’s a bowl of little medals at a cash register or a cool religious artifact, I can’t resist spending a couple bucks. I found
these tin retablitos**** below in Big Sur.

They’ve got magnets on the back, so they hang out on my
metal filing cabinet in my office.

This hangs in our bedroom;
I received it at a Buddhist temple in San Francisco’s Chinatown last summer:

These tiny, framed shamrocks from last year’s trip to Ireland sit on my kitchen window sill, where I see them every day.

My wallet also contains a few little goodies that travel with me daily.
The cross on top might have been a gift from my BFF
or I might have bought it myself,
it’s been with me so long that I can’t remember.

You might not be able to see it clearly, but the copper-colored, plastic-encased talisman with chinooks at bottom left was a gift from a dear friend; his own talisman is the chinook,
so it’s very meaningful.
You may remember that I blogged about it when I got it.
Yep, always in my wallet.

Oh, and why do I carry an old gambling chip from the Riviera in Las Vegas?
My mother loved to gamble and I found it among her things after her death.
It’s with me all the time. Just like she is.

How about you? Do you have a talisman at home or that you carry with you?
Tell us about it in the Comments section below.

Scapular: a sacramental made of two pieces of wool cloth connected by string, worn around the neck under clothing
St. Christopher is a Catholic martyr and patron saint of travelers.
Holy cards are small devotional pictures with a prayer on the back. Memorial cards given out at funerals also have the name and/or photo of the deceased above the prayer.

****Retablitos are small devotional paintings using folk art icons from traditional Catholic paintings.

One comment on “Amulets, charms & totems: no such thing as too many blessings
  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes I have a big smile on my face only Catholics will identify .I too hold on to anything sacred blessed and religious more precious to me than anything material.

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