Talismans, charms, amulets.
It’s human nature to find comfort in objects. The devout Catholic wearing their cross, or keeping a horseshoe above your door (the right side up, so that the luck doesn’t fall out!). Combing the summer grass for hours to find a four-leaf clover. And, most of us feel rather out of sorts, when our cell phones are more than a foot away.
A talisman is defined as “an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck.” In Japan, people continue to flock to shrines for onamori, wooden painted tags that can cure a multitude of ills, from hernias to heartache.
In middle school, my best friend gave me a amulet necklace of a blue stone, that she got on vacation in China. I wore it ceaselessly, imagining it came across the world to protect me. My mother gave me tiny worry dolls to tell my worries to, like a sort of anxiety dreamcatcher.
I consider quotes to be good luck charms too. There’s a quote from A Song of Ice and Fire that the young Daenarys Targaryn always tells herself, as she leads armies against unfathomable odds and faces men who wish her harm. “If I look back I am lost”, she thinks, and to me, that is an important mantra to repeat when I feel troubled. I have the quote printed on a bracelet, turning it into a tangible talisman.
There’s a leather bracelet I picked up in Florence when my grandfather passed away – Florence had been his favorite city he had ever visited. Evil eye beads from Greece and Turkey, from my aunt. My grandmother gave me endless trinkets from garage sales over the years, telling me that every time we use something that came from somewhere or someone else, we should send them a little prayer of love. I wear at least one thing she gave me, every day.
Another friend gave me a polished metal stone with the word Luck on it, because his family always seemed to have a rather perplexing amount of luck and he wished to share some with his amigos. Who knows if luck is so easily transferable, like a scarf you can lend!
And when my family went to our summer shack on the north shore of Long Island, I would always come home with my pockets heavy with fragmented shells, peculiar rocks, and bits of sea glass. So even in the winter months, the beach and summertime would still be with me.
I know I talked about finding your own luck, and plunging ever bravely forward into your wolves’ mouths, à la In Bocca Al Lupo. But I like the idea of talismans too. And most humans seem to, since they date back to our earliest days. I think they’re a comfort. And if holding onto an object you believe in, that gives you strength to face your wolves is what sparks your courage – well then, there’s hardly anything wrong with that.
I don’t know why I write so much about luck and paths and our true natures. I like the idea of hazy variables in life that we can’t see. There are things just out of sight – feelings we can’t brush off, thoughts that come unbidden, unbelievable coincidences. There is infinitely more mystery in the world than there are things we can be certain of. Explore, discover, prod and poke at the unknown.
And bring your lucky charms with you.