Though we're fascinated by the protective powers of the naturally occurring elements in our world all year, around Halloween our drive to discover ancient and historic guardians kicks into overdrive. From the Ancient Egyptians to Indigenous Americans, humans have been wearing, burning, and surrounding themselves with talismans and amulets for centuries. Read on to find out more about the protective powers that we can still harness in our modern world.
Opals were treasured and worn by ancient monarchs not only for their beauty but for their purported protective powers. Set into crowns and worn as necklaces, opals were said to ward off evil and protect the eyesight. The stones were sometimes even ground up and ingested for their healing properties or to ward off nightmares (though it seems now that this was not a very healthy idea). Some say that opals strengthen the memory and can be used to help recall past lives.
Ancient Egyptians would place lapis on various parts of a deceased person's body as an offering to guarantee their safe passage into the afterlife. Before death, they believed lapis capable of curing demonic possession and, believing that the soul was housed in the brain, they would pulverize the deep blue stone, mix it with gold, and place the poultice on the top of the head to draw out the demons as it dried. In cases of extreme possession, a hole was drilled into the head and the mixture was poured inside (and we would venture to guess that the games came full circle at that point and a safe passage into the afterlife was then required).
One of our favorite defenses – the intensely sleek and smooth mineral howlite. Among its many other benefits, a beautiful piece of sculptural howlite placed next to the bed is believed to contribute to a peaceful and restful nights sleep by providing protection against unwanted ghosts and phantoms that roam the house in the night.
Snakes are frequently thought of as guardians because when threatened, they tend to stand their ground and fight rather than retreat. Many ancient sites have used symbols of snakes at their entryways as symbolic defenders and wearing a snake is a potent reminder of strength and courage in the face of fear and adversity.
Burn cedar incense to purify the space around you, clear negative emotions and attract positive energy. It can also be used to summon spirits during rituals and invocations.
Prized by many cultures throughout the millennia, topaz has been used in a myriad of healing and protective ways including as a treatment for madness, for restful, nightmare free sleep, and to protect the wearer from poisoning by losing its color when in the presence of a fatal venom.
Dried white sage has been burned for thousands of years by indigenous Americans to call upon ancestral spirits and to purify spaces by absorbing negative energy brought about by conflict, anger, illness, or evil.
PEARLS & MOTHER OF PEARL
Mother of pearl is not only beautiful and calming to the senses, but is said to protect one from negative influences and bad, wearying energy. A single pearl can grant their wearer extraordinary foresight, protecting them from imminent dangers, and is also an amulet that will guard against the dangers of the Evil Eye.
THE DEVIL'S CLAW
Named for their sculptural, claw-like appearance, Devil's Claw are associated with protective powers and when placed near doorways are said to protect the home against unwanted intruders.
Onyx is the right stone to wear when investigating paranormal activity because it protects from harmful spirits and can prevent a spirit from draining your psychic energy. It is said to shield one against psychic attack by absorbing and transmuting negative energy, making it a particularly potent protection against black magic.
Palo Santo is burned to clear a space of negative energy and provide a sense of energetic protection. Once the space is cleansed, palo santo clears the way for love and good fortune to enter the home.
Named for its moon-like glow and ethereal sheen, moonstone has been thought for thousands of years to offer protection for travelers, especially at night, and some cultures purport that the stone is especially beneficial for lovers and can even help to unite them if estranged.
A stone traditionally used for luck and prosperity, Jade is also thought to dispel negative energy from a space and as a talisman for a long and healthy life.
During the Victorian period red coral was given to children to protect them from becoming a changeling, a fairy child swapped and left in the place of a human child. For this reason you’ll often see antique Victorian rattles with red coral incorporated. Still thought to have protective powers, coral is said to guard against demonic powers, curses, the destructive forces of the Evil Eye and to ward off visitations by succubus or incubus demons. To be effective, the coral should be worn directly against the body so that it can capture and destroy any sorcery before it reaches the wearer of the amulet.
Sweetgrass or hierochloe odorata, meaning "fragrant holy grass", is a perennial herb with a sweet vanilla-like scent. Traditionally burned by Native Americans as incense for purification of a space, driving away negativity, and as an offering to spirits and departed ancestors.