Friday, April 13, 2012

Feeling superstitious? Fight bad luck with these...

This blog post was inspired by what I discovered on Pinterest today. Many of you are probably aware of my new Pinterest obsession. For the past week or so, I've been posting #TheDailyPinBoard every day on Twitter. Today's board was chosen in honor of Friday the 13th. It's a collection of mysterious looking jewelry pieces and talismans from around the world:

Each of these was meant to protect the wearer from various curses and bad luck. Looking at this pin board got me thinking about the many ways we try to protect ourselves from superstitions, and the superstitions we invent to protect ourselves in everyday situations. I'm going to share a few favorite protective pieces with you and give some background information on each.

This first image incorporates two powerful symbols of luck: a four-leaf clover and a key. It's considered lucky to find a four-leaf clover in nature, although they are very rare. The leaves on a four-leaf clover stand for the following: faith, hope, love, and luck. Everyone could use a little of each!

As for the key, it's a symbol that offers luck in different ways, depending on how your culture views it. For instance, in Japan a very powerful lucky charm can be made from tying three keys together. If these three keys are worn, the wearer will be able to unlock the doors that lead to love, health, and wealth.

The evil eye is a pretty straightforward symbol. Think of it as a mirror you're wearing to reflect any evil thoughts or mean intentions back on the person directing them at you. The evil eye is often seen in jewelry. Commonly it takes the form of the glass eyes above. I made a pair of earrings from wooden evil eye beads. They kind of resemble goofy, Muppet eyeballs in this photo:

All the beads were a little uneven, so lets just say they're always looking in different directions. I made them as a cute little eyeball fashion statement, but a part of me does wonder if they ward off negativity!


The wishbone is a standard symbol of good luck. We've all heard how the person who breaks off the larger side of the wishbone will receive good fortune. An unbroken wishbone symbolizes the promise of good luck.

Any kind of jewelry that includes the cat's eye gemstone is considered lucky, especially in India. It's supposed to help remove obstacles from your life, ward off the evil eye, ghosts, and negative influences. Some people wear it for good luck when gambling, because it is considered the go-to gemstone for games of chance.

Frogs seem to symbolize luck in nearly every culture around the world! They're said to bring good health, attract true friends, and help bring long-lasting love. Some Native American tribes of the Southwest U.S. believe that frogs helped bring fire to people, and some native Aborigines believe that frogs help bring rain to their crops. So they're pretty much all purpose good luck!

You might be surprised to learn that pigs are a symbol of luck. I had kind of a heads up on this one because I've seen lucky marzipan pigs for sale around here at Christmas time. The pig is considered lucky in some European countries, especially Germany. Good luck tokens in the shape of pigs are said to bring wealth, good fortune and prosperity.

The lucky horseshoe is a symbol we're all familiar with. I never knew why it was considered lucky, until doing a little research just now. Evidently, horseshoes are associated with the strength and dependability of horses. That and the "U" shape is supposed to hold good luck inside of it forever. Some people say that a horseshoe pointing upward will gather luck, while one pointing downward will shower you with luck. Either option sounds good to me!

This gorgeous amulet pendant was made in England, somewhere between 1540-60. The above photo shows the pendant from the front, while the photo below shows the back of the amulet. 

You can see that the stones on the back of this pendant would be in direct contact with the wearer’s skin. According to medieval beliefs, this would help the stones' magical properties soak into the wearer. Renaissance pendants were often made as amulets to protect against danger.

This pin is an example of "Witch's Heart" jewelry. Isn't it beautiful? You can tell that it's a Witch's Heart piece, because the side of it is indented. This shape has been used in jewelry since the 15th century, but gained popularity in Scotland in the 17th century. These hearts were sold in Edinburgh, Scotland as tokens to ward off evil spirits and protect loved ones. Tiny Witch's Hearts were often pinned to a baby's blanket as protection.

These hearts are being added to my jewelry wishlist. With any luck, I'll find one of these at an estate sale some day!

I've saved one of my favorite pieces for last. This is a lucky Chatelaine. It was made in Germany somewhere between 1870-1880.

I recognized this as something cool when I first saw it, but I had no idea what a Chatelaine was. It turns out that these were suspended from a belt or waistband. Many of these held useful household items like scissors, thimbles, keys, etc. Chatelaines were a useful way for housekeepers to carry items throughout the house in the 19th century. Think of it as a much cooler fanny pack.

Evidently, the woman who wore this Chatelaine had a different purpose in mind. She had more than enough symbols on this to keep her safe! That, and I bet people always heard her approaching.

You could wear any of these objects to feel safe, or just opt out of leaving the house on Friday the 13th. Evidently, a lot of people do!

As I read on the Friday the 13th Wikipedia page:

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day making it the most feared day and date in history. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. "It's been estimated that [US] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day".
So, whether or not you're outfitted with protective jewelry, today might be a good day to hit the mall. You'd probably encounter a stress free traffic and shopping situation!

I ran across endless amounts of lucky symbols to share, so it was hard to choose just a few. Do any of you have a piece of jewelry or clothing you find lucky to wear?

Have a happy and safe Friday the 13th!


  1. i'm a huge believer in amulets and talismans, so i loved this post! that chatelaine is amazing!!!

  2. So cool! That Chatelaine is quiet amazing.
    My mother always told me that an elephant statue facing the door was a good luck talisman. I was actually talking to someone about that the other day and they looked at me like I had two heads. *shrug*

  3. Pensive ~ Oh? Do you have a collection of them? I think that believing in objects and symbols can instill a power in them. Both from the person wearing the amulet and the person interacting with the wearer. Have you ever seen a Chatelaine before?

    Lady Bethezda ~ Yeah! I have a feeling that the Chatelaine is stealing the show here. :) I saw elephants listed as lucky symbols today too! I think by the point I read about them, I had more than enough symbols in the post. There's an endless amount of good luck symbols out there! I used to know someone who had an elephant (statue and jewelry) collection. Now, I'm wondering if superstition had anything to do with it!

  4. Huzzah! The follow-up comments box is back! Friday the 13th IS lucky! :)

    It's interesting, growing up in Australia, I was taught that only an upward facing horseshoe was lucky. A downward facing horseshoe is considered to be bad luck because you've let all your luck fall out.

    The "Witch's Heart" is very pretty! I've never heard of them before, but I'm very interested to read up more about it now!

  5. Is it just frogs, or do toads bring good luck, too? We have a big ol' toad still hibernating in my front flower bed under a pile of leaves.

    Great post - very interesting!

  6. Little Gothic Horrors ~ Huzzah indeed. :) Isn't it nice when something actually works on here?

    Oh, I've never heard that about downward facing horseshoes. Although, I didn't know much about the meaning of horseshoes until doing some research last night. I hadn't heard of the "Witch's Heart" design, although I have seen similar jewelry for sale. I'd really like to have an antique piece of it!

    Lisa ~ I've got some good news for you! Toads are lucky as well. I just did a little research and it turns out that in China a "Money Toad" brings good fortune. They're for sale all over the internet. If you google images of "Money Toads" you'll see lots of examples. Each of those toads come with a coin in their mouth. So, if the toad under your flower bed has a coin in its mouth, you're in for some serious luck. :) I had no idea that toads even hibernated like that. I'd love to see a photo of him!

  7. Another great informative and interesting post Justine! I've also never heard of a 'witches heart' before! I think I'm going to look into that one myself, you never know, I may come across one when I go to Edinburgh in October and if I come across 2 I'll definitely send one your way!

    That gorgeous English made amulet looks just like something Henry VIII might have given to one of his wives or mistresses! A very beautiful piece and I bet it's worth a bomb!

    The Chatelaine definitely does win the show though, I love the Victorian look of it and my favourite charms have to be the shoe, the devil hand and the shell.. I want it!

    I don't have anything 'lucky' as such, I wouldn't mind a lucky rabbits foot but then I'd feel mean :( xx

  8. VainGlorySinner ~ Thanks so much! :) I thought you might enjoy this post, because you're into jewelry too. Hey, you might actually stand a chance of finding Witch's Hearts on your trip to Edinburgh! How sweet of you to offer to look for one for me. That's very appreciated, and I wish you luck in finding two of these. :)

    I completely agree with your Henry VIII comment. I can imagine the amulet hanging from the neckline of a wealthy woman's dress. "worth a bomb" is new to me. I think I'll try to pick that one up. One of the most fun parts of having online friends all over of the world, is learning new phrases/slang!

    Yeah, the Chatelaine has so much character. It's lots of fun for those of us who like symbolism in our jewelry. The Victorian period is fascinating to me in part because of their use of symbols. I love learning about Victorian symbolism in jewelry and flowers. I like the little shoe/boot on the Chatelaine best. I feel like I'm looking at enough game pieces to play Monopoly and Clue at once here. :)

    Yeah, I'd feel a little creepy carrying a rabbit's foot or an anything's foot for that matter. You know what they say, "It's not so lucky for the rabbit." ;)

  9. Metalhead ~ It sure is! That pendant reminds me of the jewelry worn by the woman who plays Queen Elizabeth in our local Renaissance Faire. I wonder how much an antique like that would be worth now.

  10. Lovely choices. I had to pin a couple of them.

  11. Adsila ~ Thanks! Oddly, I don't think I've pinned one of these. I have a jewelry pin board on Pinterest too! Go figure. :) I wasn't aware that you were on Pinterest. If you'd like to connect with me on there too, click the little Voodoo doll on the side of my blog!

  12. What a lovely collection of charms. I would wear most of these even if I wasn't feeling superstitious.

  13. Jessica ~ Me too! Most of these work as a fashion statement. Do you have a favorite?

  14. I just came across your blog and I have to say I love it! My birthday actually falls on Halloween, so of course it's my favorite holiday, and it's great to see someone keeping up the spirit of Halloween all year round! My mother actually collects all kinds of pig statues and things as she believes them to be lucky, plus her zodiac sign is the pig, so she should be very lucky indeed. Absolutely in love with the 16th century pendant, and the Chatelaine, even though I had never heard of one before! The seashell charm with the little pearl has to be my favorite, it's adorable! ♥

  15. Aoife ~ Hey there! Thanks for dropping by. :) Also thanks so much for your nice words! I just followed your blog, and can't wait to take a look at what you've put up.

    One of my friends has a Halloween birthday, and I always thought she was lucky to have it. Do you do anything Halloween themed on your birthday to celebrate? I'm somehow happy to keep the spirit of the holiday up year-round without ever tiring of it!

    Yeah! If your mom's Chinese zodiac animal is the pig, I'd say she's extra lucky. I've never met anyone with the pig sign. I'm surrounded by roosters, dragons, and dogs. :)

    I also love your two favorite pieces here. I'd never heard of a Chatelaine either. Somehow I'd missed the seashell charm. I think my favorite is the little boot!

  16. The frog (& often the toad) were considered by some early cultures as a "Fertility" symbol and the Mayans believed that is was a symbol of the "grave" ( as in their Unial Monster)

  17. Dr. Theda ~ How interesting! The fertility symbolism sounds familiar, although I have to wonder why frogs/toads would symbolize that! I've never heard about the Mayan belief. There's sure a lot of grey space between fertility and the grave! :)