Here's a photo of my charm bracelet. I took the picture for one of the slides I'm creating for my online workshop Amulets and Talismans: An Exploration of Magical Objects in early December via The College of Psychic Studies.
Charm originally meant meant something spoken as a spell. The Oxford English Dictionary says the first examples are from about 1300 and mean: “The chanting or recitation of a verse supposed to possess magic power or occult influence” which could be associated with a talisman. By the mid 19th century, the OED says: “A charm...denotes any material object or outward act, the possession or use of which is thought to confer safety or blessing, not by natural operation, but by occult virtues inherent in it.”
People have worn protective amulets on jewellery since ancient times. The Babylonians wore them on bracelets from about 700BCE. Early Christians also wore small fish symbols to indicate their faith. However, the concept of the charm bracelet in its current sense started in the 19th century. The tokens were often things like hearts or lockets that commemorated a life event or family connection. They became popular again in the mid 20th century, partly because American soldiers brought charms home as gifts for wives and girlfriends. In fact the OED gives the first written mention of the term "charm bracelet" as being from 1941.
In the early 21st century designer brands produced modular fashion bracelets with collectable beads. Modern witches, however, tend to regard charms as magical rather than mundane. I know quite a few who, like me, have bracelets. Each charm has its own meaning. On mine, some are tokens of love, one is the symbol of a coven I belonged to, some are for luck, some for protection and others were gifts from friends and family members who I cherish.
Charms can also be used in many types of spells. The other day I blogged about witch bells, and I'll be talking more about the magical uses of charms in my workshop. The link's in the first para if you're interested.
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