Good Luck Charms and Symbols

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Good Luck Charms and Symbols

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Need some good luck? Try one of these charms!. Image by Barbara Taeger Photography/Moment/Getty Images

For thousands of years, people have utilized good luck talismans, charms, and amulets to bring fortune their way. Whether it’s something you’ve crafted yourself, found outdoors in nature, or even purchased, good luck talismans can come in handy. Let’s look at some of the different items people around the world have carried around or displayed in their homes, and how good luck charms and talismans can help you in your daily life.

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Lucky Horseshoes

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Hang a horseshoe over your door for luck. Image by John Kelly/Tetra/Getty Images

In many different folk magic traditions, the horseshoe is considered a symbol of good luck. You can hang one over the door to your home to bring fortune, as well as protection, your way. In many areas, the horseshoe is displayed with the open side at the top, to contain good fortune and keep it from spilling out.

There’s a great story about the origins of the horseshoe as a good luck talisman. It’s said that Saint Dunstan, who was once the Archbishop of Canterbury, “nailed a horseshoe to the Devil's hoof when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil's horse. This caused the Devil great pain, and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door.”

Some customs hold that if you hang an iron horseshoe with the open end facing down, it will keep evil spirits out of your home. A horseshoe found along the side of a road is said to be particularly powerful, and is believed to provide protection against disease.

Obviously, it may not be practical to carry a horseshoe around with you all day long, but many people wear small horseshoe charms on necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.

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Lucky Four Leaf Clovers

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You can double the luck of a 4-leaf clovver by giving it away. Image by Tomaz Sedonja/Moment/Getty Images

The four-leaf clover is a popular good luck charm, especially in the spring, when there are clover plants sprouting up everywhere.

Fun fact: the shamrock and the four-leaf clover are NOT the same thing – a shamrock only has three leaves, but people often confuse it with the four-leafed variety of clover.

Many people believe that finding a four-leaf clover brings good fortune to the person who finds it. The four-leaf clover is simply a genetic mutation of the normal, three-leaf variety, and it’s pretty rare and unusual. The odds of finding one are estimated at about one in ten thousand.

In some folklore, each of the four leaves means something different: hope, luck, faith, and love. In a few tales of the British Isles, finding a four-leaf clover gives the finder the ability to see the Fae; in other stories, if you’re lucky enough to find one, it means you’ll meet your future lover that same day. Want to double your luck? Pass your found four-leaf clover on to someone else, and you’ll both benefit!

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Lucky Crickets

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Many people believe it's bad luck to kill a cricket. Image by Andrew Cassa/EyeEm/Getty Images

Crickets are considered bringers of good luck in a number of magical belief systems. While you can’t necessarily carry one around in your pocket, you can certainly allow crickets to stay in your home if you hear one chirping in the corner. Some people believe that if a cricket jumps across your path, it means good fortune will be jumping in front of you soon as well.

In China, crickets are symbols of prosperity – a family with crickets in their homes will see financial abundance soon. Some homes have cricket statues outside, as a way of inviting the real thing to come visit. This may be because the arrival of spring crickets in China tells the farmers when to plant their crops. Strategic planting means an abundant harvest, so the cricket could be seen as tied to a bountiful crop season.

Many folkloric traditions, particularly in Asia and a number of European countries, hold that it is extremely bad luck to kill a cricket, so leave them alone!

Interestingly, there are parts of South America, specifically in Brazil, that believe crickets aren’t good at all – they are seen as omens of death.

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Lucky Coins

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Holed coins are considered a sign of prosperity. Image by Darren Robb/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

In a number of cultures, coins of different types are seen as good luck symbols. Many coin superstitions are things you probably remember from your childhood. For example, the old adage of “Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck,” is believed to hold true in many places. Do you recall making a wish when you threw a coin into a fountain? Did your wish come true?

Over at Coins Magazine, Alan Herbert writes, “Early American thin silver coins were bent twice to ward off witches, while a single bend attested to a loved one. A silver dime in the churn would ensure a plentiful amount of butter that wasn’t hexed. Coins have a lot to do with weddings. The bride should wear a coin in her (left) shoe to bring about a lucky marriage. One of the more popular coins for this ritual is the English sixpence. Coins have an affinity for water, dating back to the pagans. A pool of water is an open invitation to toss in a coin to bring luck.”

In many societies, it was considered good luck to carry a coin that had a hole in it – particularly if that coin was made of silver, and the hole was right in the center. Some countries have deliberate minted coins that have holes; currently, Japan’s 5-yen and 50-yen pieces have holes, but other nations have stopped producing holed coins at this time. If you can find one, carry it in your pocket or wear it as part of a charm bracelet to bring good fortune your way!

In rootwork and Hoodoo, the Mercury Dime is considered a powerful amulet to draw prosperity. This is the Winged Liberty Head dime that was minted in the US for about thirty years, from 1916 until the end of World War II. It features the goddess Liberty wearing a winged helmet. Find one of these from a leap year, and they’re even more powerful.

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Lucky Hands

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The hamsa hand is a popular motif in Middle Eastern traditions. Image by BSIP/UIG/Getty Images

Have you ever seen the lucky hand symbol? The hamsa hand is well known as a protective amulet, and will safeguard you from the Evil Eye. In Arabic, the word hamsa means five, which is how many fingers are on the hand. This talisman is sometimes referred to as the Hand of Fatima. Interestingly, in Hebrew tradition it is called the Hand of Miriam, or the hamesh, and symbolizes the five books that make up the Torah, or Pentateuch, which are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

In addition to being a protective amulet, the hamsa hand is said to bring good luck in many believe systems, and is associated with fortune, spiritual power, and strength. You can wear a hamsa hand as a piece of jewelry, or hang a ceramic one in your home to bring good fortune while protecting those who live in your house.

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Lucky Keys

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Keys play an important role in many folk magic traditions. Image by VStock/Tetra/Getty Images

Keys play an important role in a number of folk magic traditions. In some American Hoodoo belief systems, the skeleton key comes in handy for unlocking a bad situation.

Cat Yronwoode at LuckyMojo says, “Fixed and prepared skeleton keys -- and most especially those used to open the way for positive events -- may be dressed with Master Key conjure oil and prayed over. Carried on a key ring or key chain as a form of amulet, they will open doors wherever you go. They May be turned in a sugar bowl to sweeten people in authority and open doors for yourself or for those in need. Keys that are fixed and prepared with Master Key Oil are often prepared in pairs -- "one key to lose and one key to bind." Two keys are chosen that resemble one another but can still be easily told apart by their appearance. After they are fixed, only the positive or "opening" key is carried on the person; the door-closing key is kept in a secret box for use only when needed.”

In ancient Rome, keys were often associated with the goddess Diana; in addition to her role as a goddess of the hunt, she was known as a protectress of doorways and thresholds. Silver, in particular, was sacred to Diana, so silver keys were powerful indeed.

Travel around the British Isles and parts of France and Italy, and you may see talismans hanging in doorways that include both a key and a series of hagstones. Sarah Anne Lawless has some lovely examples on her website of Hagstone and Key Charms.

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Lucky Stars

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Stars are considered lucky in many traditions. Image by Phil Banko/ImageBank/Getty Images

Have you ever wished upon a star, or heard someone say “Thank your lucky stars”? Stars are considered good luck symbols in a number of cultures and societies. The Greek mathematician Pythagoras is often credited with the traditional drawing of the star that we see today, with its five lines and points. Many modern Pagan traditions incorporate this into the pentacle and use it as a symbol to represent the four elements – earth, air, fire, and water – as well as the spirit or the self.

In the Christian bible, the star of Bethlehem guided the three magi to the manger in which the newborn Jesus lay. Sailors see the North Star as a mark of guidance as well, and recognize it as a symbol of good luck.

If you read Tarot cards, you may be familiar with the Star as a card that shows someone who is attaining inspiration and insight, hope and spiritual enlightenment.

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Lucky Fish

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A pair of koi will bring good luck in your love life. Image by Andrew JK Tan/Moment/Getty Images

Do you have fish in your home? They’re considered lucky in a number of cultures, and are often associated with financial fortune. Our Feng Shui Expert, Rodika Tchi, says, “In Chinese culture the symbol of fish is attributed two qualities. The first one is the aspect of abundance (because of the ability of fish to quickly reproduce in big quantities). The second one is the fact that the Chinese word for fish (yu) is pronounced the same way as abundance. So, it goes without saying that the image of fish (or the actual aquarium fish) is one of the most popular and potent feng shui cures to attract the energy of wealth.”

A pair of koi is said to guarantee a happy marriage, and in general, they’re associated with courage, success, and prosperity.

Even the simple goldfish can be seen as a symbol of luck – some traditions say that if you keep eight goldfish in an aquarium with a single black fish, it will help repel negative influences while bringing positive ones your way.

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Lucky Numbers

Numbers can have many magical meanings. Image by RunPhoto/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Numerology is popular with a lot of members of the Pagan community, and many people believe in the idea of lucky numbers. In some belief systems, everyone’s lucky number is different, and may correspond with their “birth number.” In other traditions, certain numbers are considered lucky no matter who you are.

In particular, the numbers three, seven, nine, and thirteen are seen as signs of good fortune by many people, as are double or triple appearances of numbers.