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An amulet ( [Pliny], meaning "an object that protects a person from trouble") or a talisman (from Arabic طلاسم tilasm, ultimately from Greek telesma or from the Greek word "talein" which means "to initiate into the mysteries.") consists of any object intended to bring good luck and/or protection to its owner. Potential amulets include: gems or simple stones, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants, animals, etc.; even words said in certain occasions—for example: vade retro satana—(Latin, "go back, Satan"), to repel evil or bad luck.
Amulets and talismans vary considerably according to their time and place of origin. In many societies, religious objects serve as amulets. A religious amulet might be the figure of a god or simply some symbol representing the deity (such as the cross for Christians or the "eye of Horus" for the ancient Egyptians). In Thailand one can commonly see people with more than one Buddha hanging from their necks; in Bolivia and some places in Argentina the god Ekeko furnishes a standard amulet, to whom one should offer at least one banknote to obtain fortune and welfare.
Every zodiacal sign corresponds to a gem that acts as an amulet, but these stones vary according to different traditions.
An ancient tradition in China involves capturing a cricket alive and keeping it in an osier box to attract good luck (this tradition extended to the Philippines). Chinese may also spread coins on the floor to attract money; rice also has a reputation as a carrier of good fortune.
Turtles and cactus can cause controversy, for while some people consider them beneficial, others think they delay everything in the house.
Perfumes and essences (like incense, myrrh, etc.) also serve the purposes of attraction or repulsion. Popular legends often attributed magical powers to certain unusual objects, such as a baby's caul or a rabbit's foot; possession of these items allegedly endowed their magical abilities upon their owners.
In Central Europe, people believed garlic kept vampires away, and so did a crucifix. The ancient Egyptians had many amulets for different occasions and needs, often with the figure of a god or the "ankh" (the key of eternal life); the figure of the scarab god Khepri became a common amulet too and has now gained renewed fame around the Western world.