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Amulets in Great Britain

2nd September 2015
Posted by S Taylor

The amuletic use of the Fylfot for protection also spread to the British Isles. There is an example from the Cuerdale Hoard from Lancashire, and from the Goldborough Hoard from Yorkshire. The latter shows close resemblance to the Christian cross and may have been a Christian amulet. Sometimes the Thorshammar or T-shaped bones were used as amulets to bring good fortune and as safeguards against drowning by Manx and Whitby fishermen.  As late as the end of the 19th century, it was claimed that the Scandinavians, Danes, Germans and English still used the Swastika as a magical charm.  Also used in recent times was the distinctive cross of St. Brigid in Ireland.

A Christmas cracker box, labelled “Lucky Charm” (c. 1910-1930) had a Swastika in the top right-hand corner. (More recently, across-cultural misunderstanding led to a number of Canadians being shocked to find saluting, Swastika-bearing panda toys in their imported Christmas crackers.) There is also the example of the Coca-Cola “Lucky Watch Fob” from 1925. A great many such objects were manufactured in the 20th century in the period up to the Second World War, to satisfy demand in both the East and the West. They were mostly British Empire made, although some came from Japan. Particularly popular have been earrings, brooches and necklaces.

The efficacy of the Swastika was acknowledged in a great many contexts, both secular and religious, in the East and the West, until the early decades of the last century. The above examples demonstrate its almost universal importance as a protective amulet through the centuries in the British Isles and across the world.

Much more detail is to be found in The Fylfot File [2006].

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