Whenever I hear charm, I think of a little figure on a bracelet.
This isn’t what I’m talking about today though.
In magic or witchcraft, a charm is/are magical words, phrases, chants, incantations, or prayers when verbal.
They’re also incantations or symbols drawn on paper, parchment, wood, or other materials including the body.
There are other charms that include phrases and actions like spitting.
They’ve been common since ancient times and can be used for any purpose: find love or riches, fertility and potency, or to make a man impotent, revenge, to keep a lover faithful, protection of self, property or animals, or to get rid of pests.
Folk witches, and cunning folk were often sought to create a charm to break or repel spells of other witches, ill-wishing, evil eye, etc.
The church promoted the use of holy charms like rosaries, and holy relics. In the 17th Century, the rosary was blessed as a charm/amulet against fire, tempest, and evil spirits.
Abracadabra was originally a charm from around the 2nd Century Rome, probably older, and was believed to cure fever.
Folk witches renowned for their healing abilities used many charms creating the name Charmers for themselves. I’m sure charmers became a nickname the townsfolk called them.
They used Christian prayers spoken or written in Latin. The church was okay with the use of these prayers and scripture quotes for protection and cures, but they didn’t like Charmers and witches prescribing them.
In the 17th Century a sorcerer from Nottingham began selling a charm against witchcraft, copies of St. John’s Gospel, and to break the spell he prescribed herbs and the recitation of five Our Fathers, five Hail Mary’s, and one Creed.
In the 19th Century, England poems similar to nursery rhymes were said to protect against witchcraft. Witches had their own good luck charms too. They were also used for other purposes like gathering medicinal herbs.
The belief in charms started to dwindle in the 17th Century. There are some we still use today though, Ladies –guys too- how many times did you pluck petals from a flower while saying, “He loves me…. He loves me not”? I know my friends and I plucked every flower and clover we could find one year.
Wiccans replaced the word charm with chant or incantation.
Images found on Google search