Journal or Book Title
Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft
Textual amulets were among the most common magical devices employed in the medieval period. As Skemer defines them, they were "generally brief apotropaic texts, handwritten or mechanically printed on separate sheets, rolls, and scraps of parchment, paper, or other flexible writing supports of varying dimensions" (p. 1). Always short, they could range in length from just a few words (e.g., the very common amulet consisting of the names of the three kings of the gospel nativity story, thought to be effective against epilepsy) to a text that might fill most of a folio page (then folded repeatedly for portability). They were cheap and easy to produce. Skemer usefully distinguishes them from talismans, which he defines as being more expensive, elite items, typically engraved jewelry, gems, or metal disks that often bore decidedly learned astrological symbols and images, rather than holy names or snippets of sacred texts. The terminology Skemer employs is modern, but it seems clear that some distinction between these two levels of powerful, portable items, each bearing writing or signification of some kind, existed in the Middle Ages.
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University of Pennsylvania Press
Bailey, Michael D., "Binding Words: Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages (review)" (2009). History Publications. 17.