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Parchment Amulets



Typical Formula Patterns
Sample Text


The oldest type of amulet is the parchment amulet. Relatively few of these survive, due to their more fragile nature. After being written, the parchment amulet might be hung on the wall (for example, in a childbirth room), but was more often placed in a leather or tubular metal case and worn around the neck.

Parchment amulets tend to be more "complete" or elaborate than their metal counterparts, since the writing surface is larger and easier to affect. They were typically produced by highly skilled scholars and scribes, often for very specific occasions and individuals (which made them more powerful).

Several authors I've encountered have tried to define the "typical" amulet formula, or at least the typical parchment amulet. Trachtenberg lists the "typical" pattern as:

1. The Name(s) of God and sometimes angels are invoked.
2. Biblical passages relevant to the situation are listed.
3. A statement on the nature and purpose(s) of the amulet is given.
4. The recipient of the amulet is named as [X], son/daughter of [Mother].

Budge lists the components of the "perfect" amulet as:

1. The Name(s) of God and sometimes angels are invoked.
2. Biblical passages relevant to the situation are listed.
3. A prayer
4. A threefold "Amen" and threefold "Selah"

Schrire lists:

1. An invocation or introductory phrase, often b'Shem... "In the Name of..." or the initial letters of the Hebrew phrase, "With the help of God we shall act and prosper."
2. One or more Names.
3. The invocation of angels.
4. A relevant Biblical passage is given.
5. A conclusion, to the effect of, "For the protection of X, son/daughter of [Mother], who bears this amulet upon him/her."

One "approved" amulet formula was to write: Khasdiel at my right, Khaniel at my left, Rakhmiel at my head: angels, let me find favor and grace before all men, great and small, and before all of whom I have need, in the name of Yah, Yah, Yah, Yau, Yau, Yau, Sabaot, Amen, Amen, Amen, Selah.

Khasdiel, Khaniel, and Rakhmiel are angels, while Yah, Yau, and Sabaot are Names. As you can see, this actual example does not fully follow the order of any of those given above. The three authors cited do in fact admit to variation, and to the fact that some portions they've mentioned are optional (but never the Name(s) of God).



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