AMULETS, TALISMANS AND FETISHES by Arthur S. Gregor
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AMULETS, TALISMANS AND FETISHES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Times have indeed changed. Where occult subjects were once treated as fads and curiosities, now even a thoughtful writer like Arthur S. Gregor acknowledges that wearing amulets, once scorned as superstition, has become ""thoroughly acceptable."" But this is no hasty exploitation. Gregor traces with great sensitivity such beliefs as the signature theory of plants, the evil eye, the powers of sacred signs and names to the historical connections between the occult and religion. He shows, intriguingly, how many contemporary customs derive from superstitions almost wholly forgotten. (Have you ever wondered why so many clergymen don't wear neckties?) He is clear on the distinction between amulets and fetishes. And his final chapter on how amulets work relates belief in homeopathic powers to psychological suggestion. Ultimately the conclusion is that faith in amulets ""reveals a false, although highly fascinating, conception of the nature of the world."" In addition to the usual compilation of lore and legends, one begins to get some perspective on that world view here, on the human needs answered by magic, and on the reasons why so many of the same symbols have been employed by disparate cultures. Based on a broad sampling of Western and non-Western peoples, and with a ""dictionary of amulets"" and a critical bibliography appended, it is undoubtedly the best easy overview of the subject and deserves to become a standard. Selah!

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1975
Page count: 120pp
Publisher: Scribners