|Here's a picture of some amulaic stuff of mine. Not all the|
bottles feel like amulets to me, but the smallest ones do.
Amulaic is a word that I apparently made up. As proof of this, I submit that the first four google search results for it are 1) a review of a 438-page book called The Ends of the Earth, 2) an Etsy listing for a hippy bag with a felted spiral patch on it, 3) a record of an email chain about the shape of the fingers during a certain Jewish blessing, and 4) a post on this blog that vanished when I revamped it. It has a very simple meaning, which is functioning as an amulet. Something that has amulaic powers serves as an amulet, whether it's a tiny china seal (the first amulaic item I remember) or your lucky rabbit's foot (does anyone even have those any more? I feel everyone I know would despise me for even acknowledging that that's a thing.)
What makes a miniature amulaic, and how does it work, and why should you care? Well, I'm glad you asked...
|Assorted milagros. Via Zanzibar Trading Co. (Click for|
some neat info on the use and meanings of milagros!)
|A medieval Jewish hamsa. |
Via Zev Radovan's Bible Land Pictures.
Now, before you roll your eyes at me for getting all New Age on ya, let's be honest: certain objects have a weird, compelling power to them. I don't mean charms, in the sense of cute things you hang on a bracelet or your grandpa's war medals or the adorable little bits of inlaid stone you can buy alongside a ten-dollar pouch of blue corn "spirit food" at upscale Santa Fe galleries. (Seriously, the reason this post isn't chock full of pictures of Zuni fetishes is because the only pictures I can find are of overpriced bears and owls that certainly do not serve any spiritual purpose other than coddling the longing for totemistic earth connections of a bunch of white ladies with overdone hair. Sorry bout that.) I don't mean objects we attach our own superstitions to, like our lucky unicorn eraser or special baseball cap. And I don't mean religious items like crosses or rosaries or Wiccan pentagrams or whatever. I mean objects that seem to hold a kind of deep and resonant story in them, that seem to have a voice and history of their own. Things with amulaic powers conjure up another world for us, one in which we have power over the darkness. They are a species of magical key.
|This Persian astrolabe has a deeply amulaic feel for me: |
intricate, useful, graspable, but also charged, somehow, with -
what? Via the American Museum of Natural History.
|Wedding cake made by Christina Beam, from our Etsy shop|
|See? I'm not making this up. |
Via Cotton Ridge Designs.
We need to feel that there is a magical order to the universe.
|One of Christina's dollhouses.|
We want so much for the world to be harmonious, to make sense, to be beautifully crafted and dense with meaning and run according to some delicate cosmic order too grand for us to see. Now, I'm pretty sure it does - I just think things would fly apart otherwise - but there are things we do to reassure ourselves. I'm guessing my first understanding of the way that the order of things meets the graceful chaos of experience came through mighty fast the first time I saw a real miniature. (And that, dear friends, happened before I can remember.) In these concentrations of matter, we string together the strange perfection of the laws of nature with the peculiar disorder of our lives. So, growing up as I did with amulets under the pillow and a dollhouse at my elbow, it's no wonder I just want to make what I do. Bbecause that's all a museum is, really - a dollhouse of the soul, a house of amulets, the home of a secret, sacred, potent, poetic history.