Body Guards by Desmond Morris

by mary November 16, 2014

This is another one of my favorite books -- "Body Guards: Protective Amulets & Charms" by Desmond Morris.

Like "Charmed Bracelets", I was introduced to this book by Carrie Herndon, one of my instructors at the Art Center.  "Body Guards" explores the history of lucky charms, noting that the form these charms take varies from country to country & culture to culture.

Chapters cover body guards from zoological to mineral to botanical to religious to words, body parts & gestures.  It was interesting to see the range of bodyguards designed to ward off bad luck & encourage good luck.  I was also surprised to see the number of charms that have stood the test of time & are still popular today.

This book has been especially helpful when I am making charm bracelets in which the individual charms & gemstones need to have specific meaning -- like this Good Luck themed charm bracelet. 

According to Morris, the pearl, for example protects against "a bewildering array of misfortunes", including female depression, insanity, jaundice, guarantee a safe journey, immunize against animal bites, & protect agains sharks for a diver, etc.  And the horseshoe, although its primary purpose has been to serve as a House Guard, has also often been made as a "portable" amulet to be worn on the body as a lucky charm.

It's also been helpful when I'm sure about the meaning of a charm I come across, like this one that I picked up awhile ago.

After looking through Morris' book, I learned that this is the "Fig-Sign" -- described as an obscene signal that provides a sexual symbolism.  I also learned that in some countries, however, the fig-sign sends a protective message based on the idea of countering the Evil Eye.  In fact, Morris suggested that in many countries such amulets have outlived their magical, sexual beginnings & are sold simply as "lucky charms".

In his final chapter, Morris makes an interesting point about how today science has replaced superstitious beliefs in many of these amulets; and that while we enjoy many benefits as a result, we have also lost the "old comforts of believing in magical protection."

While the internet can be a great source of information about the symbolic meanings of various gemstones & charms, I'm still old-fashioned & enjoy a real book & am very glad I learned about his one!

As always, thanks for reading & for supporting small businesses!  And, to see more of my charm bracelets with symbolic meaning, check out my website at


Filed Under: Classes & Favorite Books

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About the author

Pauline's Jewelry Box was founded by Mary Nelson in 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa.  I chose the name Pauline's Jewelry Box because my mother's name was Pauline & I have many fond memories of looking through jewelry box & playing with her jewelry

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