The Palm Branch was another popular Talisman used to symbolise triumph over sin and temptation; this undoubtedly was adapted from the pagan mythology, in which the Palm represented the Sun, and was also a token of victory and success. In Illustration No. 122, Plate IX, it is shown surrounding the Greek name for Fish.
Stones were also frequently used, and although valuable gems were in use, semi-precious stones such as the Carnelian, Sardonyx, and Jasper were the most general, the device illustrated on Plate IX, No. 126, being cut in a Sapphire, the usual method of treatment in those days being very seldom to cut in relief, as in more modern times.
A favourite gift was a ring with the name of the recipient cut in the stone with some appropriate motto, as in Illustration No. 124, Plate IX: "Rogate, Vivas in Deo" (Rogatus, Live in God). Bronze and silver rings were freely used for this purpose.
EARLY CHRISTIAN AND MEDIaeVAL TALISMANS.
The Ship (Illustration No. 127, Plate IX) was a symbol universally used to represent the Church, and signified the belief of its wearers in their salvation and safety from temptations of the flesh. It was frequently used in combination with other symbols, as shown in Illustration No. 127, Plate IX, where the Sacred Monogram appears above the deck of the Ship. It is worthy of note, as the sign which encloses it is probably the Egyptian symbol of Eternity, Shen. This monogram is reputed to have been revealed in a vision to Con-stantine the Great, Emperor of Rome, on the evening of the battle in which he overcame Manentius. In consequence he adopted it as the device for the Imperial Standard. It was also commonly used as an abbreviation of the name of Christ. Nos. 126 and 131 are other examples of this symbol, and No. 126 is interesting as being in combination with the Tau Cross, which has been treated fully in a preceding chapter. This Cross when placed upon the top of a heart signified goodness, and was at the same time regarded as a Talisman for protection from evil. It was the monogram of Thoth, the Egyptian god of Wisdom, and when used with a circle at its base signified the eternal preserver of the world.
The Cross With Four Arms symbolises the four Cardinal Points, or Universe, the dominion of the Spirit. Making the sign of the Cross has always been considered efficacious in the treating of spells, the exorcising of the Devil, and also as a protection from evil spirits. For these reasons, in olden days kings and nobles used the sign of the Cross whether they could write or not, regarding it as a symbol of good luck; even at the present time people ignorant of writing when called upon to sign a document mark it with a cross to show that it is their mark and deed. The primitive inhabitants of Yucatan prayed to the Cross as the god of Rain, and in Martin's Western Islands of Scotland we are told that "in the Island of Uist, one of the Outer Hebrides, opposite St. Mary's Church, there is a stone cross which was called by the natives the 'Water Cross,' and when they needed rain they set the cross up, and when sufficient had fallen, they laid it flat upon the ground".
Illustrated on Plate IX (No. 121) is a Cross with Greek inscription for Life and Health, which is made in the form of a mould, or stamp; a household Talisman, in all probability used for making an impression upon bread, or cakes, its size being three and a half inches each way.
The combination of the Hand and the Cross as a Talisman is one of the most remarkable of all the composition charms of ancient times against the Evil Eye, and to break a Cross of this kind, or, in fact, any charm of this nature, was thought to be most unfortunate.
On ornaments belonging to the later Bronze Age, the Wheel Cross was symbolic of the Wheels of the Chariot which the Sun was supposed to drive through the sky; whilst the Golden Wheel Cross, so often placed behind the figure of the Saviour, is symbolic of His title as the "Sun of Righteousness." It was also used on the shields of ancient warriors as a symbol of the Sun and its worshippers. This same Wheel Cross, in the shape of a large Waggon Wheel, is said to be still used in Denmark and Holland, and is placed on the roofs of houses and stables to entice storks to build their nests thereon, the red legs of the bird Suggesting to the inhabitants that it is a fire bird and will prevent the building from being destroyed by fire, whilst the wheel will bring good luck. Even in England the Wheel Cross, in the shape of a brass ornament, is still to be seen upon the foreheads of fine cart-horses; it was intended in olden days to ward off witchcraft and the Evil Eye and to attract Good Fortune.
The Irish Cross is also a type of the Wheel Cross.