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How Ancient People Protected Themselves From Evil Spirits

How Ancient People Protected Themselves From Evil Spirits 1

For many centuries, ancient symbols of protection have been a source of psychological and mental relief to many people who have faith in their powers.  These symbols and beliefs exist in every culture and have thrived throughout history.

Do you believe that certain rituals would help protect the family and home from evil spirits, evil eyes, evil energy, and… just plain evil? As long as humanity exists, people will try to find the spiritual way to find the state of keeping safe and well. Ancient people asked deities for protection, created rituals and connections with the spirits. Many of the traditional, folklore and ancient ways stayed alive until now.

Threshold charms

In pre-Christian times it was a Slavic custom to bury one deceased relative under the threshold of the home to protect the living family members. They believed that it marked the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead. When the home was being built, protective amulets were also laid under the threshold. Residents of different regions had their own kinds of amulet, but most often it was something sharp, like a knife, or small stones with protective symbols. Amulets were also hung over the threshold: a horse horseshoe, a sprig of wormwood, garlic, or simply a painted protective sign. Items positioned at the threshold were believed to be hexed, especially coins, threads, needles, or soil wrapped in a headscarf. Such objects could never be stepped over or touched with bare hands.


For centuries, salt has been considered a preservative that brought good luck and protection from evil spirits. Witches are repelled by salt, so they, as well as the animals they have bewitched, are unable to eat anything salted. In the Middle Ages, one popular form of torturing witches was to force feed them heavily salted food and deny them water.

Torturers and inquisitors taking part in witches trials were strongly advised by demonologists to wear a sacramental amulet. This amulet was made of salt which consecrated on Palm Sunday, blessed with herbs and pressed into a disc of blessed wax. If a witch had bewitched you anyway, one curious recipe for breaking the spell involved stealing a tile from the witch’s roof, covering it with salt and urine, heating it over a fire, and reciting a charm.


To fend off evil spirits, special signs and patterns were embroidered on people’s clothing. The embroidery followed the contours of the garment, in particular shirt collars, belts, and sleeves. It was believed that items handmade by blood relatives possessed the greatest power.

Protective charms were also were embroidered on the pillows to guard against nightmares. In Slavic culture red was considered the most powerful colour in embroidery — nearly every Russian fairy-tale tells of girls weaving scarlet ribbons and flowers into braids.

Healing power of Mother Nature

It is believed that the easiest way to ward off the evil eye is to bathe or wash oneself with running water, so that it would carry away all the bad energy.

Fire is also used for purification rites: fire has always been an important part of pagan traditions, as its use to ward off evil is believed to reach back into the pre-Christian era.

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In many different cultures, it has long been said that there are some plants that repel evil. Folklore and stories handed down throughout history have long mentioned other uses of trees, plants, and herbs. Whether hoping to rid their homes of witches or other evil spirits, herbs were used in the form of wreaths, incense, or even loosely scattered throughout the home.

Ancient herbalists once valued sage, basil, dill, clove, garlic, rosemary and thyme for their believed healing abilities, as well as its ability to cleanse spaces.


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