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  • The Cimaruta

    By Anthony Parente


    © Science Museum Group - CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

    The Cimaruta is an ancient good luck charm rooted in Italian folklore and ancient Pagan religions of Italy. Also known as the Italian witch's charm this intricate and symbolic amulet has been revered for its protective qualities.

    The Cimaruta (chee-mah-roo-tah) is derived from the Italian words Cima (meaning top) and Ruta (referring to the herb Rue). The charm has a sprig of rue at the center, which is highly prevalent in Italian magic and folklore. The rue divides into three branches, which symbolizes the triformis of the goddess Diana and rue just happens to be a sacred herb to Diana.

    Initially it was believed that the Cimaruta was worn by witches as a sign they are a part of the secret society of witchcraft (stregheria). It was also worn to show their devotion to Diana, the Queen of the Witches. Many scholars insist it is an anti-witchcraft charm as the main part of the charm is a sprig of rue, which not only has medicinal properties it has protective properties as well.

    Today it is used as a protective charm usually made from silver against the mal'occhio (evil eye) and any negative enchantments that envious people would cast on you. It is either worn around the neck, pinned to the breast of an infant, or hung over an infant's bed.

    Various small apotropaic charms, each having its own meaning, are added to the branches. The most common symbols include the moon, key, and serpent. These represent the goddess Diana in each of her forms: Diana (moon), Hecate (key), and Proserpina (serpent). The moon also signifies femininity and fertility. The key unlocks both physical and spiritual doors and symbolizes protection and freedom. The serpent, which is associated with the devil and witchcraft, represents healing and health for babies. In addition to these three charms the Cimaruta may include a flower (protection), dagger (strength and protection), hand (ward off evil), heart (sacred heart), horn (power and virility), fish (abundance and prosperity), rooster (watchful guardian), and eagle (see evil approaching).

    The Cimaruta stands as a symbol of ancient magic, protection, and cultural heritage. Its multibranched design and symbolism reflect the deep connection between folk traditions, spirituality, and the power of symbols. Worn as a personal talisman or appreciated for its historical significance, the Cimaruta continues to weave its mystical influence through the threads of time.


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