The Seductive Properties Of Silver In Folklore

While adorning oneself in silver has elevated from trendy to classic in the past two decades, the mythical value of the precious metal roots farther back than Madonna’s obsession with crosses, circa 1989.  Because of silver’s shimmery white appearance, it has often been associated with purity, goodness and godliness across many world cultures over the centuries.  Therefore, it takes on an active role in representing the righteous and pure of heart, repelling darkness of all shapes in ancient mythology.  It was thought that silver captured the divine and healing powers of the moonlight, acting as protection against all kinds of evil. 


Perhaps the oldest reference to silver in ancient lore is the Greek Goddess of the Hunt, Artemis.  She is laden in silver as a testament to her divine righteousness.  Not only did Artemis arm herself with a silver bow and arrows, she wore silver sandals as protection from wild beasts and road a chariot wrought from the precious metal and pulled by silver stags.  Her bows and arrows not only guarded her from ferocious animals, but acted as weapons used against law-breaking men. 


JK Rowling was, no doubt, well aware of silver’s magical properties when she wrote the Harry Potter series.  Even within the world of wizards unicorns are rare, making their silver blood a coveted source of strength.  When sipped, the blood of this beautiful and mythical creature can prolong life and even reverse imminent death.  It is unicorn blood that sustains Voldomort while clinging to life in the Dark Forest. 


In ancient Celtic lore, the Fairy Queen sometimes offered a silver branch to a mortal who had proven his or her worthiness.  The bough was said to grant the human access to the well-hidden fairy world, with the promise of food and safety during their stay.  


Werewolves are particularly vulnerable to silver.  A silver bullet can take down the monster while they remain unfazed by ordinary weapons.  But it’s not just bullets alone that cause harm.  Any silver item will do the trick: silver daggers, spears, chains or even canes, causing a werewolf’s skin to burn on contact.  


Vampires are no exception to the silver rule.  The metal in any shape easily repels them, although a silver cross is doubly potent.  Furthermore, mirrors were originally made from finely polished silver which gave rise to the widely held belief that vampires cannot see their reflections in mirrors.  


With silver often finding its way into the many descriptions of classic witches, from silvery hair to silvery eyes, it is ironic that the metal can act as kryptonite to the crones of the forest.  Witches have been said to be mortally wounded by silver whether in weapon form or by a simple amulet.  

When people buy silver it may be more than a compulsive desire to accessorize.  Unwittingly, fashionistas everywhere are arming themselves against evil creatures lurking in the dark while donning purity in the form of trendy hoop earrings or a toe ring. 

Jazmine Green is an associate editor for LA YOGA Magazine.  She lives and writes in Los Angeles, California.