Yokai and Other Protection Spirits

Pandemic Diary Day 10

Cindy Casey
3 min readApr 3, 2020

April 3, 2021

I love Atlas Obscura. They started out as a member driven site documenting the weird places people spotted while out and about in the world, it has become much more. I now receive thoughtful articles about all sorts of weird and wonderful things dropped in my in-box everyday. Like all daily emails, some just get deleted, and some get scoured. I was especially drawn to this one about yokai (Japanese spirits).

The article got me thinking about things we look to for comfort. America has religious symbols, and then there are lucky pennies, four-leaf clovers, and rabbit’s feet. But what about the rest of the world?

In Japan the yokai Amabie has become associated with refuge from epidemics. Yokai is a legendary Japanese mermaid or merman with 3 legs, who allegedly emerges from the sea and prophesies either an abundant harvest or an epidemic.


During the plague periods it was thought that sound could ward off the illness. Since church bells were often rung during a crisis, ringing them to ward off the plague made sense. Sometimes cannons were fired because they were so loud.

Another talisman used against the plague was having the word Abracadabra written on paper and then worn for nine days. Nine is the number of the Planet Mars which apparently rules fevers and infectious diseases. It was then to be thrown backwards before the sunrise into a stream running eastward. I’ll take modern medicine any day.

Sometimes this talisman involved the word being written repeatedly, with a letter being removed each time, until only one is left

Then there are the general talismans such as the Evil Eye (An evil eye charm works by deflecting harmful intent whenever evil looks in your face) or the Eye of Horus (keeps guard with an open eye to evil).

Hanging evil eyes in trees is found all over Turkey, but especially in Cappadocia

Around my house are several scarabs, Egyptians wore scarab amulets to protect them from death. They aren’t to ward off anything in my home, I just really like scarabs.

While I am going to put my faith in modern medicine during these difficult times, it is still very interesting to search throughout history for items people clung onto to allay their fears.

What are you looking to in these times of crisis?

Trivial Things

My Horoscope for today: A conflict between you and a partner won’t go away on its own. But in the next four months you’ll find a better way to deal with it.

The NYT Crossword Puzzle: It was difficult, but at least the theme presented itself right away

San Francisco weather: 59 Degrees and windy

NYSE DOW opened at: 21285

Italian word of the day: cardellino (goldfinch)

Spanish word of the day: la agua dolce (fresh water)

OED word of the day: daddock

Days under Shelter in Place: 21

I’m reading: The King Must Die by Mary Renault

I have read Cantos I, II, III and IV of Dante’s Inferno

My Black and White Picture of the Day

If you like this please give me a clap and let me know. Thank you!



Cindy Casey

My travel blog www.PassportandBaggage.com and my www.ArtandArchitecture-sf.com blog are quiet due to the Pandemic. I need to write, so here I go.