Anting-anting, in Filipino culture, is an amulet, talisman, or charm believed to possess mystical supernatural properties. It is most commonly used as a means of protection against sickness, danger, and even death. Other names for anting-anting include ginam-mol or galing-galing in Ilocano, mutya in Tagalog, likit in Waray, odom in Bicol; and adimat among Filipino Muslims.
Origin of the Word
According to Lorna Revilla-Montilla, anting-anting was derived from the Anglicized Greek word "anti," which means "against." Although it is logical, it is disputed because use of anting-anting predates the American occupation of the Philippines by centuries. Another theory says anting-anting is an obsolete indigenous Filipino word. On the other hand, Jose Garcia Panganiban believed the word was derived from the Malaysian word "anting," which means "dangling," or the Javanese word "anting-anting," which means "ear pendants."
An anting-anting is not a common item and is not easy to acquire. Debates on the acquisition of one are mostly superstitious by nature. Some people insist that an anting-anting can be acquired after defeating a certain spirit giant in bare-hand combat. Others believe that it can be had after swallowing a crystal drop of water from the heart of a banana tree in the dead of night. Still others say an anting-anting can simply be received from its previous owner. Stealing an anting-anting is not an option because the act takes away its power, making it useless.
An anting-anting also loses its power when it leaves its owner's possession without their knowledge or blessing. Anting-antings sold at holy places are considered patay (dead/without power). These kinds are said to have to undergo sacred and secret rituals to become powerful and effective.
Anting-antings come in different forms. One can be a crocodile’s tooth, a snake’s fang, a whale’s spine, a shark’s fin, odd stones, a rooster’s spur, a guinea bird’s horn, a plant's roots, herbs, or anything rare and/or strange, like a twin-tailed lizard or two-headed snake.
Each anting-anting serves a different purpose. Some of them promise romance or love charms and others purportedly make the holder impervious to bullets or let them disappear and reappear at will, while still others ward off evil spirits. There are also anting-antings that offer special gifts, such as the esoteric art of hilot (massage and healing), hula (fortune telling), and kulam (spells and witchcraft).
Anting-Anting and Christianity
One of the most intriguing aspects of the anting-anting is its association with religious belief. Religious medals are being used as anting-antings, which is a form of syncretism, or a mix of beliefs from different schools of thought.
- Talisman, Leadership, and Power: The belief in magical potency continues to pervade Filipino life
- Agimat (Accessed on January 31, 2010) The purpose of this website is to uncover the real truth on the mystical, mysterious and extraordinary life of an amulet holder.
- Laya, Jaime C., Ed. Consuming Passions: Philippine Collectibles. Philippines: Anvil Publishing Inc., 2003.
- Anting-anting: The Filipino Warrior's Amulet by Reynaldo S. Galang (Accessed on April 23, 2008)
- Anting-anting (Accessed on April 23, 2008)