Amulet version 1.1


An amulet is a kind of poem that depends on language, code, and luck. To qualify, a poem must satisfy these criteria:

This kind of poem was designed to be recorded, collected, and traded using the Zora protocol, but it can happily exist anywhere; an amulet absolutely does not have to be recorded on a blockchain to be an amulet.

There is now an Ethereum contract designed expressly for amulets, which is very cool! You can learn more at

If an amulet is recorded on a blockchain, an addi­tional formal criterion applies:

There are no other rules! An amulet can be written in any language and any style. It can be composed, generated, or “discovered” in any way.

The number of sequen­tial 8s in the hash deter­mines the rarity of the amulet:

And, while this isn’t part of the formal defi­n­i­tion, it’s important to say that an amulet of any rarity should be judged by its overall effect, with consid­er­a­tion for both its linguistic and typo­graphic qualities. In particular, an amulet’s whitespace, punctuation, and diacritics should all be “load bearing”.

A poem doesn’t become inter­esting simply by satis­fying the constraints of some obscure form; likewise, an amulet isn’t collectible simply because it’s rare.

But... it doesn’t hurt.

A few stray consid­er­a­tions:


[1] Unicode (UTF-8) char­ac­ters often require more than one byte; most program­ming languages provide a function to determine the byte size of a string.

[2] For most programmers, the SHA-256 hash function will be familiar and close to hand. For other readers inter­ested in seeing how it works, this scratchpad might be useful.


The SHA-256 hash function is ubiq­ui­tous in cryptography. In Zora, for example, it’s used to verify the identity of a piece of media, like a fingerprint. That media could be an MP4 movie, a PNG image, or a poem in plain text; if you change one frame, one pixel, or one comma, you change the SHA-256 hash entirely.

The hash is a cold hexa­dec­imal spew –


– and, like a fingerprint, it doesn’t tell you anything about the entity it identifies. That’s by design, but even so, it feels strange for a value so pivotal to be totally discon­nected from the under­lying content, espe­cially when it is this value that’s being collected and traded in cryp­to­graphic marketplaces.

Ostensibly, the hash provides an immutable link between unique cryp­to­graphic object and free-floating digital media.

The amulet asks: what if we took that link seriously?

In a sense, the defi­n­i­tion of the SHA-256 hash function created, at a stroke, all amulets of all rarities. Common to mythic, trashy to lovely, they have been hiding in the manifold combi­na­tions of language; we just didn’t know we ought to be looking for them. Until now!

How should we feel about this? I will invoke an amulet of uncommon rarity; you saw its SHA-256 hash above, five 8s in a row, lucky indeed:

If you can't write poems,
write me