Truth is often stranger than fiction. If it's not, fiction takes the truth and piles on some extra strange. Fantasy stories might seem far removed from reality, but they are often rooted in our milquetoast world. For instance, dragon mythology may have been the result of ancient humans misinterpreting dinosaur fossils or whale bones.
Numerous magical artifacts throughout pop-culture have real life counterparts as well. There's a treasure trove of wondrous doodads in Netflix's new show The Order, so let’s do some investigating and see what may have inspired those cinematic RPG items.
10 Enchanted Knives
Magic weapons are like giant spiders or reanimated skeletons. They're practically a genre cliché at this point. Still, the enchanted knives used by members of the eponymous Order are frightening little numbers. A single cut could be fatal. Unless someone intervenes with a healing spell, you could be taken out by the equivalent of a shaving accident.
King Arthur's Excalibur is probably the most famous magic weapon. However, it's not the only prominent example. The Honjo Masamune was said to be one of the finest Japanese blades ever made. It was a cultural icon until it mysteriously vanished in 1946. According to legend, the Honjo was inhabited by a righteous, supernatural entity that would only serve a noble master.
9 True Sight Potion
Also known as Oculus Veritatis, the True Sight Potion allows those who drink it to see the true form of shapeshifters. This makes it extremely useful if you've got a werewolf problem. We usually consider potion-making to be a hobby for witches, but it was once an actual career.
Throughout history, alchemists tried combining chemistry with mysticism to create universal solvents or medicine that could cure anything. Some even tried to craft the immortality-bestowing Philosopher's Stone. Shockingly, they weren't successful. (Either that or none of them felt like sharing.)
8 Charm Necklace
At one point in the show, Edward Coventry uses a necklace charm to outsmart a magical truth serum. The necklace he wears isn't given a name, but it allows him to say whatever someone wants to hear, thus countering the effects of the serum.
"Good luck charms" a.k.a. amulets play a part in almost every country's belief system. Symbols such as the Christian crucifix, Hebrew chai, and Turkish Nazar-talisman are all used to ward off evil. Ironically, Coventry used a charm for evil, and that just isn't charming at all.
7 Obfuscation Powder
This is basically The Order's version of the Men in Black neuralyzer. Obfuscation Powder is primarily used to erase the minds of exiled Order members or neophytes that flunked the initiation trials. Although, as we learned from the season one finale, it can be weaponized as well.
In India, people apply a turmeric powder called Kumkuma to their foreheads because that's where the spiritually receptive "third eye" is supposedly located. The powder is believed to heighten mankind's connection with the divine. Thankfully, Kumkuma doesn't erase memories. Otherwise, India would be a pretty confused place.
6 The Glove
This innocuous looking gauntlet was tailor-made for a good, old-fashioned inquisition. All you have to do is touch someone with The Glove and ask them a question. If they lie, The Glove burns their soul and makes them bleed from their eyes. Coventry would have needed a dozen charm necklaces to circumvent this frightening device.
In a way, The Glove is a supped-up version of medieval branding irons used to torture prisoners. It's funny how wizards are always determined to cling to archaic behavior and technology. Even indoor plumbing took a while to catch on in the Harry Potter universe!
5 Cursed Obsidian Fragment
A major plot point in The Order is Coventry's attempt to rebuild a malevolent book known as the Vade Maecum Infernal (more on that later). Decades before the events in the show, the book was split into four pieces and scattered across the world. One of the pieces was sealed within a fragment of obsidian that could deflect any spell back on its attacker.
While stones and crystals are another ubiquitous part of magical lore, obsidian was once an integral part of Mesoamerican cultures. Instead of steel, the Aztecs and Mayans used obsidian to craft weapons, particularly blades for sacrificial or bloodletting rituals. This works quite well aesthetically. After all, Obsidian is one of the most sinister looking mineraloids.
Contacting the dead used to be a huge hassle. You'd have to hire a medium, set up a seance, and even then there was no guarantee it would work. The Order's necrophone cuts through all that nonsense. Designed like a phonograph, all you have to do is speak into the necrophone's receiver and address the ghost of your choice. The most popular way of speaking with the dearly departed today is a spirit board or Ouija.
While the Ouija is little more than a party game, (invented by a savvy businessman in the 80's) its ancient precursor: "fuji" or "planchette writing," began in 1100 AD China. Practitioners of fuji would try to channel the dead and spell out messages by dragging a suspended writing device over sand or ashes. But don't bother with any of that, pick up your very own necrophone today for just five payments of $19.99. Operators are standing by.
3 Werewolf Pelts
As discussed here, The Order gives werewolf lore a massive, highly creative makeover. In the show, werewolves are the result of magical wolf pelts (that appear to be alive and capable of thought) melding with human hosts. Think Power Rangers, just with more hair and "wet dog" smell.
Throughout history, many different types of warriors have worn pelts into battle. The best example would be Norse berserkers who believed they could take on the unique attributes of the animals they clad themselves in. The Order makes that line of reasoning literal.
2 Sir Richard De Payne
Calling De Payne a magical artifact is perhaps stretching the truth a little. He might look like an ancient, preserved corpse, but he's very much alive. De Payne was cursed to sleep forever and conceal part of the Vade Maecum inside his subconscious. To retrieve the piece, an intrepid spellcaster must enter his eternal dream and face a gauntlet of horrors designed specifically with them in mind. No pun intended.
Even though he has a pulse, De Payne's closest real-world analog would probably be a mummy. Everyone immediately thinks of the Egyptian variety, but there are also chilling stories of Buddhist monks allegedly self-mummifying themselves with a technique involving meditation, starvation, and gradual suffocation. In Catholicism, incorruptibility (a.k.a. defying the natural process of decomposition) is said to be a sign of sainthood. With an imagination like his though, De Payne is clearly no saint.
1 Vade Maecum Infernal
This is The Order's answer to the One Ring or the Infinity Stones. Anyone who forges a contract with the Maecum gains immense power and the ability to perform magic without any of the usual drawbacks. All it takes is one tiny, initial fee: the sacrifice of your first-born son. But hey, if you want to make an omelet you've got to break a few kid-sized eggs, right? Evil books are incredibly common in fiction and, surprisingly, they're common in our reality too.
The Codex Gigas/Devil's Bible was conceived by a fallen monk on the night before his execution in a bizarre bid for clemency. Knowing he would be unable to finish it in time, the monk made a pact with Satan asking him to complete the Codex in return for his soul. Or so the story goes. Speaking of which, do you think the Prince of Darkness would be willing to help out with a few pop-culture listicles? Asking for a friend.