I got this about twenty years ago at a Beauty Salon in Smyrna, Tennessee. She had a little display case of antique jewelry she had collected over the years–selling some so she could collect more. Until recently, I had not known what it was–except for knowing it was some kind of charm.It's an Italian charm that dates back before Christ. The pronunciation is Chee mah roo ta. Mine appears to be late 19th century.
At one time, the Cimaruta was used by witches in Italy to identify each other. Some take the Cimaruta as only used for this purpose and resent it being discussed as anything else. Its origins are Etruscan or earlier when it was probably no more than a sprig of rue hung over a baby's crib (circa 4500-3000 BC and still very rare though there seems to be new ones to be found from different occult stores). The Cimaruta is one of the oldest types of amulets ever uncovered. It was used at least in some cases as protection against the evil. Since much of the Cimaruta is made up of things sacred to Diana/Artemis perhaps in many cases the charm was kept because the owner held the goddess in great esteem and might have even referred to her as the Madonna.
The main part of the charm is a sprig of rue--hence the name Cimaruta which is Italian for sprig of rue. The sprig of rue branches naturally into three parts, and this is a reference to the triple Goddess and Her Three aspects of "Diana Transformis" or of Her "prototypes", Diana, Hecate, and Proserpina. The charm is almost always made of silver because of silver's association with the moon.
The symbols on the amulet:
The moon is a symbol of Diana. . . . Very close to the moon can be seen a dagger, which represents Diana’s dart or arrow. It points directly at the moon and is a metaphor for the moon’s light or literally ‘moon beam’ which can bestow illumination or lunacy, depending on your relationship with the goddess. The bow itself is symbolised by the crescent moon. Around the moon can be seen a serpent. This symbolises Proserpina, the goddess of night and the Underworld. Her name is actually derived from the word serpent. She was identified with the moon and with serpents because they both disappear into the earth (seemingly) and change shape in their overall movement.
The key represents the goddess Hecate, who holds the key to the entrance to the otherworld. She is the gatekeeper. It is a symbol of knowledge of the mysteries and of initiation. The bearer of this symbol claims to possess these things, but to indicate that it is not all intellectual knowledge only, but comes also from the heart, the key has a heart within its design.
The Vervain blossom[on mine it appears to be a half-blossom] is sacred to the faery race, and the strega and the Fata or Fay are closely connected. They both act as door keepers between this world and the otherworld. They stand at the gateways - the only difference is that they stand at either side of the gateway.
The rooster or cockerel, because he heralds the new sun in the morning, represents the power of light to banish the darkness of fear. On another level, he is the god aspect Dianus, consort of the goddess Diana and is the masculine balance, a symbol of the sun itself in this respect.
There are obviously other symbols possible on the Cimaruta: dolphin/fish, frog, cockerel/rooster, flaming heart. Frankly, I can't find the site I originally intended to use for this--if I find it later I will post more.
some sites of note on the subject: