The Egyptian symbol of life, the universe and immortality is the tau or looped cross called the ankh, which means both "life" and "hand mirror." It is symbolic of regeneration; as an amulet it protects against bad luck; and as a talisman it indicates good fortune. Also, it represents the union between the male principle (the staff) and the female principle (the closed loop).
In ancient Egypt, the House of Life was a building or group of buildings housing the temple library, the repository of all magical lore that was available to magicians, priest, and laymen. In Egyptian art the ankh is shown as a scepter that was carried in the right hand of deities who would apply it to the nostrils of the dead to bring them back to life.
Ankh amulets were composed of faience, semiprecious and precious stones, wax, metal, and wood. Tutankhamen had a hand mirror fashioned in the shape of an ankh.
When the Egyptians were converted to Christianity in the first century AD, they used both the ankh and the Christian cross as their symbols of belief. Presently the ankh is worn as jewelry by many Neo-pagans, witches, and occultists.