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- Saint Tributes
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Friday, February 7, 2014
Lesson 6: Amulets & Talismans
Lesson 6: Amulets & Talismans
The subject of amulets & talismans can get somewhat confusing. I will be providing more in-depth clarification and usage in Level II, but as this lesson is specifically about Amulets & Talismans, I feel it is important to provide some deeper material here.
For some “clarification” I’m going to touch briefly on the term “man-made” in regards to talismans. By “man-made” I am referring to metals smelted into a form, clays that are molded to shape, wood that is cut to size & shape, rocks or stones that are soft enough to cut into, etc.. Each of these then are inscribed in some manner with the appropriate design and empowering inscription.
Another term that adds to the confusion of amulets & talismans is “charms“. All three of these terms are used interchangeably, and there’s really no problem with it, but I’m one of those finicky people who prefer to know, and be able to express, facts.
So, here are the definitions of each:
A magickally charged natural object used to give protection, good fortune, luck, and health to it's carrier. It deflects specific negative energies or thoughts and brings the positive energies. The amulet can be made of stones, crystals, feathers, plants, wood or bone beads, etc. An example of a simple amulet would be the four-leaf clover. Usually these are made into jewelry so it may be worn, visibly, next to the body for added protection. Not to be confused with a talisman.
Usually described as an amulet or talisman which is instilled with Magickal energy for a specific task such as protection from danger or to find love. However, it is actually a magickal song or incantation that is chanted as a spell. It can also be chanted over an amulet or talisman to consecrate and empower it with a magickal purpose. A charm is also a small representative object (animal, flower, cross, moon, sun, etc.) worn usually on a bracelet or necklace, but these have nothing to do with magickal uses.
A man-made object that has been ritually charged with power, usually under specific astrological influences, to attract to it’s bearer a specific type of energy. is kept close to the bearer at all times, but is not worn visibly. It is kept hidden. An example of a talisman is the heart, the horseshoe, the Cross, the Pentacle, etc.. Not to be confused with an amulet.
Here is a quick-look for easy remembering of each and what they do:
Amulets pull energy. May be worn visibly.
Talismans push energy. Are kept hidden.
Charms enhance energy. Words spoken over amulets or talismans to empower them further.
Ok, lets move on now.
An amulet can be one simple natural object or a combination of several. Some of the prettiest I’ve seen were made from woven & wound thin vines that were then decorated with other natural objects such as small feathers, shells, dried flowers, and even semi-precious stones. These are then empowered with a charm (spell words) and then placed where they are needed. Small ones could be kept in a purse or wallet, larger ones may be used for decoration. And no one would know that they are magickally empowered!
I have 2 very small sparrow bird nests that I will be making into amulets for bringing the beauty & peace of nature to my home. I’ve already made one large bird nest & vine amulet that has fall leaves, feathers and tiny bird eggshells in the nest. Although it is about 18” x 12” in size and could be considered “just“ a decoration, it is more than that. It is a type of amulet, albeit a large one. Perfect for a house. It is very delicate and I haven’t found the ‘perfect’ spot for it yet, but it will be hung somewhere in the guest room. Eventually it will tell me where it wants to hang permanently. The guest room is decorated like a Faery rose garden and has my Faery altar in there, as well as a rock painted with a Faery Door on it so they can come & go as they please. I’ve included a picture of the vine & nest amulet below:
Image 1: Bird Nest Amulet
So, as you can see amulets don’t have to be small and only worn on the body. They just need to be near the bearer. And in my home is about as close as you can get to being “near” me. The same would go for you!
Before actually making the amulet it is best to instill the intent of the finished object into each of the elements being placed in the amulet. Whether actual words or just visualizing what your intent is for the finished amulet, no other thoughts should be present or they will affect your finished product. So don’t be angry and in a bad mood when you’re trying to collect the materials for making an amulet for peace & harmony! And don’t be thinking about all those bills you owe when you’re making an amulet for bringing you money! Remember, thoughts have power!
Also, while gathering the items for the project, consider the energies of the elements you’re gathering. Try not to put together things that their energies would clash or “fight” against each other. For the most part, things found in the same general area will work together. But, for example, if I was to throw in a beach shell in the above amulet, it would throw the balance of energies off. However in the same vein, where we live it was once an ocean millions of years ago. I have found several shells & fossils here on the property that could fit very well with this amulet, if I felt it needed it.
Another thing to consider; everyone is different is this regard but just a note I think I should touch on here. For the amulet above I did use a hot glue gun in some locations to hold the objects in place in the position that I wanted. Many of the pieces I was able to just weave into the vine, but there are a few spots where glue became necessary. Some people absolutely refuse to use “unnatural” glues and things to hold their pieces together. That is completely up to you. For me, it was easier to glue a few of the heavier pieces and a few lighter weight pieces were tied with cotton thread. You do what you are most comfortable with. Personally, I think the Fae, Gods/Goddesses, Spirits, Energies, etc. are more concerned with the intent & purpose of the object than the specifics & beauty of the final item.
An Arabic saying that I’ve always liked is: “Only Allah can make something perfect”. The Arab craftspeople always, purposely, place at least one flaw in their work. Only the Gods are perfect and can make perfect. We can only do our best to emulate those abilities. And I think that’s all they’re concerned about - our efforts towards the finished product, including ourselves as a “finished product“.
For talismans, whether a burned-in design on a wood disk, etched-in design on sculpted clay, or an inscribed precious metal pendant, the formula is the same; they always have a design or symbol on the front and an inscription, symbol or Bindrune on the back.
I have included here a talisman I made for my best friend, Lady Venus. Her Deities are God Ra and Goddess Venus. It is made from a piece of a 40’ tall Silver Birch tree in our woods that was topped off (the top third snapped off) in a very heavy wind storm in early Spring of ‘08. I have “harvested” much of the beautiful white wood branches and the trunk top, using them in making Rune sets, talismans, amulets and other crafts.
Birch is perfect for amulet and talisman making because of its magick properties: Amulets, Beginnings, Besom making, Blessing, Dedications, Exorcism, Health, Initiation rites, Love, Overcoming difficulties, Protection, Purification, Repels negative energies, Talismans.
The front of Lady Venus’ talisman is the face of the Goddess Venus and on the back is the symbol the Eye of Ra. I burned these designs into the wood, sealed the wood and strung it with a gold ribbon. Although there is no written inscription on it that is seen, there is a very powerful spell of protection that was done over it while it was being made, then consecrated afterward, and a Bindrune was drawn on it with my finger. Lady Venus has this hanging from her car mirror for protection. Once consecrated I never touched it with my bare hands again. The only one to touch it next was Lady Venus when she opened the package. That way there were no “foreign” energies attached to it when she received it.
Below are pictures of the front and back of Lady Venus’ talisman:
Image 2: Lady Venus’ Talisman Image 3: Lady Venus’ Talisman
Front - Goddess Venus Back - God Ra
Symbols of Magick
The number of symbols that are available for use in talisman making is enumerable. There are symbols that are used in Low Magick that are known to even the newest Witch, and others that are found mainly in High Magick and are known only to the highest Adept.
These symbols bring a deeper level of power to a Witch’s magickal workings. Many of them contain powers unto themselves and work best alone, and others work better in conjunction with several symbols, especially magickal alphabets.
Following are simple, basic, symbols that can be used in talisman making. Learning what they are and how to use them can be of great benefit to your Craft skills. This list will only touch on each, for more in-depth information look them up in an online search engine.
Also called an Anshet. It is a cleansed and consecrated ceremonial knife used in ritual work. It has a double edged blade and a black handle. It is used to direct personal power during ritual workings and is never used to cut anything on the material plane. It’s Element is Fire in some Traditions and Air in others, and it’s direction is East (which would coincide with Air). It is a male symbol who’s opposite is the female symbol of the chalice.
This is the most recognizable of the Witch’s tools. It is the Womb of the Goddess, the Cauldron of Inspiration. Its Element is Water, its direction is Center and its energy is female. Traditionally these are made of cast iron and have three legs, but a bowl will work just as well. It is often used for scrying.
This 7-pointed star, also referred to as a septagram, and is referred to as the Elvin Star and the Fairy Star by practitioners of Faery Wicca. This symbol represents the 7 Pathways of Manifestation of the Higher Self as well as the 7 classical astrological planets, they’re corresponding days, metals, and the 7 Sefiroth of the Tree of Life.
Point: Bottom Right
Point: Top Left
Point: Lower Right
Point: Lower Left
Point: Top Right
Point: Bottom Left
Four leaf clovers are an aberration of the three leaf clover, the White Clover (Trifolium repens). The clover is the original shamrock plant of Ireland and that country’s unofficial state symbol. The regular three-leaf clovers are “good luck” amulets often kept in the purse or wallet to bring good luck to its bearer, and anyone lucky enough to find a four-leaf clover is blessed with even more good luck!
This is the symbol used when depicting the God.
The position to stand in when invoking the God.
This is the symbol used when depicting the Goddess.
The position to stand in when invoking the Goddess.
God & Goddess
This symbol represents both the God & Goddess.
The obvious symbol of “love”, as well as other emotional issues.
The Angelic Script, also referred to as the Alphabet of the Ark, is derived from the Hebrew alphabet. During the early Christian era the study of angels was a very serious subject conducted by only a select portion of the population that was permitted to learn to read, namely the nobility and the clergy. As a result there was strict adherence to rules and guidelines that had to be observed. To disobey was considered treasonous or heresy and subject to severe penalties including death. From these studies the names of Angels were created by altering the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
This script dates back to the sixteenth century. It was used by Dr. John Dee and Sir Edward Kelley in the sixteenth century during their spirit communications, many of which were carried out at the royal request of Queen Elizabeth I.
One of the oldest written languages which was derived from ancient Phoenician script. It fell out of use about 2500 years ago and was replaced with Aramaic. It has since been revived about the time the State of Israel was formed after World War II.
Runes (Elder Futhark):
The Runes are divided into three groups called an Aett. Each Aett is named for a Norse God: Frey, Hagel and Tyr. The first, Frey’s Aett, consist of the secrets of creation and the sequence of events that occurred when time began. The Runes is this set are: Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, Kaunaz, Gebo, Wunjo. The second, Hagel’s Aett, contain the dark secrets of fate that can make their presence felt. The Runes in this set are: Hagalaz, Nauthiz, Isa, Jera, Eihwaz, Pertho, Algiz, Sowelo. The third, Tyr’s Aett, refers to humans and the earthly, material plane. The Runes in this set are: Tiwaz, Berkana, Ehwaz, Mannaz, laguz, Inguz, Othila, Dagaz. The blank Rune, Wyrd, is included in this last set.
In many modern Rune sets there is a blank Rune called "Wyrd" (pronounced weerd). This is a modern day creation that many believe should not be used. (It‘s your choice to decide). Its concept is that things are in the hands of the “Fates” and are beyond your knowing at the time.
This is an ancient language called Syriac dating back to 1000 B.C.E. It is believed that the Greek and Hebrew alphabets were developed from the Phoenician. (There are no symbols for W, X, Y, Z).
This is an ancient Norwegian alphabet. (There are no symbols for Y, Z).
Witch’s/Theban Alphabet: (THEE-ben)
One of the Magickal Alphabets. This alphabet is reputed to have been invented by Honorius of Thebes. It is often referred to as the “Runes of Honorius”, or the “Theban Alphabet”. Its supposed first appearance was in Cornelius Agrippa’s book De Occulta Philosophia (The Book of Occult Philosophy), Book III, Chapter XXIX which was published in Latin in 1533. In his book, Agrippa mentions that this alphabet was attributed to Honorius by the medieval magician Petrus de Apono (1250-1316). Later, Francis Barrett, an English author on magic reproduced the Theban Alphabet in Book II, Part I, Chapter XIV of his publication The Magus.
These symbols can be used singly or in conjunction with each other for representing the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.
It is a representation of all the Elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water, with Spirit at the uppermost point. All are encompassed within a circle which represents unity; sacred space; “As Above, So Below“; the horizon line at which point the earth meets the sky; endless time and the cycles which always bring us back to the beginning - birth, death, rebirth.
The upward facing pentacle represents Spirit ascending from matter. The downward facing pentacle represents Spirit descending into matter.
Pentacle Element positions:
Top - Spirit
Upper Left - Air
Lower Left - Earth
Lower Right - Fire
Upper Right - Water
On the Witch’s altar it represents the Element of Earth and its direction is North (for most Traditions, for some its direction is East).
To invoke each individual Element, draw the pentacle accordingly:
Earth invoking pentagram upper right-across to upper left-lower right-top-lower left-upper right.
Air invoking pentagram top-bottom left-upper right-across to upper left-lower right-top.
Fire invoking pentagram top-bottom right-upper left-across to upper right-lower left-top.
Water invoking pentagram upper left-across to upper right-lower left-top-lower right-upper left.
Banishing pentagrams are drawn away from the Element, while invoking pentagrams are drawn to the Element.
This is a five pointed star that is a representation of the Earth Element, its direction is North and it is a female energy. It is an invoking pentagram. The five points have had numerous meanings over the centuries such as: the Five Senses with the center representing the sixth sense; the Four Elements - Earth Air, Fire, Water and Spirit at the apex; and the Five Stages of Life - Birth, Youth, Adulthood, Old Age and Death.
Until the time of the Inquisition it was a symbol of many belief systems, including Christian, that represented truth and protection for the one bearing it.
This is the symbol of the Fifth Element, Spirit, also called Akasha, and means “coming into being”. Many Magickal workings incorporate this symbol into the ritual, the direction of the spiral determining the direction of the energy “from Above“ or “from Below“. The left-circling spiral represents the Divine’s influence coming down from Above, spirituality. The right-circling spiral represents the Human’s striving from Below, re-birth.
A magickal sign of protection used in the Middle Ages. It is a less common form of the Valknut or Odin’s Knot that is the connection of three Othila runes. Othila represents Odin, the King of the Gods, the All-Father and bestows the virtues of leadership, nobility, loyalty and inheritance.
This is a three pronged staff or spear from the Latin words tridentis, from tri meaning “three” and dentes meaning “teeth“. Originally it was used by fisherman for spear fishing, as well as a weapon used by gladiators who first netted their victims then used the trident to kill them. There are a couple of Pagan usage definitions for this: the first is that it represents a triple-phallus of any male deity who is to unite sexually with the Triple Goddess; the second representation is that it is the triple-pronged spear that belongs to the Sea Gods Neptune & Poseidon.
This is a modern fabrication not an ancient concept. There’s nothing wrong in believing it, but just know the truth of it. History in general, and Paganism specifically have too many falsehoods written into it without us regenerating the same myths as fact.
The concept of the Triple Goddess as One comes from Robert Graves’ book The White Goddess, published in 1948. Originally, the Triple Goddess was in fact three separate women, approximately the same age, married or unmarried or both. Each woman represented their particular skill, such as poet, smith, doctor, etc. She was a multi-faceted goddess, master of many arts, not just one, a protectress and patron of the tribe.
In modern Paganism the Goddess’s embodying this triple aspect within themselves (as opposed to separately) include, but are not limited to: Brigid (Celtic), Carmenta (Roman), Hecate (Greek), Helice (Greek), Hina (Polynesian), Ishtar (Babylonian), Kali (Indian), the Morrigan (Celtic), etc.
This Latin word refers to a three cornered symbol that represents the Holy Trinity to Christians, the Goddess to the Celts and Odin to the Norse. Due to its “three in one” nature, it was perfect for the Christian’s to adopt and adapt it to their “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” concept.
This Celtic symbol of open-ended, overlapping triangles represent the Fates or other various triplicities.
Also referred to as Valknut, Odin‘s Knot, Boromean Triangles, Hrungnir’s Heart, Heart of the Slain and Heart of Vala. This is a symbol of three interlocking triangles and nine points which suggest rebirth, pregnancy and cycles of reincarnation. It was placed on the graves of Viking warriors to ensure their safe passage into Odin’s Castle of the Slain in Valhalla. The nine points also represent the Nine Worlds and the Nine Fates of the Norse Pantheon. Their interconnectedness suggests the belief in the relationship between the three realms of heaven, earth and hell as well as the nine domains they contain.
Traditionally, the Witch finds a yearling tree from which to choose a branch for the wand. It should be cut in a single stroke (DO ask the tree‘s permission first and be sure to leave an offering), at sunrise on a Wednesday. Some Witches prefer to just find a branch that has already fallen to the ground. The length of the wand should be no longer than the distance from the elbow to the fingertips. Its Element is Fire or Air, depending on the Tradition, and the energy is male.
Yin is lunar energy; feminine; soft; small; earth; floral; round; horizontal; dark; cool; cold; low; negative; passive. Yang is solar energy; masculine; hard; large; sky; geometric; straight; vertical; light; warm; hot; high; positive; active. They are the concept of opposites represented in everything in the universe.
The Yin/Yang symbol shows two teardrop shapes one embracing the other, one black and one white. Inside each teardrop is a circle of the opposite color showing that each encompasses attributes of the other. You can’t have one without the other. Ch’i is the essential energy that connects, moves and gives life to everything.
These are the symbols of the Western Zodiac, and the ones most often used, plus the addition of Ophiucus, which is the planet that has entered the Zodiacal Belt. (There are others from many other cultural zodiacs which will be covered more in-depth in Level II).
As I stated previously, there are enumerable symbols to found and used. It is just a matter of knowing your intent, being familiar with the symbols you need, knowing how and when to work them together, and being in the right frame of mind when doing the work.
When using symbols and magickal alphabets and charms in your amulet and talisman making, just as when using herbs and stones and deities in your other magickal working, be careful to combine only those ‘ingredients’ into the ‘formula’ which will work cohesively together.
A “war” of energies is NOT what you want on your talisman or amulet…….well, maybe it is, but that’s for a much, much later lesson!
Copyright 2010, Granny Tackett