Amulets and Talismans are frequently confused in many Pagans minds as to their uses and effects. The simple way to remember it is to think that the words “Amulet” and Armour” both share the same root word, meaning ‘protection’. Talismans serve to attract positive situations and people to you, or increase your luck and circumstances.
In the case of images or symbols of a particular God or Goddess they can be empowered to do either, but can also be attuned to a particular attribute of the Deity as well.
Of the two amulets are more likely to be consciously made. Usually an amulet is constructed taking into account the properties of the materials the item is made from, specific correspondences and the time the amulet was made or consecrated. Frequently the Divine, in the form of a specific God or Goddess, is called upon to bless or empower the amulet for maximum efficiency. A great deal of time is spent on getting everything exactly right as most amulets are to protect you, or someone or something of great importance to you, such as a familiar or house.
Talismans on the other hand are much more likely to be a found thing such as a special rock or particular item of clothing. They can be consecrated and empowered in the same way as amulets, but this is much more common in modern, Ritual Magick influenced, styles of Paganism than in the past. Talismans in earlier times were natural or found objects with connections to nature and Gods and Goddesses in a more representational way than the sophisticated methods that evolved in line with more urban societies.
One of the first talismans was the stone with a hole in it. These ‘holey’ stones are thought by many authorities to have given rise to the term ‘holy’ meaning sacred and may have connections to the various megalithic sites throughout the world that feature stones with holes that are big enough to pass a person through. These were used in various healing and consecration rituals so the smaller ones probably held equal
importance as talismans.
These days it isn’t uncommon for people to have ‘lucky’ items of apparel, wear items of jewellery with special meaning, and have items of personal/cultural significance in their homes. A few Pagans take this idea further turning their whole house, or even entire lifestyle into a talisman to attract good fortune. Sometimes this is done in a formal manner as in Feng Shui, or Vastu its Indian counterpart, but also in unique personal ways with meaning only to the magick user.
However many Pagans stick with a talismanic item carried on their person in a pendent or wristband. The actual item used as a talisman can be anything that connects the wearer to the source of the items’ power be it their own mind or something more esoteric. Even on the mental level the possession of a “lucky” item can dramatically improve a persons’ performance by keeping negative thoughts at bay and the person in a relaxed and confident state of mind. This enables them to perform at their best mentally and physically by stopping any inhibitory factors on the mental or physical plane.
There are many excellent books on the art of making and charging talismans (and amulets) using the techniques of High, or Ritual Magick. However most Pagan talismans tend to be empowered by use-create thoughtforms. In this style of empowerment the item is cleansed either by intent, or by washing it, passing it through incense, over a candle flame, and sprinkling it with salt; the classic cleansing via the four Elements. It is made ready for empowerment by a statement of intent, this can be as simple or as complex as you wish provided it is said with focus and intent.
A heart-shaped rock cleansed and dedicated to Astarte with the simple phrase “I call upon Astarte in her form of the Goddess of love to empower this item with her energies to attract someone right for me” is just as powerful as a talisman created with the complexities of a full Ritual Magic ceremony. Especially if the practitioner is a novice because the more involved ceremony can detract from the intent, and it is this that empowers the item.
Where the technique differs from the Ritual Magic is that every time you feel the talisman has worked you thank it, even if it’s just touching it and mentally saying ‘thank you’. Pagans who have an altar dedicated to a particular Divinity usually place the amulet on it at regular intervals to recharge it. This builds up a thoughtform - a programmed collation of psychic energy connected to the talisman that enables it to bring about the desired effect. On the physical plane it also focuses the person using the talisman to keep working towards the target that the talisman was created for by creating a success feedback loop.
Spell for acquiring a talisman from Nature`
This is a variation on a spell used by European Gypsies for asking for a lucky talisman from nature to aid in general luck or success in a specific undertaking.
Take a clean sheet of paper and write either “For general luck” or “Success in (insert wish)” and wrap it around a coin or other small item such as a crystal. Take this, some compost or a stick of fertilizer, and a jug of beer or spring/rain water to a Thorn, Ash, or Oak tree. Kneel or squat by the tree and scatter the compost at its base and say “Tree I feed you, feed me in return”. Then empty the liquid at the base of the tree and say “Tree I quench your thirst, quench mine in return”. Finally dig a small hole near the base of the tree and bury the package of written wish and item as you say “Tree I bring you a gift, bless me in return.”
Then place your hands on the tree and say three times: “Rain falls, wind blows, sun shines, grass grows.” Then walk away without looking back. After three days return to the tree and pick up anything (within reason) lying on top of the fresh earth where you buried your gift. This may be a leaf, twig, or even a piece of apparent rubbish such as a ringpull from a can. This is your talisman and should be carried with you for best results.