by Richard Webster
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
When I was writing Amulets and Talismans for Beginners, a friend commented that it would have to be of historic interest only, as no one used them nowadays. He hadn't noticed all the people who wear astrological pendants, ankhs, St. Christopher medals, and a variety of other charms and amulets. Recently, a funeral director told me that he had noticed a large increase in the number of people who were buried with their favorite amulets and lucky charms. All around the world, the number of people who wear charms and amulets is steadily increasing.
There is some confusion about lucky charms, amulets, and talismans, and many people think they are synonyms. In fact, although the differences are sometimes subtle, each is created for a different purpose: a charm is worn to attract good luck; an amulet provides protection from danger; and a talisman is used to attract a particular benefit to its owner.
Charms were originally spoken or sung. The word charm comes from the French charme, which means song. The blessing that a priest gives at the end of a service is an example of this sort of charm. But gradually, people came to the conclusion that spoken words were ephemeral, while a solid object was permanent. Objects that had special significance—such as a splinter that was believed to be from the cross of Jesus—replaced sung or spoken charms.
Almost anything can (and has been) used as a charm. Buttons and coins are good examples. This is because these items are frequently lost, and found by others. Anything that you find can be used as a charm. Small objects that are given to you also make good charms, because of the pleasant connotations they provide. Many gift stores have a selection of small objects that can be used as charms.
Lucky charms are normally carried on the person, but there are exceptions. My grandmother had a metal tin full of buttons. She would shake the tin vigorously whenever she wanted good luck. I have seen St. Christopher medals attached to the inside mirror of many taxicabs. These drivers obviously prefer to have the medal where they can see it, rather than somewhere on their person.
The St. Christopher medal is a charm that protects travelers, as St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers. A series of failures on the US Navy's Vanguard rocket project in the 1960s was blamed on the absence of a St. Christopher medal. One was placed on the next rocket, and it performed perfectly.
A four-leaf clover has always been considered a lucky charm. This old Irish rhyme that explains why:
One leaf is for fame,
And one leaf is for wealth,
And one is for a faithful lover,
And one to bring you glorious health,
Are all in the four-leaved clover.
A number of lucky charms have religious significance. Fish have come to symbolize the Christian church, possibly because of the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. However, the Greek word for fish forms an acronym of the initial letters of "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour" in Greek, and this is a more likely explanation. A fish charm attracts wealth and abundance.
The ankh is an ancient Egyptian symbol for everlasting life, and is sometimes known as the cross of life. It provides good luck. It also wards off illness and disease, which means that it can be used as an amulet as well as a charm.
Charm bracelets allow people to wear a number of charms at the same time. Many people have a collection of objects that they use as charms, either singly or together. They do not need to be visible, and can be worn under clothing or carried in a purse, if desired.
Amulets have been worn for protection for thousands of years. Early peoples lived in a world where strange and frightening things occurred that defied explanation. Consequently, amulets were used to protect homes, families, and livestock.
Amulets were also used to protect people from the "evil eye." The belief that a person or animal could harm another by staring at them with an evil eye dates back at least five thousand years, and ancient clay tablets have been found that describe the damage that the evil eye can inflict. The Sumerian god Ea spent most of his time fighting the evil eye. Even today, in many parts of the world, the evil eye is considered a major threat, and various kinds of amulets are used to avert it.
Amulets were originally natural items, such as an animal's tooth or a semi-precious stone. However, you can choose anything you like. Medals, bells, keys, and photographs can all be used as amulets. Many police officers in early twentieth-century New York carried St. Jude medals with them for protection. St. Jude is the patron saint of policemen.
Knots make effective amulets because they are believed to catch evil spirits. My grandmother tied knots on all her kitchen aprons to protect both her and the food she was preparing.
Take your time when choosing an amulet. Think about your purpose in wanting one, and how you will wear or carry it. On several occasions, amulets seem to have found me when I needed them. On one occasion, a man I met at an airport gave me a small piece of hematite. I was on my way to see someone to discuss a business proposition. The hematite protected me from his overpowering manner.
Because talismans are intended to provide power, energy, and specific benefits they are often made at times that are believed to be spiritually or astrologically significant. They are frequently made from stone, metal, or parchment as these substances can easily be inscribed with words or pictures to add additional power. Many talismans come from predatory animals. A leopard's claw, shark's tooth, or eagle's feather, for instance, are believed to endow the wearer with some of the qualities of the animal from which it came.
People in competitive fields, such as sport, frequently have talismans to help them achieve their goals. Vida Blue—a famous Oakland A's baseball pitcher in the 1970s and 80s—had a special cap that became his talisman. Finally, it became so old and faded that league officials threatened to suspend him if he did not change it. Blue got himself a new cap, and ceremonially burned his old cap at a pre-game ceremony.
The most famous talisman is a six-pointed star, made from two overlapping triangles. The upward pointing triangle symbolizes fire, the sky, and male energy. The downward pointing triangle symbolizes water, earth, and female energy. The power of this talisman is such that mystic Arthur Edward Waite wrote: "Nothing was believed impossible for those who possessed it." (A. E. Waite, The Occult Sciences [Secaucus, NJ: University Books, 1974], 111). As the Star of David, this talisman symbolizes both the Jewish religion and the nation of Israel. It is also known as the Seal of Solomon because King Solomon is believed to have used it. However, it predates his time by hundreds of years.
GEMSTONES AS AMULETS AND TALISMANS
Crystals and gemstones have been used as amulets and talismans for thousands of years. In fact, it is believed that people wore earrings and necklaces before they started wearing clothes. During the Crusades, many soldiers carried talismanic stones carved with runic messages. They also carried bloodstones because this type of stone was associated with Mars, the god of war. The soldiers felt that bloodstones would make them brave in battle and protect them from harm.
The best crystal or gemstone to use is one that appeals to you. It might be a stone that you find, purchase, or receive as a gift. You might like the color, shape, size, or texture of a particular stone. It might be your astrological birthstone. If you sense that it is the right stone for you, you should use it.
I choose most of my gemstones by psychometry. I hold the stone in a loosely clenched fist, or between my cupped palms, and experience the sensations the stone provides. Some stones produce feelings of comfort and peace, while others seem angry and aggressive. Many stones appear to be filled with fun and laughter, but a few appear sad. I choose the amulet or talisman I need by finding a stone that has the right feeling for the purpose I have in mind.
There are many other ways of choosing the correct gemstone, including one derived from your date of birth. You need to create a sum of your month, day and year of birth, and then reduce it down to a single digit. Unfortunately, there is an exception. If you come across an 11 or a 22 as you reduce down to a single digit, stop at that point, as they are called Master numbers. Here is an example for someone born on December 9, 1946
12 + 9 +1946 = 1967
We then add up the 1967: 1 + 9 + 6 + 7 = 23. Finally, we add the 2 and 3 together, which gives us 5.
Here is an example that gives us a Master number: February 29, 1944:
2 + 29 + 1944 = 1975
When we add up 1 + 9 + 7 + 5, we get 22. Because 22 is a Master number, we stop at that point, and do not reduce it any further.
Each number relates to a color:
- 1. RED: Red stones relate to passion, enthusiasm, and energy. Examples are ruby, garnet, and red jasper.
- 2. ORANGE: Orange stones relate to close relationships and personal satisfaction. Examples are citrine, carnelian, and orange sapphire.
- 3. YELLOW: Yellow stones relate to expressing the fun-filled, joyful aspects of life. Examples are yellow beryl and topaz.
- 4. GREEN: Green stones relate to hard work and accomplishment. Examples are emerald, peridot, and tourmaline.
- 5. BLUE: Blue stones enhance clarity and perception, and aid in goal-setting. Examples are lapis lazuli, sapphire, and blue tourmaline.
- 6. INDIGO: Indigo stones relate to caring for others. Examples are sodalite and iolite.
- 7. VIOLET: Violet stones relate to spiritual truth and the higher consciousness. Examples are amethyst, garnet, and purple ruby.
- 8. PINK: Pink stones are stimulating and energizing. They enable progress to occur. Examples are rubellite tourmaline, rose beryl, and rose quartz.
- 9. CLEAR: Clear stones symbolize pure energy. They are nurturing, loving, and ultimately successful. Examples are clear quartz and diamond.
- 11. SILVER: Silver stones are peaceful and gentle. However, they also possess great power, and provide enormous potential. Hematite is a good example.
- 22. GOLD: You should use gold when you are aiming high. Gold knows no limits. Examples are pyrite, pyrite-sun, and tiger's-eye.
HOW TO CHARGE YOUR TALISMAN
Once you have chosen a talisman, it must be charged to fill it with power and energy. Talismans are important magical tools that need to be dedicated to you and your specific goals. The best time to charge your talisman is when the moon is waxing. Bathe and change into clean clothes before charging your talisman. Some magicians prefer to be naked for this ceremony, as it exposes the talisman to more of their personal energy fields.
There are many different ways to charge a talisman, and I have included seven of these methods in Amulets and Talismans for Beginners. The Dedication Method is one of these, and has the advantage of being easy to perform. You will need a room that will not be occupied for several hours after you have charged your talisman. You will also need a table or shelf to act as an altar.
Place your talisman on the altar. Stand in front of it, and thank the universal life force for protecting and guiding you. After this, recite a poem that you enjoy. Naturally, it should be serious in nature. You might choose to write a poem especially for this ritual.
Once you have finished reciting the poem, stare at your talisman for thirty seconds, and then speak to it. Here are the words I use:
I empower and consecrate you for (whatever purpose the talisman is designed to perform). I imbue you with all the powers of the universe to enable you to carry out your task, and I thank you in advance for all the energy, power, and comfort that you offer to me.
Gaze at the talisman for another thirty seconds, and then say "thank you" to it. Spread your arms out wide and look upwards, while saying "thank you" again.
Leave the talisman on the altar for as long as possible. Leave the room quietly, and ensure that the room is not used for at least several hours.
Your talisman is now ready for use. It will serve you faithfully, and the properties you imbued into it will last forever. This is not always desirable and, once your goal has been achieved, you will need to de-activate the talisman. Most of the time, you will be able to do this by destroying the talisman, after thanking it sincerely for helping you. If the talisman can be burned, you can create a small ritual using a candle. Light the candle and stand in front of it holding the talisman in your cupped hands. Acknowledge the archangels in the four cardinal directions by bowing to them, starting in the east, and following with the south, west, and north. Thank the talisman for everything it has done, hold it high in the air for a few moments, and then burn it in the candle flame.
Obviously, you will not be able to do this if the talisman cannot be burned. However, you can still thank it, break it, and then bury it in the ground. If the talisman is made of a valuable substance, such as gold or silver, you can remove the talismanic influences by formally thanking it for three days in a row.
ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
If you wear a talisman for financial success, your subconscious mind will work toward this goal and bring financial opportunities to your attention. In this instance, it could be said that your belief in the talisman is providing the necessary power to allow the process to work. Certainly, there is no point in wearing a talisman of any sort if you do not believe in it. This is because your skepticism would override the talisman's programming. There have been instances where this has caused misfortune to whoever wore certain talismans. The famous Hope Diamond caused misery and harm to everyone who owned it.
Experiment with a variety of charms, amulets, and talismans and see what happens. I believe that you will gain more self-assurance, power, and control over every aspect of your life. This is because you will be harnessing the powers of the universe to attract what you want, and to repel what you don't want. Use them for good, and create the life you deserve.
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2004. All rights reserved.