Tag: talismans

The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets, by Claude Lecouteux

By Freeman Presson | June 30, 2014 | 3 comments

The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets, by Claude LecouteuxThe High Magic of Talismans and Amulets, by Claude LecouteuxThe High Magic of Talismans and Amulets: Tradition and Craft, by Claude Lecouteux
Inner Traditions, 264 pp. (incl. appendices, notes, bibliography, and index), 2014

The first part of The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets goes into the traditions related to amulets and the natural magic thereof, and also examines the tension between established Christianity and the long-standing tradition of magick, especially of the apotropaic (evil averting) sort. One is strongly reminded of the generations of priestly execrations of goddess worship in the Bible, which similarly told us how long the practices persisted, and some details of them which we would not otherwise have had.

The priests inveighing against these charms were particularly intent on discouraging the use of magical characters (alphabetic or sigilic writing that conveys spiritual power). They sometimes waxed poetic: “The demon slithers in the characters like the serpent beneath the flowers.” This ties nicely into his statement that “the unknown always inspires the Church with fear.”

Lecouteux summarizes part of this history thus: “Implicit in the background are notions of natural, licit magic and illicit black magic,” ((p. 30)) after giving one of many examples of a churchman condemning the talismanic art as being an implicit pact with a demon, a pattern which, as he points out, is “commonly repeated throughout the sixteenth century.” What this means to me is that the Faustian current which arose in early modern magick didn’t just appear without help. Apparently, it is as possible to call an egregore into being by constant execration as by constant evocation! Continue reading


Review: Amulets & Talismans for Beginners, by Richard Webster

By Psyche | April 4, 2004 | Leave a comment

Amulets & Talismans for Beginners: How to Choose, Make & Use Magical Objects, by Richard Webster
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738705047, 251 pp. (incl. appendices, suggested reading, notes and index), 2004

Webster opens with a charming story from his boyhood, when he first encountered a lucky horseshoe nail worn as a protective charm by a farmer. Many of us have heard of or experienced a similar tale: a first awakening to the idea that inanimate objects can bestow fortune upon their owners.

He goes on to define talismans as ‘objects designed to give specific power, protection, encouragement, and energy to those who wear or own them. The important thing to note is that talismans always provide specific benefits to their owners and are usually made for specific purposes’. Whereas amulets are said to be distinctly different from talismans in that they are ‘intended for more general purposes and usually provide protection from danger’. Webster states that ‘while talismans are active, amulets are passive, reacting to events in the wearer’s life rather than specifically creating something’. Lucky charms apparently ‘combine the qualities of both amulets and talismans. They are active like talismans and generalized like amulets. Charms are intended to attract good luck and good fortune to whoever owns them’. Rather confusing, as it sounds more or less the same to me. Fortunately, he allows that it can be ‘sometimes difficult to say if a certain magical object is an amulet, lucky charm, or talisman.’ Further noting that ‘in fact, it is not at all unusual to find one object performing all three functions depending on the beliefs of its owner’.

Brief overviews of several traditional talismans and amulets are given, as well as examples for making and charging magical objects, including numerous associations, with numerology, colour, stones, horoscope and birthday month gems, both ‘traditional’ and modern, quabbalah, seals, Pythagorean magick squares and numerology – all within a fixed framework, though he notes that one can also choose what resonates well. Webster even includes a spin-off of the Spare method for sigil making, though he seems to miss the entire point of the exercise point in saying that ‘it makes no difference what you do with the letters, just as long as the message is instantly recognizable to you, whenever you see it’. In fact, in the Spare method it is fundamental that one forgets the meaning of the sigil for it to take seed in the subconscious mind, even to the point of leaving the finished sigil aside for days, weeks or even months. Further, it contains methods for charging and purifying amulets as well as destroying them once they’re no longer of use.

It is an easy to use guide and brief history of popular magickal objects, if a bit vague at times and somewhat repetitive. There’s not a lot going on creatively with it; it relies heavily on ‘tried and true’ methods with an allowance for minor intuitive tweaking. Despite these criticisms, it is a decent introduction to talisman and amulet creation, and would make good start for a beginner interested in the basics.