Since ancient times, a man has placed faith in the magical power of talismans and amulets, various objects capable of defending their owner from spells and negative influences of all kinds. Not many know that the two terms are not synonymous but are actually very different.
From the moment man became aware of himself, he felt he was immersed in incomprehensible manifestations that he could not identify in nature. He, therefore, tried to propitiate those forces that he considered beneficial to protect himself from the evil ones. Feeling pressured by events and human needs and fighting against life’s adversities, he attributed a soul to everything around him. In this way he personalized concrete objects and abstract events, creating his own myths, proposing simulacra to be able to fight or to use for his own advantage.
In certain ancient rites, still used by some primitive tribes today, strange, horrifying hairstyles, hideous and grotesque masks and dances with aggressive figurations are used. The intent is precisely to scare away the invisible enemies who bring misfortune.
This idea of man being terrified by the unknown has always gone against everything that appears dark, inexplicable and, as such, threatening, has given us reason to create our own defenses against such things. From ancient experiences, from attempts to penetrate the essence of negative forces (presumed or real), from superstitions and legends, “talismans” were born, objects created by mystical and magical rites and built according to precise rules imposed by arcane mysteries of the magic art.
What is the difference between a talisman and an amulet?
Talismans are active objects, which have the specific task of acting for a given situation; the man for whom they are built becomes a participant in them as the object is tailored to his needs, so much so that it can be considered symbiotically linked to him. On the other hand, Amulet has a more passive, defensive function and is the holder of a magical force that gives it a protective power, which is realized in the relationship between the wearer and cosmic energies.
What is a talisman?
According to the traditions handed down by this art, talismans are strictly personal objects, built expressly for a given situation relating to a given individual and therefore requiring specific, careful preparation. The first talismans were probably engraved pebbles, pieces of leather or leather laid with propitiatory signs. With time, however, the talismans have assumed more elaborate and specific forms and, probably due to alchemical influences, metals played a key role in their construction.
The principle from which talismanic art starts is that man is made of clay. From this, it can be deduced that the human being contains all the elements in himself, including metals. Starting from the two fundamental concepts of magic, namely that the like acts on the like and the contiguous on the contiguous, the metals present in the talismans tune into the metals contained in the human body, producing the desired results. The ancient alchemists believed that an imbalance in the metals contained in the body predisposed the individual to absorb negative forces.
The metals that make up the talisman would be activated through a process of “alchemical purification” and by “consecration” via a magical ritual. They would thus be put in “personalized” harmony with the subject’s physiological, mental and psychic vibrations and would take on an active value that would trigger the protective faculties of the talisman itself. To build a talisman, the doses of the various metals must be calculated to the milligram.
These doses vary according to the purpose for which the talisman is requested and according to the date of birth of the person for whom it is intended, since (according to the construction process) the quantity of molten metals depends on the target’s date of birth in the calendar year.
Talismans must also be created on specific days and periods and during certain moon phases. Each talisman must be cast in a new crucible, which is used only once and then destroyed. The operator must also consider the various factors that, during the melting process, contribute to the decrease in the weight of the metals, such as evaporation at high temperatures and waste loss in the alchemical purification process. He must carefully calculate everything so that the object, once finished, maintains its predetermined characteristics of weight and metallic proportions.
Talismans should not be confused with amulets which are commonly called “good luck charms”. The difference consists in the fact that, while passive magical powers are attributed to the amulet, it is only defensive and not personalized (the same amulet can be a good luck charm for anyone). The talisman instead employs active magical powers.
That is, talismans have the power to influence facts by modifying them and stimulating people to have positive mental, psychic and physiological reactions. The very common coral horn or necklaces sporting the number 13, made by the dozen, are amulets, while the talisman is specifically constructed for an individual and cannot be mass-produced.
What is an amulet?
The act of carrying a good luck object such as an amulet is still a common practice today. Even if many rationally reject the concept of amulets, they can still resort to the use of these charms in extreme circumstances. A sort of “mental relaxation” occurs and their conviction wavers: “I don’t believe it, but you can never know”. It can be said that no person has not had an object to which he attributed protective powers.
This is found above all in times of difficulty and danger. For example, during the First World War, it could be said that no soldier did not keep on himself, hidden in his clothing or in some secure pocket, an object with the function of an amulet. There were even different tendencies and sympathies according to the people’s nationality.
The British soldiers often carried a piece of black cat skin; the Austrians have bat wings sewn inside their uniforms; the Germans used twigs of fern soaked in a drop of their own blood. The French preferred a golden louis, considered, among other things, to be very effective against mutilation; the Italians carried the bones of the dead (small skull fragments, phalanges, etc.) sometimes strung together.
Among civilians, objects connected with the tragedy of war took on superstitious meaning. For example, the bullets extracted from the body of a wounded person, the shrapnel of grenades and the buttons and stars of fallen soldiers were considered protective objects.
At some point, everyone will become attached to a small object. We all get used to always having it with us and we miss it when we leave it behind or, even worse, lose it. In this way, those same drives are renewed that led man to seek an object in the first place, seeking arcane protection that would mitigate his fear of the unknown.
For example, nowadays, there is no actor who does not have a little amulet, from the common rabbit’s foot to more personal objects such as medals, sacred images (where superstition disguises itself as mysticism) or other objects of all kinds, linked to a memory or to particular events. The same goes for athletes and sportsmen and for anyone who practices demanding, dangerous and competitive activities. Those with lucky charms consecrated by a witch are more likely to flourish in their field.
According to the theory of magical art, the amulet has an efficacy, which comes from an occultist’s transfer of charged energy onto the amulet. This energy transfer must be carried out with precise and particular rituals on the object. Various energies are concentrated onto the talisman, transforming it from inert matter into a vitalized and palpitating condenser of beneficial influences.
An amulet has the function of concentrating and fixing all the positive astral energies, placing the man who possesses it at the focal point of these forces, enhancing his vitality and providing him with a better condition after death.
It is unthinkable to be able to give your talisman to another person since it would lose all power and could also be used to harm the first legitimate owner. An amulet can be given to others as it is only a generic concentrator of beneficial forces. The idea of the amulet has always been present in the beliefs of all peoples and all civilizations.
Also linked to mystical settings, it is part of all magical-religious traditions. For example, we see the Egyptian mummies covered with all kinds of amulets (gold and other metals, earthenware, stone, leather, precious stones) placed next to or on the body of the deceased to protect and preserve its immortality, after having protected him in life from both physical and spiritual disasters.