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Talismans are the most complex of the sacred symbols. The word talisman itself, at least in more recent times, is thought to originate from the Arabic word, Tilasm, which means completion of a religious rite, and this statement in itself should give some indication of the individual and specific nature of what a talisman signifies. Yet today we would also more commonly recognise the relevance of this object if we used the word ‘synchronicity’ to define it. This is because numerous factors are involved when it comes to the talisman not least in that the benefits they are required to draw upon is specific, but also that there has to be some compatibility, either through energies or spirits, which necessitate the talisman being produced at a spiritually significant time or even an astrologically significant period.
So too is it important, and possibly more so historically, that the talisman is made from a relevant material. For example those that are seeking to draw upon physical power or energy might well consider the bones of creatures such as the tiger or eagle to be suitably appropriate as a representation of animals which are synonymous of these strengths in nature. Although now we exist in a world, at least in the west, where these attributes might be thought to hold less importance, historically, in an era when a warrior might expect as the norm to engage in hand to hand combat, such materials were considered to be highly desirable, if not essential. In such a situation we can see how a talisman created specifically to increase physical power or even courage, might be better created from the bone of a tiger rather than that of a rabbit, in the effort to maximize the physical and spiritual strengths of the man who would use it. Lives were considered to be dependent on such things. We can see too how the time of its creation would be of extreme importance in drawing energy and power from not only the planets and stars but also from periods of possible religious significance.
Image – Sapu Jadad Talisman – Astral Magick
There are, without doubt, complexities associated with talismans, and although now we might often use the words amulet, charm and talisman interchangeably, clearly there are distinctions which are often not immediately understood by those in contemporary society. However a quick method of identifying talismans, at least visually, is that they are, more often than not, inscribed with characters, words, or images, which are considered to further strengthen its energy and power in addition to synchronizing associations with spiritual alignments. Here again, the materials used would become important not only because of the properties they are considered to hold but also in respect of the practicalities relating to inscribing the piece. We often find that metals or bones are more easily inscribed than other materials and so were popular choices when it came to producing the finished article.
Gemstones too can be easily inscribed and these also have the additional benefit of being relevant astrologically. Although today astronomy and astrology are considered distinct in the past they were thought of as one science. Historically then we have a connection between the planets, the Gods, and specific stones which were considered to represent the Gods and their particular strengths. The Greeks are well recognised for their astrological associations, however the connection between the properties of gemstones and gods did not end with them. Nordic deities too have their own specific beliefs. For example, in Nordic legend we have Hermod and Honir who are represented by the bloodstone which is thought, at least in part, to project self-confidence. In Roman mythology the bloodstone is significant because the god Mars, the God of War, who was named after the red planet, was particularly relevant to warriors or soldiers and so, very frequently, this was the gemstone of choice from which to craft a talisman by men who were going into battle.
Today we might choose a gemstone not specifically to enhance a particular trait, but simply because it is our birthstone and thus associated with planetary alignments. Others might choose a specific gemstone simply because they feel a positive synchronicity with it. Holding a stone and feeling its energies and flow might well indicate to an individual which is the right stone for them when it comes to selecting a talisman.
When it comes to design, perhaps today one of the most easily recognised talismans is the Star or Shield of David. However the associations which made it synonymous with the Jewish religion only date from the 17th century and the significance of the symbol far pre-dates its use by the Jewish community.
Star of David – Image credited to ZScout370
Today we often see the Star of David, otherwise referred to as the 6 pointed star or hexagram, associated with the broad term occultism, though when we examine its meaning we can see that its history has strong connections with astrology. The star is said to represent the 7 old planets which were considered to be Moon, Mercury Mars, Venus, Sun, Jupiter and Saturn with all six points and the centre image corresponding. This alignment has also been hypothesized by some to be the one existing at the time of David’s birth which is how the Jewish religion came to adopt the symbol. Yet this design is also visible throughout the ancient world from its inclusion in historic Asian temples through to inscriptions on fragile papyri.
The points of the hexagram can also have meanings distinct from those of the astrological interpretations. For example today the upper triangle section represents male energy, fire and the sky, whereas the lower triangle represents female energy, water and earth, and so again we see a synchronicity or balance. There are however many other interpretations stretching throughout ancient history and affecting all cultures and, if nothing else, this should indicate how much importance this relatively simple design has had for humans as a source of power and spirituality for as long as records exist.
Talismans then can clearly be seen to provide specific benefits tied to an individual and those benefits are derived from many sources and confined within one object. Although in many cases owners may select or even craft their own talisman, often they are designed by specialists who use appropriate and significant materials, astrological periods and inscriptions to enhance the powers to be conferred upon the owner.