Talismans: Attracting a way through difficulties

Things haven’t been all that easy for us. We are years into a pandemic and well into the depths of winter. We are waking up to uncertainty and may feel afraid of that reality. This may leave us feeling fearful and stuck in our lives, unsure of the best way to move forward.

There are many approaches we can use to navigate these difficulties. We can go within to connect with our inner knowing through practices such as meditation. We can reach out to friends, counsellors and healers for additional support. We also have the option of reaching out to physical objects for help.

For instance, a culturally universal and age-old practice is the use of talismans. A talisman is a physical object that holds specific meaning and intention. They are considered to have magical powers and can attract desirable qualities into a person’s life, including love, peace and abundance.

Most talismans are for personal use. Think a necklace pendant, ring, or pocket-sized stone. However, talismans can also be found in bigger settings and spaces, including inside buildings or in architecture, to attract a group or community’s desire.

Talismans are man-made objects and can be made from a variety of materials, even paper. That being said, many believe it is important for talismans to be made from materials aligned with their intended meaning. The idea is that the material itself brings about the manifestation. As such, the talisman maker may choose to use specific plants, metals or gemstones, or create the talisman in a specific colour. Others believe that talismans can be made from any material and that it is the charging of meaning into the talisman that is more important.

In addition to what it is made from, there are many ways in which an owner can be empowered by using a talisman. When the owner believes in the talisman’s power, it can provide them the additional courage and commitment they need to move toward their goal. The physicality of the talisman also reminds the owner of their desire, increasing their focused attention on what they want to manifest. This focus of awareness can change the owner’s perspective and can activate their intentions through the subconscious mind. Where on the body one wears a talisman is also of significance. The act of wearing a talisman as a necklace pendant, for example, keeps the intention close to the heart. In addition, the talisman shows respect to the unseen world, through embodiment of meaning. The owner’s effort itself to honour and communicate with the unseen can attract a favourable response from the spiritual realm.

Some talisman makers even infuse astrological content into talismans. Similar to how we have astrological charts, based on the date and time we were born, an astrological talisman is thought to embody its own astrology. This kind of talisman is believed to come into the world with specific astrological energy that ripples out into the owner’s reality, attracting certain attributes. Those who make these kinds of talismans will create the object on a specific day and time to reflect the purest form of the desired astrological meaning.

Although very similar, an amulet, which is also a physical object of meaning, is commonly used to keep away unwanted qualities from the owner. Talismans may, like amulets, prevent unwanted energies from approaching the owner, but the talisman does so by attracting protective energy to the wearer, rather than deflecting the unwanted energy away like an amulet. Another way of describing the difference is that an amulet repels unwanted energy and a talisman impels or enhances the owner’s powers. Today, the word talisman is used more broadly and may include amulets.

The word talisman originated in the 1630s and refers to a magical engravement in the object that is made under certain observances. Its origins speak to consecration ceremony and rite of passage, inferring that talismans were used in transformative ceremonies. The Ancient Greek root tilsam, for example, means “initiate into the mysteries.”

Given that talismans have magical and mystical origins, many believe that it is important not to take the creation and wearing of talismans lightly. Out of respect for their potential power, there are many resources one can read to learn more about talismans before advancing.

Interestingly, talisman also has Greek roots in teleos, meaning the end, or fulfillment and completion, and kwel from Indo-European origins, meaning to revolve, move around and dwell. Ancient language origins of kwel, such as Sanskrit and Norse, describe the word’s meaning as cycle of events, wheel, road or way through.

Based on these ancient origins, it appears that, in addition to attracting and nurturing our desired experience of the world, talismans may also help us find our way through difficulties. The talisman reminds us that events are cyclical and the magic of life remains available to us, no matter where in the mix we may find ourselves.

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