talisman An object that possesses magical or supernatural powers and transmits the powers to the owner. Talismans are different from Amulets, which are objects that passively protect wearers from evil and harm. Talismans usually perform a single function and enable powerful transformations. The magic wand of a SORCERER or Fairy, King Arthur’s sword EXCALIBUR, seven-league boots, and HERMES’s helmet of INVISIBILITY are all talismans. Talismans draw to their owners luck, success, wealth, love, magical abilities, and cures for illnesses. Talisman for repelling attacks by evildoers, in the grimoire The Key of Solomon, 18th century. (Author’s collection) Ts s s s Any object can become a talisman. It may derive its powers from nature, such as a holed stone, or may be imbued with power by acts of Angels, spirits, or the gods. Magical handbooks known as Grimoires give instructions for making talismans at auspicious astrological times. Magical Tools are engraved with Symbols and Sigils. Talismans for a specific purpose can be created and drawn or engraved on metal or paper. They are consecrated in Ritual (see CONSECRATION). Many Western talismans are based upon the principle of CORRESPONDENCES found in the Kabbalah, which holds that everything in creation is connected. For example, the PLANETS all have correspondences to aspects of daily life. Thus a talisman inscribed with the symbol of a planet can be empowered to influence that sphere of life. Each planet has its own talisman, a disk engraved with Numbers and symbols that helps the magician obtain the magic virtue of the planet. According to a 19th-century formula, the talisman of the Moon bears on one side a magic square, a table of numbers arranged in a specific order. On the reverse side are the seals and signs of the Moon and its lunar spirits and INTELLIGENCES. If the talisman is engraved on SILVER during the Moon’s fortunate aspects—waxing or full—it will make the bearer happy, cheerful, and pleasant and will bring security, esteem, health, wealth, and freedom from ill will and enmity. If engraved on lead during the waning or dark phases, the talisman will make the bearer unfortunate and unable to work. If it is buried, the spot itself will become unfortunate, and anyone who walks over it will become unlucky. Alchemists followed elaborate rituals to make talismans that would facilitate their experiments. They waited for auspicious astrological signs and then recited Incantations to summon spirits who would imbue the talismans with power. The most sought-after talisman was the elusive Philosopher’s Stone, the agent of transmutation of base metals into GOLD and silver and of mundane consciousness into enlightened consciousness. Paracelsus, who held that illness is caused and cured by spiritual means, prescribed medical talismans for various ailments. He favoured inscribed metallic talismans that were similar to saint medallions. They were cast from gold, silver, IRON, copper, and alloys under certain astrological conditions. Inscriptions were taken from sacred sources and magical grimoires; some were made to the specific and unique requirements of a patient. Paracelsus also kept ready-made talismans on hand as general prescriptions. The talismans were to be worn over the heart, which would attract stellar energies into the energy field of the patient. Making a Talisman Grimoires offer detailed steps and Invocations for making talismans. In general, a ritual incorporates the following elements: 1. Decide the purpose of the talisman 2. Identify appropriate planetary influences to determine best time for ritual 3. Undertake self-purification 4. Don ritual garments, and gather appropriate magical tools 5. Create a Magic CIRCLE to work within 6. Invoke appropriate divine, angelic, and spirit help 7. Inscribe a circle on a piece of metal, parchment, or paper 8. Inscribe symbols and sigils associated with the appropriate planet, as well as any sacred names, words, or charms, on one or both sides of the talisman 9. Focus intent, WILL, and emotional energy during inscription 10. Purify talisman by passing metal through fire (such as a CANDLE flame) or paper through smoke of incense 11. Charge talisman with magical power by consecrating it in a ritual on the appropriate day of the planet 12. Store or wear talisman in protective covering Talismans made for specific short-term objectives are ideally done on paper so that they can be ritually destroyed by fire when the objective is accomplished. More permanent talismans—usually a tool such as for Divination— can be inscribed on metal plates or disks. See also Angel Magic; Magic; RING.


  • Bardon, Franz. The Practice of Magical Evocation. Salt Lake City: Merkur Publishing, 2001.
  • Farrell, Nick. Making Talismans: Living Entities of Power. St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 2001.
  • Hall, Manly P. Paracelsus: His Mystical and Medical Philosophy. Los Angeles: The Philosophic Research Society, 1964.
  • Kraig, Donald Michael. Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Arts. 2d ed. St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 2004.


The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.