An inanimate object which is supposed to possess a supernatural capacity of conferring benefits or powers, in contradistinction to the amulet, the purpose of which is to ward off evil. Talismans were common in ancient Egypt and Babylon, and have been popular in magical communities to the present. Originally, talismans were usually a disc of metal or stone engraved with astrological or magical figures. In recent centuries, among practitioners of ceremonial magic, talismans inscribed in parchment have been favored.
Traditionally, three varieties of talisman have been recognized: 1. The astronomical, having the characters of the heavenly signs or constellations; 2. the magical, with extraordinary figures, occult words, or the names of angels; and 3. the mixed, engraved with celestial signs and barbarous words. To this list Thomas D. Fosbrook, in his Encyclopedia of Antiquities (1825), added two others: 4. The sigilla planetarum, composed of Hebrew numeral letters, used by astrologers and fortune-tellers and 5. one with Hebrew names and characters.
As an example of the most powerful of the latter may be the sacred name of Jehovah. The famous tephillin or phylacteries, used in Jewish devotion, which were bound on the head, the arm, and the hand, may be regarded as talismans. They were the subject of many traditional ceremonies. There is also the mezazoth or schedules for doorposts; another article of this description mentioned in the following quotation from the Talmud: "Whoever had the tephillin bound to his head and arm, and the tsitsith thrown over his garments, and the mezuza fixed on his door-post, is protected from sin."
On astrological talismans the figure of Mercury, engraved upon silver, which is the corresponding metal, and according to the prescribed rites, gave success in merchandise; that of Mars gave victory to the soldier; that of Venus, beauty, and so of the rest. All such talismans were seen as more powerful during the hour of their planet's ascendency.
Writing of talismans in his book The Occult Sciences (1891), A. E. Waite stated:
"1. The Talisman of the Sun must be composed of a pure and fine gold, fashioned into a circular plate, and well polished on either side. A serpentine circle, enclosed by a pentagram must be engraved on the obverse side with a diamond-pointed graving tool. The reverse must bear a human head in the centre of the six-pointed star of Solomon, which shall itself be surrounded with the name of the solar intelligence Pi-Rhé, written in the characters of the Magi. This talisman is supposed to insure to its bearer the goodwill of influential persons. It is a preservative against death by heart disease, syncope, aneurism, and epidemic complaints. It must be composed on a Sunday during the passage of the moon through the first ten degrees of Leo, and when that luminary is in a favourable aspect with Saturn and the Sun. The consecration consists in the exposure of the talisman to the smoke of a perfume composed of cinnamon, incense, saffron, and red sandal, burnt with laurel-wood, and twigs of desiccated heliotrope, in a new chafing-dish, which must be ground into powder and buried in an isolated spot, after the operation is finished. The talisman must be afterwards encased in a satchel of bright yellow silk, which must be fastened on the breast by an interlaced ribbon of the same material, tied in the form of a cross. In all cases the ceremony should be preceded by the conjuration of the Four, to which the reader has already been referred. The form of consecration, accompanied by sprinkling with holy water, may be rendered in the following manner:—
"In the name of Elohim, and by the spirit of the living waters, be thou unto me as a sign of light and a seal of will.
"Presenting it to the smoke of the perfumes:—By the brazen serpent before which fell the serpents of fire, be thou unto me as a sign of light and a seal of will.
"Breathing seven times upon the talisman:—By the firmament and the spirit of the voice, be thou unto me as a sign of light and a seal of will.
"Lastly, when placing some grains of purified earth or salt upon the pentacle:—In the name of the salt of the earth and by virtue of the life eternal, be thou unto me as a sign of light and a seal of will.
"2. The Talisman of the Moon should be composed of a circular and well-polished plate of the purest silver, being of the dimensions of an ordinary medal. The image of a crescent, enclosed in a pentagram, should be graven on the obverse side. On the reverse side, a chalice must be encircled by the duadic seal of Solomon, encompassed by the letters of the lunar genius Pi-Job. This talisman is considered a protection to travellers, and to sojourners in strange lands. It preserves from death by drowning, by epilepsy, by dropsy, by apoplexy, and madness. The danger of a violent end which is predicted by Saturnian aspects in horoscopes of nativity, may be removed by its means. It should be composed on a Monday, when the moon is passing through the first ten degrees of Capricornus or Virgo, and is also well aspected with Saturn. Its consecration consists in exposure to a perfume composed of white sandal, camphor, aloes, amber, and pulverized seed of cucumber, burnt with desiccated stalks of mugwort, moonwort, and ranunculus, in a new earthen chafing-dish, which must be reduced, after the operation, into powder, and buried in a deserted spot. The talisman must be sewn up in a satchel of white silk, and fixed on the breast by a ribbon of the same colour, interlaced and tied in the form of a cross.
"3. The Talisman of Mars must be composed of a well-polished circular plate of the finest iron, and of the dimensions of an ordinary medal. The symbol of a sword in the centre of a pentagram must be engraved on the obverse side. A lion's head surrounded by a six-pointed star must appear on the reverse face, with the letters of the name Erotosi, the planetary genius of Mars, above the outer angles. This talisman passes as a preservative against all combinations of enemies. It averts the chance of death in brawls and battles, in epidemics and fevers, and by corroding ulcers. It also neutralizes the peril of a violent end as a punishment for crime when it is foretold in the horo-scope of the nativity.
"This talisman must be composed on a Tuesday, during the passage of the moon through the ten first degrees of Aries or Sagittarius, and when, moreover, it is favourably aspected with Saturn and Mars. The consecration consists in its exposure to the smoke of a perfume composed of dried absinth and rue, burnt in an earthen vessel which has never been previously used, and which must be broken into powder, and buried in a secluded place, when the operation is completed. Finally, the talisman must be sewn up in a satchel of red silk, and fastened on the breast with ribbons of the same material folded and knotted in the form of a cross.
"4. The Talisman of Mercury must be formed of a circular plate of fixed quicksilver, or according to another account of an amalgam of silver, mercury, and pewter, of the dimensions of an ordinary medal, well-polished on both sides. A winged caduceus, having two serpents twining about it, must be engraved in the centre of a pentagram on the obverse side. The other must bear a dog's head within the star of Solomon, the latter being surrounded with the name of the planetary genius, Pi-Hermes, written in the alphabet of the Magi. This talisman must be composed on a Wednesday, when the moon is passing through the ten first degrees of Gemini or Scorpio, and is well aspected with Saturn and Mercury. The consecration consists in its exposure to the smoke of a perfume composed of benzoin, macis, and storax, burnt with the dried stalks of the lily, the narcissus, fumitory, and marjolane, placed in a clay chafing-dish which has never been devoted to any other purpose, and which must, after the completion of the task, be reduced to powder and buried in an undisturbed place. The Talisman of Mercury is judged to be a defence in all species of commerce and business industry. Buried under the ground in a house of commerce, it will draw customers and prosperity. It preserves all who wear it from epilepsy and madness. It averts death by murder and poison; it is a safeguard against the schemes of treason; and it procures prophetic dreams when it is worn on the head during sleep. It is fastened on the breast by a ribbon of purple silk folded and tied in the form of a cross, and the talisman is itself enclosed in a satchel of the same material.
"5. The Talisman of Jupiter must be formed of a circular plate of the purest English pewter, having the dimensions of an ordinary medal, and being highly polished on either side. The image of a four-pointed crown in the centre of a pentagram must be engraved on the obverse side. On the other must be the head of an eagle in the centre of the six-pointed star of Solomon, which must be surrounded by the name of the planetary genius Pi-Zéous, written in the arcane alphabet.
"This talisman must be composed on a Thursday, during the passage of the moon through the first ten degrees of Libra, and when it is also in a favourable aspect with Saturn and Jupiter. The consecration consists in its exposure to the smoke of a perfume composed of incense, ambergris, balm, grain of Paradise, saffron, and macis, which is the second coat of the nutmeg. These must be burnt with wood of the oak, poplar, fig tree, and pomegranate, and placed in a new earthen dish, which must be ground into powder, and buried in a quiet spot, at the end of the ceremony. The talisman must be wrapped in a satchel of sky-blue silk, suspended on the breast by a ribbon of the same material, folded and fastened in the form of a cross.
"The Talisman of Jupiter is held to attract to the wearer the benevolence and sympathy of everyone. It averts anxieties, favours honourable enterprises, and augments well-being in proportion to social condition. It is a protection against unforeseen accidents, and the perils of a violent death when it is threatened by Saturn in the horoscope of nativity. It also preserves from death by affections of the liver, by inflammation of the lungs, and by that cruel affection of the spinal marrow, which is termed tabes dorsalis in medicine.
"6. The Talisman of Venus must be formed of a circular plate of purified and well-polished copper. It must be of the ordinary dimensions of a medal, perfectly polished on both its sides. It must bear on the obverse face the letter G inscribed in the alphabet of the Magi, and enclosed in a pentagram. A dove must be engraved on the reverse, in the centre of the six-pointed star, which must be surrounded by the letters which compose the name of the planetary Genius Suroth. This talisman must be composed on a Friday, during the passage of the moon through the first ten degrees of Taurus or Virgo, and when that luminary is well aspected with Saturn and Venus. Its consecration consists in its exposure to the smoke of a perfume composed of violets and roses, burnt with olive wood in a new earthen chafing-dish, which must be ground into powder at the end of the operation and buried in a solitary spot. The talisman must, finally, be sewn up in a satchel of green or rose-coloured silk, which must be fastened on the breast by a band of the same material, folded and tied in the form of a cross.
"The Talisman of Venus is accredited with extraordinary power in cementing the bonds of love and harmony between husbands and wives. It averts from those who wear it the spite and machinations of hatred. It preserves women from the terrible and fatal diseases which are known as cancer. It averts from both men and women all danger of death, to which they may be accidentally or purposely exposed. It counterbalances the unfortunate presages which may appear in the horoscope of the nativity. Its last and most singular quality is its power to change the animosity of an enemy into a love and devotion which will be proof against every temptation, and it rests on the sole condition that such a person should be persuaded to partake of a liquid in which the talisman has been dipped.
"7. The Talisman of Saturn must be composed of a circular plate of refined and purified lead, being of the dimensions of an ordinary medal, elaborately polished. On the obverse side must be engraved with the diamond-pointed tool which is requisite in all these talismanic operations, the image of a sickle enclosed in a pentagram. The reverse side must bear a bull's head, enclosed in the star of Solomon, and surrounded by the mysterious letters which compose, in the alphabet of the Magi, the name of the planetary Genius Tempha. The person who is intended to wear this talisman must engrave it himself, without witnesses, and without taking any one into his confidence.
"This talisman must be composed on a Saturday when the moon is passing through the first ten degrees of Taurus or Capricorn, and is favourably aspected with Saturn. It must be consecrated by exposure to the smoke of a perfume composed of alum, assa-foetida, cammonée, and sulphur, which must be burnt with cypress, the wood of the ash tree, and sprays of black hellebore, in a new earthen chafing-dish, which must be reduced into powder at the end of the performance, and buried in a deserted place. The talisman must, finally, be sewn up in a satchel of black silk and fastened on the breast with a ribbon of the same material, folded and tied in the form of a cross. The Talisman of Saturn was affirmed to be a safeguard against death by apoplexy and cancer, decay in the bones, consumption, dropsy, paralysis, and decline; it was also a preservative against the possibility of being entombed in a trance, against the danger of violent death by secret crime, poison, or ambush. If the head of the army in war-time were to bury the Talisman of Saturn in a place which it was feared might fall into the hands of the enemy, the limit assigned by the presence of the talisman could not be overstepped by the opposing host, which would speedily withdraw in discouragement, or in the face of a determined assault."
Beard, Charles R. Lucks and Talismans: A Chapter of Popular Superstition. London: Sampson, Low, 1934. Reprint, New York: Blom, 1972.
Fosbrook, Thomas D. Encyclopedia of Antiquities. 2 vols. N.p., 1825, 1840.
Lamb, Geoffrey. Discovering Magic Charms and Talismans. UK: Shire Publications, 1974.
Lippman, Deborah, and Paul Colin. Amulets, Charms and Talismans: What They Mean and How to Use Them. New York: M. Evans, 1974.
Lockhart, J. G. Curses, Lucks and Talismans. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1938. Reprint, Detroit: Singing Tree Press, 1971.
Pavitt, W. T., and Kate Pavitt. The Book of Talismans, Amulets, and Zodiacal Gems. London: Rider, 1914. Reprint, Detroit:
Tower Books, 1971. Reprint, North Hollywood, Calif.: Wilshire Publishing, 1972.
Regardie, Israel. How to Make and Use Talismans. London: Aquarian Press; New York: Samuel Weiser, 1972.
Sepharial [W. G. Old]. The Book of Charms and Talismans.
London: W. Foulsham, 1923. Reprint, New York: Arco, 1971.
Waite, A. E. The Occult Science. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1891.
tal·is·man / ˈtalismən; -iz-/ • n. (pl. -mans) an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck.DERIVATIVES: tal·is·man·ic / ˌtalizˈmanik/ adj.
Talisman ★½ 1998 (R)
Theriel, the Black Angel, has been fused to an ancient Talisman for centuries. Summoned from his rest, he must offer seven human sacrifices to complete an evil ritual that will open the gates of hell and usher in the end of the world. Two teenagers are chosen to help Theriel but they've got other things in mind. Director DeCoteau used the pseud “Victoria Sloan” for this venture. 90m/C VHS . Walter Jones, Jason Adelman, Billy Parish, Ilinca Goia; D: David DeCoteau; W: Benjamin Carr. VIDEO