Many people use the words charm, amulet, and talisman interchangeably. However, these three types of portable magick are not the same. Each has its own, distinct purpose and application. The components that make up these spells will also be different. Both amulets and talismans can make use of written statements, physical objects, spoken words, actions, natural materials, and various symbolic associations.
Since prehistoric times, human beings have respected the power of amulets and talismans. Archaeologists have discovered these physical charms among the remains of ancient cultures around the world. Stone Age people carved axe-shaped talismans as symbols of power. The ancient Egyptians wore head ornaments shaped like serpents to signify wisdom and energy. Solomon's Seal, commonly viewed as the Jewish star, actually predates the Jewish religion and was worn as a talisman in numerous cultures. The Christian cross, the pentagram, the Sanskrit letter for OM (or AUM), the Egyptian ankh, and eye amulets are all familiar examples of early talismans and amulets.
The word amulet comes from Latin amuletum, which means “a charm” — so it's no wonder people still confuse one with the other. The Greeks called amulets amylon, or “food.” This definition implies that people used food offerings to ask gods and goddesses for protection. They may have even eaten or carried a small bit of that food as an amuletic token.
The Greeks drank peony tea and carried a leaf with Athena's name written on it to safeguard themselves from hexes. The Japanese carried double walnuts to fend off the evil eye. The Romans affixed garlic to doorways to keep away harmful entities.
An amulet's main purpose is protection. It wards off danger and guards the owner from all manner of harm: illness, assault, accident or injury, theft, natural disasters, evil intent, or black magick. Until something external creates a need for their energy, amulets remain passive. Consequently, an amulet's power might remain latent — but still present — for a very long time.
Amulets may be fashioned from all sorts of materials: stone, metal, animal parts, or bundled plant matter. Gemstone amulets are perennial favorites — our ancestors prized them, just as people still do today.
The ancient magi gave precise instructions on how to make amulets. The base components had to be organized and measured precisely, and any carvings had to be done in an exact order. Say, for example, a witch wanted to create a health amulet for a sickly person. Copper would be a good base material. An emblem for recovery would be applied to the copper base first, because that was the primary objective. Afterward, a symbol for ongoing protection from sickness would be added.
It is customary for the magician to recite verbal spells over the amulet during its creation. In most cases, amulets should be created during the waning moon. You could also consider making an amulet when the sun and/or moon is in Capricorn, or when Saturn is in an auspicious place.
Amulets were sometimes chosen for their shape or where they were found. Europeans often carried a stone with a hole through it to ward off malicious faeries (who would be trapped in the hole). A crystal found adjacent to a sacred well known for its healthful qualities would be carried to protect the bearer's well-being.
Nearly every plant has been used at one time or another. Some botanical amulets contain herbs valued for their healing or cleansing properties; others rely on the Law of Similars (see Chapter 14). In amulets made of stone and metal, the more precious the base material, the stronger the amulet. When animal parts are involved, the animal is chosen for qualities that can aid the bearer of the amulet. For example, an amulet formed of lion skin would give the person wearing it courage in battle.
Frequently amulets are worn by the person who seeks protection, but they don't always have to be carried. They can be placed with valued items, hung in windows, planted in gardens, or put anywhere else their protective and safeguarding energy is desired. You can place a travel amulet in your car's glove compartment or in a suitcase. Attach one to your pet's collar to keep him safe. Amulets to protect the home are often hung on, above, or just inside the front door. Eye amulets, which symbolize the eye of God watching and guarding a person or premises, are often displayed this way.