Talisman
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 wellpolished
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 re-
‘‘Tales of Terror’’ Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
1526
verse 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 horoscope
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, PiHermes,
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 chafingdish
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 sixpointed
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.’’
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Talisman
1527
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