On with the Joys of Making Talismen!
Note: A friend suggested that the plural of talisman is talisma. Dictionary.com says it's Talismans. I prefer Talismen, because it makes me think of them as little "men," entities in their own right. However, I make fun of people who would rather be wrong because they like it better, and hypocrisy has been rearing its ugly head in my sphere too much recently. I'll leave the title for consistency's sake, but going forward, it's "Talismans."
2.3.1 - What's a Talisman?A Talisman is a symbol or seal inscribed or drawn on an item in order to attract the forces represented by that symbol. In Solomonic work, you can draw a seal of a spirit on paper surrounded by the appropriate names of God or what have you, and that is a talisman. Solomon's Ring is a talisman. My Spirit Pot is a talisman. Franz Bardon's Fluid Condensers are talismans. Your consecrated elemental weapons can be considered talismans. A talisman is any physical representation of a spiritual force or being that draws the powers of that force or being into the manifest realm.
My favorite talisman story is Joseph Smith's (thanks, Scott!). He carried a tin Jupiter Talisman drawn from Agrippa's planetary tables with him wherever he went. I think there's a record of it on his person when he was arrested on the way to Utah with his Mormons, and he was wearing it when he died.
2.3.2 - What is a Talisman good for?Talismans are used for a number of things. Agrippa has the planetary tables that can be inscribed on their appropriate metals, and these will bring healing, joy, love, martial prowess, or whatever planetary energy you're interested in drawing down at the moment. The astrological weather is important to consider when inscribing these things though. A planetary talisman is a long-term snapshot of the qualities of the rays of that planet when it was created. I have a Mars talisman I created while Mars was in Sagittarius and nicely aspected by other planets.
In the previous post, I talked a little about how we work with the planets using their Intelligences and Spirits. A key way to get these guys' attention is by calling them by name while holding their planetary talisman in your hand. The Talisman is already drawing the forces conducive to the spirit's manifestation, and when you conjure it by name or seal, it's easier for that spirit to appear. That's great for specific Workings, but there's a more sublime purpose behind creating talismans in your pursuit of the Great Work.
If you've read my book, A Modern Angelic Grimoire, you know about the Table of Practice. The Table of Practice I discuss in that book is based on the one from Trithemius' Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals. A magician conjuring a spirit places their skrying media (a crystal ball or bowl of water, for example) in the center of the Table. The Table has the seven planets' symbols and the names of the angels that rule them around the outside edge, the names of the four angelic elemental Kings, and a Triangle with symbols in the corners:
From a friend in Australia, I learned of a more elaborate Table of Practice described in the Ars Paulina. She created a beautiful Table of Practice, painting the seals of each planet on wood, then coating it with a few coats of polyurethane. It's incredible.
I had been making various talismans for specific Workings, a couple of lead talismans to bind some wandering spirits for my mother-in-law, and a Michael talisman for some other exorcism rituals, and it "occurred" to me to create a talisman for each of the planets that could be easily transported, a portable Table of Practice and seven specific talismans of each planet for specialized planetary work. I did so, and as I completed each of the talismans, the beams of that sphere would be focused directly into my own sphere. When I had finished the seventh talisman, I had a complete microcosm of the planetary spheres. Shortly after this, I received an epiphany, which will be discussed in more detail when we get to Section 3.0. For now, know that putting the talismans together in their appropriate places on your altar space creates a harmonizing and stabilizing effect in your sphere, and serves as a long-term ritual that continues to adjust and attune your sphere as you go on about your business.
The Table of Practice, by its very existence, eliminates the necessity of the pentagram and hexagram rituals of the Golden Dawn. It takes longer to make, but the investment of time and effort takes place early on, and the return on the investment is awesome. You end up with the permanent effects of the pentagram and hexagram rituals in your sacred space.
2.3.3 - Making the Talismans
When you make a talisman, you are interacting directly with the spirit that rules the forces you're "trapping" in the object. The result is a change in your own sphere in relation to the forces you're working with. You get a little wiser, a little more knowledgeable. At the same time, as you're engraving the metals, or smelting the alloys, or sanding the nearly-finished product, you receive guidance, instruction, and are led to insights about the nature of the entity or forces you're working with. It's a very contemplative and meditative exercise that requires long periods of trance-state brain activity. Making a talisman results in taking a step in the Great Work.
Making talismans is fun, too. I use a dremel tool, fiberglass resin, the metals of the planets (Lead, Tin, Iron, Gold, Copper, Mercury, and Silver), wood, and other appropriate materials. I've learned a bit about metallurgy, wood carving, embossing, and how not to use a propane torch in your kitchen. There are risks associated with heavy metals, like lead and mercury, and risks associated with natural things, like the toxicity of Yew, and proper precautions must be made. This should never keep you from making the talismans though.
Taking the proper precautions is part of the experience, and teaches you aspects of the planets the metals represent as well. Saturn inappropriately concentrated in your sphere will have the spiritual equivalent of the effect of inappropriate amounts of lead in your body. Integrating the Moon into your sphere has a similar effect to drinking silver nitrate, and combining the lunar energies with solar energies inappropriately will block the ability to absorb and process the solar powers, the same way silver nitrate blocks the ability of the body to process sunlight into Vitamin D when you go into the sunlight after taking too much silver.
The process I follow when I make a talisman consists of identifying an opportune time astrologically, when the planets associated with the talisman are well aspected. Then in the right hour, I'll conjure the appropriate spirit, and then perform the Work required to make the talisman. While I'm working, the spirit communes with me, and that interaction is wonderful. Then when it is finished, I've got a physical representation of the powers I want to work with. Then I can use it at the right time.
When I do a solar rite, I'll use my solar talisman. Right now, for instance, I've got a stand with a picture on it over the top of an orgone generator that's resting on my talisman of the Sun. The Talisman's forces are being focused up through the orgone generator, enhanced by the properties of the generator, and then "beamed" into the picture. It's an entire ritual performed without requiring the conjuration of any spirits, or the drawing of any circles, or the waving of any elemental weapons.
That's the beauty of talismans, but at the same time, you don't want to make a talisman for every magickal act. There are occasions where you don't need a permanent or even long-term representation of a spiritual force. It's tempting to make a talisman for every spirit you want to work with, but ultimately you'll end up with a few hundred talismans and nowhere to put them. As your ritual space becomes more and more cluttered, your life will get more and more cluttered. Use good judgment in determining what you really want the talisman for, and remember it's a long-term investment.
I've got this spirit pot with Bune in it, for instance, and I. will. for. the. rest. of. my. life.
Unless I decommission it.
2.3.4 - Decommissioning Talismans
When you're ready to move on to the next step, you can decommission the old talismans you've got hanging around. When creating them, you poured a lot of time and effort into identifying the seals and symbols required, gathering the elements, and putting them together. Some indications that it's time to decommission the talisman are that it has accomplished its desired outcome, or you've discovered the properties of the forces you worked into the talisman aren't in harmony with your intent. The spirit of the talisman might be directing you to decommission it, or you might be prompted by your HGA to eliminate this force from your sphere. When these things happen, you need to break the talisman down to its component parts and thank the spirit of the talisman for its work. For metal talismans you've engraved, melt the metals again to restore them to their "blank" state. Wood materials you can burn and scatter the ashes somewhere where they will be sent to the ends of the world, like a convenient river or a stiff breeze. Paper talismans should be burned as well.
Note: Mercury and lead cannot be dumped in nature. You've got to extract Mercury and store it properly in glass or iron. Lead you can melt under a filtered ventilation system, and reuse later.
Tin and copper and any other planetary metal can be pretty easily melted using a propane torch and some creative research on Google.
If you can't melt your talisman, like if it's iron that you've engraved, you can file down the images, and then sand them down until the iron is blank. Drop the lump in some salt for a while too, or anoint it with Holy water. Try to keep the materials you've put into your talismans, if possible. You'll have another use for them eventually.