Friday, April 13, 2012

More on Talismans

In the comments on yesterday's post, Elle said this subject:

"gives the perfect opportunity to discuss what the difference is between an astrological talisman and a planetary talisman is. Is there actually a distinct difference?"
As I was writing the post, a similar thought occurred to me. 

Before we jump right into the discussion, let's talk about talismans in general. I find the best way to understand the role of a talisman is to think of it as the body of the spirit it represents. It's like a Golem, but it doesn't (necessarily) move, or terrorize Prague. You're creating a physical form in your material reality through which the spirits, intelligences, or forces you're working with can manifest.

Next let's talk about astrological influences. We look at the positions of the stars and planets relative to our birth time and location to get an insight into the forces and fates that will influence our experiences throughout our lives. The natal chart in the hands of a trained astrologer can be a scary thing, as a complete stranger sits there telling you what kinds of things have happened to you for the last thirty years, and what to expect going forward.

When we create talismans based on astrological influences, we're looking for the best possible "natal chart" for our created entity, one that harmonizes with our desired intent. If you think of a talisman as a living entity, it's easier to understand. We're picking out its Natal Chart, and we want it to be powerful and successful in specific areas.

Turning to planetary vs. astrological talismans, I hesitate to make a distinction between the two. If you're making a general "Jupiter Talisman" to capture and radiate the forces of Jupiter based on his astrological position in the sky, it's an astrological talisman. You're aiming to capture the forces of the moment. The stuff you put together becomes a body, and the consecration ensouls it, the same way God ensouled Adam with his breath. That entity will continue to work on your behalf as long as it has a body.

However, if you're making a Tzadkiel Talisman, or a Jove talisman, or a Jupiter-the-Roman-God talisman, it's not exactly the same thing. These are spirit talismans, primarily. There's an active, pre-existing spirit that will be working through this particular body. Jupiter-the-God is an intelligent, self-aware, proactive being who has access to a wide range of spirits and forces that he can direct on your behalf (or against you if you piss him off). A talisman of Jupiter-the-God is not simply a snapshot of the forces of the planet at the time it was made.

But you have to remember that everything manifest in the material world is still influenced by the astrological factors at the time it was created. If your natal chart leaves you with a predisposition to be lazy, you can still work hard, you just have to overcome that tendency. Likewise, a spirit talisman created at an inauspicious time creates a certain inertia that will have to be overcome every time it is used to manifest the forces of the Spirit it represents.

This is why Agrippa says you can't ignore the astrological conditions of any magical activity. Again, I like the weather analogy. Suppose you want to have a snowball fight. You want to do it right now, because it's an awesome idea, right? But you're living in Texas, and it's the middle of July. There's no snow. You REALLY want that snowball fight, so you get some water, freeze it, shave it, blow the snow into the protected air conditioned closed environment, and invite your friends in, and you have the snow ball fight for as long as possible.

It's not the same as having a snow ball fight in January in Canada, but it's still a snowball fight.

So yeah, astrological influences can be overcome if you try hard enough. There are two ways to empower a talisman, as Christopher Warnock said in a comment on a post of mine a while back, you can do it when the astrological timing is right, or you can consecrate the fuck out of it. Most of my spirit talismans are made during the appropriate planetary hour of the appropriate planetary day, preferably at dawn when the Sun's rays can be used to boost the forces at hand. These spirit talismans rely primarily on the Spirit's power and innovation to overcome any negative astrological influences, and it works well enough for most of my Hermetic Work.

But it's like giving the spirit a crippled body to work through if you don't take into account the astrological forces. Yes, people in wheelchairs can overcome handicaps to achieve great things, but why put them in that position in the first place?


  1. I have nothing of value to add, but I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your post.

  2. I am going to disagree with one point, but mainly for philosophical reasons. To the Ancient Greeks and possible for a while afterwards, there was no difference between the planet Zeus and the god Zeus. Watching the movements of Zeus through the sky gave you an idea of the disposition of the God Zeus as they were one and the same. So you could create a planetary talisman of Zeus and use it to communicate with the god Zeus as well. Obviously by the middle ages the viewpoint had changed with the establishment of Christianity and it's philosophical underpinnings about divinity and such.

  3. Really, Bro. C? I didn't know that. Can you guide me to some sources to learn more about the Ancient Greek views of the gods and planets?

  4. Talismans as "body of the spirit you are trying to bring into your life" is an interesting way of looking at things. This perspective would certainly change the way one approaches making talismans in the first place, and could easily explain why mine tend to be so hit-and-miss.

    Thank you very much for sharing.

    To Brother Christopher: I, too, would be very interested in Classical sources of Greek astrology that you could point us toward.

  5. Thank you for the post. For those of us who are new to this area of work, how does one: "consecrate the fuck out of it" as opposed to consecrating a talisman?

    What gives one way more consecration than another?

    Thank you,

  6. Thanks for making this post!

    I wonder, also, how many people are aware of their own natal afflictions. And how important this really is when working with talismans.

    I think the short answer might be "Just stick with Planetary talismans of the spirits if you have a major affliction. Cloth bags are easier to decommission. Melting silver/metal talismans can be a pain in the ass (if you're like me and think that is a huge arse-pain)."

    I would try my hand at a Jupiter talisman, the astrological silver/copper variety that Chris Warnock sells, but then.... decommission would be a pain. It really would.

    And how often do people choose to work with a talisman of an afflicted planet and see unwanted results (while being unaware that the problem might be their own natal affliction of the planet)?

    And while, say, Jupiter might be the obvious choice for someone who wants to increase their authority, weatlh, power (and everything else that most people want) associated with that planet/sphere, the neophyte might not even realize that issue.

    Maybe they read somewhere that Jupiter is the planet to work with, when Mercury might be better since it's not afflicted in their chart.

    Which is my case - I personally had much better results working with Mercury. And the Sun. My Sun is ruled by Mercury and my natal Mercury is in an air sign. The combo seemed right.

    Jupiter kind of had a weird effect. It felt like the forces of Jupiter were trying to manifest properly but were being obfuscated by a wall of dense smoke. My Jupiter has a major affliction.

    Perhaps those who have a minor affliction, such as those with a Jupiter retrograde but no other major stuff happening, can get away with trying a Jupiter talisman and maybe having it do something for them?

    I even did a short tarot query on whether or not I should have made a Jupiter Talisman one day and the 10 of Swords came up. So I left it alone. I don't know if it was an intuitive thing or just paranoia.

  7. Jerry,

    LOL, yeah, I know, right?

    "Consecrating the fuck" out of it consists of going through an elaborate ceremony with abstinence, ritual baths, consecrated robes, blessed incense that costs more than your car, specially prepared wands, a Golden-Dawn-length series of invocations before you even consecrate the circle, the conjuration of every spirit and its brother who might remotely be related to the desired result (assuming they get along), a long ass statement of intent, ecstatic meditation, and probably some form of ritual sacrifice and offering. It takes months of preparation and at least an hour to perform the rite.

    A regular consecration consists of lighting the candle, the stick incense from the local wiccan supplye shoppe, conjuring the spirit, creating the talisman, performing the consecration, and shutting down the rite. Takes about fifteen minutes, maybe a half-hour if you spend some time in contemplation with the spirit before releasing it.

  8. I cannot point to any classical sources to back up Bro. Chris. But, Otto in Dionysos: Myth and Cult (which is admittedly dated) points out that the idea that God is alive and moving was reflected in the psychological aspects of classical communities. When armies marched, Mars or Athena was active, etc. It would not be hard to extend these attributes to the presence of the planets in the sky, at all.

  9. Yeah, I can see the archetypes at work there, but it's still kind of a stretch to say the ancients believed the planets were the gods, and not just their indicators. There's a gap between a modern extrapolation and a conclusive statement about what the ancients believed.

    I'm open to the idea, I just want to see something more than a blog post comment about it. I've googled around but didn't see anything related.

  10. My mother tongue is not English, so my apologies if the lines below do not make sense:

    a) I browsed "Hermetic Magic" by Stephen Flowers, and I found the following sentence that seems to be half way between Bro C. and RO's point of view :

    Page 52, bottom of page :

    It is known that the 7 vowels of the Greek alphabeta were connected to the 7 then known planets and that the many vocalic incantations found in the Hermetic magical tradition were considered keys for invoking the subtle forces of the planets - or more particularly of the gods whith the planets manifested.

    Blame my poor English, but I feel that a *manifestation" tends to imply a more actual presence than just an *indicator*: if I understand correctly, and to borrow from Jason's TSS, the planet would be the manifestation on the third realm of what a god is on the first.

    b) Magical Papyrus of Abaris, still in "Hermetic Magic", p. 67:

    Beyond the Aetherial realm surrounding the Earth are seven circles, each one outside the last.
    The first of these is inhabited by the Moon, who is called the Goddess Selêné, whom the Romans call Luna.
    Then there is the realm of Hermês, or Thoth, whom the Romans call Mercury.
    UnQuote. Etc.etc.

    Funny isn't it ? Especially the part related to the Moon. So the situation is not a black and white one, and there may be some actual basis in Bro C.'s comment.


  11. I believe the planets are a manifestation of the same Idea represented by the God, the Archangel, the Intelligence, and the spirits of the planets. There's no argument there. Same core Idea, manifested materially and orbiting the heavens. That's why they're indicators.

    But in Agrippa, we have talismans you make entirely based on astrological influence, and other talismans you make based on the spirits of the planets. So by the time Hermetic magic was being practiced, there was a difference.

    Bro. C. is suggesting this is not in keeping with what the Ancient Greeks believed about the planets and the gods, and I'd like more information about why he thinks that.

    So please, if anyone else has some information that can be stretched to imply Bro. C's claims, awesome, but that's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for information about what the ancient greeks believed about the relationship between the planets and the gods, specifically.

  12. Check out this site R.O. From reading that it looks like you and Christopher are both right depending on which groups viewpoint you prefer.

  13. I like to work in both ways in one. I try my best to choose a very auspicious time, I conjure, and then consecrate and assemble the talisman under the auspice of the spirit, and then I re-consecrate and "feed" it here and there.

    But your points about compensating for afflicted planets and aspects are very definitely true.

    I'm not very happy, for instance, with Jupiter in my chart. It's retrograde in Aries. It requires considerably more effort for me than some others to get those forces manifesting in impressive ways. But they still work. Sometimes in strange and unexpected ways.

    Methinks at times my Jupiter magick would actually work better for someone else, like a client! Seems to help those in my sphere of influence, for sure. We'll have to see.

  14. I really appreciate the metaphor with the snowballs. I shall be upgrading my automated metaphorical response to those who intentionally ignore astrological influences.


Thanks for your comments, your opinions are valued, even if I disagree with them. Please feel free to criticize my ideas and arguments, question my observations, and push back if you disagree.