Saturday, May 7, 2011

Talismans – Understanding These Powerful Tools for Healing, Protection, Spiritual Growth

Talismans – and the related Amulet – have likely been utilized by humans as helpful tools of protection, healing, and spiritual growth since our earliest hunting and gathering days. Perhaps beginning with wearing or carrying an animal claw or a hawk feather, these items were  believed to assist in connecting humans with the power of sacred Spirit forces. References to talismans and amulets have been found in prehistoric graves and dwellings, as well of course in indigenous cultures around the globe. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim practices all have descriptions of various kinds of talismans and amulets used in their religious activities.

There is much blending and confusion about talismans and amulets, especially now that many jewelry makers are calling their creations a “talisman” or “amulet” in efforts to attract the buying public searching for spirit connection and help in everyday objects. As a long-time spiritual healer, student of shamanism, and newer artist, I confess to being troubled by what appears to be efforts to apply terms that have strong sacred associations to objects intended primarily for decoration and admiration, by people creating them who have little or no spiritual intention in the work, and pieces (or crystals) accompanied by descriptions of flashy actions “performed” on the piece and big words that obscure – rather than help define and support – the purpose of the created object.

When I began crafting my talismans as tools for meditation and healing, I researched many sources to come up with a definition and description of my work that resonated with my intentions to create pieces for spiritual needs. I crafted the definition shown below, which is posted on the main information page of my Etsy & Artfire shops:

  • TALISMAN - an object consecrated with psychic force and crafted to be a tool to serve its owner in healing and/or protection. Talismans are tools – not jewelry. One’s mind responds to a Talisman – used for focus, meditation, amplifying personal power, healing - in a different way than one does to pretty jewelry worn for ornamentation and adornment. A Talisman is only made from natural elements – gold, silver, copper, wood, gemstones. The setting is as simple as possible.

  • AMULET – a natural object left in its virgin state [can be worn as charm, carried, or kept covered or protected until owner wishes to use it]

A customer recently wrote to me describing her delight in a specific piece, and also wondering about using her new talisman within the context of her Christian beliefs:

Still learning how, as a Christian, to add these to my life without using them as "idols"--but they are truly a physical comfort at times.”
In responding, I drew on the use of art, symbols and gemstones in many religious practices:

Art and symbols help us with the characteristics, messages and practices of what the symbol stands for, this is a human practice since we first began our living on Earth in this form. A talisman like you received is the same as a painting on a wall - the ancient cave paintings, or modern pictures of Jesus - all help remind the viewer of spiritual higher power and messages.

Pelican Totem-Abundance Serenity, Group Harmony
The talisman is not an idol in any way - the piece [you purchased] helps you with meditation, healing, to focus your intentions and affirmations, and to assist in work with your spiritual development. The particular talisman helps you remember what Pelican symbolizes, and the message(s) and energy that Pelican carries. There is absolutely nothing harmful or idolatic (new word) about that. Christians too have ever so many symbols in your religion - the cross, doves, the Trinity, Eve's apple and snake, the physical Bible … So don't worry - you are not worshipping the talisman or the crystal, you are using them in practices for your personal and spiritual growth. That is a universal religious practice. It is a "tool" - enjoy and appreciate the help that it brings!

Many effective and powerful tools are available all over the world to help the spiritual seeker. Everything from a simple found rock that appeals to you found on a walk, a crystal, or a detailed painting can help you raise your vibration and assist in your spiritual journey. Just be aware that just because an item is described as a “totem”, “talisman”, or other spiritual item does not mean that it automatically will fill the intended purpose, carries spiritual power, or bring the answers or help that one seeks. Research the seller/artisan’s background, experience, and credentials.

And remember that any piece ultimately does not bring a magic answer – your own spiritual practice, accompanied by meditation, affirmations, and visualizing your intentions and goals – is the core of change, growth, and healing.