A lot of people who are interested in the occult and esoteric domains use these terms without knowing their significations too well. There are even advertisements that promise the fulfillment of all wishes by the simple acquisition of a talisman or an amulet, but what are actually these and what is the difference ?
The amulet is far older than the talisman it seems, and comes from the term „amuletum” which means, according to Pliny the Elder, „object that protects man against trouble”. The amulet has various forms and is most of the times of natural provenience. Stones, plants, dry parts or bones of certain animals, feathers or certain birds or images of them have been used from the earliest times as amulets. It is considered they contain a hidden virtue in them, and keeping them close to the body transfers this virtue to man.
For example, if someone wanted to protect himself of scorpion bites in the past, he wore a dry scorpion, or seven scorpion tails, hoping that wearing these it will keep away the other scorpions.
In time, it began that only their images to be used. In the case of the amulet against scorpions, there are thousands of such artifacts in the Orient, some made of metal (iron, copper, gold, etc.), others made of semi-precious stones or ceramics. In time, the purposes of amulets went from natural to supernatural. If in the beginning man wore a talisman to protect him from attacks of certain animals, the same talismans could be used against demons.
Amulets with scorpions were typically warlike, and their sign became an important help for those who wanted to dismiss evil. Little by little, the scorpion started to be only drawn, not sculpted. Then, certain magical formulas started to be applied around it, to increase its power. Names of God, names of angels or verses from the Bible of the Koran have been used many times to amplify the magical force of the scorpion’s image. We take this example because it is most at hand, but with all amulets something similar happened sooner or later: they became talismans.
The talisman is very different from the amulet. This one is more specific and its fabrication is a true art, known and practiced by only a few. First of all, the talisman contains magical figures or words that function a certain way, and the model itself has no effect if it is not done with faith. The talisman must be created of a certain material (parchment, paper or metal), in a certain period of time astrologically determined.
Talismans are usually those diagrams that represent all sorts of geometrical figures, surrounded by letters and propositions. For example, the scorpion that banishes evil is a central point of interest in a kabbalistic talisman from the work of magic called „Key of Solomon”. In the interior of two concentric circles we see the drawing of a scorpion, and between the two circles the Hebrew magical formula which is nothing more than a verse from the Psalter: „Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.” (Ps. 91-13)
(Fifth pentacle of Mars from The Key of Solomon. Source)
(Kabbalistic talisman from Clavicula Salomonis)
There are many such talismans on the market that look very beautiful, but from an esoteric point of view, they are null. Made from all kinds of inferior metals without being accorded any special attention, these talismans are as useful as any other cheap jewelry. The only one that can offer the power is the Mage. You don’t have to take these talismans to a certain mage. The Mage is man himself, who knows to ask for the help of God. And if man knows how to do this, he doesn’t need a cheap jewel anymore. Man has the power to infuse power and vital essence in any object, and this can become a talisman. Semi-precious stones, dear objects with an emotional charge or certain photos can become good talismans in the hands of a man who knows how to charge them. But before this, like Omraam Aivanhov said, we must become ourselves talismans. If we can call and receive the divine love and light inside us, we can transfer it to an object as well. If we have courage, faith and power inside us, we can transfer them into a magic object. A man who believes that these things don’t exist in him, cannot create a talisman and cannot make use of it.
There are a multitude of talismans, and contrary to general belief, not all are kabbalistic. Some people hate the word „talisman” or „amulet” but still wear a cross or a consecrated medallion at their necks. They are hasty to say that talismans are pagan, and then go to light a candle at the icon of their favorite saint. They are terrified when they hear of astrology or of magical hours, but wait for a certain day of the year to celebrate Christ. Magic exists everywhere, no matter the religion, and every belief has its talismans.