A belief in the magical powers of certain objects is probably every bit as old as mankind itself. It is a staple of so much, firstly in great literature, and in more modern times in film and television drama. There is evidence that humans wore items such as necklaces and earrings before they even wore clothing!
Interestingly, many people in today’s world use the three terms interchangeably, although each was really quite different; indeed amulet and talisman had diametrically opposed meanings. One offers protection from something, the other gives power to the wearer.
A charming outcome
Charm is perhaps the most recent of the three, often used in everyday phrases such as ‘good luck charm’ or ‘lucky charms’. It can be both amulet and talisman.
How you might choose either an amulet or talisman
Let’s consider specifically amulets and talismans. The former is derived from the Latin word ‘amuletum’, whereas the other is from the Greek ‘telesma’ which means a ‘consecration ceremony’.
Amulets are generally believed to be able to ward off negative energy or help to counter evil spirits. They are often given to those who are ill, and this emphasizes their protective qualities, and they may often be worn as a defender for many individuals. Mostly, these are more natural than manufactured in their form. Nowadays, items such as crucifixes, runes, lucky coins, coal, and garlic, continue to be chosen, as they have been for so many centuries.
Talismans, on the other hand, are thought to provide power for those who choose to wear or carry them. A well-known example would be King Arthur’s legendary sword Excalibur; a more gentle one would be Aladdin’s Lamp. They are thought to deliver positive energy to people who possess them, or amplify such thoughts which are already there. They are often manufactured items, either from natural materials or otherwise. Talismans are often seen as a device which amplifies and expresses more positive thoughts. This is a key reason why so many are crafted from crystals and gemstones.
Final words to add wisdom
Author Robert Louis Stevenson once offered this about the protection offered by an amulet: ‘To love is the great amulet that makes this world a garden’. On the other hand, President John Quincy Adams highlighted the power of a talisman when he said: ‘Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air’. Whichever of the pair you choose, or lucky charm you wear, you will certainly have the weight of history with you!