Got a shiny new piece of magickal jewelry? Before putting it on, you may wish to take the extra step of ritually activating the object to make it more effective at its purpose. Charging and wearing an amulet is one of the oldest and most widely practiced forms of spellwork. In this article, I’ll discuss some simple ways to initiate your magickal jewelry so it can start working for you.
We’re often asked if we charge or activate the pendants sold in our shop. We don’t—they all come “blank” and ready to receive your intention. The most we’ll do is put our intention into everything that it finds the right home and serves its new owner well. (We also choose symbols and materials that we believe are the most compatible with our customers’ magickal goals.)
This isn’t because we’re stingy with our time and energy. It’s because we’ve learned from our wise teachers (and from our own experience) that the most effective magick is always the kind you do for yourself. You don’t need to be a witch queen or master conjurer to make a talisman. Sure, you can pay someone to create a talisman for you. And assuming they’re not a total huckster, the object you receive will contain some of their energy that is aligned with their understanding of your talisman’s purpose. But that's not always good enough. And it's in no way preferable to your energy being aligned with your talisman’s purpose.
You can think of it this way: Talisman magick—and basically all spellwork—is a sort of conversation with the Universe. You’re asking for certain things and translating your requests into a language that the Universe appears to understand. (Namely, symbols, colors, etc.) It seems like a pretty nebulous affair—but paradoxically enough, precision is vital. Sometimes your intention can get mistranslated. The more garbled the translation, the less likely your efforts are to succeed.
Trusting someone else with your spellwork is a bit like a magickal game of “telephone”. The more parties involved, the more likely there will be some critical miscommunication. Just consider the many definitions of the word “love.” Looking for a lifelong partner, you commission a love charm from someone whose own definition is a lot more X-rated. You’ll probably wind up with the wrong kind of attention, or nothing at all. Seriously, there is no one who can understand your desire or meaning as well as you. Nor will a “professional witch” ever be as invested in the outcome of a spell as its recipient.
So…talisman magick is a huge topic and there are many, many ways to charge or activate a talisman. There’s no “one right way” to do it. What I’m presenting here is a simple ritual that should be accessible to everyone, including beginners. You should feel free to adapt it according to your own needs.
Cleanse the Talisman
Cleansing is the first step in preparing a talisman to receive your intention. The purpose is simple: Objects can pick up energetic impressions from their makers, from previous owners, and from their environment. You want your talisman to be as close to a “blank slate” as possible. That way, the energy you put into it won’t be at odds with the energy it already contains. If you’ve made the talisman yourself or purchased it new, you can usually skip this step. Secondhand and found jewelry should always be cleansed before being used for your magick.
There are lots of methods for cleansing ritual objects and all of them do the trick. Hold it under running water, especially from a creek or fountain. Wave it through smoke from sage or incense. Leave it in a dish of salt overnight, or outside under the full moon. All the while, focus on your intention that the object is being cleansed and made new for your purposes. If you find yourself smudge-less and saltless on a moonless night, you can even cleanse the talisman with pure visualization. Hold it between your palms or against your third eye, and imagine streams of water or tongues of fire washing away any lingering energy.
Set Ritual Space
Choose a time for the ritual when you can be alone and focused. Sure, it’s possible to consecrate a talisman on a busy train or at your office desk. But it’s much easier to work magick in dedicated ritual space. Lots of people prefer to do spellwork at night when the psychic “airwaves” are quieter. You can also choose a planetary day (and/or hour) that’s suited to the purpose of your talisman—Friday for love, Wednesday for business matters, etc.
Set the space in a way that works for you, whether that’s by casting a circle, dimming the lights, or burning candles or incense. (Don't have a huge collection of supplies? White candles and Sandalwood or Frankincense aromas are good all-purpose tools for setting sacred space.)
Take a few deep breaths and clear your mind of any distractions or worries from the day. If you work with any helpers—e.g, deities, guides, angels, or familiar spirits—invite them in and ask them to steer your ritual toward your highest good.
Charge Your Talisman
Now is the time to focus on your will and how it will be brought to fruition. Hold the talisman in your hands or against your body. Spend at least a few moments meditating on the object of your desire and the steps that could lead to its attainment. (Hopefully, you’ve thought about this already and have something more specific than “I want a boyfriend” or “I want a pile of money.”) It may help to list the traits of your ideal job or partner, for instance. If you’re asking for greater psychic powers or artistic ability, think about how you’ll use these things once you have them.
Worry and uncertainty are enemies of magick. Therefore, most magicians recommend that you phrase your intention in a positive way and in the present tense: “I am worthy of love,” or “My business is thriving” are better than “I don’t feel worthless anymore,” or “My business will be successful.” Once you’ve formulated your intention, say it aloud. If you feel like it, you can even repeat a simple chant. (“By the crest of Luna’s light, I charge this gem for psychic sight.”)
As the talisman warms to your body heat, feel your thoughts transforming into images and fantasies. Ideally, your meditation should consist of not just words or just images, but a multi-sensory experience of the things you want the talisman to draw. The warm touch of a lover’s skin. The smell of a new car. The surge in your heart when your hard work is finally recognized. Taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing, and all the various energetic sensations blend in with the verbal intention you’ve expressed. As you did with the verbal portion, keep the images positive. Summon up the pleasure of discovering new friends, rather than the sensation of your current grief or loneliness. Rather than thinking about why you need protection, conjure up the feeling of being fearless and invulnerable.
Get excited about your intention—get really, really excited! Feel the desire build in your head, heart, and belly. As you continue to wish for it, let the energy flow into your hands and into the talisman. Gaze at the talisman’s shape and feel it come alive as an instrument of your will. When you feel that the energy has reached its peak (or that the talisman can’t hold any more), seal it off with a gesture. A kiss, a shout, a clap of the hands, a decisive “Amen” or “So mote it be.”
Give thanks, ground yourself, and begin wearing your activated talisman. Be receptive to the signs and hints that appear regarding your purpose and be ready to respond accordingly.
Anointing a talisman is an optional step, usually done during or after the charging portion of the ritual. Anointing with blessed oil is an ancient way of consecrating ritual objects. Folk magicians also use anointing to seal in energy and to “feed” magickal tools. Use a general-purpose anointing oil, or a specific oil that is compatible with the purpose of the talisman (Rose for love, Anise for astral travel, Cedar for protection, etc.). Dip the forefinger of your dominant hand in the oil and trace the shape of the talisman upon the object's surface. If you like, you can anoint yourself with the same oil to form a magickal bond between the two of you. Keep the oil in your cupboard to periodically refresh the talisman.
But it’s not just oil that’s used to anoint talismans, now is it? Nope. Bodily fluids may also be used for anointing. A drop of blood for courage and protection, sexual fluids for love magick. Lots of witches shy away from discussions of blood magick, and that’s fine. But if you choose to use them, bodily fluids are powerful and sacred. They contain your unique DNA and help bind the talisman solely to you.
One more finer point: As a talisman is a physical link to the magickal planes, it can be a gateway for offerings to beings that have helped you cast the charm. Bathing a talisman in whiskey, honeyed wine or milk is a form of anointing that entreats the cooperation of ancestors and Fae.
Do I have to activate my talisman? Will it work right out of the package?
Actually, no—you don’t have to do any of this stuff. Magick is all about intention, and if you buy your talisman with intention and wear it consciously, you’re more than halfway there. Additionally, many talismans are constructed around ancient symbols with a strong magickal pedigree. Generally speaking, they will do their job without a lot of effort from you.
Activating a talisman is a way of boosting its astral resonance, attracting attention from beings and forces that align with your will. It’s also advisable when you want to put more specific intention into a multi-faceted symbol. If you’re reading this, some part of you likely feels that you ought to charge your talisman. You could probably benefit from the extra focused intention that a formal activation ritual provides.
How do I de-consecrate a talisman?
When your time working together has run its course, you may wish to de-activate or de-consecrate your talisman. Follow the instructions for cleansing a new talisman. Then, sitting with the talisman in your ritual space, speak the words freeing it from your service. Samhain and New Moon nights are traditional times to tie up loose ends and dismantle old magick.
Hopefully, you’re breaking your bond with the talisman because you’ve achieved your aim and no longer need the thing. If that’s the case, give thanks and retire the de-consecrated talisman to a place of honor.
But perhaps you’re breaking the bond because the talisman didn’t work or because your needs have changed. If that's the case, spend some time meditating on the outcome. There are different reasons why magickal workings can be unsuccessful—mental blocks, mixed feelings, unrealistic expectations, more powerful wills working against yours. When the question is “Why didn’t my spell work?” usually your heart will know the answer.
What happens if I lose my talisman?
People often ask what it means when a consecrated talisman has been broken or lost. Experienced Witches will often say that a lost charm is a sure sign that the magick has ended. This could be because the outcome has been attained. It could be because the spell is no longer active and needs to be renewed or modified. (Sometimes it just means that the talisman was made in China—but that’s a whole other thing.)
Some people also worry about what might happen if someone else were to discover the lost talisman and keep it. Most of the time, it’s nothing to fret about. A talisman ritually bound to you will only work for you. While a skilled psychic might be able to divine the purpose of a found talisman, they won’t be able to harm you or steal your magick. If you like, you can insure your talisman against loss when you activate it. Say something like, “I charge this talisman with the power of drawing a lover, to be active as long as I may wear it.” There. You’ve specified that the talisman’s power will fade once it departs from your person.
Still, it can be distressing to lose a consecrated ritual object. For lost talisman blues, try the following: Reach out to it, as you would reach out telepathically to a distant friend or family member. For lack of a better description, you’re trying to feel the “mood” of the talisman—whether it’s still active and whether it intends to return to you. (Trust me—sometimes our long-suffering magickal tools just need a break!) If you don’t get anything right away, don’t worry. Wait a couple of nights for a response in dreams or visions.
If you don’t get a response, or if the response is “I’m done,” it’s time to release the lost talisman from your service. The simplest way to do this remotely is to draw the item on paper and ritually burn it. Thank it for your time together, and ask the energy you put into it to return to the Universe to be recycled. Wait for guidance before you cast another charm for the same purpose.
You can bet we’ll have more articles on spells and charms in the future, but hopefully this answers your most immediate questions on talisman magick. May you wear your talisman in happiness and in health!
Image: Magick Power Amulet by Christopher Penczak.
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