For centuries, the use of amulets and talismans has existed within many cultures and across virtually every spiritual tradition. They are described as ‘close cousins’ that can take many forms, including decorative objects, potions, charms, medicines, sacred symbols, animals, statues or drawings. Both amulets and talismans are physical expressions of powerful and often supernatural energies that people wish to personally connect with. There are historical distinctions between the two, though in modern times the terms are often used interchangeably:
Amulets were typically chosen for specific protective uses. For example, the ancient belief in the Evil Eye curse of bad luck and misfortune has been deflected with the use of nazars, lucky eyes, blue disks, and other protective charms. The meaning of the word ‘amulet’ is derived from the Latin word amuletum, which is interpreted as an object used for defense and protection from trouble.
Talismans are often utilized to draw in purposeful energies, such as carrying High John the Conqueror root for luck in courtly affairs, a four-leaf clover for luck, or a nutmeg for prosperity. The word ‘talisman’ is a variation on the Greek verb ‘teleo‘, meaning to accomplish or successfully bring into effect. In the Arabic and Greek languages, the word talisman is rooted in similar translations as an object that initiates one into spiritual mystery.
Your intent when you use an amulet or talisman is as important as the symbol itself. Therefore, we often recommend that you charge, or bring energy and life into, your chosen piece. You might wish to charge your object during the energy of the full or waxing moon, use a particular type of incense or salt to clear the object, or perform a ritual blessing with consecrated water. Check out our article on How to Charge your Pendant, Talisman or Amulet. Also, Amy Zerner has an article on Using Your Jewelry as a Talisman. Further Reading: http://www.crystalinks.com/talisman.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amulet.