Friday, February 15, 2013

{Definitions of} Charms, Talismans & Amulets

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Recently I had someone email me asking what are the differences between charms, amulets and talismans; this is a great question because these terms are often used interchangeably {something that I am sometimes guilty of doing}.
Not only have I found disagreements between practitioners, I have even seen differences within dictionaries!
So in this post I will share my personal definitions:
An item that is worn or carried on a person to ward off evil and danger. It can be an item associated with protection {natural or man made} or something made with this intent in mind.
An item that is worn or carried on a person to draw in specific qualities and powers such as abundance or luck. It can be an item associated with the desired quality or power {natural or man made} or something made with this intent in mind.
A stationary object {usually placed in a home or around a building} made to ward off evil and danger and/or to draw in specific qualities and powers. Alternatively, it is an object that has incorporated symbols, writing or has had the intent sung or spoken over it at some point during the creation process.



  1. If I may give my two cents, at risk of sound disrespectful n your blog, but it is not my intent in the slightest, And I apologize if it comes across that way. I am very passionate about words and enjoy teaching. My major is linguistics, particularly etymology, semiotics, and semantics. Therefore it is a large indicator for what rings true to me spiritually.

    The word charm was originally used as strictly a spoken spell or incantation. The requirement was that it had to be rhythmic, well put together, and meaningful. They could be used to protect, curse, heal, etc. Charms never were a physical object, but technically could be inscribed onto something.

    Amulets, however, were worn or carried On a person and we're typically only used to protect or remove disease or curses. An amulet could have a charm inscribed on it, but again it was typically a charm of protection.

    Talismans were ceremonies, religious rites, and payments. So, an amulet could be a talisman. I would say that any token that has religious or spiritual significance, ESPECIALLY a gift, could be considered a talisman.

    So in conclusion, a talisman can be both a charm and amulet, an amulet can have a charm on it, but a charm can be neither a talisman or an amulet. I think that's where a lot of confusion sets in.

    Okay, so maybe more than two cents...;-)

  2. Hey there! No offense taken. :) Thank you for sharing, especially the bit about talismans, I don't believe I have ever heard of them being ceremonies before. But there you go, you ask a dozen practitioners, and you are likely to get 101 definitions. ;