The care and use of talismans is a topic that's been chewing on me for a while. Almost everyone in the self-identified esoteric community understands what one is and how to use it. The national scandal sheets found at checkout stands run ads for them every issue. "Buy this trinket, that bottle of water, this sacred cloth!" the ads implore us. And we, the willing public, consume these in mass quantities, put them aside, and repeatedly purchase new ones without using those we already have.
Dana Corby, as usual, identified the problem some years ago. The difficulty isn't that our talismans don't work, it is that we don''t understand how to use them. The etymology of the word is telling here-
Talisman derives via Arabic from the Greek word "telesma", meaning a religious rite. This term derives from "telos", which means result or end.
This is a clue to the use of a talisman. It is the result or (ritual) end that is desired. In other words it is a symbol for the end result of a magical process to which we have made a commitment. As is true of almost everything in life, the focus needs to be on the follow-through steps needed to get to the results.
Here's an example from my own life-
I own eight books and more than a few magazines on strand-pulling, also known as cable/strand/band exercise. The manuals I have date from the early 20th century to the early 21st century. Among these are two handbooks for official contest pulls in England. I own two different sorts of these tools, an official steel competition strand calibrated to my height and arm/torso length, two Lifeline cables and one Theraband cable. These have been on shelves or in boxes in front of me for the past three years, and I didn't touch these to exercise even once. Why was this so? Largely due to joint pain and depression, but the inner reason I found was-
I didn't have the right talisman. If I kept looking, the right book, manual or graphic that would unlock the secrets of using bands/strands/cables would materialize and THEN I could, exercise.
In May of this year I looked at these exercise tools again, and realized that all of the answers I needed were right in front of me. All I had to do was pick up one of my strands, close my eyes, and start working out then and there. Does this mean that I'll stop reading or thinking about band/strand exercises and how to derive more benefits from them? No, it does not, but I have realized that the endless search for the right thing to do is futile without the application of the tools I have right here, right now.
I've noted before that there is an endless circulation of esoteric and magical materials from East to West and back again, our very own "Kula Ring" of trinkets traded back and forth. The only way to break the endless cycle of redaction, repetition and uninformed use of magical techniques is to actually participate in the ecologies of spirits within the "Body Esoteric"and THEN compare your results with those of others. At the point of attainment it is possible to honestly evaluate the efficacy of a talisman and your techniques, but not before making the journey.
Let me take this opportunity to recommend the sandowplus.co.uk website as the motherlode for physical culture books and instruction. This isn't just a trip to the past, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people using these methods and machines quite productively today, right now, and if interested I would encourage you to participate in classical Physical Culture and its philosophies, which share an awful lot in common with magic. The results might surprise you.