I have heard of Talisman before but couldn’t remember what it was until I searched its meaning on the Internet. It is an object which people believe holds magical properties that bring good luck to the possessor, or that protect the possessor from evil or harm. It can be wore around the neck or wrist.
Jewish amulets were made up of texts, using either letters or graphic symbols which were inscribed various types of materials such as plant matter or precious stones. The amulet was used to ease childbirth, facilitate recovery from illness and improve one’s livelihood. It was also used to protect a mother and her newborn child from the dangers of Lilith, a female demon who was believed to pursue and kill mother and infant. An example of the text found on a amulet used for this purpose is:
I command you, holy and pure angels Sanoi, Sansanoi, Semanglaf, Semanglon, to keep all spirits and demons and all evil misfortunes and all Liline and all Liltine away from this newly delivered mother and from this newborn babe; and from the day on which this amulet, on which are inscribed your names, will be placed in this house in which is to be found the newborn, from this day forward remove Lilith and all her followers and all her servants from this newborn and from this house to the farthest reaches. Let her and all the demons with her flee, that she and her followers may never be able to harm this child for ever and ever.
And the amulet for childbirth would sometimes simply say, “Adam, Eve; Lilith out.”
The belief that amulets have hidden powers was widespread among both Jews and non-Jews in Eastern Europe and across all levels of society. However, there were some Jews who opposed the use of amulets and prominent among them was Maimonides who wrote vehemently against them. The maskilim in Eastern Europe openly mocked the use of amulets and considered them to be profane and harmful. The fact of the Jews believing in amulets may be a result of the apostasy of the Israelites when they adopted many of the beliefs and practices of the pagan nations around them such as worshipping foreign gods and child sacrifice.
Talismans were not only worn by the common people but by kings as well. Charlemagne, the former king of the Franks wore one.
Charlemagne’s wife had sorcerers from the Court of Haroun el Raschid, Emperor of the East, make his talisman for him. It had two large cabochon sapphires, one was oval and the other was square. They were set into a remnant of the wood from the Holy Cross (the Cross of Jesus) and a small piece of the Virgin’s hair. It was to make their love constant. One would assume that it worked since he never stopped loving her. This was the talisman which was buried with him at Aix-la-Chapelle, in 814 and re-discovered when the tomb was opened by Otto III in 1000. The talisman was preserved in the treasury of the Cathedral until it was given, by the canons, to Empress Josephine in 1804, to wear at her coronation.
Wearing a talisman created by sorcerers seems at odds with the Charlemagne who “submitted to no one but God”.
I was surprised to learn that there are Christian Talismans. Ancient Coptic Talismans like this one came from the Oromo people of Ethiopia and were traditionally worn to protect the wearer from evil spirits and bring good luck. They contain scrolls usually made of vellum and were inscribed with prayers and stories from Coptic Christian bibles or manuscripts by priests, religious scribes or unordained clerics known as ‘dabtaras’ and then sewn inside their leather pouch. The writing on the scroll was done with special black and red ink and written in Ge’ez, a currently unspoken language used for religious purposes. These Coptic talismans, like the Coptic crosses, were made a long time ago and it is hard to determine their age. Some were made as early as the late 19th century but these talismans have been made, worn and worshipped for over 1600 years.
Should Christians be wearing talismans? There are two types which are used as symbols of the Christian faith–the Cross and the fish. The first symbolizes Jesus and what He did for mankind and the second symbolizes those His followers who are to be “fishers of men”.
The cross of Christianity was a symbol of the faith. It was previously considered a pagan symbol, with several early church fathers objecting to its use. The cross represents Christ’s victory over death and sin, since it is believed that through His death he conquered death itself.
The fish’s first known use as a Christian religious symbol was sometime within the first three centuries AD. Christians began using the Greek word for “fish” as an acronym for “Jesus Christ God’s Son, Savior”. Followers of Christianity were called Pisciculi; the root of this Latin word is “fish”.
When I did a search on the Fish symbol, I discovered that there are three–the one of the fish only, the one with Jesus’ name in the middle and the one of the cross in the middle.
Christians wear crucifixes or have them hanging in their homes or dangling from the rear view mirror of their automobiles. I have seen stickers of the fish symbol on the back of some cars. Should Christians be part of what has become popular today? Well, many don’t think they should. And they use the following Bible verses to defend their stance:
“They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans” (Isaiah 2:6, NIV).
“In that day, the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes [and] amulets” (Isaiah 3:18-20, NAS).
“Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spirits and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book” (2 Kings 23:24, NAS). The teraphim was the name used for idols or images reverenced by the
There is the argument that instead of putting on talismans for protection for evil and demonic powers, put on the whole armor of God “that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
“There are concerns that people allow objects such as crosses, crucifixes, figurines, rosaries, bumper stickers, etc., to take the place of the true change that should take place in our hearts. The things we wear, carry, or put on our cars are not what make us Christians. God is not concerned with what we wear as long as we do not dress in a way that would cause anyone to stumble in his or her walk with God (Romans 14:20) and we are not absorbed with our looks or our possessions.
On the other hand, “Many Christians wear crosses as a proud expression of their love, respect, and service to Christ, along with a remembrance of what He did for us.”
Choosing to wear Christian Talismans or not, is up to the individual. I personally don’t wear religious jewelry or jewelry of any kind but that was me following my own conscience and what I believed was what God wanted for me. If people feel safer on their person, in their vehicles or in their homes, then, they have to do what their consciences dictate, as long as these things never take the place of God Himself who is our one, true Source of protection against the evil one.