[This is taken from Thomas H. Burgoyne’s The Science of the Soul and Stars.]
Words are the symbols of ideas, and bear the same correspondence to the physical brain as matter does to spirit, a medium of expression, and are subject to continual change in their application and meaning, in exact proportion to the changing mental and moral condition of the people. As the planet, as well as man, is continually progressing, so must there be a higher and nobler conception of ideas. Hence, words or expressions must change, to convey the progressive spirit, that is constantly taking place. Therefore, it is always interesting, as well as valuable, for the Occult student to go to the root of each word connected with his philosophy, in order to learn the real sense in which the word was used by the ancients, from whom his mystic lore has descended. The true meaning, as well as the words themselves, have become as mystical as the lore itself. Hence, each student must commence as a beginner in any foreign language, which he does not at present understand. In following this method of procedure he will, at least, escape the dense and interminable confusion of modern opinions upon subjects of which the writers thereof, are partially or wholly ignorant.
No better illustration of this can be afforded than by the word “Talisman,” derived from the Greek verb “teleo,” which means, primarily, to accomplish, or bring into effect. But, in its real, and therefore higher, sense, it means to dedicate, consecrate, and initiate into the arcana of the temple mysteries. But, in the present day it means a piece of imposture, connected with some magical hocus pocus of the ignorant and superstitious mind, a vulgar charm, that is supposed to bring the owner thereof some material benefit, irrespective of his mental, magnetic, and moral condition, “and,” says the learned Webster, after describing his idea of such things, “they consist of three sorts, astronomical, magical and mixed.” But in what sense the “astronomical” differed from the “magical” we are not informed, nor is any light thrown upon the peculiar nature of that class designated as “mixed.” In fact, the lexicographer so mixes up his definitions that, we are unable to distinguish anything in particular, but his own individual ignorance.
So it has become, in every branch of learning. Words and their meanings have become so mixed in their use and application, that, the world is full of discords and misunderstandings, which lead into dissensions and contention, among all schools of thought, sects, and isms; and lastly, though not the least serious, it has reached into the close relations of the human family.
All writers and speakers, as well as the readers and listeners, should acquaint themselves with the derivation and meaning of words.
The fact stands very clearly defined that, Talismans are confused in the minds of the present generation with magical charms, which depend for their effects, upon the power of the idea or thought, which the formulating magician impresses upon the substance of which they are composed. If the magical artist be expert, and endowed with an exceedingly potent will, his charm may become very powerful, when worn by the person for whom it was prepared. But, if this one grand essential be lacking, no amount of cabalistical figures and sacred names will have any effect, because, there can be no potency in symbols apart from the ideas and mental force they are capable of arousing in the mind of the maker. Solomon’s Seal is no more powerful, when drawn upon virgin parchment, with a weak will, or in a mechanical state of mind, than a child’s innocent scribbling upon its slate. But, if the artist realizes the mysteries symbolized by the interlacing triangles, and can place his soul en rapport with the invisible elements they outwardly represent; then, powerful effects are often produced.
I am sorry to say that the knowledge of charms is not confined to the creation of beneficial talismans. Its perversion has led to the diabolical practices of the Voodoo and Black Magician, whose work is wholly, either for gain or revenge. Nothing, but the most extreme selfishness lies beneath such immoral practices, but, as there must be a light to reflect a shadow, so a charm must follow a talisman. Magical charms, then, are simply natural objects, possessing but little active virtue in themselves, but, owing to the mediumistic nature of their substances, are endowed with artificial powers, of temporary duration, by virtue of the idea and thought impressed upon them, through the mental magic of the maker; and in this sense, a charm must be clearly distinguished from “teleo,” the Talisman. The very names suggest their difference, and, above all other men, students in Occultism should strive to become thoroughly educated in the true sense of the term, MEN OF LETTERS, by virtue of (as Ruskin calls it) “the kingship of words.” “Charm” is derived from the Latin “carmen,” a song that fascinates, and means to control by incantation, to subdue; while Teleo concerns the secret powers and wisdom of consecration and initiation. It is because of modern misuse of antique terms that, we have considered this somewhat lengthy explanation necessary, in order to clear away the accumulated debris of the ages, from the true foundation of our present study.
A Talisman is a natural object, containing the elemental forces of its own degree of life, in a state of intense activity, and capable of responding to the corresponding quality of life, OUTSIDE OF ITSELF, that emanates from the same spiritual state, either by sympathetic vibration or antagonistic currents, the nature, power, quality, and degree of life, which the various natural objects represent, being a part of the temple curriculum of initiation. Hence, the name, by which the latent power of these natural objects became known, was in strict harmony with the facts involved.
In order to prevent any possible misconception upon the subject, let us briefly restate the definition in a different way: A Talisman is the exact antipodes of a charm. This latter is the artful and temporary result of man’s mental power; the former, the natural production of universal Nature, and as permanent and enduring as the substance of which it is composed, DURING THE PRESENT CYCLE. And yet in some sense, it may be quite correct to say that, a Talisman ACTS LIKE A CHARM, and vice versa, that charms ACT LIKE A TALISMAN, providing that, the real vital difference between them, is maintained in the statement.
Now that we have our subject clearly defined, let us carefully examine HOW AND IN WHAT SENSE a given natural object becomes Talismanic, for it must appear self-evident to all that, one and the same substance cannot constitute a Talisman for everyone, and for everything. They must naturally differ, as widely in their nature and quality, as mankind differ in physical, mental, moral, ethical, and temperamental, development. And, yet, though, man may so differ from his fellow man; the Eskimo, killing seals in his kayak, may belong to the same spiritual quality of life as the Harvard professor, who obtains his subsistence by daily discourse upon the sublime harmony of the infinitely small with the infinitely great, throughout the manifested universe of matter, and wherever we find this KINSHIP of the spirit, we shall find the same identical Talisman acting alike upon each, whenever they shall come en rapport with it. Mental, moral, and physical development, never alter the real nature of the internal man. Culture only brings to the surface, into active use, the latent possibilities lying concealed within the human soul. It only allows him to exercise his functions upon different planes, and with different effect.
Every natural department of Nature corresponds to some peculiar specific quality and degree of life. These have been divided, for the sake of convenience, into four primary groups; and each group again subdivided into three, corresponding to the four cardinal, four succedent, and four cadent houses, of the astrological chart; therefore, the twelve signs of the Zodiac; these constituting the Cycle of Necessity within physical conditions, wherein, the ever-measuring or decreeing tidal flow of life from solar radiation throughout the year, represents the twelve groups of humanity, of lower animated Nature, of vegetation, and crystallized gems. Every human being is ushered into the world under the direct influx of one or more of these celestial divisions, and by virtue of the sign occupying the horizon at the moment of birth, absorbs such influx, and becomes endowed with a specific polarity, by virtue of which, lie ever afterward, during such expression within physical conditions, inspires with every breath, that specific life quality from the atmosphere, corresponding to the same degree of the universal spirit. Consequently, that gem, or those gems, representing and corresponding to HIS HOUSE OF LIFE, become to him, a Talisman, because of their relationship–their spiritual affinity. THE METALS never become Talismanic, because of their comparatively negative degree of life, and for this reason also, they make the most powerful charms. Certain combinations of metals, and in proper proportions, increase the potency and magnetic influence of a charm; and here, too, the laws of antipathy and affinity come into practical use.
A true expert will know his metals, or metal, and his client, before commencing his magical work.
Those persons who derive most virtue from a Talisman are those who belong to the most sensitive, or interior state, within such degree of life, and who are dominated by one sign only. Thus, if we find one sign occupying the whole of the House of Life, or practically so, as when the first face of a sign ascends, we may be sure, other things not interfering, that such a native will receive great benefit from wearing its Talismanic gem. If a person of good intellectual powers and sensitive spirituality, be born when the lord of the ascendant occupies the RISING SIGN, as, for instance, Mars in Aries, or Sun in Leo, we may be sure that, the Talismanic gem, in their case, will be exceedingly powerful, because, all the Astro-physical conditions are then most favorable for the expression of natural forces, and, if worn upon, or near that part of the body which the sign rules, the power and influence is more powerful and beneficial.
In wearing them, take them to you as a part of yourself, a part of your higher self, a thing to be heeded, listened to and obeyed. They will usually make their presence most pronounced when something arises to disturb the harmonious vibrations that naturally and quietly go on between the person and the interstellar spaces above. They are like the sensor and motor nerves–they never make their presence known, except, when danger encroaches.
Having explained in what sense gems become talismanic, we have now to disclose the modus operandi–THE HOW.
The gems contain the life quality of their own astral nature. Man, as a higher expression, only, of the same universal life, contains the same. Like two electric currents, MAN, THE POSITIVE POLE (comparatively), attracts unto himself THE MINERAL LIFE OF THE GEM, which thus, becomes the negative pole. A complete circuit is formed and maintained, as long as they remain in contact. Gems belonging to a different quality of life, not being en rapport with his astral state, have no good effect, because, no current flows between them. Thus, the Talisman acts in unison with the psychic, or soul-principle, of man, aiding the organism to sustain health, stimulating the mental perceptions, and spiritual intuition, and affording in a remarkable manner, many premonitions of coming danger, when the individual is sufficiently sensitive to perceive them. And now, per contra, as there are gems that act in sympathy with man, there must be, and in fact are, gems that act upon contrary principles; i.e., antagonistic, and these belong to purely antagonistic elements, as Air to Earth and Fire to Water, unless the native be born under BOTH forces, as Mars in Cancer rising, or the latter part of one sign and nearly the whole of another of an opposite nature, occupying the ascendant. Such natives are pure neutrals, and such might wear the gems that belong to the most powerful planet of the horoscope, or that triplicity holding the most planets; then, they are usually combined, the planet and the triplicity.
There are, of course, innumerable substances, more or less, capable of talismanic virtue to particular individuals. To these may be added the opal, under Scorpio; the garnet, under Aries; and the turquoise, under Cancer, when Saturn is therein; and the aquamarine, under Pisces; and among the temporary talismans of vegetation we may add that, the young shoots, bearing the flower and seed vessels, are the portions of chief virtue, and the young shoots of trees. These are often used in locating mines, wells, oils, etc., that lie hidden beneath the surface of the earth, and in the hands of a negative, sensitive person, seldom fail to reward the searcher with success. These should always be gathered when their ruling correspondences are rising, or, BETTER STILL, CULMINATING UPON THE MERIDIAN.
We have now reached the limits of our present study, and have only to state that all gems, like the human organism, are in one of three conditions: alive and conscious, asleep and UNCONSCIOUS, or dead and powerless. These conditions can only be discovered, in stones, by the trained lucid or the instructed neophyte. Stones that are sleeping require to be awakened. This, also, can only be done by the trained student or Adept. Those that are dead, are USELESS as Talismans, no matter how beautiful they appear as ornaments.
Gems and stones are also sexed, and those who wear them would receive the best effect if they should wear those of opposite sex, although either is powerfully potent in their influence upon the individual. How very ignorant the children of men are, of the subtle, silent, yet obedient servants, that everywhere, surround them. Here, again, that Divine spark, which lies embedded within the crystallized forces of Nature, is exerting its subtle, spiritual influence, in making man’s very selfishness, and love of ornament and show, a means, to bring forth these silent monitors, knowing ere long that, their true power and potency will be known, and consciously utilized by him, as potent factors in his soul’s evolvement and physical development.
The twelve representative gems within the cold stratas of matter, stand as the material representatives of their stellar counterparts in the sky, and constitute the beautiful, glittering, but crystallized, Zodiac of man’s physical anatomy.