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Amulets and Talismans

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.lucky.w,alt.magick.folk,alt.magick,alt.paranormal.spells.hexes.magic,alt.religion.orisha
From: (Eoghan)
Subject: Re: Amulets and Talismans (was How do you make a Talisman?)
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 09:52:25 -0500

In article , Nick Farrell

> Hmmm I stand corrected if this is a substantial part of hoodoo practice.
> It is certainly not East African, middle and far eastern, or native
> American magical practice.  But it seems to me that this sort of concept
> of folk magic is not so much on what you know, but the psychosomatic
> ability of superstition rather than pure magical practice

Superstition, by the books is any practice or action or belief that is
held unthinkingly and practiced without rational consideration. It is not
a belief that is held without ritual form, as indeed most superstitions
involve some form of ritual action, such as walking around ladders, etc.

By definition the use of various plant, animal or mineral substances found
in nature and presumed to have innate powers of their own without further
preperation is not superstitious. It is a rational practice based upon the
foundation of the understanding of the natural world to have its own
powers and energies which the person can make use of without the need of
further enhancing them. One can of course argue that by combining various
substances unaltered into a packet or bag constitutes a form of
alteration, but that is belaboring the point. 

I would further argue that while I have not looked too closely at Middle
Eastern or far Eastern practices, at least the Native American system does
exactly the same thing as the African. In most Native American belief
systems, the various animals and other natural objects have their own
spirits and either the spirit of this power visits one spontaniously in
vision and then gives or causes the individual to find a symbol or object
that contains their power which is kept without further "Empowering" or
"charging" it. This notion is a patently European idea, in my experience
and one that is fairly recent at that. It seems to me to come straight out
of Christianity. 

The ancient Celts for example always viewed the most powerful objects and
forces to belong to unchanged nature and not to manmade objects. Totally
manmade objects, such as swords might need to be charged, but if you found
a staff of a special wood that was discovered in a sacred location,
nothing more needed to be done to empower it. In fact, human tinkering was
more likely to lessen its effectiveness than otherwise.


Tata Nganga Ensasi Calunga Ensulo Quimbisa

Eoghan Ballard
Center for Folklore & Ethnology
University of Pennsylvania

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