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The instructions below are for creating a single-purpose magical talisman, to be used for a specific aim and then released. If you want to transform a permanent object into a talisman, simply modify the instructions as appropriate, according to the sturdiness and material makeup of the object. As mentioned above, the making of the talisman is often done as part of a ritual, so feel free to begin the process in whatever way you would normally start a ritual, whether that involves casting a circle, invoking your personal deities, or simply lighting a few candles. We’ll cover the basic ritual of “birthing” and consecrating the talisman below, but here let’s just focus on the nuts and bolts.
For a traditional runic talisman, you’ll need a “tine” to carve the runes into, a carving tool, pigment(s) for coloring the runes after they’re carved, a cloth for wrapping the talisman, and a cord or string, preferably made of natural materials, to wrap around the talisman nine times. The tine can be any naturally-derived material. If using wood, consider aligning the type of tree with the magical purpose at hand. (The same goes for metals and even mineral stones.) In some traditions, the tine is made from a branch harvested from a live tree. This can be an ethically sticky subject, as some Neopagans would argue that a living plant should never be harmed unless it’s absolutely necessary, and it’s just as effective to use a fallen branch instead. However, those who do use a live branch believe they are keeping with ancient traditions, and are careful to secure permission from the tree, and leave it offerings to thank it for its sacrifice. How you choose to acquire the wood for your tine is up to you, but cutting a branch from a live tree with carelessness is not recommended. Traditionally, the carved runes are colored with blood and/or natural pigments made from rocks and soil. (This is up to you, but don’t ever feel the need to cause yourself pain in order to work magic. After all, there are some practices our ancestors engaged in that we have left behind in modern times, for good reason.) You can find instructions on making your own pigments online, but you can also use watercolor or acrylic paint if you like. (Oil-based paints are not recommended.) The runemasters of old used red in order to empower the carved runes, but contemporary rune workers have incorporated various color systems to expand the possibilities for magical associations. Any color can be used, but using shades of red, green, or blue is a nice way to keep within the spirit of the old Norse culture, as these were the three colors recognized in those days. Speaking of magical associations, there are other opportunities to enrich the work, such as using numerology and timing. Various systems of numerology have been integrated into rune magic, using the number assigned to each rune according to its placement in the Futhark. If you incorporate numerology into your practice, this can be an extra consideration in your selection of runes for your talisman. As for timing, the usual magical guidelines apply: talismans for increase or attraction are best made during the waxing Moon, while those for banishing or decrease are most powerful when made during the waning Moon. Some rune workers also take correspondences related to the season, the day of the week, and even the hour of the day into consideration.
To begin, turn the tine over and carve the name of the person the talisman is for (usually you, unless you’re making it for someone else, with their permission). Use runic letters for the name—you’ll find a conversion chart for English letters at the end of this guide. Then carve the rune script or bind rune on the front of the tine. (As mentioned above, if you’re not comfortable with carving, you can draw the runes instead.) Be as artful as you can, taking care with your craftsmanship to create an aesthetically pleasing talisman. Next, apply the color to the runes on the back and front of the tine. As you do so, speak, chant, or sing the name of each rune, and visualize it infusing the tine with its magical energies according to your goal. Your focus throughout the process should be on your intention, and the summoning of the runic forces to aid you in your manifestation. As you work, the energies of the runes are combining to form your specific request to the Universe.
Activating Your Talisman
When the pigment is dry, you’re ready to ritually activate the magical power of the talisman. This ritual can range from simple to highly elaborate, depending on your personal approach. All ritual exists to aid the magician’s focus and connection with the unseen energies of the natural world, so do what works for you in your practice. You may wish to cast a magic circle, invoke any deities you work with (Norse deities would be particularly appropriate here), use candles, burn incense, etc. Here we will just lay out the bare bones of a traditional runic talisman ritual:
• Quiet your mind and spend some time visualizing your magical goal.
• Wrap the talisman in the cloth, and wrap the cord around it nine times. It’s traditional to leave magically-charged runes in “darkness” for a period while its power grows, symbolizing a new life developing in the womb.
• Lay the wrapped talisman on your altar or work space and walk around it in a sunwise (clockwise) circle 9 times. Alternatively, you can carry it with you. As you walk, speak the names of the runes in the talisman, and/or of the magical outcome you seek.
• Unwrap the talisman, and breathe on it to give it life. You may wish to also give it a magical name.
• Consecrate the talisman by waving it quickly through a candle flame, sprinkling it with water and salt, and/or passing it through incense smoke.
• State the talisman’s purpose a final time. It is now activated and ready to work its magic. Depending on its size and purpose, you can leave it in a place where you’ll see it often, carry it with you, or hide it.
• Close the ritual in whatever way is appropriate to your practice.
• When the magical goal has manifested, release the talisman by burning it or burying it in the Earth.