Creating Magickal Amulets
by Rev. Paul V. Beyerl
Rev. Paul V. Beyerl has published several books, including The Master Book of Herbalism, and heads The Hermit’s Grove and The Rowan Tree Church, located in Bellevue. This article is an excerpt from A Compendium of Herbal Magick, a work in progress covering the documented historical uses of herbs in folklore, ritual and religions.
The making of an amulet could easily take up the space of a small book, but I will attempt to distill a seven-hour workshop into a few paragraphs.
The words “amulet” and “talisman” are frequently used as if interchangeable. Many years ago, in order to distinguish between them, we adopted the following definitions: An amulet is a container that may be filled with herbs, stones or other things to promote magick. A talisman may be a disk, pendant or solid item, upon which may be depicted sigils or images. These definitions are used in this context only within The Hermit’s Grove and The Rowan Tree Church. It is not suggested that other uses of these words are either wrong or inappropriate.
An amulet is a tool created to help bring about changes within your life. It is a small container that, when completed, has energy or power and is quite magickal. We believe that amulets may be among the oldest forms of herbal magick, when the village wise one, sensing that a plant or stone had power within it, placed it in a pocket or container to carry about.
A “traditional” amulet (traditional outside my community) is one that has a purpose. All aspects of its design and creation are oriented toward the attainment of that goal. The amulet is assembled and constructed within the context of ritual, made very carefully and considered every bit as powerful and sacred as any of your ritual tools. An amulet is given a specific blessing or consecration toward that purpose, just as a novice may be initiated and ever after be considered a priest or priestess.
One of the mysteries of an amulet is that it is a microcosm of yourself, of the person for whom it is made, or of the situation that is the focus of the goal. It is like a small energy cell or battery, containing physical ingredients and focused energies providing a steady flow of energy. An amulet can be designed so that it will continually provide access to the infinite power of the universe throughout its existence. To understand a traditional amulet, give thought to the concept of the cauldron of Cerridwen, that infinite womb of creativity that is the core of the universe. From another perspective, an amulet is somewhat like a black hole, drawing energy from throughout the universe but holding it within, focused, directed solely toward the image that encompasses all aspects of your goal.
Our custom is to begin with a circle cut of leather. It should be at least six or eight inches in diameter. This flat circle is symbolic of a pentacle, that flat, round ritual tool that represents earth, or manifestation within the physical world.
To the practitioner, leather represents a gift of the creatures of the earth, representing elements of sacrifice, touching the mysteries of life and death, and is the material we can find that most closely corresponds to your physical body, which is the temple of your soul. The use of leather should never be taken lightly but is a very sacred and profound choice.
Around the perimeter of the leather circle, a series of holes should be pierced using either a leather punch or, as we have often done, a simple paper punch. A cord (chosen so that the length, color and type of thread enhance your magickal desires) is then threaded through the holes, creating a small drawstring bag.
Choose your herbs carefully. Any herb, including those too dangerous to ingest, can be included. You may also select small gemstones, add a personal piece of jewelry or lock of hair and even scribe sigils, images or words that will focus your will to bring your magick into manifestation. We recommend assembling your ingredients over a period of time. When my leather is complete, I set up a small altar. I lay the leather upon my copper pentacle or upon my altar stone and upon it I set a hand-carved, round wooden container with a flat lid. On days I consider important, I add one herb, replace the lid and set a votive candle upon the top. Sometimes I might cast a formal circle, and at other times I go about my activities, the light from the candle a constant reminder that there is magick brewing and an amulet in the works.
The final day should be one with natural power, whether a Full Moon or a birthday. Your amulet will be more powerful if all aspects of the work have power. Within an intricate ritual both formal and playful, the leather is cleansed and all ingredients placed within it. All movement and sound within the ritual is designed to draw upon the natural forces and connect the amulet with their power. And then, with ritual poetry and song, the leather circle is drawn closed and special candles are used to drip wax upon the opening so it is sealed.
Once an amulet is sealed, it should never again be opened. It is not medicine pouch. When your goal has been accomplished or the patterns of time have reached completion, the amulet must be returned to the universe. My preference is to bury it as a gift to the Mother, but there have been times when one has been placed into a flaming cauldron until reduced to ash, the ash then strewn upon sacred soil. Amulets are a wonderful way to develop your magickal skill, but they should be made rarely. The more lightly you treat this magickal use of herbs, the less likely they are to assist you with their magick. I have an amulet hanging in my truck. We have a household amulet, and I can’t imagine magickal life without a few of these sources of change.