I love a store-bought candle spell. My favorites come labeled with their purpose, "peace" and "love" and "health." Their marbled colors swirl together beautifully and small stones embedded in the wax drop free as the candle burns. I light them to release a soft energy ambience in my house. But when I'm casting a serious rite like the ones in Practical Magic for Beginners, I always use the candles I've prepared myself, made from plain colors and marked with the symbols for the planets and the elements. The tools I craft myself work best.
Charms, amulets, and talismans are all made from physical objects and carry the power of the materials from which they are made. That power can be increased by marking them with symbols like runes, sigils, and signs. Adding a charge of intent brings the work magically alive. It's easy to buy ready-made amulets from stores and web sites, and they work more or less well depending on the ability of the maker. I'm happy to use these, too. I have a bone charm painted with a protection rune tucked away in my suitcase and a blue glass eye tacked over my bedroom window. I've learned through training and experience, though, that the most effective amulets are the ones I make myself. Here are 6 magical reasons to make your own charms.
One: You Can Use Natural Materials
I'm a magical magpie. I pick up shells, stones with holes, acorns and pine cones and bits of moss. They shine out at me while I'm walking in the woods or on the beach and I catch the feeling that I need their energy in my life. I always thank the spirit of place when I take them and often leave something in return, like a strand of my own hair. Making your own charms provides a way to use the materials you've collected to bring that energy into your life.
Here's an example: rowan berries strung on red thread are an old protective charm. We planted a rowan tree in our yard specifically for this purpose. We pick the red berries in the fall and hang them over our doors. The berries carry the virtue of the rowan and the additional energy of place being grown near the door where they hang.
Two: You Can Make Them When and Where You Need Them
Some charms work for ongoing needs, like health or prosperity. What happens when you need something to work for you at a moment's notice or when you're away from home? When I'm traveling I stay in rooms that other people have stayed in before and after me. I've had restless nights on hotel room beds clouded by the previous occupant's left-behind emotions. I've learned that I need to manage the energy in these semi-public spaces if I want a good night’s sleep.
pentagram on each of them. One I place by the door and the other I place on the windowsill. I touch each paper in turn to anchor the protective bubble. Then I put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door to keep housecleaning out until I leave. (If the room does get cleaned, I just renew the protection.) I make sure to take the charms away with me when I leave the room and recycle them at home.
Three: You Can Put Your Own Energy into Them
Whether a charm is well-made or just thrown together depends on the skill of the maker. Either way, the charm carries a bit of the energy of the person who made it. It may work just fine for you, especially if it was created especially for you on commission or as a gift. Sometimes, though, an amulet made by someone else doesn't harmonize with your purpose. For me, this happens with hoodoo magic sold online, like banishing powder or lucky bath crystals; it just doesn't mesh with my energy.
A charm we make ourselves works for us because it already has our energy in it. You can add your energy to a charm made by someone else by holding it in your hand and giving it your energy, or by drawing on it or adding something to it. Drawing a symbol on a candle is an example of adding your own energy to an object.
Another example is coloring pages. I don't draw well, but I can color! Coloring books and pages include simple designs like pentacles and more elaborate designs like Celtic crosses, animals, and goddesses and gods. The most complicated patterns include mandalas and yantras, geometric designs holding the power of Hindu and Tantric deities. It's also possible to get color-your-own Tarot decks. Filling them with color gives us time to meditate on them and forges a link between ourselves and the design to make it our own.
Four: You Can Incorporate Special Objects
Do you have a bead or pendant that means something special to you? I have a large chunk of amber given to me by a priestess to acknowledge our friendship bond. I strung this myself with pieces of jet to make a priestess necklace, and I wear it in coven on special occasions, such as when we have guests.
Making jewelry is a great way to make your own amulets. While casting metals requires special skill, it's relatively easy to string beads on cording and knot between them. You can choose semi-precious stones for their magical qualities, like carnelian for protection and agate for health, or lightweight crystal beads for their colors.
Five: You Can Unleash Your Creativity
This is the most fun reason to make your own charms. Magical people love to make things, and making our own amulets gives us a chance to explore our creativity.
One easy way to make a charm is to assemble a mojo bag. Buy or make a small bag, like a sachet bag, and fill it with small objects. Here's a place to put all those collections of stone chips, pieces of moss, loose beads, and tiny pendants. It works best if you have a theme. For example, you can make a bag for a specific purpose like protection. You can also collect the power of the elements, like filling a blue bag with river stones for water. If you're travelling, you can make an energy-of-home bag with a bit of soil from home and a slip of paper with your address or an image of your house. With any mojo bag you can wear it, keep it in a pocket, or tuck it into a bag or luggage.
Another creative idea is making objects from self-drying clay. You can shape the clay into any kind of object to hang on a necklace or tuck into a mojo bag. Here are some ideas: planetary symbols and elemental symbols, a vase or box, a small image of an animal, a disk inscribed with a word like "love" or "money" or "health."
If you're inspired to try your hand at making a formal talisman, wax and clay disks can be inscribed with words and symbols. I created a disk that I wear for protection when I am doing rituals from the Greek Magical Papyri. The disk is inscribed with the sacred words called the ephesia grammata: "Askion, kataskion, lips, tetrax, damnameneus, aision." I haven't found a store-bought version of this talisman yet!
Six: You Can Make Exactly What You Want
This is the best reason to make your own talismans. You can make them to exactly fit their purpose. You can choose the material, pick out the shape or color, and make it at a time that enhances its energy. We've talked about using candles, pieces of paper, natural objects, beads and jewelry, wax disks and clay. My go-to amulet technique is to make a cord.
When I say "cord magic," people often say, "Oh, knots!" But knots need to be made out of something, and that something is fiber. The world of fiber is so colorful and varied that it unleashes creativity. It's easy to find yarn in stores and online. While some yarns can be pricey, there are others that are also very inexpensive. It's a very simple technique, too; you can create a cord just a moment after you decide what you want to do.
In the past years good health has become important to me personally and became unexpectedly important to the world. I've made any number of cords to preserve and regain health. For myself I choose shades of green and make the twist with a fervent intent to remain healthy for myself and for the people who depend on me.
My favorite cord captures the essence of the sun. It has the Golden Dawn colors (pink, yellow, salmon, and gold), and six beads of amber, the stone of the sun. It evokes sunrise, the moment when the day is just beginning, with all its power and promise. It reminds me that I am a magician and that I have a sense of purpose in my life.
I hope these stories and ideas inspire you to make your own charms, unleashing your creativity, using special objects and natural materials, putting your energy into them, and making exactly what you want.