We created Al-Kemi, our Spagyric medicine company, some 30 years ago as an outgrowth of our personal interests in Alchemy and herbalism, but that interest in Alchemy was originally inspired by Paul’s studies of Hermetics, especially Paracelsus.

A physician and mystic of the 16th century, Paracelsus created the philosophy of healing and lab practice we follow, as well as coining its name: Spagyrics. But before Paracelsus combined his occult and medical knowledge into Spagyric work, he was the student of the monk Trithemius, whose other prominent student was the occultist Agrippa.

Trithemius was a Benedictine monk who created one of the most important foundational texts of Renaissance Hermeticism- the Steganographia. This book is a complex and multi-layered compendium focused on working magic through a connection to angelic intelligences. Trithemius’ system for these workings draws on correspondences between angels, planetary energies, and the days of the week and hours of each day. By lining up each level of influence to a particular intelligence, the magickal operator could perform the most effective working for whatever their intent was.

Trithemius’ student Agrippa took this system and applied it to ceremonial and talismanic magick, imbuing the ceremony or object with the desired intelligence through planetary and angelic symbols, created or charged at the correct moment for that influence. Paracelsus took Trithemius’ practical framework for capturing a planetary energy and combined it with his medical and Alchemical knowledge to create Spagyric medicines and the system for making and using them which we practice.

But Paracelsus also worked with talisman creation, and in his book The Archidoxes of Magic, he outlines many formulae and methods for creating magical and healing talismans, such as this Leo-ruled cardiac talisman. In all his methods, the common idea is the same as in his healing work: natural objects are inherently filled with life force, organized according to planetary sympathy, and can be magnified and further charged by working with that sympathy, as he explained:

On this truth is based the power of amulets and talismans and the influence which they may exercise over the astral form of the bearer. Talismans are like boxes, in which sidereal influences may be preserved.

The talisman-maker, like the healer, uses the astral and magnetic pull of his own imagination to draw in the forces needed; the healing planet to the patient, and the talismanic action to the amulet. That pull of imagination is the key in Paracelsus work, and this principle can be seen in the very word talisman, with its root in the Greek telos, meaning purpose or final end.

This telos is the perfected state of a being and relates to Aristotelian ideas that the goal and highest manifestation of any thing is present within the thing itself. Aristotle taught that the telos creates the form, gives it purpose, and draws it to the perfection of that purpose. In this way, all natural processes of change are pulled towards a goal, and Nature is alive and permeated with purpose.

2 thoughts on “Talismans and Paracelsian Hermetics

  1. Akash says:

    Nice blog! I have a copy of the Archidoxes of Magic. Intending to acquire a forge and replicate some of talismans it contains. Enjoyed your entry.

    • Micah says:

      Glad you liked the post! It was really interesting for me to revisit the links between talismans & Spagyrics, and the Archidoxes is a great resource for this work. Good luck with your forge!

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