Talismans, charms, amulets…What’s the difference?

Image of black, white, and silver mala

Everyone knows someone who has a lucky rabbit’s foot and someone else who just knows that you need a piece of quartz to set your energy to rights, making life just a little bit better. Those are charms and talismans, and they can actually give you a little help.

Here’s why:


The most important thing about talismans and charms is intent. Anything can become either, though it is much easier to make a charm than a talisman. If you focus on a button and want it to bring you luck or prosperity, it doesn’t matter that it’s a spare plastic button from a shirt. The intent is strong enough to make a little lucky. If you focus on a thing you are making (a necklace or ring or hand carved button), will that thing to bring you love or happiness, it will become a talisman and be much stronger than that little plastic button. Things you make by hand will always be stronger than things you find because you are focusing on that aspect throughout the entirety of its creation. And you never really know where that plastic button has been.


Talismans have a long history and pop up in just about every culture. Their main defining feature is they’re permanence and their intent. Talismans can be a little intimidating because they require focus in order to “wake up” and should be crafted at specific times to be truly potent. Talismans are a direct request for something (help, luck, finding those missing keys I can never seem to find), so they must be made with great care so no one can misinterpret them like that genie in all those stories.


Charms are still in use today. Ever go to church and hear a blessing? That’s a charm. How about someone wishing you a happy birthday? That’s a charm. Best of luck? Gesundheit? May all your bacon burn? All of those are charms. Traditionally, charms are actually spoken and refer to a large variety of things, ranging from well wishes to curses. They started becoming “lucky charms” as people started to put their trust in physical objects that stick around, like an athlete and their lucky socks, instead of less than permanent verbal words. Today, anything can become a charm for just about any purpose (luck, it’s almost always luck).


Amulets can be a talisman, charm, or just a pretty necklace. A plastic unicorn on a string can be just as powerful as a hand carved sphere of jet as long as there’s intent.

Gemstones and metals

The gemstone and/or metal used can help amplify the thing you’re trying to do. Are you looking for protection that’s also calming? Silver and quartz or diamond would be the best way to go. Or are you looking for that one true love and want to meet that wonderful person yesterday? Gold and rubies or red jasper would fit the bill. Colors and materials are just as important to your charm or talisman as intent.