Using lucky charms for divination is gaining popularity with the Charming Oracle. Can Tarot cards also serve as such objects? Indeed, any Tarot card may be used under the table, so to speak, as an amulet, charm, or talisman. Those three words are often mentioned synonymously, but they have distinct purposes. Here's an easy way to distinguish them, as distilled by Richard Webster, author of Amulets and Talismans for Beginners:
- A charm is worn to attract good luck. It's like a magic blessing in physical form.
- An amulet offers protection from danger. It wards off negativity.
- A talisman attracts particular benefits to its owner. It instills and amplifies positive energies.
Any Tarot card that you find or are unexpectedly gifted with may serve as a charm. For example, I once found myself holding a Tarot card after an all-night fire ceremony at an Egyptian goddess temple in the desert outside Las Vegas. The temple is located on a former nuclear testing site, between a couple of military bases, and is dedicated to appeasing a war goddess. To give you a picture, to initiate the evening the priestesses march down a hill toward a pyre, brandishing torches, more dazzling than rock stars. They essentially fight fire with fire, acknowledging the spirit of combat and working to pacify it to foster peace. At the end of the ceremony, as the sun broke the horizon, a woman went around the circle of those who had kept vigil through the darkness and invited each to draw a Tarot card. The card I drew was—you guessed it—The Sun, and it has served as my lucky charm ever since. Of course, if a card you find or are gifted with doesn't not feel comforting and sympathetic in your hand, it won't be the lucky charm you've been waiting for.
Tarot charms are typically carried on one's person, perhaps on a necklace touching one's skin or in a wallet. But they can also be displayed where you can see them often, like atop a workstation or on a car's dashboard. A mini Tarot card may of course be attached to a charm bracelet.
Unlike lucky Tarot charms, which tend to find you, protective Tarot amulets are consciously selected. As you look through a deck of cards, contemplate what exactly you'd like to be protected from, and see which card seems to call out as your amulet. Tarot amulets may be used for personal protection or to guard entire households. They may also be employed to ward off the "evil eye." Like Tarot charms, Tarot amulets are traditionally worn on one's person.
The selection of a Tarot talisman differs from that of amulets. As an attractor of a specific power or energy, a talisman relies upon its specific images and words to work its benefit. For example, to attract willpower, you might consider cards like The Magician, The Chariot, or Strength. (Though I don't personally agree with some of the suggestions, Sasha Graham offers a comprehensive chart of cards and their associated powers in the book Tarot Diva.) Many people prefer talismans made of metal, so keep an eye out for Tarot imagery etched in steel, carved in gold, or embossed in silver or copper.
Charging your Tarot charm, amulet, or talisman:
When cards are to be used for luck, protection, or as attractors, it's proper to charge them up with energy. You may sing a befitting song or recite a poem directly over the card, your breath carrying the vibrations of your intentions. You may place your card on an altar and perform a ceremony in its honor. You may meditate upon it with open eyes.
Destroying your Tarot charm, amulet, or talisman:
Though a Tarot charm, amulet, or talisman has no "expiration date," there may come a time when you feel it has served its purpose and you wish to deactivate it. If it's a paper card, perform a modest ritual in which you sincerely thank the card for its assistance as you burn it over the flame of a candle. If your card is made of a non-combustable material, you may bury it.
— Craig Conley is author of The Young Wizard's Hexopedia, the Tarot of Portmeirion, HarperCollins' One-Letter Words: A Dictionary, Pomegranate's One Letter Words Knowledge Cards Deck, and Weiser Books' Magic Words: A Dictionary. He is co-author of New Star Books' Franzlations: A Guide to the Imaginary Parables. He has published dozens of articles in such magazines as Verbatim, Pentacle, Mothering, and Magic. His work has been profiled in the New York Times, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News, Publishers Weekly, The Associated Press, and dozens of others.