(Disclaimer 1: Warning this post is very picture heavy! Slower connections might not enjoy.)
(Disclaimer 2: I am in no way responsible for any injury that occurs from you trying these techniques. If you burn, maim yourself, or somehow get lead poisoning it’s your responsibility, not mine. )
As I mentioned previously I’m taking R.O.’s Red Work Series of courses in Hermetic magic as an experiment in making myself a better magician and learning some good old Agrippa. I really can’t recommend it highly enough, I’m enjoying the hell out of it and it’s challenging me in ways I never thought possible. As part of the course work he gives some instructions on making 7 planetary talismans out of the correct metals. He actually gives some of this info here in his Neoplatonic basics page. My intent here is to not mention any proprietary material from the course, but describe my own experiences in making these talismans. I ended up not using his direct approach, just taking the idea and putting my own spin on it trhough trial and error. I also listened to the advice of the spirits and made my own set by my own intuition. Thus my talismans don’t look like his or any one elses for that matter. They look like mine and are wholly mine. Plus, I felt each archangel directing me each step of the way as I made the individual pieces. These are my experiences during the process.
This was very much an initiatory process for me. I knew nothing about metal work. Never even picked up a blow torch before. Yet when I read about them I had this deep seated drive to make my own set out of metal rather than going with paper. So I did a lot of research on my own, and a ton of trial and error until I came up with the following. I received a TON of help from the spirits themselves. Whenever I was stumped, either a dream or idea would pop into my head that opened the way.
The first thing I did was procure three tools. 1) A MAPP blow torch, 2) I already had a dremel tool. EVERY witch or magician should own a dremel tool honestly. If you do any of your own crafting it will pay off a thousand fold. 3) A crucible to melt metal in. From what I researched there are two types, porcelain, or graphite. You want graphite, trust me. This is because you have to “season” the porcelain with silica because it’s porous and will sequester your precious metals and make them all gnarly, and if you don’t do it just right it’s a huge pain in the ass to work with. Why bother with all that?
Graphite it pretty much good to go out of the package, and easier to work with to boot, no seasoning needed. There’s a guy on ebay called canvasman34 who sells them every other week. If he doesn’t have anything now, keep checking back. I got mine for $8. It ALSO has the benefit of serving as a mold, since it’s circular in just the right diameter I wanted my talismans to be. Therefore you can melt your metals in the crucible and let it harden right in it, no need to pour. Then put it in the freezer, the metal contracts faster than the graphite, and it pops right out fully formed. Doesn’t get more awesome than that.
Each talisman is going to be dedicated to an archangel of one of the 7 planets and made of the appropriate classical alchemical metal where possible.
Jupiter was easy, and the first talisman I made. Tin is the metal of Jupiter. It has a low melting point. Basically I melted some tin bullion in the crucible. Everyone says Tin is too brittle to engrave on. Maybe it’s because of the thickness of mine, but I had no problem. I engraved it up and, it was done. My Tin Jupiter talisman below (Sorry for the fuzzy pictures. You can click each image for a larger/clearer view).
Next was Venus. Copper is the metal of Venus. So I bought some copper and tried to melt it. No go. I tried many different types. Copper bars, copper coins, loose copper shot, copper tubing. I could not get copper to melt even a little bit. The only thing it did was get really freaking hot. How the hell was I supposed to do this? At this point I felt defeated, and I’m already only one talisman in. So I did what any defeated mage would do. Give up and go to bed.
That night I had one continual long dream of a blacksmith sharpening a sword on a grinding wheel. All night ,over and over, just a sword on a grinding wheel. When I awoke I had the answer “magically” in my mind. I didn’t have to melt copper at all.
You see they sell copper bullion shaped like giant coins on Ebay in the exact diameter of my crucible, so it will match the size of my other talismans. Their not real legal tender, and are only worth the copper they are made of so it’s legal to deface them. Enter the dremel tool. It has two types of tips designed to grind metal, one for ferrous, one for non-ferrous. Since Copper is a non-ferrous metal I used that first. The coin ground the tip to a stump in about 10 seconds, if that. Hrm. So much for that. Don’t try using that one!
SO I used the tip for Ferrous metals and ground the shit out of the coin faces (both sides) to get rid of the markings. Then I buffed this shit out of it, until it was shinny, smooth, and had a mirror finish. I finished up by engraving it, and there ya go. My copper Venus talisman without having to ever melt a single drop of copper, all thanks to a dream.
The “Cored” Talismans
It was about this time that I decided to make the rest of the talismans out of a single type of outer metal with magically active “cores”. This was because I wanted to do sun and moon next, which take silver and gold. In case you hadn’t noticed, silver and gold are really expensive right now. Even making tiny ones would cost more than I can honestly afford. Thankfully a fellow student brought this article by Christopher Warnock to my attention (Special thanks to that individual. I don’t know if I have permission to use his name or not, but you know who you are. Thanks!).
If you didn’t read the article, basically what it says is that due to the same cost prohibitive nature of the metals he makes all of his talismans out of bronze with a tiny bit of the real planetary metal mixed in. The idea that the spiritual nature of the talisman and time of it’s construction trumps the material used. Taking this concept to heart, I decided to do the same, with my own twist added.
Now from what I can tell bronze requires an actual furnace to melt. I only have a blow torch (and yes I did try. anyway). So I decided to use Pewter from here on out and insert “magically active cores” of the correct metal inside of it. Pewter has a low melting temp, is cheap, non-toxic, and produces a nice shiny finished product. I bought a 5 troy ounce bar of it (above). The pewter I used was 89% Tin, 3.45% Copper, 7.5% Antimony .15% Nickel.
So lets start with Mercury. The metal of Mercury is of course Mercury! I shouldn’t have to tell you why that won’t work. Many modern mages use Aluminum as an alternative. You can’t melt aluminum. You can blast it at over 4600 degrees for 15 mins and it won’t even change color, it’s so good at dissipating heat. (Again, I know this from experience). This is why it’s used as house siding I guess. So I bought an aluminum disk pictured here.
The idea was actually to do the same I did the copper coin and just use it as a talisman alone. However, what I didn’t anticipate is that it’s really really light. So light that I knew that every time I used it I’d be annoyed. I decided to use it as a core.
So what I did was put down a thin layer of pewter, then insert the disk on top of that, then pour over another layer of pewter, effective creating a pewter talisman with an aluminum core. Enrgave on the seal and name in celestial script, and there’s my Mercury Talisman.
Saturn technically is easy. It’s lead. Now lead is of course toxic. You have take precautions melting it, a hood gloves, proper ventilation etc. I don’t mind melting it all. However the main route of lead poisoning is through the mouth, and children are most affected. I have 3 todders at home who like to put thing in their mouth, so leaving around metals that could kill them does not sit well with me. Plus, there is conflicting evidence on how handling lead over time affects lead levels. Some say it’s harmless, others say it causes cancer, neuro damage, etc. I plan on handling this talisman a lot. I just don’t want to take changes. Call me a wuss, I don’t care. I’ll be a living wuss.
So technically I could make it completely out of lead (and in fact did make my first try as such), but ultimately decided based on the above reasons to use a smaller core of lead instead and go with pewter again as the outer shell.
So I bought a smaller graphite mold, melted some lead and created a medium-sized lead disk. Popped that in the same as I did for Mercury with the aluminum and the result is at the left. Pewter Saturn talisman with a completely 100% lead core.
Ah Silver. This is the whole reason I started this core process to begin with. Silver is expensive. I am not a rich mage (yet). I was able to buy 3 grams of it relatively cheap in the form of these coins. Basically I took these coins, and melted them into a single disk. It wasn’t a pretty disk, it was kind of jagged and irregular, but vaguely “disk shaped” none the less. Again, in went the silver core and I finished with more pewter and engraving. What I like about this talisman is that reminds me of the moon! To me it right away looked like the moon face. I take it to mean that Gabriel approved.
This was my absolute favorite talisman to make. First off let me say that in addition to a dremel tool, every magician should have a thrall/servator/spirit whatever whose sole purpose is to bring you the stuff you need for your art as cheaply as possible. I made one a while ago who has always served me well and through him was able to procure three grams of tiny gold coins at an insanely cheap price. Also I got a bottle of gold flake (5 bottles in fact. 4 were wasted on previous experimentation). Gold flake is basically gold that’s been hammered to only a few micrometers in thickness (this is the stuff they put in Goldschlager by the way).
I didn’t bother melting the coins. I was too afraid I’d mess them up. It’s gold. I was paranoid. I just inserted them as is. Then I put down a layer of gold flake. Finally after pouring the final layer of pewter, I ground it down with the dremel tip until I began to reach the flake layer. This produced a mottled appearance of gold shining through the metal, which I personally love. This last part was an inspiration directly from Michael by the way.
Mars. The classic metal of mars is Iron. Steel or bronze will also work too, or so I’ve read because they are all metal associated with making weapons. At first I decided to do steel. I bought six 1943 steel pennies to use as the core this time. I liked these because they were issued during war time when copper was rationed, giving it a “martial” quality. The theory is sound. It should have worked.
However, every time I went to make it, Kammael, would stop me. There was this feeling of wrongness deep in my core. I got the feeling he was pretty much demanding iron, and it had to be pure iron, none of this core business. So I bought one troy ounce of .999% fine iron bullion.
Then I ground down the image and markings. It took a long time. It was loud. It made my wife angry. Finally, I had a somewhat smooth piece of pure iron to engrave upon.
Yes you can still see the buffalo marking a tad bit. However, much more grinding and I’d have to deal with a really irate wife, so <shrug>, sacrifices. It was hard to engrave too. You can barely see the markings in this picture, but they are there, trust me. I like the fact that the Mars talisman is rough, unfinished, not pretty, and pure iron. Anything else would not seem right somehow. I’m glad I didn’t core this one.
Here’s my completed set of all 7. It took lots of work, required I learn new skills, brought me a closer working relationship with the spirits involved, and brought me FAR out of my comfort zone magically. An initiation process in every sense of the word.