I’ve been asked ‘how I do the talismanic work that I do’, and it’s an interesting question. There are a lot of classical methodologies from the various magical arts, mostly what we can perhaps think of as ‘snapshot’ methods.
The ‘snapshot’ methods are largely based on some form of astrology or what I think of as 'perfect moment action'. The idea being that an image/representation created in a particular moment is essentially ‘born’ of that moment - the creator decides which coming moment in time will be the most auspicious ‘natal chart’ for the item, or 'generates' a particular thrust of 'energy' in that time. The piece crafted in that moment bears it's imprint. This can also be done via the planetary hours, and it most definitely works.
However, my approach is a bit different.
I seek to create an overall space (my shop/temple) where the work is done, and then to be as open of a conduit as possible to the energies appropriate for the individual work. Most of this is intuitive rather than based on the known motions of the planets and stars. In many cases the process is more about ‘getting out of the way’ with a particular direction in mind rather than conscious precise organization of elements. Here I probably owe my approach to a long relationship to Jan Fries work, which to this day speaks to me more than nearly any other approach to magic and the sacred arts.
There is a state that athletes, artists, and writers sometimes speak of as ‘flow’. Flow relates to those moments where time and physicality and intention and execution all mesh into a type of alternate reality. Where things do not of necessity become ‘easy’ but where instead operant/subject/object/intention ‘line up’, where the roads open for the manifestation of the work at hand, obstacles lose their apparent materiality and in a sense a ‘door’ opens between body/mind, soul, world, and action. If the operant can smoothly step or reach through that door, even for a moment, that flow, that open road, can in a sense be encoded into the talismanic object. This is the work of a moment, even when part of a process of creation that lasts hours or days. The goal is to manage this without tension, which restricts flow. To ease into and notice, rather than to force anything.
I recall a ritual I was part of once that was led by a operant of what I could call the ‘force’ method of magic. This was massive excitation, culminating in some ‘perfect moment action’ that would in theory ‘blast’ the intention into the…well, wherever things get blasted! Anyway, that ‘perfect moment action’ didn’t actually go very perfectly in that moment. I think it was a candle that wouldn’t light, or a charcoal that had burned out. And the person leading the ritual was massively upset - clearly ‘cramped’ to use a Fries term. The interesting thing to me, however, is in that time where he was trying to get things back on track, everyone else present relaxed, the tension of the moment relieved somehow by his visible upset. And that flow happened. And the doors opened very clearly, and all except the operator felt it, and relaxed and dropped into a very different space. I don’t believe he ever noticed.
So that flow state is what I seek when I work. It has long been pointed out that the moment you decide to do a bit of magic, the work has already begun. There may be hours or days or weeks or more of preparation, but the first stone has been tossed into the Pool and the ripples are spreading from the instant you decide you will do a piece of work. This does not mean one is ‘done’ at that moment. But as with sigils being charged while being designed rather than in a ritual afterwords (see Gordon White among others on this, but it’s something I am very aware of after 30+ years of sigil work), the ritual may be seen as secondary to the work of creation. Baptism rather than birth. The ritual or consecration may be in a sense viewed as posting a letter that has already been received. It must still be posted, but that’s a whole other can of worms!
This is not always the case, of course - but then nothing is always the case, particularly in magic and sorcery!.
As much of my work is geared towards an end user who will (it is assumed, and in my view cannot be otherwise) bring their own imprint and spirits to bear on it when they receive it, what I seek to create is a happy, focused vessel-creature.
The process is one of extended contact with the spirits of the shop. As the shop is the temple and creating talismans is the work itself, the main focus is inherent in the space itself. The shop is the circle, the triangle, the scrying mirror. The work of laying out, of sawing, or fitting, filing, sanding, soldering - is the ritual. Every moment of it. From sitting on the couch drawing in search of a sigil that sings back to me to grinding down the rough edges and seeking the cleanest line. All of this is the work itself. I expect this makes perfect sense to any artist, regardless of medium, whose art is their practice. Sustained devotion to process, rather than seeking a perfect moment action.
Sustained devotion to process is the also the ‘thing itself’. It is clear that hundreds or thousands of hours of work at a thing are what makes a person better at that thing. This is sustained devotion. This is the nature of practice.
If we aspire to perfect moment action we will usually tend towards cramp, as very few moments or actions will ever be ‘perfect’ from within that view. Most of us bring harsh judgement to bear on enough of our words and deeds already, so I suggest an approach to enchantment that leaves this behind. If we realize that we are always throwing stones into the Pool (the Field of Manifestation), sustained devotion suggests to us that doing so with ease and clarity, with a gentle focus, over and over and over again eternally will have a combined effect far greater than that one perfect toss. And perhaps will be able to see all the less-than-perfect-throws for the beauty that they are, and know that they too are leading us towards our perfect wyrd/world.