Flying Talisman

I’ve been doing a lot of talismans lately, and this is one of them–a flying talisman based on Kabbalah. It’s founded on the Hebrew name of the divine known as Harakh, which the three letters in orange stand for. This name has an angelic prince associated with it, Badoel, whose name is on the top of the talisman. Below is the verse from Job 39:26: “Doth the hawk soar by this wisdom?” And the word ya’aver (to fly/soar) is a numerical equivalent of Harakh and is in the middle of the talisman in black/quicksilver letters.

I thought Mercury was a good planetary rulership for a talisman dedicated to flying, since Mercury rules over travel and the acquisition of the magical skills, so I chose Mercury colors: a silvery ink to stand for quicksilver, black as a neutral color, and “cinnabar” (not real cinnabar, which is mercuric sulfide and poisonous, but a good imitation that has the same color, according to people who do reproduction medieval manuscript illumination). The only problem with the “cinnabar” ink is that it’s powdery when it dries, which makes it impossible to draw on and which means it can smudge. I usually erase all guidelines when I finish, but with this kind of ink, you have to be real careful and do a lot of cleanup. I probably won’t use it much anymore. This talisman was drawn on white goatskin on a Mercury day when the Moon was waxing. I used the Ashuritic script for the divine name and an ordinary script for the rest. I created the design myself but got the names from Jacobus Swartz’s Sacred Names book.

21 comments to Flying Talisman

  • faustianbargain

    this is gorgeous. i looked at it and closed my eyes..the background, it turned blue from the neutral a copper sulphate blue.

  • Beautiful!

    Is it possible to mix the ink with a binder/sealer so that it won’t be so
    powdery? Maybe an acrylic medium after the ink is applied?

    I remember that an addition of a couple of drops of glycerin will help the flow of the ink/paint, but not so sure if it would seal the pigments in.

    Harold, I certainly did not mean to insult your intelligence by describing the maul stick….a year at the Chicago Art Institute is the equivalent to many years at any other institution.

    Hoof in mouth syndrome. It happens more than I care to admit.


  • Doc_Voodoo

    I’m just amazed by your mastery of the Calligraphy. I was thinking you might
    try a fixative spray for the powdery
    nature of that ink.

    • Alchemist in Charge

      Thanks for the compliments! I had thought about using a fixative, but I haven’t tried it on goatskin and wasn’t sure if it would have some nasty effect on the parchment. I need to experiment with it, because that would solve that problem and I could hopefully draw over it. I have been making larger letters with, for instance, foliar designs in metallic inside of them.

  • If the representation I see on my monitor is any indication – Faber-Castell’s “Sanguine” pens sets are nearly the same color. They’re an orange-red, with good luminosity, good color-fastness, and are all but waterproof. Faber-Castell now has a much wider range of colors than they used to, so I’d be shocked if there weren’t something in there workable. Dick Blick stocks the whole lot, if I’m not mistaken.

    Mind, I understand the wonders of dip-pen work, but I’m such a sucker for good mediums that I can’t not mention it.

    • Alchemist in Charge

      I’m a serious Luddite about some art stuff, but those things are pretty dang nifty. I might have to try them. And I see the colors are archival and they are traditional–sanguine, sepia, and black. Fun!

      • The only reason I ever discovered them, being quite literally a “starving” artist, was that I saw the set of Sanguine pens at a store on sale for about five bucks. I still use watercolor I got as a child and my great-grandfather’s oil pastels… I don’t get “new” very often. I cannot say enough good things about these, to be really honest. I’ve also used them on leather and rawhide – they work.

        You’ve actually got me stewing on some ideas for talismanic work on leather. Something I could make the equivalent of a “do what works” hedgewitchy grisgris out of.

        • Alchemist in Charge

          That sounds neat. I have thought about doing stuff with leather as opposed to skin parchment. Pergamena has skins on sale sometimes or for giveaway that have a lot of character to them, like scars and wrinkles. I think something like that would make a great magical object. I’m just not sure myself of how I would work with it. I have not worked with leather before except as parchment. I have thought of making little pods for small talismans, though, along the lines of the talismans worn leather cases in Ethiopia.

          I spend a lot of money on art stuff. I can take it off as a business expense as long as it is something I would use to make something I sell. That’s enabling, as you can imagine.

  • Ok, will take the risk you already know about this source:

    Bunches/tons of nifty pigments for painting, dyeing, marking all sorts of cloth/fabric.
    They carry the Dr. Ph Martin’s as well, don’t know if there’s a big price difference
    from ordering from Dick Blick’s.

    What I did learn recently is that Deka Fabric paint remains tacky forever if you apply it to wood.

    Oh, we also found a mighty magnificent line of metallic acrylics:
    Benjamin Moore Studio Finish Latex metallics.

    Think it’s about 30 beans for a quart, comes in bronze, gold, silver and
    the consistency looks like it would flow through a pen nib. Water soluble, water clean-up, nice sparkly, semi translucent mica flake finish.

    {If you want to sample some, I’ll fill you up a little bottle and mail it…
    we have the bronze and gold.}


  • If this is a repeat of one already sent, apologies.
    The other didn’t seem to get through last night.

    Do you all know about Dharma Trading for pigments to use on cloth/fabric?
    I was wondering what silk paints would do on goatskin.

    Fabric paint {Deka} doesn’t seem to work well on other surfaces.
    When it was applied to wood, it remained tacky forever.

    Also, we found Benjamin Moore makes a great selection of acrylic metallics,
    about 30 beans for a quart, in bronze, copper, gold, and silver.
    Nice semi translucent mica flake finish, water soluble and soap and water clean up.
    We have the gold and copper, can send you some little bottles if you’d like to
    try it with the pen nibs.


    • Alchemist in Charge

      I haven’t looked at Dharma Trading for years–I used to spin wool back in the eighties and I originally I think got some dyes from them before I tried my hand at using plant materials for dyes. I haven’t spun for ages and got rid of my wheel years ago. I did some silk dyeing with synthetics back then too; it was fun and produced beautiful stuff, but the cancer warnings on the jars scared me off using them further.

      Some of the stuff that I have looked at, the inks that are in fact really acrylics, are used on fabric; I’ve seen it mentioned not only in the ad copy but in reviews that folks have posted. That’s a kind offer about the Benjamin Moore metallics. I’ve been playing around with the Dr. Ph. Martin Spectralite (I like their 18 karat gold best) and still need to mess around with the Winsor-Newton gold ink, which I read could be oh heck what’s the word–when you rub it and it smoothes out and becomes shiny.

      Gilding is actually the next thing I want to learn. I’ve been getting supplies for that a bit at a time. I already have a dogtooth agate and some glassine sheets and some bole and the books. Now I need to get the gold leaf. I have always loved medieval illumination. I’d love to do that for magic and Pagan stuff.

  • Yup, you can dump the duplicate, thank you.

    The carcinogen scare is what makes me gravitate toward supplies that would
    be safe enough for a toddler to mess with.
    Hence, no more oil painting, gave up soldering silver and etching brass.

    Acrylic paint still has drawbacks, I avoid all the cadmiums, but it’s safer in the cat and dog household than turpentine and oil mediums.
    On that note, Nova Color in CA has the best deals on acrylics….never again will I be paying out the snout for a small tube of acrylic that’s gone in an hour.

    Is “burnishing” the word for rubbing and making shiny?

    I’ll send you samples of the Benjamin Moore, you might be surprised at the

    Gilding would be stunning, BTW.

  • Gareth

    It is refreshing when someone invests in good quality materials for use in their magical and spiritual practice; not to mention the high level of aesthetics.

  • Gareth

    It’s makes sense to me that it would be more effective. Think of all the time, the effort, the blood, sweat and tears that we put into earning money and material goods; there must be some kind of magical or spiritual potency that can be tapped in to there.

  • Tom

    Beautiful calligraphy!

    Sennelier makes a fantastic black “China” ink (“a la pagode,” I think it’s called). Beautiful black and a gorgeous surface. I myself have taken to using oil paint on Pergamena parchments – more colors and it’s easier to find traditional pigments in oil paints – Williamsburg paints being a good example. The other upside is that oil paint is more durable, doesn’t smear (after you endure the extended drying time, that is) and is completely lightfast.

    My other thought regarding the powdery problem of your ink is to perhaps try a bit of Gum Arabic solution – it is the traditional binder for watercolor. I personally wouldn’t use a fixative, too synthetic, and it does alter the surface of the parchment, which bugs me.

    • Alchemist in Charge

      Re using oil paint on parchment, you don’t find that the oil creeps into the parchment? I will check out that other Sennelier ink.

      Re that vermilion ink, I cannot tell if it is actual mercuric sulfide or not. I had thought not, but looking around, it might be, especially since apparently vermilion ink is known to be grainy. And the replacements are made from cadmium, yich. So I am not going to use it any longer and will find some other ink to replace it, hopefully one that is not so grainy. I’m going to try formulating something permanent with dragonsblood.

      • Tom

        I don’t find that the oil creeps into the parchment. My experience with parchment is that it is not particularly absorbent, the paint or ink sits on top. It also seems like the tanning process makes the surface impervious to oil. I remember reading on Pergamena’s site, or maybe it was in correspondence with them, that oil was OK on parchment. Great for me, as I use oil paint all the time and have lots and lots of colors to choose from.

        Re vermilion ink, if heavy metals are a concern, there are plenty of beautiful earth reds, like red ochre, that are completely lightfast. A permanent dragonsblood sounds great!

        • Alchemist in Charge

          That is good to know about using oil colors on parchment. It would not have occurred to me. It makes sense now that you say it, because I have noticed how on some parchment, the surface is very dense and slippery. I have found natural manuscript-finish goatskin is especially so. The white goatskin seems to have a little more tooth. But I also have tried the black goatskin, and it is very slippery as well. I don’t mind that, even like it, but it takes some getting used to after paper. I haven’t been doing the whole dust with sandarac and whatnot thing that people doing medieval stuff do. Do you prepare the skins further in any way?

          Yeah, I was looking at natural pigments last night and deciding what to mess around with in addition to the dragonsblood. Like a canday store.

          • Tom

            Don’t know anything about the sandarac, I bet the medieval tech on parchments is overwhelming. And fascinating. What’s the dusting for? The only thing I do on occasion is a quick rub with a slice of onion, especially if the surface seems really slick. Sometimes an overly slick surface can repel the paint and a pass with the old onion takes care of that. I like the density of the goatskin (I have only used the natural), it really is like skin.

            Yeah, I know what you mean about pigments, a whole world of candy. If you haven’t already, check out Kremer pigments – they have lots of historical ones (like lapis lazuli and Tyrian violet) and fascinating information on all of them. Be careful, it’s a real Pandora’s box!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>