Talismans | THE WONDER: Science-Based Paganism (2023)

Talismans video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML-sED3fAzY

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Mark: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. I'm your host, mark,

Yucca: And I'm Yucca.

Mark: and today we are talking about talismans and touchstones and things that we do during the course of our day to remind ourselves that we are on a naturalistic, pagan, pagan path and to remind ourselves of our practice.

Yucca: Right. And these could be things, we could have objects that help. Remind us but also moments in the day or activities that we're doing that we can use as, as metaphorical touchstones, right?

Mark: Right, right. I mean, we've talked about a daily practice before. Those tend to be. In the beginning and the ending of the day, not in the sort of rush of the middle of the day. So what we're really focusing on, on with this podcast is more about what do we do just to bring back to mind that we're on this path and that these are our values and that kind of stuff, while we're in the midst of all the various business that we have to take care of during the day.

Yucca: Right. So why, actually, why don't we start with one? You were just telling me about that. This was one of Michael's suggestions who we've had on the podcast before he was on the council. And you were saying it was 13 o'clock.

Mark: 13 o'clock.

Yucca: o'clock, yeah. So what's this 13 o'clock thing?

Mark: Which is one o'clock in the afternoon of course. Michael is Irish and apparently there is something that happens at noon every day in Ireland on the public television stations which is called the Angelus, and it used to be a. Catholic thing with, you know, images of the Virgin Mary and all that kind of stuff.

And the idea was that you were supposed to stop and pray or contemplate or just kind of remember, you know, that this is your religious path. Well, it's, it's become much more secularized now. They have images of the Irish countryside and. That kind of stuff instead. But it's still kind of a lovely idea.

And so Michael suggested that because we have 13 principles and there are 13 moon cycles, and we just like that

Yucca: 13. It's just fun. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah, it's, it's a cool prime number. That we celebrate something like that at 13 o'clock every day. And just take a minute. That's all, you know, 60 seconds, that's all that it takes.

What I do, I've put it in my phone as an alarm to remind me when it's

Yucca: buzzes at you at one o'clock,

Mark: Well, I actually get a 10 minute warning so that I can finish up whatever I'm doing right there and have a minute, but at, at, at the stroke of one. What I do is I just grasp my suntry pendant that I always wear, that I got at the Suntry retreat last year, and just imagine that I am floating in space, looking down at the earth.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Watching it slowly turn underneath me and just recognize, you know, as Carl Sagan said, this is everyone you've ever known. Everything that's ever happened in human history, all that you'll ever

Yucca: king, every baker, every, yeah, every conflict we've ever had. Right. Every.

Mark: event, every birth, every celebration, every cataclysm, all those things are embodied in this little planet floating in space.

And so I just sort of meditate on that for about a minute, and then I let go of my pendant and go about my day. But I find it's a really wonderful addition to my practice and it's nice to have a little intercession in the middle of the day. That's about my spirituality.

Yucca: Hmm. That's great. I love that idea. That's, that's where noom comes from the term originally, isn't it? Weren't there

Mark: I think it, yeah, because it was originally Noce

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Noce, which is one of the. Catholic masses that celebrated through the course of the day.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I don't know what I, I know the first one is Matins and the last one is Vespers. Leys in the middle.

Yucca: Yeah. So I think that's where the term is coming from, but I don't know enough about it. I just remember hearing that at one point that that's the origin. So it's a but I, I very much like those. I. And Islam has a, a similar structure of throughout the day having the different, the, just a small ritual throughout the day just to remind us.

Right. And I think that there's a lot of, of power in that. Just stop for a moment and kind of have that reset. Right.

Mark: Right. Yeah. Because I mean, it's so easy to get caught up in all the busyness of everything we have to do in order to keep the functions of our lives going. But one minute of time just to. Refocus on the big picture I think is really, for me, it's been very meaningful and has kind of contributed to my happiness.

So, it's something I'm doing and I really appreciate Michael for suggesting it.

Yucca: Yeah, that's fun.

Mark: So what are some other things that we either practices or. You know, carrying of objects or keeping them in a, in a, a bag or a purse or putting them in our car. What, you know, other things that we might do to remind us during the day of our path.

Yucca: Well, there's one that in my family on my adopted side, my stepmother is having a by the door.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Which is like a the other versions what might be like a Honda Fatima or it's like a protection against the the evil eye, but it's this beautiful, stylized hand. And the traditional belief behind it was, you know, it's protection from the evil eye.

But that's something that, you know, growing up we would always have by the door and it would be something that We would just touch on the way out of the door,

Mark: Hmm.

Yucca: Not as a belief literally that that's somehow going to protect us. But just as a reminder of, hey, I'm stepping out of the home. I'm going out into the world and just to be more aware.

Right. And just to kind of, you know, shields up, right? So it's almost like the button of like shields up right? Going out, leaving the, the sanctuary of the home. And so having something like that and I actually have the one that, that I grew up with in, in my home now, and it's just by the door and it's.

It's just a nice reminder every time of coming in and out of the home space.

Mark: And does everyone in your household do that?

Yucca: The grownups do, it is too high at the moment for these smaller hands, but as they get older, I think they, they will.

Mark: Ah-huh.

Yucca: the one that we have is, If enthusiastically touched, could come down and break, so

Mark: Oh, okay.

Yucca: get a little bit older. Yeah. It's one that's made from broken pottery.

Mark: Oh


Yucca: made from broken.

Yeah. It's a mosaic made from broken pottery from Jerusalem. So it's, it's really beautiful and I would rather it not get crushed, but when they're when they're a little bit calmer, Then maybe they'll get, they'll get to do that particular one.

Mark: Okay.

Yucca: So in the meantime, they're, they've got plenty of other stuff to do.

But that's, that's a type of object that's really nice. And I, although I don't drive a lot anymore in my hanging on my rear view mirror, I have a little bead that when I get into the car, it's just a, I just kind of give it a little boop. And just as a reminder of, Hey, I'm getting into the car, I'm taking on a big responsibility with the life of the passengers, my life, the life of anyone else on the c the road.

And just take a moment to center and ground and then, then be on the way before just rush. You know? Cause a lot of times we're so tempted to get in the car. You've got the keys, you know, you've turned the car on before your seatbelt's even on and just, no, hang on. Slow down. About to drive this, you know, very, very heavy piece of equipment, very, very fast.

So let's take a moment. So those are two that I have on a kind of a very practical level, but they, they really have that special meaning, so,

Mark: I, I like that. I mean this, this sort of illustrates that you can imbue anything really with a particular meaning if you associate a practice with it. So, you know, just a little bead. It doesn't need to be anything fancy. It can just be a little something so that you you know, it, it becomes a part of your pattern as you, you know, you put the keys in, you put the seatbelt on, you, you touch the bead, you start the car, and it's just a part of the routine.

Yucca: Yeah. So what about you? Do you have any other ones that you do?

Mark: You know, what I do is I carry I carry some talismans and I've, there's a, there's a blog post, or it may be a YouTube video actually, because I think I did it while my arm was broken and I couldn't type.

Yucca: Think it is a YouTube video. I think I've a long time. It's been several years, but yeah.

Mark: Yes. That would've been 2017 when my, when

Yucca: I'll see if I can find the link to that and put that in the show notes.

Mark: Great. Yeah, so that's about talismans and the ones that I carry and what they mean to me. And what a talisman is really is just a little. Something a little token of some kind that reminds you of something specific. So, for example, I have an Arrowhead, which was one of the giveaways from.

A, an earth honoring ritual that we did at Pantheon a few years ago. And it reminds me of the broader Pagan community and also of deep time being a, a, you know, a found arrowhead. So that's one. There's another, that's a smooth stone. That I got at a fired circle gathering, and it reminds me of that community and the, the people that I have in my life that really love me.

So I have fi and there's a little mala bead that looks like a skull that is a memento mori. It reminds me that I'm gonna die and that I need to seize the day. So there are five or six of these little things. And as well as the suntry pendant that I wear around my neck. All of those serve to, kind of, to bring deeper meaning to my daily operation.

You know, if I reach in my pocket for my comb while there are those talismans reminding me again that I'm on this path and I'm, I'm doing this, and it's more meaningful than just kind of wandering through life without. A sense of purpose or meaning?

Yucca: So do you have a, is it. Is that part of a ritual in the morning, just to stick those into your pocket or are they already in your jeans and when you put your jeans on in the morning? There they are.

Mark: They're already in my jeans and when I put my jeans on in the morning, there they are. The only time they come out is when I wash my jeans and then they go in another pair of jeans.

Yucca: they're, they're switching pants. Okay.

Mark: Yeah. But like for example, I bring them, you know, when I'm wearing dresses, Slacks to like a job interview. I bring those with me because they, you know, they're the, the emotional underpinning for me, right?

They, they serve to represent all that community support and enthusiasm and history that I have as a basis on which to be confident and put myself forward. So, Yeah. So, and I've been doing this for a very long time, and of course, once in a while you'll lose one. And that's okay. These things happen.

And, you know, I, I do a little ritual to charge each one when I first start carrying it,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: To give it its meaning. To associate it with that particular meaning. And I find, you know, this is a very old tradition. I mean, Roman soldiers used to carry little, you know, rolled up lead tablets with inscriptions on them of things that they, you know, wanted to happen for them, or ways they wanted to be protected. And we as atheopagan and, and naturalistic pagans, we can do the same thing.

Yucca: Yeah,

some of the ones that you mentioned reminded me of a few things that I have. But they're not objects. They're actually tattoos.

Mark: Ah,

Yucca: So a few years back at this point, we did an episode on CILs and I hadn't, sigils weren't really a big thing for me at that point but I played with it. Afterwards. Well, we, we did it a little bit before and I had kind of experimented with it so that we could prepare for the episode.

And then I ended up deciding one of them after a few months, I went, you know what? This is really working for me, and I decided that I actually was gonna tattoo that on myself. So I did. Now I have on my left hand because I'm right-handed. Well and multiple other reasons as well. Cuz I wear my watch on my right hand.

I wanted to access it on my wrist, but I did some white tattoos, which barely show up because I'm, I'm very very pale skinned. So the white just looks kind of like a scar almost. And so I put some marks on. And so I have one on my wrist. Which is for, for fo remembering where my focus is throughout the day, right.

And to be paying attention to the things that I actually have influence over and I can control and not stressing constantly about the things that I. I do not have control over. Right. I have no control over what this weather is going to do, but I do have control over how I'm going to respond to that.

Right. And another one I have on the back of my hand is a Memento Mori reminder. And throughout the day, I actually touch these on a regular basis. Just to remind, remind myself. It almost feels like pushing a button, like a Oh, right. Okay. Remember, Where's your focus, right? Or hey, this is, this is what you've got, right?

Today is what you've got. You don't have tomorrow promised. And you know, that's okay. Right? What are you doing today to, to really live? Because nothing is guaranteed every day, every new day is a bonus. It's a gift, right? So those are. Those are, those are things that I felt strongly enough that I wasn't going to change my mind about whether or not I had that in 20 years.

If I'm lucky enough to be here in 20 years, I'm still gonna be thinking about being lucky to be here in 20 years and where I'm focusing my energy on. But if there's certain other things that I'm working on in particular, I actually really like to use Henna.

So Hannah's really nice because it, depending on where you put it on your body, right, there's certain areas where it's gonna fade right away.

If you put Hannah on your palm, for instance, it's not gonna last, last for very long. But other parts of your body, it might last, you know, or you're not touching things as much or you don't produce as much oils. But you'll get several days to maybe a week out of time of having that symbol literally on your body or that reminder literally on your body.


Mark: That's a great idea. I, I love that. I don't have any tattoos. I have design for two tattoos that I want to do, one of which is the Sumtry symbol. But I've just never had the free money to invest in having somebody do it. But one day I, I love that idea and I love the idea of You know, of, of recognizing that some of these things are permanent modes that you're, that you want to pursue in, in life.

You always want to be aware of your mortality and its implications that you always want to be able to, you know, focus on what you're able to influence and not stress about the rest. Yeah, so tho those are very tallman. And I think. As, when we look at like tsi, the ice, the so-called iceman, the the,

Yucca: Yeah, they had lots of tattoos in various places.

Mark: right?

And they were very obviously magical symbols of some kind. They, they were not, they were not particularly decorative. But you know, that that man had tattoos, which were clearly meant something.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: We will never know exactly what they meant, but we can conjecture that they were protective or for luck and fortune in hunting or, you know, any of those kinds of things.

And so I, I think the history of tattoos, you know, really kind of feeds into what you described for yours, Yucca. That's really, really great.

Yucca: and I think there's, so I have, I have other ones too that were done by artists. I've got quite a bit on my back and And those were very meaningful and special too. But there's also something about, for the really simple ones, the doing it yourself. There's something very,

Mark: Hmm.

Yucca: there was, it was very nice to do that.

So just the poking stick, the old style, you know, you just have your, you can buy the kits right, and get the right ink. You don't wanna just do any ink. You have to get the right ink to put in your body and you don't wanna be putting in your lead ink or things like that, right? But that in itself can be a ritual.

And actually having an artist do it as well,

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: you can really make that a really special thing.

Mark: Sure. Well, and you've got all the endorphins that are provoked by the pain of the, of the tattooing. That puts you in kind of an altered state. I mean, people talk about how tattoos can be addictive

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: and I, you know, I understand that. But that, that trans state, that state of being altered by the tattooing process is.

Very much a ritual opportunity. It's you know, it's a, a state where you can, being in that trend state, you can apply a layer of meaning beyond simple decoration.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: To the, to the, the symbol that you're putting on yourself. And, and most of the people that I know who have tattoos, they associate meetings with them.

They, they, they're not just decorative, they, they, they're there for a reason.

Yucca: Yeah. That seems to be pretty, I mean, I can't think of anyone who I've asked about their tattoo and they haven't had some elaborate explanation about, you know, oh, this is, you know, the pair of sewing scissors because my mother and grandmother and I used to this and that, and you know, there's often, often stories that go along with it or, You know, things like, you know, this is my this is my five years sober tattoo, or my, you know, that kind of stuff,

Mark: Or the semicolon for people who have survived suicide attempts, for example. Right. Not the end of the story. There's more to the sentence.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: All, you know, there are, there are a lot of different kinds of symbols like that that are very meaningful to people and that I think are some of which are intended to be communicative. You know, they're supposed to tell a story to someone else, and for others it's just you telling the story to yourself when you see them on your body.

Yucca: and that's why for me, I chose white. I wanted them somewhere that I could see all the time, but I didn't want something that was gonna be flashy to someone else. Right. So that's why, I mean, I don't think most people even notice it. Right. But it's about,

Mark: I certainly never did when we met at the Century Retreat last year, I. Yeah, I, I never noticed them.

Yucca: Well I had, when we, then I had the one on my wrist, I didn't have the one on my hand. But again, I don't think it's showing up on the

Mark: I can't see it on the screen through Zoom. No, I can't see it.

Yucca: I think maybe it shows like you can barely see it, but I see it and that's what matters for me.

Mark: course, of course.

Yucca: my more visible, my more like elaborate ones.

I do still have them so that I can cover them if I want, but the, the stigma around them is really faded, right? People don't get worried about that anymore. It used to be a big deal, but now it's a I don't know if the statistic is real, but it's supposed to be like a third of American millennials have a tattoo,

Mark: Hmm.

Yucca: like that.

Wouldn't surprise me at all.

Mark: Me neither. I mean, you see them everywhere and you know, I, in professional office circumstances, I've, you know, worked with a lot of people who, you know, they have sleeves and and all that. So yeah, it's, it's very common to me. I've just never really felt the opportunity. It's, it's not that I'm in any way morally opposed So, yeah, what we're talking about here really is about how do you create symbolic meaning that reverberates through you in the course of your daily operations as opposed to your daily practice, which might be, okay, I do this formal thing in the morning, I do a formal thing in the evening.

That's great. But you know, I, I wanna be reminded of my values on a regular basis, and I want to be reminded of the things that I've learned that help me to be wiser and kinder.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: So, you know, having those kinds of practices I think is a good way to have a touchstone to go back. those principles because, you know, the world can frazzle you,

Yucca: He can't. Yeah.

Mark: you know, really pull you out of any sense of centeredness in yourself.

Yucca: As you were saying that it occurred to me. There's other points throughout the day that aren't things that I use, but that would be opportunities for other people if it's something that they do. If you wear makeup every morning,

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: a great time. Right to c incorporate some something in there. And just the act of getting dressed too, like you talk about having the items that you keep in your jeans, but you know, is there, is there something when you are dotting your clothing that you are reminding yourself about the, the values that you have or so things like that.

Mark: Not ordinarily, but certainly when I'm dressing professionally, like if I'm putting on a suit, I'm putting on a suit of armor. And, you know, I put on a suit to go to war because the kinds of contexts where I need to be dressed that way tend to be ones where I am advocating. Yeah, I'm advocating for something.

I'm, you know, I'm, I'm trying to make a change.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And either that or I'm defending myself which is, you know, another, another possibility. So. You know, clothing and costume is another whole conversation we could have. And, you know, maybe we will at some point

Yucca: think we should, yes.

Mark: I think we should too. Because decorating ourselves in various ways is highly communicative to the people around us.

And We make choices about what we wanna say. You know, we, it talks about what class we are, it talks about what gender we are. It talks about what what kind of work we do. It, it, it says a lot of stuff. Our education level.

Yucca: views, our, you know, yes. All kinds of things.

Mark: Yeah. So let's, let's put a pin in that and,

Yucca: Yeah, we'll come back to that.

Mark: Yeah, we'll definitely come back to that.

But you know, the whole self adornment thing, you know, beyond the practicalities of being warm enough or cool enough I, I think are, are an interesting vein to explore for people that are working to fold meaning into the operation of their lives.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: So this is, you know, sort of a. Whirlwind examination of all this stuff, but I, I, I think the, the fundamental point that I want to communicate is that you know, if there's a special rock that you like and it reminds you of something like a beautiful day at the beach or something, don't feel weird about carrying that around.

That's, that absolutely makes sense to carry that around.

Yucca: That's very human. We've been doing that a long time.

Mark: Yes. Yes. And we can do it intentionally and it can become a part of our, of our practice.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, this was a fun one. Thank you. A.

Mark: Yeah. Thank you, Yucca, and we'll see you next week.


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