I was recently asked if there was a difference between charms, amulets, and talismans. I suppose the answer will vary based on who you ask this question. In my personal training and in my personal practice the answer is yes, there is a difference. So how are these words defined differently? The main difference is based on the intention of what their energetic purpose is.
A charm is any object that you are able to carry with you that is empowered by magick. This can range from jewelry such as necklaces, pendants, bracelets, and rings—or they can be hand-crafted objects such as sachets, mojo bags, jack balls, spell papers with sigils or name papers, etc. Amulets can be objects from nature that are charged with energy. For example, charms can even be as simple as a crystal that you’ve empowered. In this sense, both amulets and talismans are types of charms.
Amulets are charms that are magickally infused with energy to repel other energies and influences. They may be apotropaic, shielding, banishing, protective, or neutralizing in their function. Think of amulets as being like a charm that is infused with energy that is similar in nature to that of the waning moon. A friend of mine uses a mnemonic device to remember the definition of an amulet. Amulets are used to let go of energy—amuLET-IT-GO.
Talismans are the opposite of amulets. Talismans are charms that are magickally infused with energy to draw, attract, increase, enhance, and amplify other energies and influences. Think of talismans as being like a charm that is infused with energy that is similar in nature to that of the waxing moon. The mnemonic device my friend uses to remember this definition of a talisman is equally as clever. Talismans are used to let manifest energy—talisMAN-IFEST.
Of course, these definitions are going to vary from practitioner to practitioner, and teacher to teacher. This has just been my own training, the way that I use the words and how I would answer this question.