A talisman is an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck.
I am participating in the Illustration Friday Challenge
with my take on the theme Talisman.

Shamanistic Art by Paula Kuitenbrouwer at www.mindfuldrawing.com

Drawing of Lascaux Art, Prehistoric Art, Shaman Art,
Lionman Statute & Venus of Willendorf

At Etsy & http://www.paulaartshop.com

Do you believe in the magical properties of a talisman? I think that we all do that; certainly not only those who visit Catholic Cathedrals and churches were we keep bones (or mummified parts) of saints. We touch stone slabs of tombs, why? Is there energy inside such stones that with which we long to reconnect? We have a history of kissing rings to plead loyalty. We collect charms for our bracelets; Dublin has two Pandora stores in its high street! We keep memorabilia of our grandparents as if they continue to life in these objects. We feel as if we bury our ancestors twice over when we discard their old furniture, clothing or letters.
Do I have a talisman? Sure, I have. It is an object that belonged to my grandfather who died in a German concentration camp at the end of 1944. The fact that I have it, after my mother, my grandfather’s oldest daughter, kept it safe, surely shows magic powers because not many personal possessions were kept in concentration camps and made it back home to family members (as a death certificate) by post at the end of WWII.
About the quality of a talisman to bring of good luck,  I am not sure. We, modern Facebook drama peoples, are terribly short-sighted. Many things would bring us good luck, wouldn’t they? Like cars, nuclear arm race, and social media. Well did they? We often think that when all seems to fall apart that we experience bad luck. Closer and wiser thinking shows us that many small personal dramas are just transition periods. Therefore, I leave the ‘good luck’ up to historians, gods or angels as they aren’t caught up in typical human, short-sighted and dramatic perspectives.
Just refuse to grow disappointed in your talisman. Its best magic of it is making you doubt what good luck actually is. Is it clinging on to the wrong things? Is it personal growth (that also comes with growing pains), is it spiritual growth that comes with hard earned wisdom?
Perhaps you had a talisman and you discarded it because you mistook its magic?  Perhaps you have discarded magic along with it? Perhaps a tiny pebble in your drive way is a talisman, but you would never know because we are opinionated what is good and bad luck and have lost our faith in magic. Perhaps the best thing about a talisman is to believe in magic that is larger than our limited thinking skills and to test our definitions of ‘good luck’.

14 thoughts on “Talisman

  1. I often pick up a stone when walking in the woods or river. I find it soothing to hold one. I have things from my grandparents which I treasure too, just because they owned them, and objects can be good reminders of people. You are certainly lucky to have something of your grandfather’s which made it out of a concentration camp. It’s so sad that he was there in the first place though. This is an interesting piece of art. A nice homage to our ancient ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. You are so kind, Luanne. Neuegamme was a small work camp. It was designed to have prisoners work till they would drop dead from illness or exhaustion.
          In the Netherlands there is a monument with my grandfathers’s name and the names of his fellow resistance members. For a few years we lived close to this monument. I would circle around the monument on my bike after running errands, which Dutch do often by using their bicycles, and tell stories to my young daughter of her great-grandfather. Then I would stop, put my bike aside, lift my young daughter up and let her trace her great-grandfather’s name on the monument with her small fingers. We liked doing that, as if to visit great-grandpa.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great story, Paula! Amazing how this object of your grandfather survived and is now in your possession. I have many objects with memories attached to it: shells, pebbles, and other things I found or was given. I never thought of them as talismans, but I suppose they are in a way. Lovely post!


    1. Dear Lois, My family has extensively documented our history, on both sides. I am very fortunate with having a family that loves writing. I will write a post on this as well as my DNA Ancestry results. You are right; knowing the past feels like knowing yourself but then deeper and richer. It makes you humble too when you realise you are only (a small) part of a long line of wonderful ancestors and promising children.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is wonderful that you have your grandfathers talisman, and the story behind that is very moving Paula. My Grandfather was at the Auschwitz concentration camp ( because he was also part of the resistance, and he and his brothers ran an underground newspaper in s-Hertogenobosch, and my grandmother ran a safe house for Jewish families,thus they were always on the move, and the newspaper alerted families when to move) and my grandmother often took the train there and bribed the guards with jewels and money in order to give him extra food and medicine. She wrote to Queen Wilhelmina in 1944 and she took efforts to get him out of there fortunately; yet he was like an animal when he returned home and could not longer use a knife or fork or speak properly, or was he able to do anything, for a long,long time, so we share a similar history :). My mother was also a POW at Vught concentration camp for a short while when she was 4 years of age, and the things she saw there have scarred her for life!

    I undertook a family history, on both my maternal and paternal sides, that took me over 4 years, and I completed it just after my Mother died 2 years ago, as she wanted her story told and I could not complete that until she had passed away. I was given 2 rings that my mother had insisted that I have for doing this, the writing of stories of our his/herstory! One ring is a combination of my Great Grandmother Catherina van Mulbregt’s ( nee Deckers) engagement ring, combined with her daughter, my grandmother, Gertruda Thissen ( nee van Mulbregt) and my mother’s Catharina’s engagement ring. The other ring, was my mother’s wedding ring… These rings are very special to me and I hold them close to my heart, and in time I will pass them onto my daughter. I do understand your connection with your tallisman! I also have a special place in my home where I have small photos of my ancestors, from my mother, to her parents, their parents, their parents, and some of their parents, and on my father’s side too, back to about 1850! That way I can remember to gain strength from them when I need that little extra boost! Without them, I wouldn’t be here, and I am most grateful to each and everyone of them!

    It is certainly a journey investigation family histories, and when I was doing it, and often got stuck in my research an ancestor would come to me in a dream or waking dream as I was writing, and tell me their name, and a little bit about themselves, and that gave me the key to the puzzle ( it is like the hero’s journey maze) which helped me investigate further. Our ancestors are always with us, they are in our genes, our memories, and our hearts! What I learned most about geneaology is that we are all connected, each and everyone of us, and that we all share a common ancestor some way back ( we personally are probably connected as little as the last 10 generations), and that we all originally came out of Africa. If only all people knew this, there would not be racism! ( maybe I am idealizing here… as there will always be people in denial of the truth, who are hell bent of negativity and hate, unfortunately! ).

    I do have a talisman that I have had for 28 years, it is a pebble with a painting of a crocodile on it. It was painted by an aboriginal elder( full- blooded) of the Kuku Yalanji people of the Daintree forest, in North Queensland. He gave it to me, saying that it was my talisman because I was of the crocodile clan; as I was strong, brave, dependable, creative, magical, protective, and that I would be an excellent mother one day! I have had many wonderful times with aboriginal elders from many different aboriginal nations. They all call me sister and mother, and say that I am an elder with much wisdom, a library!

    Blessings to you, Paula 🙂 x.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Bridget, Thank you so much for your long reply. There is so much in it on which I like to reflect. My grandfather was in the intellectual resistance too, publishing a resistance newletter ‘Christofoor, voor God & Vaderland’ with a few other members. My grandfather got betrayed, yours too? Our grandfathers have been in the same camp, Vlucht, which was a transition camp. I like to think they met and helped each other to keep up their spirits. Maybe they talked about their children and future generations being in contact with eachother? I find it remarkable that we share this history together because we have never met in person and we met anyway through our online activities.
      When my husband got recruited for his job, his recruiter turned out to be the grandson of a resistance member of my grandfather’s group. Their names are on a local monument that I referred to in my blogpost.
      We both are going to pass on our talisman ring to our daughters. It is hard for me to think this is coincidental.


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