Christian Talismans


When we study spiritual warfare in the middle ages we find there are references to a “Book of Exorcisms” used by the church in the fifth century.  Unfortunately there is no trace of what it contained. However, there is a record of a formula being used by the beginning of the eighth century: “I come against you, most unclean damned spirit; you are grown old in evil, the substance of crimes, the origin of sin; you delight in deceits, sacrileges, defilements, slaughter. Invoking the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we rebuke you and adjure you through his majesty and power, passion and resurrection, advent and judgment, that in whatever part of the members you are hiding, you manifest yourself by your own confession, and that, shaken by spiritual flames and invisible torments, you flee from the vessel that you believe yourself in possession of, leaving it purged for the Lord after having been your dwelling-place. … Depart, depart, wherever you are, and seek no more to enter bodies dedicated to God. May they be forbidden to you forever, in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and in the glory of the Lord’s passion, by whose blood they are saved, whose advent they await, whose judgment they confess.”

Using written prayers for deliverance can help a person know what and how to pray, but one should never put faith in the prayer or words of the prayer, as if something magical or mystical was attached to them.  Repetition of words without meaning them from the heart is empty and is what Jesus condemned the religious leaders for doing.  Written prayers can be used, but only as a sample and without any faith being put in the prayer itself.

In the first part of the Middle Ages the possessed were generally treated well. The techniques of spiritual deliverance of the first five centuries included breathing into a person, readings and word formulas, holy water, signing of the cross, salt, oil, bodily hardships, etc.  In time other methods were introduced.  These included the use of sanctified ointments, the spittle of the priests, sacred relics, visits to shrines, and concoctions (as, for instance, a mixture of lupin, henbane, bishopswort, garlic, ale, and holy water).  Eventually the relics began to be used as tools of deliverance from demonizing with the spirits providing the expected reactions (complaints, aversion, despair, etc.). These, along with the shrines, could be considered as a form of Christian talismans. This practice originated from the suggestion of the spirits themselves and not from the influence of some ancient civilization, as the literature of Babylon. However, this use of concoctions sounds very much like a throwback to the practice of sorcery.

Sorcery and witchcraft put great emphasis on objects which are seen to have special powers.  New Age today attributes powers to such things such as amulets or certain beads, stones or jewelry.  Even as Christians we can do the same thing with the physical book we call the Bible or a symbol like a cross.  These are fine for what they contain (Bible) and stand for (cross), but making the physical object a focus of faith or trust is wrong.  Our focus needs to only be on Jesus Himself.  He is the only one who has had victory over Satan and we only have it in Him.

(For more information on the subject of spiritual warfare go to  or email me at and I’ll send you a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook).

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