We humans have a deep need to feel safe – and an equally deep need to collect around us talismans which comfort us when the world feels threatening, hostile or just very unstable.
These can be very small items, or large and imposing ones. They can be words written by loved ones or photos of special people during the happy times. Whatever they are, they have this in common: One sight of them is profoundly reassuring and restorative. They are like bridges – between the pain of now and the remembered joy of an earlier time. They are symbols of hope and love and warmth. They remind us that we are loved – and have the capacity for love ourselves (since we secretly hope that our loved ones also find emotional sustenance from our gifts and words).
In my Study (the room I spend most of my time in), I have many talismans: My father’s mandolin; the picture a close friend gave me after my First Degree Initiation; hare images and a lovely Pre-Raphaelite picture (from this same dear friend); A beautiful statue of Sekhmet (given to me by lovely Sue Vincent two years ago and treasured); the Sheelenagig ticket (my son’s precious Christmas gift to me in 2015); the tiny wooden box, with a violin on top of its lid, given to me by a member of my tutor group twenty-two years ago, and an embroidered ‘A’ made by another member of the same group; musical scales written out by another close friend; three cards from my recent birthday (all from people already mentioned, or relatives of theirs); two photos of my son when he was one; a lovely decanter (a gift from dear friends who live nearby) – and many many other delightful things.
It is not the objects in themselves which evoke such strong emotion, however, though they are, without exception, wonderful and thoughtfully chosen. No, it is the fact that these people valued me enough to buy or make these heartfelt gifts. That thought brings a lump to my throat every time – and sometimes brings tears.
When I am feeling forlorn and hurt and in pain, I only have to look at the jolly images on my birthday cards to feel a little smile beginning; when all seems too much to cope with, touching my Sekhmet or picking up the violin box, or reminding myself of the magic of that Sheelenagig Christmas Shindig, or pouring red wine into my decanter, takes some of the sharpest edge off my grief and fear – and reminds me that, for all the loss and uncertainty in my life, I am still blessed with a group of true and loving friends.
Enjoy your own talismans. May they give you as much comfort as mine give me.