The Key Talisman

The Key Talisman was a very important one with both Greeks and Romans. It is the joint symbol of Janus (or Apollo) and Jana, his wife (Diana, or the Moon), and was worn for Prudence, and for Remembrance of things past, and foresight of things to come, Janus being represented as the God with two faces, typifying the prudent man who with sagacity and ripe judgment observes things past and future possibilities, and so discerns the causes and effects of all happenings. Janus was also the inventor of locks, doors, and gates, and was the Janitor of the year, for which reason twelve cities were dedicated to him, according to the months; and he held the Key of the Door through which the prayers of the faithful had access to the gods.



Plate 8

Diana, Or Jana

Diana, Or Jana, his wife, presided over doors and thresholds and was the special protectress of childbirth, and as keeper of the Gate of Heaven held the key of light and life.

Some of these ancient key Amulets were made in silver (Diana's own metal) and have heart-shaped handles, implying, it is thought by some writers, that the affections must be prudently guarded. The key was also attributed to Hecate Proserpine, who was the guardian of the underworld and could release the spirits of the departed. The key (Illustration No. no, Plate VIII) is shown attached to a finger ring, which was a very popular form of its use.

Grylli, Or Chimerae

Grylli, Or Chimerae, were grotesque figures belonging to an early period of Roman art, and not, as sometimes asserted, characteristic of Gnostic remains. They consist of strange combinations of various animal forms, representing some strange, ludicrous, impossible monster such as a Goat, Ox, Lion, and Eagle united into one. They were used as Talismans and Amulets according to the ideas they portrayed, being sometimes Astrological in their significance and at other times representative of some form of Grecian or Roman religion. Plutarch writes that these composite objects were fixed up to ward off witchcraft and the evil effects of the first glance of the Evil Eye, it being thought that if the mischief-working eye could be diverted from the object to be protected on to the strange and ridiculous figures represented by the "grylli" the glance would be absorbed and its effects destroyed. "Grylli" is derived from the modern Italian word "grillo," meaning caprice. The Rev. C. W. King in his interesting book on engraved gems instances a Talisman of this kind intended to attract Sunshine and Abundance, also designed as a protection against dangers on land or sea. It was made up as follows:-

"A Ram with a Cornucopia on his head, holding a Rabbit by its tail (signifying fruitfulness and plenty) and a Cock bestride a Dolphin (the Cock being a symbol of the Sun, the Rabbit the Land, and the Dolphin the Sea). These Chimerae often encircled a portrait of the owner, thus unmistakably conveying to him their protective virtues".

The Caduceus, The Wand Of Mercury

The Caduceus, The Wand Of Mercury (Illustration No. 105, Plate VIII), was considered an extremely efficient Talisman, being worn to render its possessor wise and persuasive, to attract Health and Youthfulness, as well as to protect from the Evil Eye.