What is a talisman? And what does it have to do with magick or witchcraft?
Before the medallion was properly identified, it was known as the "Masonic Jewel of the Prophet Joseph Smith." In the shape of a silver dollar, the piece measures exactly 1-9/16 inches in diameter and is probably made of silver or tin.
Apparently, nobody really knew what Joseph Smith's "Masonic Jewel" was before April 20, 1974. It was on that day that Dr. Reed Durham presented his discovery in his address before the Mormon History Association.
As President of the Association and Director of the LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah, Dr. Durham probably had their full attention when he spoke: "...I should like to initiate all of you into what is perhaps the strangest, the most mysterious, occult-like esoteric, and yet Masonically oriented practice ever adopted by Joseph Smith....All available evidence suggests that Joseph Smith the Prophet possessed a magical Masonic medallion, or talisman, which he worked during his lifetime and which was evidently on his person when he was martyred."
After describing the medallion, Dr. Durham then added, "...[the talisman] originally purchased from the Emma Smith Bidamon family, fully notarized by that family to be authentic and to have belonged to Joseph Smith, can now be identified as a Jupiter talisman. It carries the sign and image of Jupiter and should more appropriately be referred to as the Table of Jupiter."
Dr. Durham was correct. The table, also called the Kamea, can be depicted in either English numbers (as shown in the talisman found in The Magus, written in 1801) or in Hebrew (as used by Smith). According to Francis Barrett, author of "The Magus", the table "...consists of a square drawn into itself; it contains sixteen particular numbers, and in every line and diameter four, making thirty-four; the sum of all is one hundred and thirty-six. There are over it divine names, with an intelligence to that which is good, and a spirit to bad; and out of it is drawn the character of Jupiter and the spirits thereof; if this is engraven on a plate of silver, with Jupiter being powerful and ruling in the heavens, it conduces to gain riches and favor, love, peace and concord, and to appease enemies, and to confirm honors, dignities, and counsels;"
Mormon History Association President Durham admitted, "...in some very real and quite mysterious sense, this particular Table of Jupiter was the most appropriate talisman for Joseph Smith to possess. Indeed, it seemed meant for him, because on all levels of interpretation: planetary, mythological, numerological, astrological, mystical cabalism, and talismatic magic, the Prophet was, in every case, appropriately described.... In astrology, Jupiter is always associated with high positions, getting one's own way, and all forms of status...Talismatic magic further declared that anyone who worked skillfully with the Jupiter Table would obtain the power of stimulating anyone to offer his love to the possessor of the talisman, whether from a friend, brother, relative, or even any female."
Dr. Durham did not determine just when Smith obtained his talisman, but states that its description was discovered "...in a magic book printed in England in 1801, published in America in 1804, and I traced it to Manchester, and to New York [where Joseph Smith grew up]. It was a magic book by Francis Barrett and, lo and behold, how thrilled I was when I saw in his list of magic seal the very talisman which Joseph Smith had in his possession at the time of his martyrdom."
According to the Charles E. Bidamon affidavit (who sold the talisman to the Wood collection), "Emma Smith Bidamon the prophet's widow was my foster mother. She prized this piece very highly on account of its being one of the prophet's intimate possessions....I certify that I have many times heard her say, when being interviewed, and showing the piece, that it was in the prophets pocket when he was martyred at Carthage Ill."
That Joseph Smith would own such a magic talisman fits very well with the evidence from his 1826 trial. W. D. Purple, who was an eyewitness to the trial, claimed it was reported that Smith said certain talismanic influences were needed to recover a box of treasure:
"Mr. Thompson, an employee of Mr. Stowell, was the next witness.... Smith had told the Deacon that very many years before a band of robbers had buried on his flat a box of treasure, and as it was very valuable they had by a sacrifice placed a charm over it to protect it, so that it could not be obtained except by faith, accompanied by certain talismanic influences.... the box of treasure was struck by the shovel, on which they redoubled their energies, but it gradually receded from their grasp. One of the men placed his hand upon the box, but it gradually sunk from his reach.... Mr. Stowell went to his flock and selected a fine vigorous lamb, and resolved to sacrifice it to the demon spirit who guarded the coveted treasure... but the treasure still receded from their grasp, and it was never obtained." (The Chenango Union, Norwich, N.Y., May 3, 1877, as cited in A New Witness For Christ In America, Vol. 2, pp. 366-367)
Dr. Durham was unable to determine just when Joseph Smith obtained his talisman, but the fact that he was recommending "certain talismanic influences" around the time of the 1826 trial is certainly interesting. The Jupiter talisman is probably the type of talisman a money digger would be interested in because it was supposed to bring its possessor "the gain of riches, and favor, and power,..." Regardless of when Joseph Smith obtained his talisman, we do know that he possessed it up to the time of his death. He must have felt that it was very important because the Mormon scholar LaMar C. Berrett reveals that "This piece was in Joseph Smith's pocket when he was martyred at Carthage Jail." The Wilford C. Wood Collection, 1972, Vol. 1, page 173)
The discovery of evidence to prove Joseph Smith's 1826 trial was certainly a devastating blow to Mormonism, for it proved that Smith was a believer in magical practices. Reed Durham's new find that Joseph Smith possessed a magic talisman is also very significant because it shows that Smith probably held these ideas until the time of his death.***My Thoughts***
Here are the magical properties of a Jupiter Talisman:
The talisman of Jupiter is cherished because it helps to riches, honor, and glory. It also helps you becoming influential: Your opinions gain weight and they are appreciated. Jupiter helps secure peace. The talisman of Jupiter also provides a good feeling for religious things, law and order, and it makes conscientious. It is an excellent help in situations that involve government agencies and courts of law. It can provide help from superiors.
See what Joseph saw in Francis Barrett's The Magus, Book 1, chapter 28 regarding the magic tables of the planets, their form and virtue, and what divine names, intelligences and spirits are set over them. Keep in mind that this book was published in 1801 and was a highly regarded primer in all things magical, spiritual, and occultic.