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A palisman (plural form: palismen) is a sentient magical totem that is bonded to a witch as their familiar. The palisman acts as a staff, and are acquired by the witch as part of their education. Palismen can prove to be both a loyal friend and a powerful magic-enhancer, acting as an external source of magic for use in spells, transportation, weaponry, among other functions.

The only named palismen in the series so far are Owlbert, the Bat Queen, Hawksley, Frewin, Ghost, Clover, Flapjack, Emmiline, and Maya.

Background

Palismen are made from an enchanted plant called palistrom, generally in the shape of an animal or magical creature. Upon being carved, they gain life and sentience, and are bonded to the one that created them. They are the Boiling Isles' equivalent of a familiar, while also acting as magical staves that house their own source of power outside a witch's bile sac.[1] Because of this, palismen are capable of using the magic stored within them as well as a witch can.[2] Although they provide great magical power, that power still requires the user to have previous knowledge of magic to cast a spell.

Despite acting as a witch's staff for the most part, a palisman is an independent, sapient entity capable of having consciousness. They can detach themselves in staff form and act on their own. Most palismen choose loyalty to their witch and have a close bond with them. Any given palisman can disconnect in their staff half via a unique interlock that mates it to only their own staff and no other.[3] Although the staff occasionally manifests as a separate piece, palismen such as Owlbert, Frewin, and discarded palismen have shown they can transform into staffs and back,[4][5] which suggests the staff may be an extension of the palisman itself. All staffs can also be used to fly, making them a witch's main source of transportation.[6] A witch can summon their staff by command, or conjure them from thin air when needed. While in flight, winged palismen may animate and begin flapping their wings.

While a witch and their palisman are joined by a relationship of affection and mutual respect, the palisman will leave if the relationship is harmful to them. A witch can also abandon their palisman if the staff suffers irreparable damage or loss.[3] A palisman can return to their witch if the witch proves that they can be trusted again, or if the lost/damaged staff is repaired or replaced. Otherwise, the palisman can become the partner of a new witch whom they find to be worthy.[4]

Traditionally, witches in their teens will carve their own palisman and staff from palistrom wood, at school or with parental supervision as part of their education. However, palistrom trees have become an increasingly rare resource and the ones that are left are heavily guarded. As a result, a system of palisman adoption has been instituted by Principal Bump and the Bat Queen. During this process, a young witch will step forward and speak their greatest ambition, and if a palisman is compatible with the emotion of that ambition, they will step forward to meet their new partner.[4]

Their nature as both living creatures and objects is an interesting case, as while having the ability to turn into an object and can be damaged or cracked, it is shown in "Hollow Mind" that palismen have souls. In this sense, they have the properties of a living creature but can also function as an object. Furthermore, the Bat Queen, despite her being a palisman, has had offspring of her own and lives as a well-recognized and prestigious demon. This implies that palismen are capable of living just like every other creature on the Boiling Isles, although this may simply be a consequence of the Bat Queen's unique origin as the palisman of an ancient giant.[3]

Known palismen

Sightings

Trivia

Cat using a broomstick during the Covention.

  • The palismen and their double function as staffs combine both the familiars and flying broomsticks of conventional witch folklore, as well as the more general idea of "magical staffs" that appear in mainstream fantasy genre.
    • Despite this, flying broomsticks appear to coexist in the Demon Realm, presumably as an alternative to palismen travel.[7]
  • The Bat Queen was once a palisman for a giant's grand staff. She was discarded when the staff was broken and now lives in the forest, providing sanctuary for other abandoned palismen. At the suggestion of Eda Clawthorne, in the wake of dwindling resources to carve new palismen, the Bat Queen has begun taking those under her care to Hexside School of Magic and Demonics for Palisman Adoption Days.
  • Witches have been shown to be capable of understanding their palismen as seen in "Escape of the Palisman". This appears to happen when a witch and their palisman have formed a mutual emotional bond, as seen in "Eclipse Lake".
  • In "Agony of a Witch", Emperor Belos can be seen cracking open a palisman, and it is shown that the inside said palisman contains a vibrant green serum, its magical essence. "Hunting Palismen" showed that Belos needs this essence to maintain his form due to his unstable glyph spell.
    • In "Hollow Mind" it is revealed that Belos also absorbed the souls of the palismen through the essence.
    • In "Clouds on the Horizon", the Collector implies that while absorbing the palismen souls temporarily relieves Belos' suffering, it tends to aggravate his condition as it makes it increasingly difficult for him to maintain his human form.
  • In "Eda's Requiem", it is revealed that all witch staffs can fly, even if the palisman is not a flying animal.
  • According to Hunter in "Hunting Palismen", palismen were made using a technique that required wild magic. However, Dell Clawthorne was allowed to continue making palismen, despite the rule of Emperor Belos. This implies that Dell probably didn't use wild magic to create his palismen, since Belos specifically forbade the use of wild magic.
  • In "Escape of the Palisman", the Bat Queen reveals that she is thousands of years old, meaning that palismen have been used by witches and demons for thousands of years.
  • While almost all staffs used in the series are palismen, an artificial form of staff has been wielded by Emperor Belos and Hunter. These staves are mechanical in design and can cast artificial magic, thereby granting them a wide range of spells.[4]

Allusions

  • Talisman: The name derives from that of enchanted objects believed to bring their bearers good fortune or enhance magical abilities.
  • Pal: A colloquial term for friend.

Gallery

Concept art

Snapshots

"Escape of the Palisman"

"Hunting Palismen"

"Eda's Requiem"

"Any Sport in a Storm"

"Hollow Mind"

References

  1. Terrace, Dana (September 2, 2020). "HOOTY HOOTY! I'm Dana Terrace, creator and EP of The Owl House! ASK ME ANYTHING... If you're brave enough.". Reddit. “A palisman is our world's equivalent of a "witch's familiar". They act as familiars and double as magical staffs that house their own source of power outside of a witch's bile sac. They're not all powerful but they can do some cool stuff. Typically a witch will carve their palismen from a special type of wood in their teens. This can either be done at school or with parental supervision. That is... If that precious resource is still around...”
  2. Dana Terrace (writer) and Bridget Underwood (director) (August 7, 2021). "Eclipse Lake". The Owl House. Season 2. Episode 9. Disney Channel.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dana Terrace, Rachel Vine, John Bailey Owen (writers) and Aminder Dhaliwal (director) (March 20, 2020). "Escape of the Palisman". The Owl House. Season 1. Episode 10. Disney Channel.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Dana Terrace (writer) and Bridget Underwood (director) (July 17, 2021). "Hunting Palismen". The Owl House. Season 2. Episode 6. Disney Channel.
  5. Zach Marcus (writer) and Amelia Lorenz (director) (May 14, 2022). "O Titan, Where Art Thou". The Owl House. Season 2. Episode 19. Disney Channel.
  6. Dana Terrace (writer) and Amelia Lorenz (director) (July 24, 2021). "Eda's Requiem". The Owl House. Season 2. Episode 7. Disney Channel.
  7. Dana Terrace, Rachel Vine, Charley Feldman (writers) and Stu Livingston, Aminder Dhaliwal (directors) (February 7, 2020). "Covention". The Owl House. Season 1. Episode 5. Disney Channel.
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