“Sigils are monograms of thought, for the government of energy”
~ A. O. Spare, The Book Of Pleasure
The principle of sigil magic is founded on the theory that the conscious mind inhibits the action of magic on the world, and so it must be sidestepped in order to work magic (parallels between this and shamanic trancework). The sigil does not have any inherent power; it is only the energy invested in them by their creator that imbues them with magical potential. This is dissimilar to the use of charms and talismans, in that the latter uses pre-existing symbols with pre-existing associations that are retained after use (Max suggests that the physical representation of the sigil be destroyed after use).
Sigil magic requires no spiritwork or deity requests, as it is entirely based on the theory of subconscious creation – the ability of the subconscious to rearrange reality.
The three main stages of sigil creation are:
- Setting intent
- Creating the graphical sigil
- Implanting the glyph into the subconscious
There are a number of rules to be followed while setting intent:
- The statement must be in the present tense, otherwise the subconscious mind will continue to manifest it in the future.
- The statement must be precise and totally unambiguous. Spend some time deliberately trying to misinterpret or subvert the phrase.
- The phrase must be brief, but this should be balanced against the need for clarity.
- The statement must be positive. The subconscious mind interprets everything positively and ignores words like ‘not’. ‘I will not..’ becomes ‘I will…’
- A strong declaration at the beginning makes the whole phrase stronger. Max prefers to use “It is my will…”, but acknowledges that many Chaos magicians skip the initial statement altogether.
In Cutter’s video, the example given is I HAVE LUCID DREAMS WHILE SLEEPING. It is a positive phrase in the present tense, which is both clear and concise.
Creating the graphic
Write the phrase in block capitals, and remove duplicated letters: I HAVE LUCID DREAMS WHILE SLEEPING
Some techniques suggest breaking the phrase down into its elements – IT IS MY WILL // TO HAVE LUCID DREAMS // WHILE SLEEPING – then remove the duplicate letters from each part – IT IS MY WILL // TO HAVE LUCID DREAMS // WHILE SLEEPING
This method is advisable for longer sentences, so that the sigil doesn’t end up as a mess of letters.
Using the letters, create a graphic design.Letters can be inverted, mirrored, rotated, resized, overlapping and/or connected until the design is satisfyingly impressive.
If the ‘component parts’ method was used, three proto-sigils should be created, which are then merged into the final graphic.
At this point, the paper with the sentence and list of letters written on it should be discarded, and the sigil refined and simplified until it no longer resembles a construct of letters, but a purely graphical device. A balance must be struck between making the sigil graphical and powerful looking, and making the meaning of the sigil obscure enough that the long-term memory cannot recall it. Containing it within a circle can help make it more concise and to retain the energy it is empowered with in the next step.
“A sigil whose meaning is remembered at the point is it charged is a sigil that won’t work”
~Joseph Max, on Spare’s theory
Both Cutter and Max suggests creating four or five sigils at the same time, then putting them out of sight for a week, or until you forget which is which (no peeking!), then charge them once the meaning is forgotten, although Ray Sherwin (Action Sigils) suggests that this fragments the energies used and is undesirable (Chaos magicians seem particularly bad for contradicting each other), preferring to create an Action sigil instead (see bibliography).
Another method of forgetting is to keep the sigil around where you will see it regularly, in such a fashion that it fades into the background and the conscious mind ignores it and forgets its meaning.
Here, Cutter and the Chaos magicians differ; for Cutter, the empowerment stage is the act of filling the glyph with energy and setting the mind to change the world around it. The Chaos magicians set the sigil into the subconscious in order for it act upon the magician. For my part, I’m not sure of the ‘right’ way, if they are both saying the same thing or even if it matters how it works, so long as it does (actually, it matters to me, but I will have to let it slide until I know more about magic and the mind).
The sigil is introduced to the subconscious while in a state of trance (here Max provides a list of techniques for achieving this, including yoga, drumming, chanting, dancing and sex). One of Spare’s suggestions for implanting the sigil is to paint it on to a mirror, then stare through the mirror into your own eyes without blinking until the sigil disappears from view.
When meditating or chanting to induce a trance state, it is possible to create a specific mantra by rearranging the letters used to create the sigil into nonsense words.
Following Cutter’s advice, the act of creation itself is a powerful tool, and one that can be utilised to charge the sigil, although Max recommends destroying the created sigil afterwards. The time and attention spent on creating the sigil-image is a huge investment of energy and intent, and it becomes more important to use borders to contain the energy with the image. Any colours or symbolic elements used must be fully understood and used deliberately and with awareness of their meaning.
After the sigil is created and implanted/charged, it is important to disassociate yourself from the ritual. Max recommends abstaining from meditation, magical or craft work, discussing the ritual with anyone, sexual activity or philosophical thought for about three hours.
Of vital importance is to avoid the stimulus that caused you to create the sigil. A sigil with a long-term outcome (to earn more money, to improve a relationship) is unlikely to work if you constantly fret over having a low-paid job or an uncaring partner. If this is unavoidable, a different magical technique is probably required.
Avoid journalling the working, to encourage forgetfulness. It might be a good idea to record the intent before working, then put the diary away for a few months, or cover up the entry until a later date.
It is not necessary to repeat the procedure. In fact, according to Jan Fries (Visual Magick), repeating the process will negate it’s effects.
Boudicca’s Bard: Sigils is an e-book by Chaos magician Joseph Max.
Sigils, Servitors, and Godforms is part one of three of an essay by Mark Defrates
Action sigils by Ray Sherwin
Spare, Austin Osman; The Book of Pleasure
Fries, Jan; Visual Magick
Carroll, Peter; Liber Kaos
Crowley, Aleister; Magick
Sound sigils by Kevin Max Krebs