This post by Frank Larnerd
Words are one of the ways we communicate, but words can do much more than that. Words have the power to influence others, to change opinions, and to open minds to new ideas. Words just don’t sit on a page; they inspire us, motivate our senses, and alter our beliefs. Sigil magic is one attempt to use words to affect change the world the world around us.
A sigil is simply a symbol, word, or tool used to create a magical effect. Sigils have always been a strong part of the magical tradition among human cultures. Early humans used cave drawings to initiate young men as hunters for the tribe. Ancient Roman’s used words and symbols to curse their enemies in elaborate metal curse tablets. Even early Christians used sigils as means of supernatural protection and some modern Christians still use the crucifix for such powers today.
Based on Kabbalistic and Hermetic occult traditions, sigil magic is a way of altering the world through words. Sigils magic was also utilized by Queen Elizabeth’s court astrologer John Dee. His studies into magic would inspire Twentieth Century magicians Austin Osman Spare and Aleister Crowley as they brought the practice of magic into the public sphere.
Crowley believed all art to be magical. For him, paper and pens were as powerful magical weapons as enchanted staffs or magic wands. Crowley used sigils to call forth spirits, alter his own consciousness, and influence the physical world. His magical experiments and writings would go on to guide modern Twenty-first Century magicians and their use of sigil magic.
Today, magicians create sigils in much the same way as earlier magicians. To create a sigil, first the magician must write out a goal. The goal should be specific, yet something actually achievable. Your goal might be to become the king of the moon, but without a rocket ship, being the king of the moon is kind of useless. Maybe you’d like a promotion, or a date with an attractive acquaintance? Whatever your goal is write it out, perhaps something like this:
“I will earn an A on my essay for English class”
After your goal is written out, select all the different letters and put them into a line. Ignore double letters, so that your line of looks something like this:
“I W L E A R N O M Y F S G H C”
Some magicians will at this point remove all the vowels from the string of letters like so:
“W L R N M F S G H C”
The important thing is to do what you feel is right. Creating a magical sigil is a personal endeavor, where there are no set rules.
Once you have your string of letters, reposition them into an image that speaks to you. It may take a few attempts before your sigil is complete. It is not required that your sigil bare any resemblance to other mystical symbols, the important thing is that the sigil speaks to you in some way. Your sigil might look like ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, downtown graffiti, or just chicken scratches; the vital element is that the sigil works for you.
For this demonstration, my sigil made from the string of letters looks like this:
After you have completed your sigil, you can hang it in a place where it can be noticed. Concentrate on your sigil, mediating on your goal and how it can be achieved. This process is known as charging your sigil. Again, this process should be a personal one; there are no rules. Some magicians burn their sigils and disperse the ashes, while others bury theirs. Many magicians make their sigils public, drawing off the energies of others. The essential thing is to put conscious thought into your sigil by focusing on your desired goal.
Modern magician and comic book writer Grant Morrison says that your goals will begin to manifest themselves in either three days, three weeks, or in three months.
Morrison knows a thing or two about magic, his “novel” experiments with sigil magic have led to interesting results. In 1994, Morrison began work on a new title for DC comics. Described as a “hyper sigil,” Morrison’s comic followed a team of psychedelic warriors called “The Invisibles” and their battles against sadistic doomsday cults and horrifying Lovecraftian gods. The comic is full of arcane occult references, time travel, and even kung fu – all culminating into a weird rollercoaster ride through the pop culture history of global conspiracy.
The comic received much acclaim from readers and critics, but it also had other consequences. Morrison had fashioned the leader of the Invisibles after the ideal version of himself; King Mob is dashing, intelligent, cool, and totally fearless. Morrison made sure the character looked like him too, including a shaved head and a hip looking leather jacket. Soon, things that were happening in the comic began to happen to Morrison. When King Mob got a sexy red-haired girlfriend, so did Morrison. But when King Mob was captured by enemy agents and tortured, Morrison found himself in the hospital with two ruptured lungs. Morrison wrote in King Mob’s rescue and soon his health began to improve. After that, Morrison made sure King Mob had an easier time in the pages of “The Invisibles.”
Fellow magician and comic book writer Alan Moore believes that today sigils are predominantly used by corporations to alter the consciousness consumers. All around us, businesses use slickly designed graphic representations to promote themselves; the McDonald’s “M,” or the Nike swoosh are great examples. These corporate sigils tell us “just lovin’ it,” or “just do it.”
Recently, politicians have also been using sigils in their promotion. Both President Barack Obama and Republican Nominee Mitt Romney used in the 2012 election. Both campaigns used red, white, and blue colors on bold letter based symbols that evoked the American flag.
So do sigils really work? Are sigils really magic?
Supernatural believers explain the sigil’s power by describing how thoughts have the ability to take form in the natural world. Based on Plato’s concepts of thought forms, the sigil gives the magician aid in producing a real world effect through concentration and mediation.
New Age mystics have latched on to the scientific explanation of the Pauli Exclusion Principle as a way to justify the effects of magic. The Pauli Exclusion Principle is scientists’ way of describing the event of electrons changing quantum states. The idea of the principle is this: when electrons are change their quantum states they are effecting other elections across the universe. Because our brains operate by electrons, simple thoughts can have a ripple effect on a subatomic level, creating minuet changes that eventually multiple until they affect transformations in the physical world.
Psychology might provide a more likely answer for how sigils work. I personally believe that Sigils probably preform much like a sugar pill or other placebos. Sigils work because we think they work; their only magic maybe in their ability to give the magician permission and focus to achieve their goals. Like Dumbo with his magic feather, sigils’ real power comes from their ability to make us to believe in our own magic.
No matter what gives sigils their power, they are an incredibly interesting way for writers and other artists to consider how their work can change the world.
Of course, there are dangers. On a very real level, we understand the hazards of racial, or gender biased writing. This kind of dark magic has the ability to separate us, causing fear, hatred, and even violence. Promotion of intolerance and bigotry can as easily conjured as acceptance and love.
But, if we believe words have power and we use them in a noble and proper way to create stories, poems, and essays with positive messages. We can teach instead of just preach, we can connect instead of only dejecting, and we can inspire instead of despising. In a very real sense, our writings have the ability to alter the human heart, and that is a very real kind of magic.
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