The Magical Technique of Sigilization
Many of the techniques of modern New Age magic don’t involve the complex ritual regalia and exacting periods of preparation used within the tradition of ceremonial magic. Folk magic and simple ways of working magic, such as candle magic, have become increasingly popular.
Sigilization, although derived within the ceremonial tradition, is just such a technique, an easy but in no sense superficial way of effecting magical changes. The technique of using sigils can be applied equally well to changing anything from the weather to some internal situation (for example to come to terms with one’s own anger or to spark inspiration for a specific project).
The basic method was developed by the artist and magician Austin Osman Spare during the early part of the 20th century. Spare was a wonderfully talented individual, notable for many things outside occultism, such as receiving a national award for mathematics and being the youngest ever exhibitor at the National Gallery.
Spare knew both Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner but himself shunned ceremonial styles (both the High Magical style of Crowley and the coven rites of Gardner’s Wicca). Instead he developed a system based on very simple principles. The use of sigils was just one element of the highly individualistic philosophy that Spare called his ‘Zos Kia Cultus.’ Although some aspect of Spare magical philosophy was very personal, many of the techniques he developed can be adapted for anyone’s use.
Your magical intention...
So, what are sigils? Sigils are images that unconsciously represent your desire but don't do so consciously. The aim of Sigilization is to create an image (usually a symbol of some type) that represents your magical intention. The image is made in such a way that your conscious mind will not make an immediate connection betweenit and the object of your desire.
The image is then imbued or charged with magical power and, usually, symbolically destroyed, thus releasing the energy to cause the desired change. Sigils work by exploiting a fundamental difference in the way the conscious and unconscious minds operate.
Spare, who was heavily influenced by the new science of psychology especially that of Sigmund Freud, saw magic as coming about when conscious desires were planted in the unconscious mind. The day-to-day conscious mind generally deals with simple symbols; letters and numbers. Consciousness, is also limited to being able to retain some seven bits of information at any one time.
Psychologists, such as G.A.Miller in 1956, have demonstrated that the capacity of consciousness to retain information is quite small. The unconscious mind on the other hand deals in symbols and images. Unconscious logic is more akin to the poetic surreal logic of dreams. It is in the unconscious realm that long-term memory is stored.
The unconscious is able to encode vast amount of information as patterns and non-linear associations. The ‘ego level’ acts as the filter (in some respects) or bridge (in other situations) between the conscious and unconscious mind.
The ego level is filter in that it prevents the totality of information held in the unconscious overwhelming the conscious mind. It also acts as a bridge in that it permits experiences to be encoded in the unconscious (as memories) and for unconscious impressions (such as intuitions and memory recall) to flow into the conscious mind.
A sigil occupies a halfway point between conscious and unconscious mind. It is composed of letters (the language of consciousness) formed into a pattern (the symbol-speak of the unconscious). In this way the sigil allows the conscious desire to enter the unconscious mind and it is the unconscious mind that is the powerhouse of magic. The sigil hovers between the two realms, opening a channel between the “rational” logical mind of mundane reality and the “symbolic” magical realm of the unconscious mind.
The simplest and most commonly used way to create a sigil is the “classic” method as described by Spare. Firstly, decide what you want. Depending upon on your own magical belief system, your views on karma and so forth, you may want to spend some time considering carefully how to word your spell. Certainly, it is important to get a clear rock-solid intention with which you feel both emotionally and intellectually happy into your mind before proceeding.
Secondly having established what you want, write down this desire as one simple statement. For instance: I WANT TO DEVELOP MY TELEPATHIC SKILLS.
The next step is to remove all the letters in your statement that are repeated. The above example becomes IWANTODEVLPMYHCSK.
Experiment with the letter forms that remain, overlaying one on top of the other until you arrive at a sigil. This is the shape with which you are aesthetically happy and which contains within itself all the letters from your original statement of desire, as in the two examples shown on the right.
It does not matter what the sigil looks like as long as its not too complex. All that is needed is that it be easy to focus your attention on and looks “right” according to your intuition.
When you are satisfied with your sigil, draw this on a piece of paper. You will need to transform it from a mere doodle into a magically potent image. To do this you will need to raise energy with which to empower the sigil.
This may be done in a very passive way, perhaps by consciously playing the sigil under your pillow every night. Or you may prefer a far ore dramatic process involving chanting, music, dance or whatever seems to work best for you.
Visualise the first chakra…
The next step is to charge your sigil. Again, you may already have a preferred way of doing this but for those with less experience there are two methods that can be used. The first takes a very internal meditative approach, the second is more ritualist.
Starting my preparing the space in which the ritual is to take place. If incense is to be used it shall have a light scent that will not hamper the use of paranayama (breath control).
Place the sigil in front of you at eye level. Visualize the first chakra (energy centre) in your subtle body at the base of your spine glowing red. Once this image is clear, imagine the sigil glowing on the chakra centre, then take three deep, slow but easy breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
On the third breath imagine red light moving upwards to the next chakra. Repeat this process through the orange (just below the navel), yellow (solar plexus), green (heart), blue (base of the throat) and purple/indigo (third eye) chakras. At each stage, be conscious that the power of the signal is being infused with the powers of each chakra.
When you reach the third eye chakra breathe the sigil up to the crown chakra (white light) which is situated slightly above the crown of the head. Imagine a stream of brilliance flooding through your whole chakra system and with one deep exhalation imagine the energy flooding into the sigil in front of your eyes. The sigil is now activated. In the example outlined above the word visualization is used. However, you may be the kind of person who is more conscious of sound or undifferentiated inner feelings rather than direct visual images.
Prepare your temple space. You will need to use a candle and have two vessels containing water and suitable incense close to hand.
Construct a sacred space in your preferred manner. Place your sigil in the North of the Circle, the incense in the East, the water in the West and the candle in the South. Go first to the East, if you wish to do so use words to help you concentrate on the qualities of the Air element (intelligence, trickery, communication).
Moving clockwise, take the incense round the circle and image the power of the element Air suffusing the circle with its power. At the North, pass the sigil through the incense smoke imagining the Air element empowering the sigil. Repeat this process with the candle in the South gently warming the Sigil with the flame. Repeat this with the water sprinkling the circle and the sigil. Call on the powers of the Earth to make real the desire of the sigil. Finally destroy the sigil or prepare it for disposal (bury it in some earth held in a clay pot, prior to burying it outside). Then relax and disperse the circle according to your tradition.
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