Let’s get one thing out of the way – there are many readers and occult-enthusiasts who feel drawn to witchcraft, the supernatural, the occult, and other metaphysical philosophies but ultimately give up because they can’t satisfy the itch of this burning question – is magick even real? How can you prove it is? There is no shame in asking questions. In fact, curiosity, open-mindedness and critical thinking are valuable skills in the domain of the occult. While many mainstream religious ideologies encourage blind obedience and subservience, the beauty of making your very own eclectic path to witchcraft and the occult makes it so that you are well-informed about each step of your practice – what works is left in, what doesn’t is conveniently left out – there is no shame in experimenting. But let’s circle back to the initial question – how can I prove magick or magic is real? As a beginner, what must I do to affirm the existence of magic? Aleister Crowley, founder of Thelema and a renowned occultist defines magick as “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.” This brings chaos magick – and sigil magick – into the mix.
In pagan circles, there are a wide variety of applications of the above definition. Some argue that there is a universal life force or energy that exists in all living things, and if humans are aware of and can learn to control and adapt this force, it makes sense that humans can influence change upon other elements within the universe. Others argue that magick plays a more psychological role, and ritual and spell-work soothe the anxieties of the unconscious mind, thereby allowing an individual to be more productive and confident in her day to day life. Essentially what this means is that believing in spell-work and magick plays a dormant psychological affect and success becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy (a practitioner believing that her gods will aid her and her spell will grant her success will be more positive, active and assertive towards attaining her goal, and this change in attitude will indeed bring in success). Others still think of magick as a force that can slightly (but meaningfully, nonetheless) alter the probability of something happening in your favor, thereby bringing you success and prosperity. To be honest, all of these proposed definitions and explanations of magick make sense, and at the end of the day, many will argue that if it works, it works – beyond that, philosophizing about the hows and whys is a thankless endeavor likely to open up more questions than answers.
Okay, so I believe that magick works but how can I experience it? While there are many different kinds of magicks and many traditions that go along with them, one of the most beginner friendly types of magick is chaos magick, and within that the use of sigil magick. Chaos magick is a results based occult philosophy that isn’t concerned with theism, the “supernatural” or the reasons behind why magick works – it is all about the end game and the fact that magick works, and utilizing occult tools (even if just on a psychological level) to enhance your life. Given this information, it is not surprising that chaos magick is viewed as a postmodernist approach to occultism and the ‘metaphysical’ – it seems practical, pragmatic, and straight to the point.
What is Sigil Magick?
Sigil magick falls within chaos magick and is a type of occult practice that involves pictures, symbols or glyphs that represent an intention or desired outcome.
While many consider sigil magick to be dark or black magick, I would like to reiterate that that simply isn’t true and no part of sigil magick has anything to do with Satan or causing harm or evil to others or oneself. Discussions of witchcraft usually turn very black and white, simply because the topic at hand is so vast and nuanced, that people quickly become concerned with the ethics of good magic versus evil magick. I think the premise of chaos magick is simply magick that works or yields results – it isn’t flowery, it isn’t feel-good and because of this it doesn’t feel “mainstream”. For any modern witch or occultist, my advice would be to not get too invested into labels and categories of “good magick” and “evil magick”. Educate yourself through reading and enrich your practice through incorporating the different elements that you learn and those that work for you.
How to Make Sigils – Key Steps
The main steps to practice sigil magick are to identify your desired outcome, create a symbol or monogram that represents the outcome, enter a gnostic state (or altered state of consciousness) to charge your sigil, ‘forget’ it and lastly, achieve your desired outcome. Let’s break these steps down.
- Set your intention. What is your goal? Through the current panic riddled times, maybe your desired outcome is to not get sick, to not lose your job or to bring in a stream of income. Whatever your purpose for sigil magick, meditate on exactly what you need – be specific. Write out your intention. Sigils for protection are very common cross culturally, but you can use them for anything you feel that you need (given that in doing so, you are not infringing on another person’s free will – more on ethical witchcraft coming soon). Now here is a crucial part: you do not want to be talking in the negative. For example, instead of writing out: “I will not get sick,” consider, “I am healthy of body and mind.” Positive statements work best, and it is often better to word your intention in a perfected or achieved sense (you have already gotten what you want, you aren’t begging for it or charging your desired outcome with the negativity of longing, fixation, obsession or neediness). Once you have one clear sentence written out – focus on what approach you will take on to creating your sigil.
Note: Sigils or symbols are all around us (rest assured, occult symbols are not necessarily satanic symbols); common examples of sigils include the McDonald’s arch, the Nike swoosh, Apple’s apple with the bite taken out of it, and so on. You might not be actively thinking about these brand symbols but the second you see them you feel an involuntary reaction – maybe the very sight of the golden arches makes you hungry for McDonald’s fries – keep in mind here that this is absolutely intentional. And you can do this too. The whole point behind sigil magick is to bypass your conscious mind (for example, you might not know that you are consciously aware of so many brand colors, symbols and jingles but find yourself able to immediately identify a particular brand simply by seeing a particular color or hearing a specific tune) and to “imprint” the image onto your subconscious mind.
There are many different approaches to how to come up with the sigil for your desired outcome. Some convert the letters of their intention statement (“I am healthy of body and mind,” for example) into numbers and create a monogram made out of numbers; others take the intention statement, remove the vowels and make a symbol out of the leftover letters. But this isn’t necessary – you can easily draw a symbol that represents the general idea of what your intention is without using the letters at all. Just remember the essential idea: the symbol should be something that abstractly represents your intention, but not something that blatantly returns your mind to the actual phrase or sentence you used. In this article, I will explain the standard removing the vowels from your statement approach but you don’t have to use that approach at all – it is far from the only one.
- Write out your finished intention sentence. Reduce it as much as you can until you are left with the main essence of your message. Using our earlier example of “I am healthy of body and mind,” we can reduce this down to “healthy body mind” (or even more if you feel the need). Next, remove all vowels and repeating consonants. This leaves us with – “hlty bd mn”. You can do this differently, however you see fit.
- Draw a symbol using the letters left behind – “hlty bd mn” but do so in a way that does not make the letters obvious. Doodle, stylize and redraw over again until the symbol becomes a symbol and no longer alphabet soup. You are free to stylize however you want, cutting out whatever pieces that feel unnecessary to arrive at the final form. Allow your creative juices to flow here – put as much of your creative energy into this as possible. I made an example sigil just to illustrate how you may do this. But don’t fret if yours doesn’t look “witchy” or “occult” enough – just let it come together. This advice goes for all your practices: You don’t need to prove your craft to anyone.
- Once your symbol is ready, the next step is to charge it. One of the most common problems that a beginning occultist might find herself struggling with is simply the question – how to activate a sigil? How exactly charging is done is up to you (as there are many possible ways to do so), but the earliest texts on chaos magick argue for the need of a gnosis, or a zen like altered state of consciousness where all thoughts cease to exist except the one being focused on. This is perhaps the most difficult and crucial part in this whole process because this is the part where the image passes your conscious imagination and is imprinted deeper within. If you meditate frequently, going into this state of “mindlessness” (really a moment of clarity without the rushing of thoughts) this shouldn’t be an impossible task but occultists have debated about a myriad of ways to attain this state – through trance, intense dance, chanting, orgasm, fasting, sensory deprivation, hallucinogens, as well as deep meditation and visualization. It is at this point that the sigil is charged and imprinted on the subconscious mind.
- You can leave the sigil somewhere where you might casually glance upon it every now and then, but do your best to not dwell on it or obsess over it. Forget the sigil and your intention statement.
- Let the sigil do its thing and come to fruition. The desired outcome can make itself manifest in places where you might least expect so remain open-minded.
–What should my first sigil be for?
Something simple to start is probably best. You might ask simply to see/come across blue gloves, a white bird or red shoes. It seems bizarre, sure. But for a beginner it is best to start out small and simple, and as your practice evolves and you gain experience, you can ask for bigger things.
– It isn’t working! What do I do?
Some would argue that your sigil is at work as soon as you start crafting it. It is a physical manifestation of something abstract that you desire, afterall – projecting it into the real world already has an effect. We think millions of thoughts in our lives but actually taking the time to have it physically manifest is already lending power to it. Be open-minded. Maybe the red shoes are right there in front of you during your daily commute. Maybe the white bird is perched right outside your window. Pay attention to the world around you and be observant. Also remember to be realistic. If you are in complete social isolation on your couch day and night, it isn’t reasonable to expect to see a red-head if none lives with you and your chances for seeing one are zero. While complete miracles aren’t entirely unheard of, you aren’t giving chaos magick (or any magical practice at all) a fair chance if your odds are starting off at 0%. Think of magick as something that increases your odds at something, not something that resurrects the dead.
–How soon can I start working on my next sigil?
Whenever you like! It is your practice after all, and here at Witchy Aesthetic, if there is one take away it is to make your practice truly and entirely your own. Experiment and see what works and what doesn’t.
So there you have it – a fool-proof introduction to sigil magick, with some decent rambling about magick is, what it can do for you and how you can test it out for yourself. Keep safe and Blessed Be.