A sigil is but a word in a language so complex that it defies the boundaries of dictionary or thesaurus, a language so universal it relies on emotion and intuition, instead of equation. A sigil is an idea, more than it is a sentence. It is a wish and it is a command, but it is also an art. The art of sigil craft demands your patience as much as it demands your creativity. Concoct your meaning, divine your sentence, but then you must extract it from what you believe it to be, and abstract it into a form wholly unique. Solve et coagula. In this way, we encrypt our meaning into a form that may be impossible to decrypt.
There are several tried-and-true ways of making sigils:
- You can write an intention, remove the vowels and duplicates, then combine the consonants into a glyph;
- You can map your intention to a planetary square or a sigil wheel;
- You can create an elaborate composite of iconographic symbols.
There are other ways too: hidden ways, ways yet to be dreamed of. The key to crafting a sigil is to understand what your intention is, and how you can abstract it into something else, with or without language.
That something else is other, but in doing the magical association—in charging the sigil or focusing and meditating on its image and meaning, you make that sigil into its intention. It is itself, but it is also other. It exists in the spaces between.
To borrow a phrase from my friend Nick Chapel: magic is a performative act of communication; we are doing things with our words, as opposed to simply communicating ideas. In the work of creating a sigil, we are performing this act of communication abstracted from those words, but doing things with it nonetheless.
But sigil craft requires patience. It requires you to focus on that meaning enough to teach it to your subconscious, and then it requires you to let go, and allow the other to take over. Spirit, Universe, your higher self, your personal daemon or familiar. Any way you spin it, sigil craft requires you to step out of the way, and relinquish your newborn art into the world without. You can burn it, or draw it into wax and melt it. You can mail it to a friend, or give it to a homeless person. You can carve it on a tree in a distant city, or draw it into the clouds with your finger. You can let it go.
In doing this, it becomes, within. In practicing this abstraction, this association, this attention, and this patience in letting go, the sigil takes on a life of its own, and it begins to accomplish whatever intention you have imbued into it. It becomes the Word it is meant to be, not the words it was made from. In doing this, its power becomes part of your life, part of the world around you. This is the magic inherent in the art.
Exploring the Art
Sigil craft is an art because there is no exact science behind it. It is an art because it demands dedication, and love, and sympathy. It is an art because it cannot be understood in quite the same way by two different people, and yet it touches their hearts equally—or perhaps not equally, but evenly.
You can use sigils to bring your magic to life, to affect your will and change your world, or to change yourself. You can pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and get started making these impossible and ineffable signs that mean so much more than they seem to on the surface.
You can confuse and confound those who do not know, and you can teach and inspire those who wish to know. You can utilize the art of sigil craft in your own practice in any number of ways, impossible to enumerate, impossible to define in legislation or regulation.
Your art is your own, and so too are your sigils. Don’t let anybody tell you that you are doing it wrong, but listen closely when someone tells you how they do it, because it could inspire you, or teach you something new.
Go forth and transform the world with your art of sigil craft.
Taylor Bell is a tarot reader at Magus Books in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He writes for his blog at greenlionpublishing.com and is the host of the Green Lion Podcast, a biweekly podcast centering around Philosophy and the Strange. Taylor is also the creator of the Sigil Arcanum Tarot, a deck of Tarot cards built around the idea of abstracting the Thoth Tarot into sigils.
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