Friday, August 16, 2013

A Brief Response to Freeman Presson

I caught that I'd been relinked on a blog, where Mr. Presson appears and mentions his blog post the traditional definition of Sigils.

Now, Mr. Presson, I have no idea who you are... Except that we share some common friends and I've seen you around.

Yes, my sigil posts used the modern parlance. That does not mean I'm unaware of the “traditional” nature of the topic being discussed. However, I like to reach the most baseline practitioner without constantly bowling them over with discussion points on linguistic drift. Particularly when I make sleep-deprived posts. That being said, you write:
“I’m not sure why we got the words “sigil” and “talisman” confused in the modern literature, but here are the traditional meanings: a sigil is a sign or seal, the signature of a spirit. A spirit can have more than one: in the same way, I have two that are derived from my magical name, which have great power in staking a claim or making a connection. A talisman is a particular instance of connecting a spirit with an object (which is often, but need not be, a drawing). So, really, in modern sigil magic, we’re using the simplest possible design for a talisman, one that just has the appropriate sigil on it. We encoded the intent into the sigil itself, and we found that, often enough, nothing more is needed for results magic.”
Well, if we want to be technical: we're discussing “image magick,” which is incredibly flexible as a broad category and includes: talismans, sigils, poppets, and a whole lot more. In fact, you infer this a bit later on:
“I see people doing similar things in Atlantis 15,000 years ago, and on cave and cliff walls all over the world 50,000 years before that.”
This link has been made with recurrence by such individuals as Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, and plenty of others. We should pause here in what we're describing because it could mean several things:
The images painted on caves could represent the “spirit” of animals being hunted, or they could represent the animal itself, or simply the desire itself. This is immensely similar to talismanic magick, and I agree completely there. But there isn't much we can say for certainty on the matter, except that image magick is probably going on. The manipulation of magical images exists in multiple formats, and they tend to shift, is what I'm saying.

As for the confusion and blurring of terms? It is probably Spare's fault. He makes references to spirits being “psychic automata,” and often chooses to discuss them in such a fashion. Despite this, he seems to have taken them “seriously enough,” but the terminology throws many – as does his particular use. He is clearly using them in multiple contexts, though, such as to give directives to his familiar spirits. To a certain extent, this is certainly talismanic. And the “Alphabet of Desire” certain represents sequences that can be produced akin to Talismans.

However there is another aspect to consider, which is dealt with by Mr. Stratton-Kent in his True Grimoire:
“All the various actions and intentions involved in Verum style sorcery are directly related to a series of sigils. Or, to put it another way, everything the operator desires and the operations necessary to achieve it can be reduced to a set of magical characters that can subsequently be employed in attaining those ends.”*
This understanding is certainly helpful, as it clarifies immensely what the magician working with either modern or traditional sigil work may come to. Have I ever directly stated this fact? No. And there's a very simple reason: anyone who uses the modern sigil technique – and builds “thoughtforms” (i.e. created familiar spirits) with them – is going to eventually come to this understanding. It is, in fact, a feature of the work.

And it is one that encompasses all spirit, materia, and talismanic work. This isn't something we “forgot” or “don't know” because we haven't read the books. This is certainly the case sometimes, but sometimes it's fun to sit back and watch someone else
come to that conclusion on their own.

While I greatly salute your clarification on these matters, I rather think that you came to the
wrong conclusion about why you had not seen it explicitly stated before. It is something that doesn't need to be stated. Anyone who works with the technique long enough should, in my less than humble opinion, shift toward your perspective.

Whether the characters are inscribed as per making talismans, or simply scrawled across a napkin by some kid in the street, it is the same operational technique overall. And most simply understand it as “sigils” these days. However, I've noticed that when those I know well choose to make a talisman rather than simply bring about an event, they spend much more time working out a string of characters and choosing material for it... Rather than simply scrawling it down on a notebook, dancing around it (or wanking, etc.), and then letting the event take place.

So I think there is a
slight difference between the basic technique and talisman creation.

But, dude. C'mon. Next time you want to refer to my “confusion,” show up on my blog and challenge me directly. It'll be much more fun than my having to respond this way to you. I promise, I will happily respond and even admit if I'm flat out wrong.

Jack.

*  I'm really annoyed I never could come up with a simple explanation along these lines myself. GODDAMN, MAN. WHY DO I KEEP HAVING TO QUOTE YOU?

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