Monday, August 5, 2013

Because I Can't Sleep: Thoughts on Sigils

Created by me; re-drawn by the amazing VVF because my art skillz = suck.
“There is a self-revelation by a simple cryptic symbol: the meaning of all meanings. Think well before you drain this Cup of intoxicating possibilities.”
- Austin Spare, The Logomachy of Zos.
I've been playing with sigils tonight, although not the ones I mentioned in a recent post.

I say “playing” because making sigils is a task I consider extremely fun and absorbing. I get to sit down and look at the string I've procured and then watch the lines and forms shape and re-shape themselves in my mind's eye. Spare appears to be right about the intoxication produced. Sometimes I will be reflecting on other potential sets of symbols beyond letters and shapes will re-arrange themselves and form a worth-while construct.

Over the years I've taught the technique – and the means of using it – very quickly to a wide variety of people. Sigils, and forming thoughtforms out of them, are the only subject I've ever presented a class on. Just once, mind you. The astonishing thing is that though it is a staple of Chaos Magick, outside our rioting fold the technique isn't always used.

In the event that you don't know how to form sigils, Fr. U.'.D.'. has an excellent paper on it that is up on which covers Spare's method quite well. (If you can ever get your hands on a copy of U.'.D.'.'s Practical Sigil Magick, for less than a hundred dollars, I certainly recommend doing so.) In the event that you already know how to make them, I won't bore you with yet another tired re-hash of things you already know.

Instead I would make the following points:

While the dominant method of making sigils these days omits vowels, instead focusing on a string of consonants, this is not necessary. In fact, if one wishes to include a sense of “flow” or movement to the sigil, the vowels offer abundant curvatures from which to produce this potential. Having made thousands of sigils involving both including repeating letters and vowels, I feel fairly safe in saying that it doesn't really matter. The core structure, arranged in capitals, is sufficient in most cases. That said: in plenty – if not most cases – the lines of repeating letters I see internally tend to merge into a single structure, anyway. Perhaps the most astonishing use of the technique I've ever seen was when I taught the method, very quickly, to a Persian friend. He immediately began making them using Farsi, and the result was the most breath-taking sequence I have ever seen. I really, really wish I could have saved some of the sigils he created to put up on this blog. But even without something to show you indicating what it looks like, I feel it is worth mentioning.

While sigils can be used for thaumaturgy, that is not the full extent of their utility. One can very easily make sigils to help interact with spirits. In fact, on a number of occasions I have had spirits give me specific sigils to use with them. This is not always the case, however. I have also messed around with using them as directives for my familiar spirits. A sigil string, for example, indicating a series of tasks I would like help with can be then given to the familiar, which will help speed along the event. This can range for tasks like doing 'cleansing work' in my home, to requesting that the spirit help me find information. This is a very effective means of communication between myself and those spirits I work most closely with.

Sigils need not simply be left in strings: incorporating them into larger piece art, or incorporating other symbolic elements is perfectly normal and consistent with the method we see displayed by Spare, in examples like this:
Protection Against Evil People. Stolen from Facebook forever ago.

Note that there are places where we can see the alphabet-based structure of an “A,” indicating that Spare himself may not have removed the vowels from his own statements of intent.

And this:
Part of the Alphabet of Desire; stolen from Wikipedia.

The ultimate question when making sigils boils down to this: do you want the form to be simple, or do you want it to be complex? How does either presentation affect your feelings about what the sigil represents? How many different variable forms can you imagine given the letters you wish to render into the sigils?

To paraphrase Gordon, there is no such thing as “doing it wrong” as long as you understand the basics of the technique. Any sigil that produces a sense of working for you can be used. All this really requires of you is consistently using it, playing with different means of expressing your desires, or applying the technique where it best fits.

Sigils may be used: to designate specific actions one wishes to have take place while others are watching; simply working on the sigil and then finding a means of empowering it (a fixed gaze for a constant amount of time is often sufficient to mildly empower one) allows you to duck out of intoning “barbarous words” or drawing attention to yourself. Previously constructed sigils representing the spirits one works most closely with can be scratched into the earth if you're working at the crossroads, particularly around magical circles, and if you don't wish to use a traditional circle. These can be either used alongside the relevant names, or the names could be omitted altogether. This is particularly useful if one is practicing witchcraft outside the home and suspects that someone may stumble onto what they are doing. In that case, you need only rub out the sigils and circle with your foot, and it is less likely to be noticed in comparison to using chalk or salt.

The versatility to the technique lies with you. There's nothing wrong with using it to find $20 in your back pocket, or to make sure you catch the train on time. In fact, the only thing you can get wrong with regards to the subject is viewing it as simply a means to achieve thaumaturgical events through the sheer force of your feverish wanking. That perspective is limited... And I think, about the only thing I can possibly object to regarding the topic. The fact that its easy to do overshadows how people use the technique.

But then: at least they're using their masturbation experiences... positively? Maybe? Could be?

Anyway, if there are two pieces in addition to
U.'.D.'.'s that I can think of recommending – and which have not been written by Gordon regarding Shoaling – they would be:

John Dee's Monas Hieroglyphica, a treatise on symbolic language and conveying esoteric ideas using coherent symbol structures. I don't even remotely understand all of it. But I stare at it quite often and and reflect on the fact that I am not half as smart as Dee was. I'm also not half as Christian, but that's another topic altogether.

Add all of that together and you are bound to either drive yourself insane, or produce some awesome shit that I totally want to see.



Jason Miller, said...

servanciPractical Sigil Magic was republished last year.

Jack Faust said...

Niiiiice. That book used to bounce price ranges, like Stephen Mace's Stealing the Fire from Heaven did, at obnoxious intervals.

I managed to buy both years ago, but I may want to get another copy for my Lady...

Gordon said...

Jack: those two bounced all over in price for me, too. I got PSM in a second-hand bookstore in Auckland, New Zealand, in the end.

There are times I am tempted to form a working group to chase down the copyright owners of all these lapsed classics and get them up as kindle books as a revenue generator for some kind of non-profit revenue share thing.

Also... with you on the vowel/double letter thing. I appear to self-select statements that minimise letter double-ups.

And... this is super scientific, obvs... but what appears to work for me if the 'centre of meaning' in a statement is located more in the vowels than in the consonants (does that make sense?)... then I try it out as a mantra.

You'd think that you could mantra the vowels and use the mantra to charge the sigil... but this is a dog I just can't get to hunt. NFI why. Ideas on a card?

Hooray! Sigils! Great post.

word verification: 42.... But of course.

Brother Christopher said...

ooo the automatic drawing. That sounds neat. I know I have come across an artist who made paintings that were sigils based on what he learned about chaos magic. I don't know if I could find that article again.

oy the sigils I've made over the years. mainly I use the futhark alphabet now days, which makes it very "Sharp" and linear looking, although I've taken some inspiration on occasasion from Icelandic galdrabok which has more rounded rune shapes for a while, it was interesting. Every now and then I will get a sigil craving and sit down and spend an evening drawing 3-5 sigils for various things.
Recently I worked with a sigil I created based upon the phrase "shine bright like a diamond" ...Yes, I know... The results of that have been fascinating

Gordon said...

@Brother Chris

Stealing that! The OEVs were particularly intense during that track during my semi-recent mushroom track.

But if I get some crazy sunburn this weekend I will find some way to hold you responsible. :)

Jack Faust said...

Bro. Chris: I loooove the Furthark for creating sigils out of! I'm not any good with it, but occasionally I convinced VVF to make some for me. They look witchy as FUCK and make me want to dance around them gleefully. LOL.

Neat phrase! Hmmm. I should sigize some phrases associated with Venusberg and Germanic Arthur tales...

Pissed Off said...

Do you have a Facebook group?