When asked by patrons, I’ve been describing sigils as ‘symbols with intent’. Though certainly more complex than that, it’s a reasonable explanation in a nutshell, to those unfamiliar with their history and pervasiveness in visual culture. A logo is a sigil, a state seal is a sigil, a cattle brand, graffiti tag or maker’s mark can be a sigil. It is a crafted icon in which power has been invested toward a given outcome. For our purposes, it is a seal impressed upon an object (a personal talisman or house warding tile) to be used as a protective, energetic shield or to manifest a desire into being. Although they can be a battery for spiritual energy, the use of a sigil does not require religious belief, it can be viewed as a psychological science.
Header image: sigils generated on Sigil Generator. Above: original sigil craft from scratch.
To begin, all that is required is a positive mindset and a statement of affirmation. Here, I have used several that speak to becoming the best version of ourselves that we are capable of becoming. Next, I remove all duplicate letters, and then I begin to incorporate those remaining into an abstracted pictograph that is symbolic of this desire. Finally, I resolve the design into something more balanced and pleasing to the eye. The constructive notation is then discarded with respect, and only the sigil remains to be applied to an object to act as an attractor or repellent.
Example of sigil construction: desire distilled down to its abstract essence.
To charge the image to do it’s work, I first cleanse it with a smudge of some kind, like Palo Santo. While I am doing this, I ritually clear my energy and any residual ‘static’ or unwanted energy remaining in the vicinity. I then consecrate the sigil by holding its image in mind while focusing on it’s stated intent and doing something that stimulates the senses. Movement works well, dancing, yoga, running or sex, anything that allows the image to percolate down into the recesses of the subconscious while exhausting the conscious mind through physical activity will do. I then release the sigil and my intention into the universe to do good work, consciously forgetting about it, though it remains embedded in a visible talisman or wall tile.
Like a parti in architecture, a sigil represents a point of departure for the overall design.
One way I’ve come to think about a symbol being used in this way, is as a parallel to how an architect uses a Parti Pris. As a point of departure for the overall unifying design of a building, the Parti is the essence of the plan, distilled down to it’s simplest visual elements. It acts as a way to focus all subsequent design choices that must be made in order to realize that building project and the architect’s vision. Though not a perfect analogy, as the sigil is acting on our subconscious, and the architect is acting in the material realm, they both represent the seeds of of grand designs, with many moving parts and probable outcomes.
Post Script: I had forgotten all about artist and magician Austin Osman Spare, founder of modern sigilcraft, until I came across his books in my library again recently. If you are interested in contemporary sigilcraft, he is a MUST read, and a great inspiration to anyone who studies the intersection of art and magick.