Sigils: Scribbles to Forget or Spirits to Remember

Sigils: Scribbles to Forget or Spirits to Remember February 2, 2023

Years ago, when I first found my way into the practice of creating sigils, I had a lot of questions. There were a lot of mixed opinions about the rules and there seemed to be a lot of conjecture about what different books claimed they were and how to use them.

    In Liber Null, chaos magician Peter Carroll writes, “There are three parts to the operation of a sigil. The sigil is constructed, the sigil is lost to the mind, the sigil is charged. In constructing a sigil, the aim is to produce a glyph of desire, stylized so as not to immediately suggest the desire. It is not necessary to use complex symbol systems. To successfully lose the sigil, both the sigil form and the associated desire must be banished from normal waking consciousness. The magician strives against any manifestation of either by a forceful turning of his attention to other matters.”

    So if I understand this correctly, you take your intention statement and reduce it to a nonsense symbol to disassociate the desire from the symbol, then totally forget it, and activate it. The process of forgetting, as Carroll explains it, is to remove the desire from your mind so it can then manifest itself in the physical world.

New Thought

    Now I don’t know about y’all, but this sounds very familiar to me. 

    Years ago, I went to an Abraham Hicks seminar where a husband and wife team channeled a collective consciousness called Abraham who taught the concepts of Law of Attraction (which eventually inspired Oprah’s popular book club hit, The Secret). One of the most important tenants of this Law to manifest your desires is to “set it and forget it”: the idea that you focus on what you want to manifest (not what you don’t want) put it into your “vortex” (your astral vault of desire), then let the thought go all together and wait for the universe to deliver. By continuing to give attention to the object of your desire, you only confirm to the universe the LACK of having it, therefore stunting your manifestation.

    Hmmm, ya… sounds familiar. In fact, the original Abraham Hicks cassette tapes were released in 1986 and Liber Null was published by Peter Caroll in 1987. Now, am I suggesting this is a direct rip off? Not at all, but I will say these concepts were part of a larger shift in the New Age spiritual movement of the 60s-80s, new thoughts inspired by old philosophies. “Spirit sciences” brought the world of New Thought and the Occult into the same room, and chaos magic, the art and science of magic by belief, thrived.

    As someone who has experienced the downside of spiritual bypassing and toxic positivity from these so called “spirit sciences”, I have respect for Carroll and his work but do not necessarily agree with the “set it and forget it” method. I am an animist, so I see spirit in all things: plants, animals, rocks, homes, cars, books, ideas, and even sigils.

Scribbled Spirits

    In my craft, I don’t see sigils as nonsense scribbles meant to be disassociated and discarded. I see them as symbols of my desire. I took time to decide exactly what my desire was, worded it in a very specific way, and then through a process, reduced the statement into a symbol that represents my will. In the past, I’ve likened this to creating a reduction sauce. You take all your ingredients, and over a simmering pot, you cook it down to a thick and potent sauce. Sigils aren’t much different.

    Chaos magic states that the sigil should have no significant indicator that connects it to its intention specifically to help disassociate the symbol from from your desire. This helps as part of the forgetting process. I, on the other hand, will specifically draw my sigils to sometimes indicate the intent. (Ie. A home sigil that may include that shape of a roof, a money sigil that includes a dollar sign, a love sigil that includes a heart, ect.)

    I see my sigils more like the reduction sauce: a powerful potent symbol of my intent. A spirit created with my pen, paper, and desire. I liken them to a goetic seal with my personally created sigil representing the spirit I have willed to life and given virtues to.

    Some might even refer to this as an egregor or thought form. As an animist, I give my sigils license as a spirit to carry forth my will and enact it into reality. 

    This school of thought is completely divorced from the sigil theory found in chaos magic. Does that mean I feel the “set it and forget it” method is bogus and we should do away with it? Not at all. In fact, many practitioners have enjoyed this method for decades with great success. But as we know, when it comes to witchcraft, our actual craft can become very individualized and full of personal gnosis. I naturally gravitated to saving my sigils and using them more than once like spirit aids. I found allyship in working with them like conjured magical helpers, and I don’t think I’m alone.

From the Grimoires of Old

    Many occult publications have sigils, seals, and symbols that were personally created or spirit inspired by their authors. Old grimoires that were once someone’s individual personal gnosis have become revered through time like the Keys of Solomon, the Black Pullet, the Petit Albert, and the Grimorium Verum. The sigils in these books existed long before the concept of chaos magic and new age entered the occult sphere, and will continue to be a staple in many rituals and practices.

Sigil and spell for safety in the cold

So next time you are creating a sigil, ask yourself: What does this symbol mean to you? If it was a spirit whose sole purpose was helping you fulfill your desire, what would it look like? What would it’s symbol look like? How do you want to interact with it? Do you want to create it, destroy it, and forget it, or do you want to build a relationship with it, feed it your energy, and give it thanks for being a spirit partner in your craft?

    However you choose to work with sigils in your practice is totally up to you. If the chaos method and it’s fixed equation works for you, that’s great! But if you’re like me, an animist and someone who sees their craft as spirit based, I challenge you to put some sense into your nonsense scribbles. I challenge you to see that there’s room for something more than an equation. I challenge you to create new magic.

From the crossroads of Texas,

Marshall WSL

About Marshall WSL
Marshall is a practicing traditional witch in Texas. Be sure to catch his podcast at Southern Bramble; a Podcast of Crooked Ways. You can read more about the author here.
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