A sigil (/ˈsɪdʒəl/; pl. sigilla or sigils) is a type of symbol used in ritual magic. The term has usually referred to a type of pictorial signature of a Jinn or other entity. In modern usage, especially in the context of chaos magic, sigil refers to a symbolic representation of the practitioner's desired outcome.
Jul 24, 2016 There's something called 'shoaling' in sigil magic which Gordon White came up with. It's the idea of increasing the chaos and probability of something happening. The basic idea is to break up your main goal into smaller wishes that will ultimately end up with you achieving your goal. Jun 24, 2010 Regardless, shoaling seems to me quite a good metaphor for multi-sigil experiments because you have the whole ocean/unconscious, ‘firing it off into the depths’ thing But you also have predation in the form of your conscious intellect. Presumably you want your sigils to cluster somewhere that allows them to take root and possibly feed.
Here is a simple technique of Sigil magic that works great with a 2 dollar product called a Ringdex from Mead. I just saw these in the store, and knew it could be great. First, there is a lined side and a blank side. Get two Ringdexes. Ringdexes have 80 notecards. Now, in the first book write down 80 intentions. Sigils are a common enchantment.
The term sigil derives from the Latinsigillum, meaning 'seal'.
In medieval ceremonial magic, the term sigil was commonly used to refer to occult signs which represented various angels and demons which the witch might summon. The magical training books called grimoires often listed pages of such sigils. A particularly well-known list is in The Lesser Key of Solomon, in which the sigils of the 72 princes of the hierarchy of hell are given for the magician's use. Such sigils were considered to be the equivalent of the true name of the spirit and thus granted the magician a measure of control over the beings.
A common method of creating the sigils of certain spirits was to use kameas (magic squares) — the names of the spirits were converted to numbers, which were then located on the magic square. The locations were then connected by lines, forming an abstract figure.
The word sigil... has a long history in Western magic. The members of the Golden Dawn were perfectly familiar with it (″combining the letters, the colours, the attributions and their Synthesis, thou mayest build up a telesmatic Image of a Force. The Sigil shall then serve thee for the tracing of a Current which shall call into action a certain Elemental Force″) and it was used in the making of talismans. The sigil was like a signature or sign of an occult entity.
The use of symbols for magical or cultic purposes has been widespread since at least the Neolithic era. Some examples from other cultures include the yantra from Hindutantra, historical runic magic among the Germanic peoples, or the use of veves in Voudon.
Austin Osman Spare
The artist and occultist Austin Osman Spare developed his own unique method of creating and using sigils, which has had a huge effect on modern occultism. Essentially, Spare turned the Medieval practice of using sigils to evoke entities on its head, arguing that such supernatural beings were simply complexes in the unconscious, and could be actively created through the process of sigilization.
The big difference with Spare's method was that he dispensed with pre-existing esoterica and external beliefs, so the sigils were no longer for controlling traditional demons, angels and what-have-you, but instead for controlling forces in the unconscious psyche of the individual operator.
Spare's technique became a cornerstone of chaos magic. It also influenced the artist Brion Gysin, who experimented with combining Spare's sigil method with the traditional form of magic squares:
Calligraphic magick squares were one of the techniques most commonly applied by Gysin. He would reduce a name or an idea to a 'glyph' and then write across the paper from right to left, turn the paper and do the same again, and so on, turning the paper around and around to create a multi-dimensional grid... The same techniques and consciously driven functional intention also permeated his paintings. In a very real sense, everything he created was an act of sorcery.
In chaos magic, following Spare, sigils are most commonly created by writing out the intention, then condensing the letters of the statement down to form a sort of monogram. The chaos magician then uses the gnostic state to 'launch' or 'charge' the sigil – essentially bypassing the conscious mind to implant the desire in the unconscious. To quote Ray Sherwin:
The magician acknowledges a desire, he lists the appropriate symbols and arranges them into an easily visualised glyph. Using any of the gnostic techniques he reifies the sigil and then, by force of will, hurls it into his subconscious from where the sigil can begin to work unencumbered by desire.
After charging the sigil, it is considered necessary to repress all memory of it: in the words of Spare, there should be 'a deliberate striving to forget it'.
In modern chaos magic, when a complex of thoughts, desires and intentions gains such a level of sophistication that it appears to operate autonomously from the magician's consciousness, as if it were an independent being, then such a complex is referred to as a servitor. When such a being becomes large enough that it exists independently of any one individual, as a form of 'group mind', then it is referred to as an egregore.
Later chaos magicians have expanded on the basic sigilization technique. Grant Morrison coined the term hypersigil to refer to an extended work of art with magical meaning and willpower, created using adapted processes of sigilization. His comic book series The Invisibles was intended as such a hypersigil. Morrison has also argued that modern corporate logos like 'the McDonald's Golden Arches, the Nike swoosh and the Virgin autograph' are a form of viral sigil:
Corporate sigils are super-breeders. They attack unbranded imaginative space. They invade Red Square, they infest the cranky streets of Tibet, they etch themselves into hairstyles. They breed across clothing, turning people into advertising hoardings... The logo or brand, like any sigil, is a condensation, a compressed, symbolic summoning up of the world of desire which the corporation intends to represent... Walt Disney died long ago but his sigil, that familiar, cartoonish signature, persists, carrying its own vast weight of meanings, associations, nostalgia and significance.
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- ^ abWeschcke, Carl Llewellyn & Slate, Joe H. The Llewellyn Complete Book of Psychic Empowerment
- ^Lemegeton Clavicula Salomonis: The Lesser Key of Solomon, Detailing the Ceremonial Art of Commanding Spirits Both Good and Evil; ed. Joseph H. Peterson; Weiser Books, Maine; 2001. p.xi-xvii
- ^Greer, John Michael (2003). The New Encyclopedia of The Occult. Llewellyn Worldwide. p. 438. ISBN1-56718-336-0.
- ^ abcBaker, Phil. Austin Osman Spare
- ^ abSpare, Austin Osman. The Book of Pleasure
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I am not often lucid in my dreams, though I have been. I had a period years ago when it was more common but always intermittent, and I would often wake up very quickly after going lucid. More recently, as I’ve been going through my own Venus Retrograde experience, I have found myself engaged in practice and enchantment that has spilled over into increased lucidity.
However, I’m not wanting to spend too much time on lucidity other than to contextualize how I noticed certain things while lucid. I remember a dream from a few weeks back wherein I became lucid while in an underground shopping center—a comparatively ritzy one for my waking experience of shopping centers—and I found myself contemptuous of the forms of people around me. I use that tortured turn of phrase—“the forms of people”—because while I thought they were “dream NPCs” at the time, I wonder if that’s the case or not. I started acting weird and intimidating at these dream people, and they began moving away—darting away—in much the same way that fish will dart when startled or to get further away from something.
I dreamt last night of a similar situation. In my day job, I teach, and I dreamt I was at the board going over sentences. I say a lot about writing, much of it “professional” or “disciplinary” writing (that is, professional writing, tech comm, and academic modes of writing), though I feel like you might not notice that so much here. In the dream, I had been going on about sentence-level clarity and concision, which is often tedious work and teaching, and at some point, I finally turned around to see the class. I recognized several faces from one of my current classes, which is thankfully mostly upper-level English majors, and one person in particular was asking complicated questions about translating their skillsets and writing skills and writing situations into “real world” contexts. I have no idea what precisely we said to each other at those points, but I found myself gradually surrounded by my students, uncomfortably close to each other (for me, at least). I found students brushing up against me—casual contact—and I found my apologizing for these accidental touches. And while it probably sounds salacious, trust me, it wasn’t. But it was increasingly intimate, as if the boundaries between instructor and student, between me and other persons, was dissolving.
I found myself moving with the class outside without realizing we had done so, and we were on a terrace, and I looked around me and observed how the class was moving strangely—like a shoal of fish. Some of them hung back slackly at the periphery of the terrace while most were all about me, and I realized with increasing lucidity what was going on—that I was dreaming and that I was here in the shoal of students. Indeed, I recognized they were schooling around me. As I look at the distinction between shoaling and schooling—schooling is when the shoal moves in a coordinated manner—I find myself considering the educational schooling happening even as I also consider other levels.
Gordon White has pioneered the shoaling model for sigil magic that takes its inspiration in part from shoaling and schooling behavior in fish: have a group of sigils of a similar “species” (related intentions or classes or kinds) with a “robo-fish” sigil that the sigil activator can actualize themselves. For example, I’ve done “Play this song” robo-fish, and I will then play that song once activating that sigil along with the others in a shoal of sigils. The idea is that that “robo-fish” sigil will move towards manifestation in my visible world—through my agency—and the other sigils in the shoal will school towards manifestation, too.
This shoaling and schooling behavior for sigils—which I’ve come to see more as spirits I’m “birthing” or otherwise creating and releasing out into the world—suggests, of course, that the spiritual side of our world works rather similarly to how our visible, “natural” world works. And as my dreams have shown me on occasion, humans often act in similar manners.
Now, do not mistake me. I am not arguing for some kind of “sheeple” perspective, nor am I making any explicit political point here, though I admit that notions about political behavior occur to me. Those notions are not at all limited to the current moment in 2018, as I write the Sunday before the November 6 elections in the United States.
That said, I also recognize that sigils shoal, human shoal, fish shoal—and so do other beings. I think about the spirits who shoal about—how many legions of spirits do the spirits of the air, the demons of the Goetia, or the choirs of angels—or the legions of mighty dead—are there? To what degree do they move—organize, behave—in similar manners?
Shoaling Sigils In The Bible
The shoaling metaphor breaks down after a point and is by no means universal, and there are plenty of “sharks” and predators out there, visible and invisible. I would also say, though, that the way beings shoal and school may not appear visibly like that of fish. In my dream, the human-seeming persons I saw seemed to be moving in such a way, but the better comparison is likely to social and consciousness “movement,” the interactions and flow of attention, affinity, and similar matters. I find the literal schooling of students with teachers an interesting expression of this behavior, perhaps even this archetype.
Shoaling Sigils W
Furthermore, although we might be resistant to ascribe shoaling and schooling behavior to humans, we’re probably resistant because it makes us feel uncomfortably about our human exceptionalism: “I don’t act like a fish!” However, fish shoal and school for often very intentional reasons:
Shoaling Sigils Symbols
- Foraging: shoaling around a larger predator in order to take advantage of its kills and its leftovers
- Socialization: many fish get anxious when they’re separated from the shoal/group
- Reproduction: outsiders don’t get as much opportunity to have sex
- Safety: shoaling behavior can confuse predators and camouflage individual members of the shoal
Amongst humans, we can exhibit similar behaviors often unconsciously, or through acclimatization and enculturation. In other species, we may speak in terms of “packs” and “pack behavior,” and humans likely seem to resemble “packs” more than shoals. However, it’s at the level of consciousness and socialization that I suspect our shoaling behavior becomes most apparent, whether in terms of human belief and hierarchical ordering or in terms of social media—which strikes me as an imminently apt place for humans to shoal and school—and similar social places. Even in terms of human belief, imagination, and dreaming, I wonder how much such a metaphor makes sense, too. In the more-than-human world of spirits, I wonder how much those choirs and legions and swarms behave along similar lines, whether any of them (or we) are like unto shoals of sardines or shoals of piranha.
Nonetheless, my dream about my “school” of students also makes me wonder how much I stand out to those outside the shoal—or how the shoal organizes around me even if I’m not “part” of the shoal. Fish don’t have to think about shoaling and schooling, save the socially awkward fish: they just do it, though they apparently practice while young. When you notice you’re in a shoal, do you stand apart? And at that point, how much more do you stand out in the spiritual depths?
Featured Image: “People watch a school of sardines in the Open Ocean exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium” by Rhododendrites (CC BY-SA 4.0)