A Sigil is a form of hieroglyphic writing that blends creativity, calligraphy, and ceremonial magic. Some add a dash of runes and some Hermetic magic. Learn how you can use these symbols to enhance your spiritual practice.
What is a Sigil?
Let’s break down the definition of Sigil Magick or Sigil Magic to make it easier to understand. Sigils are a type of ritualistic or ceremonial magic that incorporates graphic designs, runes, and symbols for use in magical workings. It is a device to direct intent. There isn’t a single unified system for these scripts. However, they can and often use symbols that come from other systems.
For example, many Sigils use Runes. Runes are a form of Proto-Germanic letters for the alphabet. You can find variations of these symbols in Germanic languages. They were common before the adoption of the Latin alphabet. It also uses symbols from other languages, including Hebrew, Japanese and Chinese colonography.
You are more familiar with these symbols than you think. Apart from magic, we find these types of characters in the business world as corporate logos. These are a symbol of company values and goals. You’ll never look at the apple logo picture the same way because of its association with the company by the same name. The transition from a corporate logo to a symbol of magic depends on the user.
“The most famous sigil is the Seal of Solomon, also commonly called a Jewish star, which is a hexagram, two interlocking triangles, representing the perfect union of the male and female principles.” ― Judika Illes, Encyclopedia of Spirits
Using a Sigil Magick Symbols as a Focal Point
Reiki uses a series of unique pictograms to focus energy on healing. These designs are not part of the formal Japanese writing scripts. However, they use the same general form as Japanese Kana.
Japanese calligraphy is an artistic writing form that uses simplified Chinese characters to form a phonetic script. There are six different Chinese characters, known as 六书 (liù shū). There are three major categories of these characters: pictographs, ideographs, and determinative-phonetics. Therefore, it is common for people to use similar pictographs in the design of Sigil.
So, essentially, this means that Reiki is a system of sigil magick. Reiki practitioners are familiar with the symbol below. “Cho Ko Rei” is the first symbol most people learn. It is a symbol used in gathering and directing healing energy. Training in Reiki the healing system includes an initiation ceremony. They believe this ceremony unlocks the power of ideograms like this one.
Magik with a K?
Magik with a K comes from the practice we know as Witchcraft. Magik is the standard way to refer to ceremonial magic. Some people call it High Magick. Using archaic symbols or objects to project energy is a typical practice. Many Witches use sigil magick, so it is common to spell it, ending with a K.
“Magick is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the Will.” ― Aleister Crowley, The Book of Thoth
Many people are drawn to rituals because we are creatures of habit. It doesn’t matter to what belief system you ascribe. You can be an Atheist, Theist, Diest and still engage in practices associated with magic. The concept of magic permeates our lives—for instance, a rabbit’s foot on a key chain. If you take the time to study other traditions, you will find several similarities.
The Japanese Tea Ceremony is a ritual using choreographed movements and various implements, teacup, teapot, tea, etc. The intention here is to develop “presence.” The ritual implements are ceremonial objects often charged with various types of energy.
“A sigil is a symbol. It is a pattern that can represent to the subconscious mind your desired goal. What is its practical magickal potential? A sigil can release the long-dormant energies contained within the self. Through working with the sigil, you can bring to waking manifestation anything contained in the various levels of the subconscious. It can animate any archetypal force lying latent within you.” ― Laurence Galian, Beyond Duality: The Art of Transcendence
Witchcraft’s practice has direct ties to older traditions that pre-date written history. Witches have much in common with the methods of ancient cultures. Witchcraft mirrors many of the techniques from ancient Shamanic cultures. Witches individualize their Craftwork much like the ancient traditions of the Crone.
“Sigils are the means of guiding and uniting the partially free belief with an organic desire, its carriage and retention till its purpose served in the sub-conscious self and its means of reincarnation in the Ego. All thought can be expressed by the form in true relation. Sigils are monograms of thought, for the government of energy (all heraldry, crests, monograms, are Sigils and the Karmas they govern), relating to Karma; a mathematical means of symbolizing desire and giving it form that has the virtue of preventing any thought and association on that particular desire (at the magical time), escaping the detection of the Ego so that it does not restrain or attach such desire to its own transitory images, memories, and worries, but allows it free passage to the sub-consciousness.” ― Austin Osman, Spare, The Book of Pleasure (Self-Love): The Psychology of Ecstasy
You can find ritualistic magic in almost every branch of organized religion. The cross is a simple but effective type of sigil magick that Christianity has adopted from earlier Pagan cultures. It conveys several levels of meaning depending upon the user.
“Symbolism in a greater or lesser degree is essential to every kind of external worship, and we need not shrink from the conclusion that in the matter of baptisms and washings, of genuflection’s and other acts of reverence, of lights and sweet-smelling incense, of flowers and white vestitures, of spiritual unction’s and the imposing of hands, of sacrifice and the rite of the Communion banquet, the Church has borrowed without hesitation from the common stock of significant actions known to all periods and to all nations. In such matters as these, Christianity claims no monopoly or originality.” ― The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 14 (1907)
It’s also important to realize we cast a spiritual shadow wherever we do and whatever we do. Make sure your life is full of meaningful actions, meaningful rituals. Don’t let your life become habitual patterns without meaning.
“Imagine the desert
mothers, with hair tangled
tighter than their theology
and breasts that flowed milk
and mystic wisdom. they
knew how to draw the singing
sigils in the sand, how to dig
rough and bitten fingers
into desiccated dirt for water
to wet the lips of their young.
Women of hips and heft, who
learned how to burn
beneath the wild and searing
sun, who made loud love
against the star-flecked threat
of night, who knew that strength
is not always a matter of muscle.
Imagine your ancestresses,
the prophetesses of the arid
lands, before these starched
traditions and pews too hard
to pray from, who bled true
ritual and birthed their own fierce
souls at creation’s crowning”
― Beth Morey, Night Cycles: Poetry for a Dark Night of the Soul
Sigil Magick Symbols
This form of ceremonial magic uses symbols to focus energy on magic workings. It is a way to channel intent and personal energy. The power of the written word or ideogram (1) is just one element of “ritualistic magick.”
“A big practice in chaos magic is the use of sigils, which are abstract words or symbols you create and embed with your wishes.” ― Sophia Amoruso
It is common to find combinations of ancient writing systems and graphics with these symbols. These graphic symbols are prominent in ancient and contemporary pagan art, from Celtic designs to Wiccan inscriptions. Word-of-faith and law of attraction practitioners use them as well. Seasoned magical practitioners caution against their use in performing curses because the law of karma will bring back anything evil tenfold.
Ritualistic or ceremonial magic uses processes or formulas to produce outcomes. Using the circle in a seating arrangement is one the transcends many traditions. You can create a Sigil while in a circle with other practitioners to magnify the energy of “the working.” Many traditions perform ceremonies to celebrate the seasons, the sun’s cycles and the moon, etc. Examples of paradigms that practice this include Catholicism and Free-Masonry. Whether they admit it, they are practicing ritualistic magic.
Some people believe that sigil magick is part of the lost knowledge of Hermetics. Some believe this is the source of real alchemy and magic, and they may have a point. There are connections to the use of magical energy here. Perhaps Reiki is one proof of the existence of this sacred knowledge.
Creating A Sigil
Anyone can create a sigil. Many people make symbols when practicing automatic writing techniques. You can follow the process for automatic writing and set your intention to create a pattern that points toward any desired goal. The only rule is, if it resonates, seems right, feels right, then it’s right for you.
Just remember, ceremonial magic is powerful. Make sure your goal is positive and does not cause harm to anyone or anything.
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(1) Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia