The most common use for sigils can be described in either the metaphor of a firecracker or maybe a machine gun. The magician lights the firecracker, throws it, and then runs away waiting for the firecracker to go off. Or the magician sprays a wild rain of bullets and hopes that he hits his target.
Sigils are often used with hope rather than skill. The magician creates a sigil, charges it, launches it, and then boom! is done with it. The magician’s HOPE is that the magic will work.
I don’t like this approach but I will admit that I am still contemplating it.
When you throw your firecracker or spray your machine gun bullets, you are pretty assured that you will hit something, but you assurance is not based upon skill but rather the design of the tool. A good sniper can kill with a single bullet from a dozen yards away; someone with a machine gun is hoping for a kill by spraying randomly in high volume.
Throwing out your desires to the universe is chaotic mathematics. When I first started working in real estate, my cold calls were horrible. I sounded like a little girl pleading with people to come to my open houses. Do you want to cold call the universe and sound like a whiny little girl? Please, Mr. Universe, help me out here. Also considering the general loathing towards telemarketing, how many prayers do you think God gets? My responses were minimal but I did get the occasional response. Telemarketing is based upon quantity rather than efficiency; if you make a hundred calls then statistically you are guaranteed to get an appointment. But how then can we make it so that we only have to make one call or fewer calls?
Magic may get you want you want but can you handle it? This is a basic Machiavellian principle: people will generally prosper through a combination of skill and luck. For example, I send out resumes every couple years or so just to keep myself in practice and up-to-date. What factors determine whether a company responds to a resume? Most of the time companies respond when there is a need and the job hunter is qualified. There is a difference between applying to a company just checking out if they have any opening versus applying in response to a job listing in the newspaper. Similarly, you can send out a hundred resumes but if you are not qualified, you won’t get any response. Skill is important. However, at times luck may play a factor from the view of the magician. I have had the situation numerous times in which I sent out resumes, forgot about them, and had responses that were beyond what I was expecting. I had a job offer where they said, hey, instead of us hiring you when this position opens in three months, we want to hire you now. I recently had a job application from a resume that was two years old – the company hired me for double the traditional wages.
Luck is often a crucial factor in opportunity. A magician, however, needs skill to either make his own luck or to take advantage of a situation. Studies have shown that people who win lotteries – which is magic at its purest, most wildest – return to their original poverty within a couple years because it isn’t the money but rather the way in which the person handles money. My first hypersigil was a disastrous success. It was a love spell that got me someone who I consider to be the most important lover I have ever had. It was an impossible love affair with a rich doctor from a rich family; he was ten years older than I with a twin brother! What a passionate impossible affair it was and it turned out ridiculously self-destructive. He became a doctor because he had a serious psychiatric illness; that fantasy of a twin sandwich went out the window when I found out his brother had an interesting birth defect. His money didn’t come from success but rather penny-pinching so he wouldn’t spend a dime on a wish. But I digress…
But still, these hopeful sigils are a way of testing the limits and capabilities of life. My most surprising results come from enterprises I never expected to happen or succeed – hopeful sigils greatly reduce lust for results because there isn’t any real investment in them. They make good passive supplementary income – you sow the seeds and reap the benefits, but don’t make a living on hope and luck.
A different type of sigil requires more investment and introspection.
Imagine this metaphor. You write a letter and place it in a sealed envelope that is blank. If you just throw the envelope out, the chances of it getting to its destination is unlikely. You have to add proper postage and then an address and maybe a name. It is possible for a letter with a name to have the wrong address and still get to the right house but you reduce your chances with inadequate labeling. A return address is also a safety feature in case of failure or to let the sender know of any problems.
These components are necessary for the letter to get delivered properly.
What a sigil is, is FedEx where you have overnight delivery with package insurance and tracking and the receiver has to sign a confirmation slip to receive the letter. You still need to pay for delivery (and you pay a lot more) and you still need name, address, and a return address, but the service is hypercharged with something extra. Sigils provide that extra service, enhancing a typical ritual with an X factor that improves the odds of success.
Sigils do not always work. Each sigil will need its own particular stamp and address. A love sigil might require patience and good conversational skills, while a money sigil might require a good resume and a reason to send it out. Otherwise, sigils will fail without the stamp and address and in that failure you need to reflect upon what particular conditions are absent to prevent the sigil from working. Typically three factors are involved:
1. Subconscious resistance – some fatal flaw that is sabotaging your mojo
2. What is called lust for results – a watched pot never boils
3. Probability – if the probability of an event occuring is low or impossible then the chances of the magic working is low or impossible – it becomes necessary then to enact rituals to increase probability and decrease likelihood of failure.
Failure of a sigil requires some type of readjustment in the sigil process. You have some type of problem that is preventing your message from being delivered. What is it? What is sabotaging your results?
Mastering sigils require introspection. A magician should start by considering his or her problems first, what subconscious resistance is occuring to block the magic from working. If you do a love sigil but you have no patience for shit testing or flirting then the sigil will fail. You should then do a patience sigil instead and reconsider the above factors…the solution isn’t always obvious. If a sigil fails, it will not automatically return to sender with an explanation why. Sometimes the failure is for obvious reasons, other times those reasons need to be divined.
Grant Morrison writes in Pop Magic,
Study YOURSELF the way a hunter studies prey. Exploit your own weaknesses to create desired changes within yourself.This is an important principle of magic: know thyself.
A magician’s first use of sigils should be to deal with subconscious blocks that are limiting the magician’s use of magic.
Philip Cooper in Basic Sigil Magic refers to this process as washing the ego clean.
In mythology and folklore, we see constant tales of rampant demons who are captured and imprisoned by powerful magicians who force the demon to grant wishes. This folklore theme is a symbolic representation of washing the ego – what I will call binding the demons. The demons are symbols of subconscious blocks and flaws while the binding rituals represent the sigiling process of dealing with these flaws to attain higher levels of magic.
My recommendation is to keep a diary of critical self-analysis. Whenever the urge strikes your fancy, write down an unrestrained overly harsh list of your flaws, even if you are being over-critical. When I started doing this, it was difficult at first but once the flood gate was opened, I could easily sit down and brainstorm these massive critical lists.
- Lack of motivation
- Hate inconvenience
- Bad conversationalist
- Hasty, impatient
- No maintenance ability
- Mechanically disinclined
- Binge spender
- Control freak
- Fear of success
- Never finish anything
- Out of shape
- Ambiguously gay
I could keep going.
Cooper suggests that a critical self-analysis be organized according to the basic elemental pattern.
The four elements are fire, earth, air, and water. If you watch Avatar: the Last Airbender, they have them out of order.
Each element has its own particular association, both negative and positive:
Fire: Fire mainly represents creative and active pursuits. These are all the adventures and plans that you want to plot and enjoy. Fire wants power. Descriptions include creative, enthusiastic, unrestrained, sexual, spontaneous, volatile, temperamental, inspirational, (anti)social, controlling, blunt, honest, direct, forceful, active, energetic, insensitive, intense, high-maintenance, vengeful, etc.
Earth: Earth represents materialism and practical. They deal mainly with money magic and earthly pleasures (financial comfort, indulgence, sensuality). Earth wants material gains. Descriptions include stable, practical, hard-working, dependable, materialistic, narrow-minded, inhibited, in control, isolated, easy-going, down-to-earth, passionate, loyal, stubborn, responsible, dutiful, concrete, sensual, conservative, etc.
Air: Air represents intelligence or at least communication. Air talks and talks and talks but not necessarily intelligently. Air is for people looking for social graces or analytical abilities. Air wants information. Descriptions include talkative, analytical, graceful, elegant, superficial, social, impractical, unrealistic, attention-deficit, abstract, charming, experimental, shallow, opinionated, deceitful, curious, perceptive, etc.
Water: Water represents unadulterated emotion. Water feels with no logical ability whatsoever. Water is for those looking to deal with emotional problems. Water wants personal security most of all. Descriptions include self-destructive, manipulative, passive-aggressive, moody, artistic, intuitive, (over)sensitive, nurturing, romantic, delusional, sulky, imaginative, nonverbal, secretive, possessive, judgmental, etc.
Organization of flaws might not be an exacting science and may be a little bit awkward at first, but part of the purpose is not only to be aware of these flaws but also to connect them with deper magical principles.
My organization chart might look something like this:
Fire: Anger, lack of motivation, hate inconvenience, whore, over-aggressive, cocky, hasty, impatient, no maintenance ability, binge spender, over-critical, control freak, never finish anything, naïve, self-centered, self-absorbed, out of shape
Earth: Mechanically disinclined, binge spender, control freak, fear of success, general financial and stability issues
Air: Over-stimulation, bad conversationalist, unfocused, ambiguously gay
Water: Sulky, whore, depressed, moody, passive-aggressive, negative, insecure, control freak, fear of success, self-centered, self-absorbed, non-verbally in-astute.
If you notice my elemental balance, you can guess what sign I am. I am a Leo (fire sign) born towards the cusp of Cancer (water sign).
In some instances, I placed traits in two (or more categories). In some instances, I put traits in categories that they are the opposite of, for example, bad conversationalist goes in air because air deals with conversational abilities while I put binge-spender in fire and earth because binge spending is a fire trait but earth deals with material and financial issues. I also added a couple new flaws that came to mind as I was organizing.
I’m going to stop here and continue with this sigil program next week.