A sigil ( //; pl. sigilia or sigils; from Latin sigillum "seal") is a symbol created for a specific magical purpose. A sigil is usually made up of a complex combination of several specific symbols or geometric figures, each with a specific meaning or intent.
Name and origin
The term sigil derives from the Latin sigillum, meaning "seal", though it may also be related to the Hebrew סגולה (segulah meaning "word, action, or item of spiritual effect"). A sigil may have an abstract, pictorial or semi-abstract form. The current use of the term is derived from Renaissance magic, which was in turn inspired by the magical traditions of antiquity.
In medieval ceremonial magic, the term sigil was commonly used to refer to occult signs which represented various angels and demons which the magician 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.
Sigils are commonly found in Jewish mysticism and Kabbalistic magic (being a special focus of Sefer Raziel HaMalakh and other medieval Jewish mystical sources), upon which much of Western magic is based.
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 Hindu tantra, historical runic magic among the Germanic peoples, or the use of veves in Voudon.
Differences from traditional use
Unlike with traditional sigils, whose creators made use of traditional lore passed down from generations or from books, modern users often create sigils entirely themselves and devise individual means of "charging" them with metaphysical power.
Modern sigils may appear in any medium—physical, virtual, or mental. Visual symbols are the traditional, and presumably still most popular, form, but the use of aural and tactile symbols in magic is not unheard of.
In modern uses, the concept was mostly popularized by Austin Osman Spare, who published a method by which the words of a statement of intent are reduced into an abstract design; the sigil is then charged with the will of the creator. Spare's technique, now known as sigilization, has become a core element of chaos magic. The inherently individualistic nature of chaos magic leads most chaos magicians to prepare and cast (or "charge") sigils in unique ways, as the process of sigilization has never been rigorously defined. The magician is expected to "fill in the blank spots" by himself or herself. Sigils are used for spells as well as for the creation of thoughtforms.
A hypersigil is an extended work of art with magical meaning and willpower, created using adapted processes of sigilization. The term was popularized (if not coined) by Grant Morrison. His comic book series The Invisibles was intended as a hypersigil.
- ^ Morrison, Grant (2003). "POP MAGIC!". In Richard, Metzger. Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult. New York, NY: The Disinformation Company. ISBN 0-9713942-7-X. "The 'hypersigil' or 'supersigil' develops the sigil concept beyond the static image and incorporates elements such as characterization, drama, and plot. The hypersigil is a sigil extended through the fourth dimension. My own comic book series The Invisibles was a six-year long sigil in the form of an occult adventure story which consumed and recreated my life during the period of its composition and execution. The hypersigil is an immensely powerful and sometimes dangerous method for actually altering reality in accordance with intent. Results can be remarkable and shocking."
- The Book of Pleasure. Austin Osman Spare ISBN 1-872189-58-X
- Liber Null and Psychonaut. Peter Carroll ISBN 0-87728-639-6
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