Sigil Theory

Humans are creatures of language.

7 months ago

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Humans are creatures of language.

Since the earliest days of civilisation, how we represent and record ideas has evolved alongside the wider culture itself. Simple images scrawled incoherently on cave walls would eventually find expression as formal alphabets, all the while allowing those who benefited from education to build upon the lessons of the past in their efforts to mold the future.

But such linguistic structures can be limiting to those who strive to see beyond the established boundaries of modernity. This is especially true for chaos magicians, a class of intellectual iconoclasts who dwell within the spaces between established facts.

Of course, thanks to the work of artists such as Austin Osman Spare and the founding fathers of chaos magick who followed in his footsteps, it was eventually realised that even language itself can be weaponized towards a given goal.


At its most basic, a sigil is just a vehicle for intent designed to smuggle desire between the conscious and unconscious parts of the chaote's psyche where it can get to work changing reality through as yet still poorly defined means.

The need for such sleight of mind results from this dual nature of consciousness, and the usually quite immovable barrier between the two.

Sometimes referred to as the psychic censor, it is difficult to bypass, but not impossible to breach through intense pleasure, fear, pain or other peak psychological states. Anything that interrupts the usual monotony of thought will do.

Chaos magicians refer to this momentary window of no mind as gnosis, and many of the ritualistic trappings on display in the wider occult community result from the purely mechanical need to directly access this internal void.

All chaotes did was look beyond the individual paradigms to find the underlying technology, as has ever been the case.

While sigils themselves are relatively young compared with much of the magick on display in the West, their ever present popularity stems in part from how easy they are to create.

The most well-established method starts with a statement of intent, usually worded in such a way as to trick the chaote's mind into thinking that the goal has already been achieved.

This is broken down into a string of incoherent letters by first removing the vowels and then any duplicate consonants. Whatever remains is finally shuffled to further obscure the original intent before this jumble of nonsensical characters is ready to turn into a glyph.

Letters are contorted, merged, stretched, discarded and flipped as the magickian strips the desire of its basis in language and returns the intent to a proto-pictographic base reminiscent of the earliest days of human expression.

Grant Morrison in Doom Patrol (?)

As Grant Morrison famously stated at DisInfo Con back at the turn of the 21st Century, there are no rules for how the sigil itself should look by the end of the process, nor should the chaote feel restricted by artistic considerations as they push to represent an entire desire in a single monogrammatic glyph either.

The intent is then forgotten, usually by creating a series of unrelated sigils over a set period, all for different outcomes.

One or more is then pulled at random from the stack and charged while trying to suppress the original meaning from returning to the conscious mind.

This firing is accomplished by any method which creates the aforementioned gnostic state, though masturbation to climax or exhaustion to the point of collapse are two of the easiest to achieve.

Weirdly, saturation or the constant presence of sigils representing a goal in plain sight until it is achieved also seems to work despite invalidating many of the mechanics thought to underlie the technique.

AOS or maybe Hitler's Clone? Maybe Hitler was a clone of AOS???

Indeed, Spare stated that divorcing desire from the glyph is key to success.

Modern magicians understand that this absence helps to baffle the psychic censor while using an overtly innocent image to bypass it entirely.

But such suppressive techniques are not the only ones that work, nor does the chaote need to be held at such a distance from the original intent.

The wider question of whether a pictorial representation of a goal is still worthy of being considered a sigil if the content is not slavishly forgotten has been a point of contention in chaos magick for as long as we have sought excellence, though it is ultimately unimportant.

When combined with a method to short circuit, the psychic censor sigils seem to offer noticeable results with very little effort. Of course chaos Magick is ultimately about choice, and the efficiency of the above technique will vary greatly depending on the interests, skills and talents of the person seeking the result.

As with all things both implementation and theory are open for interpretation and complexity can quickly creep in should the chaote lose sight of the core function in favour of expanded form.


Because, just like language, sigils seek to evolve.

Runic variations work by first translating the remaining letters of an intent into their corresponding position in many Pagan alphabets and rearranging those glyphs into a single image like normal.

Audio variations are created as chants constructed from jumbled letters, while some transposed the intent onto a corresponding planetary kamea to gain favour from an associated power.

The Invisibles (DC Comics)

Morse code, cut up media or vision boards - even these painfully modern creations can smuggle crystallised will into the deep mind.

At the extreme end of the spectrum, we find multifaceted hypersigils, such as Grant Morrison's Invisibles, a complex operation credited with drastically changing his life from the ground up. Such meta-sigils shade into the wider area of memetics, and highlight a common thread running between the two.

While the practitioner is best advised to stick with whichever method generates the most consistent results, this does not rule out experimentation with other interrelated techniques to broaden their skill base.

Stagnation and complacency have never been hallmarks of competency when handling the chaos current, after all.

Gavin Fox

Published 7 months ago


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