This will give you a good understanding of most aspects of how to use sigils in basic sigil magick. At the end I will touch on some of the more advanced things you may want to research further yourself. It’s written from a chaos magick perspective, so while you may use strict rules from other traditions for their construction if you’d like, you are not required to do so.
Disclaimer: I don’t believe in objective reality, this is just my opinion and what I’ve learned works for me. Discard what doesn’t work for you, and add anything that does work for you.
Table of Contents
- TL:DR Version
- Different Uses For Sigils
- How Do Sigils Work?
- Basic Process Overview
- Using Belief With Sigils
- How to Write a Statement of Intent
- Ensuring Pathways
- Constructing Sigils
Here’s the short “too long, didn’t read” version if you don’t care about the finer points.
I strongly encourage you to keep reading past this simple overview into more detailed sections however.
1. Create a positive1 statement of intent, in the present tense2.
“I found a high paying job”
I will2 not1 fail to find a high paying job“
2. Remove vowels and repeated letters.
“I FOUND A HIGH PAYING JOB”
3. Trace these remaining letters in the square, that is your sigil.
4. Charge it by imagining it blazing brightly in your minds eye, during moments where your conscious mind is not in use.
(A gnostic trance state, or as a shortcut, having an experience so overwhelming to your senses that conscious thought briefly stops, such as the climax of intense pleasure, fear, joy, sadness, etc.)
5. Stop thinking about it. Desperation is a stinky cologne. Distract yourself. Don’t obsess over it.
How to Use Sigils – Basics
Different Uses for Sigils
Just so you know, there are a handful of ways people use sigils in magick, but when people say “do a sigil” or “sigil magick” they are often referring to the use of sigils them in order to manifest an intent.
Besides manifesting an intent, sigils are also used in the creating servitors, or to work with certain traditional deities or entities that have static sigils already associated with them. There’s even one type that is for energetically linking to a geolocation.
This article will only be covering how to create and use a sigil to manifest an intent, which is a fancy way of saying “get something you want”.
How Do Sigils Work?
We don’t know exactly how they work. Like magick in general, if we knew exactly how and why it worked it would be in science textbooks. Anyone who tells you they are sure of exactly how it works is probably either lying or badly mistaking subjective truth for objective truth.
You can view them through any lens or model you want. Call it a placebo (not in a bad way, placebos often work), call it the Gods are listening, call it chi, call it quantum physics collapsing waves of probability differently by changing your observation, call it hacking the simulation. All that is just interchangeable flavor in the meta-model. Pick one. or don’t.
Basic Process Overview
The basic process for using sigils is to decide what you want, create a unique original thing (usually a witchy little glyph) that symbolizes only what you want and nothing else.
This symbol will be a message to your subconscious mind (because symbols are the language of the subconscious). This brings your subconscious into play AND takes your conscious mind out of play (if you just wrote it in words you would consciously think it every time you looked at it).
To get the message to the subconscious, we are going to reach a state of gnosis, where your conscious mind is essentially out to lunch, and the subconscious is open for business. This can be achieved in a variety of ways from trance to being overwhelmed by an experience (we’ll get more into that later).
Then we forget about it on purpose. This doesn’t mean literal amnesia of course. You’ll remember you did the thing and kind of what it was for. You’ll be able to forget the exact wording and the sigil itself pretty easily (some people destroy them for this reason). But more importantly we are going to focus on something else, turn our attention, and not sit around consciously thinking about it and obsessing.
Here are a few quick sum-ups by authors I highly recommend:
Using Belief With Sigils
Some people will tell you it doesn’t matter if you believe it will work, that you can just try it and see for yourself. Then you’ll be a believer. While this may be true, I think your best chances of success are by using a strong belief that it will work.
Don’t believe in magick? That’s fine you don’t really have to believe in magick to believe it will work. You could simply believe in the placebo effect getting results, or believe in subluminal messages having an effect on you, and that this can change your behavior or motivation which has a ripple effect on your interactions with other people. A butterfly flaps it’s wings and there’s a hurricane on the other side of the world. All that jazz.
The beauty of chaos magick is being able to use belief as a tool and change your beliefs, but if you aren’t there yet, just use one you already have. There are so many different lenses to view a phenomenon with.
Non-Attachment – Lust for results and obsession will spoil your working. You should take great care to achieve a neutral state of mind where you are not particularly attached to the outcome. This can be very difficult in desperate times when this sigil is your hail-Mary move, but it’s crucial that you master your mind enough to simply do the magick for it’s own sake.
Non-Disinterest – On the flip side of the coin, you should not become so unattached that you lose interest altogether either. Perhaps think of yourself as an unbiased scientist performing an experiment; excited to be doing the work, and interested in the process, but still an impartial observer to the results.
How to Write a Statement of Intent
There are many different ideas floating around about what constitutes a bulletproof statement of intent. These are just some of the ones I’ve found to be most useful.
“Have”, instead of “want” – Avoid saying things like “I want to find my lost diary”. The theory goes that writing your statement like this will only succeed in making you “want” to. Instead say something more along the lines of “I have found my lost diary”.
Present tense, instead of future – Similarly your intent should avoid phrases like “I will be more focused on my project” as they will only succeed at keeping yourself in a pre-success state where you “will” but you haven’t yet. Instead say something like “I am more focused on my projects” (present tense).
Positive, instead of negative – Instead of saying “I’m not* scared”, say “I’m brave”. For whatever reason the subconscious seems to ignore “not” and so “I’m not scared” = “I’m scared”.
How much, and when? – If you need $900 by the end of the month and your statement of intent says “Some unexpected money arrived”, it won’t do you any good if it arrived 2 years from now, or if it was just a dollar you found laying in a parking lot. Be specific about exactly what you need and when you need it by, if those conditions exist.
Which pathways? – The universe often takes the path of least resistance if you are not specific, and it can have a twisted sense of humor. The classic example of this is doing a sigil for money and then you get hit by a car, but you win some money in the lawsuit. A phrase that may come in handy for you is “…in a way that benefits all, and harms none”.
Before you try to manifest anything, you need to understand that magick nudges the probability in your favor. So depending on what the base probability was to begin with, and how much extra you are willing to do to improve it, your probability even with a sigil may be very low.
By the same token, if you are trying to get something that is already extremely likely, you might not even have to do magick at all.
+ Mundane work
+ Magical work
= Total Probability
With this in mind, you can see the importance of making sure that you have a good pathway before doing a sigil. No point trying to get Godzilla to appear and destroy Tokyo, because there is zero pathway for that to occur (well, maybe a very small pathway:-).
Besides choosing something that has a pathway, any additional mundane work you do also adds to your chances of success.
So for example if you do a sigil to get hired but have no network, no online presence, an no job applications; then you have no pathway, which gives you almost no base probability of getting hired. It’s not going to just fall out of the sky!
If you do a sigil to get hired and actually fill out an application, you have a pathway, which gives you a base probability + magical work.
If you wanted to maximize your probability, you could do a sigil to get hired, fill out multiple applications, start networking on and offline, work on your resume, and rehearse your interview. Then you would have a pathway, which gives you a base probability + magical work + a bunch of mundane work. Your chances are looking pretty good!
So in conclusion: Before you do a sigil, make sure you have a pathway, and maybe even improve it a bit. If you don’t have a pathway, get out there and make one!
There are several different ways to create a sigil, but for this tutorial we will first focus on a very simple and common one that requires no artistic talent. Later on we will go over some of the other various ways (Advanced: More ways to construct sigils).
You could always use a sigil generator too. I have provided one here which is completely private as an alternative to doing it on paper. For rote methods like this which offer very little creative freedom to begin with, I think they’re just as good. The main point of constructing a sigil using any method is just that it’s unique and original so it means only your intent.
First draw a 3×3 grid and number it 1-9 as shown below. Then write out the numbers 1-9 on a single line, followed by the alphabet on the next line so that each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a number. (Fig. 4)
Next you’re going to take your statement of intent and cross out all the vowels and repeated letters. (Fig. 5)
A lot of people get hung up on the minutia of this step, but fear not! It’s not like the universe just hates vowels and there’s a cosmic proofreader that doesn’t allow magick to work if it has vowels. This is just to (A) shorten the statement so that it’s easier to work with, and (B) make it unreadable to your conscious mind (remember we are sending it to the subconscious).
You could just as easily remove every 3rd letter, or what ever you feel like. It’s not important unless you have a strong personal preference.
Finally you just trace a line through all the numbered squares that correspond to the letters leftover in your intent. You can see that I marked the starting point with a O and the end with a |, this is very common but also optional. You can jazz it up however you wish. (Fig. 5)
You’re done, this is your finished sigil! (Fig. 6)
How to Charge a Sigil
There are about a million different ways you can charge a sigil, so for this first basic walkthrough we are going to focus on the two most common ways, and then we’ll take a look at the rest later (Advanced: More ways to charge sigils).
More or less, every way you can charge a sigil can be divided into two basic categories, which are:
- Excitatory – Stimulating mental uppers, like climax.
- Inhibitory – Calming mental downers, like deep meditation.
So this part is actually pretty simple. You just visualize your sigil in your minds eye blazing brightly and focus intensely on that while you are in the peak moment of either climax (excitatory) or meditative trance (inhibitory).
The idea is that either of these extremes (brain-overstimulation or not-thinking) can create moments where conscious thought ceases and anything you visualize can slip directly into your subconscious. (Armed with this knowledge, you may want to guard your thoughts more carefully in the future.)
Don’t believe me? Have a partner take a picture of your O-face sometime. Is that a face you would ever consciously make? Hahaha.
There are many exercises you can practice to improve your ability to visualize shapes in your mind and make this step more effective. They all boil down to practice makes perfect. You practice visualizing simple shapes until they are clear and unwavering and then gradually move on to more and more complicated shapes.
Lastly I’d like to point out that I don’t think there is any correlation between the intent and the method you use to charge it. If you want to use that correlation in your working feel free, but in my opinion the package still gets delivered whether you choose UPS or FedEx.
This is probably one of the most misunderstood steps. In order to let your subconscious mind pick this intent up and run with it, you need to let go of it with your conscious mind. Otherwise it’s like asking a dog to go fetch but you don’t give it any slack on the leash (Thanks for the metaphor Tyson!). So you are supposed to “forget” the sigil afterwards.
“But I can’t just delete something from my brain like a hard drive!?!?”
Sure you can. In fact you do it all the time. What’s my password? Where did I park the car? It can be easier to forget something than to remember it, if you set the stage right (see: Non-Attachment/Non-Disinterest).
First off, total amnesia isn’t necessary. The point of the step is just to not have your conscious mind attached to it, so you can just focus hard on something else so you aren’t thinking about it.
Doesn’t matter what. Start a new project, learn to play an instrument, read a book, whatever. Just don’t sit there thinking about the sigil and obsessing about whether you did it right or if it’s going to work or when it’s going to work. Heck you can even do another sigil (and another, and another) afterwards till you have trouble remembering which was which.
Second, you can still journal about this and track if it’s a success/fail by remembering generalities alone. Like remembering “it was for money” but forgetting the precise wording you used and the exact shape that resulted.
For this reason a lot of people burn (or otherwise destroy) the sigil afterwards. Not only does destruction remove it as a reminder, but it can be an important symbolic act of letting go.
This is the point where a lot of people get hung up on details again asking if they need to burn it or if it has to be a certain type of fire or a full moon or whatever. It’s a symbolic gesture. That piece of paper and that flame are not the magic. Chill. If you can let go of a concept without the burning part, more power to you. There’s no magical hall monitor waiting to pounce and shout “Gotcha!” if you don’t burn it.
Another important step after doing a sigil is to have a little faith (which also helps the forgetting). There’s no need to worry about it or obsess about it because you are SURE that it worked. Your problem is over, it’s a forgone conclusion, the check is in the mail. You can even perform a token gesture to symbolize your faith, like splurging a little after a money sigil, because you know you have some new money coming your way soon!
This supreme confidence makes putting it out of your mind a lot easier. If I won the lottery it would be easy to stop thinking about my bills as much, you feel me?
Also when it does finally work, acknowledge that it was magick even if it seems like just coincidence. Manifestation often occurs via “coincidence” and the universe has a way of taking back what it gave you if you don’t appreciate it.
Some view sharing sigils and/or intent as very dangerous. It may allow you to be magically targeted (like giving someone a strand of your hair).
This may allow someone to: Attack you magically, subvert or sabotage your work, drain your energy, scry on you, etc.
Think long and hard about where you stand on this issue before sharing your sigils with anyone, or using any online tools which save your work on their server.
Some mages have no problem with it and happily share their sigils. The decision is yours I just want you to be informed of the multiple schools of thought.
How to Use Sigils – Advanced
That should be enough to get you through the process of doing a basic sigil.
I’ve included some more advanced options below that you may want to research on your own, but I will not be covering them completely as they could fill several books.
More Ways to Charge Sigils
One way isn’t really better than another way, it’s just whatever works best for you. Some people are not startled easily and couldn’t charge a sigil with a jump-scare. Other people may be self-conscious and have trouble really letting go during during intamacy, and so charging via climax doesn’t work well because they are never really losing themselves in it.
There is no “best way” for everyone, there’s only a “best way” for you as a unique individual. Your job is to find it.
Excitatory – Anything that overstimulates your mind in a really overwhelming way to the point that your conscious mind skips a beat can also be used to charge a sigil. The list goes on forever but examples include intense experiences of:
- Adrenaline rush (extreme sports, crime, etc)
This opens the door to really fun ways to do magick like rollercoasters, dancing till you drop, spinning, haunted houses, graveyards, or any extreme experience.
Inhibitory – This category is for the more passive activities that are marked by their lack of excitement.
- Sensory deprivation
Vacuity – This game changer comes from Phil Hine’s Condensed Chaos. Besides the common two categories above, there is a third way of charging sigils now!
Vacuous charges make use of the kind of a melancholy state of boredom or not-really-paying-attention. I think of them as the “subliminal message” or “automatic drawing” version of charging a sigil.
- Doodling your sigils absentmindedly while stuck in a lecture
- Placing your sigil in your field of view but not really focusing on it while toiling at some mundane task
- That weird trance you go into driving where you realized you passed your exit 2 hours ago
Various Rituals – I used to roll my eyes at this one, people saying they spill blood (or other fluids) on the sigil, or pour liquor on it to charge it. I was like “and how exactly does that activate the mind?” but I think I get it now.
It’s a symbolic act and you view it (and use it) as such. You give it personal meaning in the same way that making animal sacrifices to the gods is more meaningful than working in a slaughterhouse.
I don’t use this one but it can be done, just make sure you give it that meaning and don’t think of it as a rote activity like filling your car with gas.
DKMU is particularly good at coming up with very creative and unorthodox methods for this.
The Creation Process – Some magicians who are into art focus hard on the artistic aspect of making the sigil and charge it using the creative headspace and focus of drawing/painting/etc. In this way they combine the construction of the sigil with the charge. Obviously you may want to avoid this method if you don’t think of yourself as particularly artistic.
Other Models of Magick – Personally I don’t like to mix models for sigils. However “whatever floats your boat” (as always!)
Besides the psyche model methods I’ve already described, some prefer:
- Energy model, like charging with chi, psychic vampirism, or energy from crystals
- Spirit model, like calling upon demons, angels, or gods to make your sigil happen
- Information model, you could hack the simulation, or upload your intent into a nearby information cluster
Group charging – It’s pretty hotly debated in some circles whether or not other people can help you charge your sigils.
This could be a willing collaboration between magicians where they are aware of the intent (or unaware of the intent, but at least aware that it is a sigil). Alternatively it could be without the viewers being aware they are even helping, for example hiding your sigil in graffiti or superimposing it over viral memes and thereby getting thousands of eyes on it. Some magicians even hide sigils in racy selfies to leverage the sexual energy derived from gawkers.
Where you land on this issue depends largely on how you think sigils work.
Try it and see if it works for you, I know a lady who swears by her meme-magick and I’m impressed with the results I’ve seen her get.
(There may be some risks)
Chemognosis – Achieving gnosis by introducing chemicals into the body to induce mental states.
Shoaling – Shoaling is a technique from Gordon White in which you break apart your desired outcome into smaller steps that each push you closer and closer to achieving your goal. By making separate sigils for each of these more attainable sub-tasks, the probability of each goes up every time one of them works, and it picks up momentum. Read more about it here.
Robofish – Another Gordon White original, this technique involves starting your shoals with sigils which are guaranteed to succeed (“The sun will come up tomorrow”, etc.). This helps build momentum for free. Read more about it here.
This is a term coined by comic book author and chaos magician Grant Morrison. He uses it to describe how he made his ongoing comic book series as a complex multi-part, sigil that unfolds over time.
Theoretically you could do the same with books, lectures, or musical tracks.
It’s just a label. The important point here is that while often thought of as simple and quick, sigils can also be complicated and long if that’s how you like it.
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.
After becoming familiar with the traditional sigil method, see if you can create your own hypersigil. The hypersigil can take the form of a poem, a story, a song, a dance or any other extended artistic activity you wish to try. This is a newly developed technology so the parameters remain to be explored. It is important to become utterly absorbed in the hypersigil as it unfolds; this requires a high degree of absorption and concentration (which can lead to obsession but so what? You can always banish at the end) like most works of art. The hypersigil is a dynamic miniature model of the magician’s universe, a hologram, microcosm or “voodoo doll” which can manipulated in real time to produce changes in the macrocosmic environment of “real” life.-Grant Morrison
More ways to construct sigils
Unless you practice some extremely dogmatic system of rules-magick, it doesn’t really matter one bit how you choose to construct your sigils (which makes it a little funny that I have such an interest in finding and making new ways).
The only important thing is that they symbolize your intent and preferably only your intent.
Some of the main methods are:
- Word Method – You remove vowels and repeats like the method I showed you above, but then just jam the letters together into an interesting shape and then give it a little artistic flair so it doesn’t look like letters humping each other.
- Mantrical – Remove vowels and repeats, then rearrange the letters to create nonsensical words you can say.
- Pictorial – This is where you just draw a picture of what you want to happen and then reduce the drawing down to a simple shape.
- Kameas/Magic Squares – There are squares of numbers similar to the one I showed you above but in different amounts, and placement. Each one is attached to a different astrological energy so you can use the correct one for your intent, and use a more complex numerology/gematria to convert your letters to numbers.
Reduce as needed. If your kamea goes up to 81 then Z=800 becomes Z=80. If your kamea goes up to 9 then Z=800 becomes Z=8.
- Other Shapes – There are also many other methods using the exact same concept as squares but use arbitrary other shapes like a wheel, the petals of a rose (Rose Cross), etc. Go crazy, have fun with it!
- Musical – There are several methods of deriving musical notes from the letters in a statement of intent and then the resulting song is your sigil.
- Hand gestures – Some call them mudras, others call them Naruto. regardless you can easily create a system to translate letters into hand-gestures for you to perform.
The most common methods are Word, Pictorial, and Mantrical (from Liber Null, by Peter Carroll), but as you can see the possibilities are endless.
Besides the permanent sigils I mentioned before that are used for servitors/deities/demons, etc. Many just keep their manifestation sigils around for effects that they want to go on forever, such as sigils for luck or safety. Some even go as far as to get them as a tattoo.
It can be argued that they kind of become more than a sigil at that point and you are getting into servitor territory, but labels aren’t really as important as actions.
There are even very unique reusable sigils such as the LS (Linking Sigil) which is for linking together geolocations energetically.
How to Undo a Sigil
Well I’ll start by saying “be careful what you wish for” because there’s not really an instruction manual that I’m aware of for undoing a sigil once you’ve done it.
My best advice comes down to either just doing a sigil for the opposite intent (like fixing a bad parking job, keep adjusting till you get reality how you want it), doing a sigil with the specific intent of undoing the other sigil, or deliberately sabotaging the first one by doing the opposite of everything I have explained makes them work (grab it with the conscious mind, keep it round, deny it was magick, doubt it will work, etc.)
I’m typing most of this straight out of my head without directly citing or referencing anything, however I’d like to acknowledge that much of what I have learned was from the following sources.
- Liber Null by Peter Carroll
- Condensed Chaos by Phil Hine
- Advanced Magick For Beginners by Alan Chapman
- The Psychonaut Field Manual by Bluefluke
- Practical Sigil Magic by Frater U.:D.:
- The Tommie Kelly Podcast by Adventures in Woo-woo
- Voces-Magicae.com (no longer available)
- Various advice and conversations from Chaos Magick Study Group, and Sigil Magick
Thumbnail art Copyright © 2021 by Andu Abril for use @ ChaosTarot.com
Loved this. A simple and straightforward explanation of sigil magic that clearly, and often humorously covers the core aspects of creating a sigil, doesn’t get bogged down in esoteric jargon and even sheds light on interesting new ways to go about creation.
I am sending this to a friend of mine who I wanted to explain the basics to. I myself just use the letter method, but I wanted him to understand the concept behind it. You touch on the exact reasons why a sigil will or won’t work.
When I was 16 till about 19 or 20 I tried my hand at Golden Dawn and Thelema. I had zero success at magic, and a very minute about of success at impressing a couple of the cute edgy/goth girls in my class. While not related at all to the intent of any ritual I did, I was nonetheless grateful. My problems where two-fold.
1. I was raised as a Christian (and consider myself to be Christian today, as well as practicing Chaos.) therefor despite my best efforts at rebellion the act of calling on demons and other deities felt wrong to me. No, not because I’m a brainwashed sheep (I get the knee-jerk response of being called a brainwashed moron often, the irony of their almost involuntary insult being completely lost on them), but because it felt _inherently_ wrong to me at my core. 2. I was too focused on the intricate symbols and names and not intent.
Having no artistic ability, and barely able to make my name legible, you can imagine my demoralization after I slave for, sometimes, days on creating symbols juuuuust right (because if one thing is even slightly off, disaster!) in addition to remembering every two bit angel and demon’s name I needed to call on just to have nothing happen.
“Well….damn man, I don’t know what kind of operation the devil is running but he needs to get his shit together!…ol’ slack ass mf’er… wait. ..what was I trying to do again??”
Anyhow, I could ramble but won’t. If you see this then would be ok if I posted a link to a hypothetical blog I may nor may not start in 20 minutes where I discuss things like my fusing of Christianity and Chaos, God as the actual creator of the hyper-sigil (which we are currently living) and “When curses backfire: The story of how I inadvertently caused Tom Brady to become the best quarterback in NFL history.” ?
There is no agenda I just don’t have the opportunity to discuss things that interest me like that much and would love to interact with people and hear their take on things.
Who loved it?
Thanks for an amazing well thought out article.
Is it possible that a sigil will work if I use it to bring back a lover?
I don’t know the specifics of your relationship but I imagine there is a pathway for that to happen, so it is probably possible if that’s the kind of lover you really want (you can do better).
sigil spirit says
The word method. The letters don’t drag.
How can I get them to move.
And musical ,Where can I here the music.
The notes music.
Cam Revillot says
Word method: use a desktop computer with a mouse
Musical: you can hear them on a musical instrument
What about my tablet?.. of word method.
I can’t get it to work
Basically you need a mouse to use word method. It does not work with touch.
Here’s a demo of it working in Chrome: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKTA4wStk9o
do you have a source for where you got the witch wheel from? I’ve been doing some research into sigilcraft and I can find very little about it from pre-2011
Not unless “Pinterest” counts.
It is in many places (just google “witches wheel sigil”) and I’m not sure who the originator was.
I’m pretty sure it’s a fairly modern method though, I would guess 90s kids made it.
I’ve been looking seriously since you asked and the earliest I can find is a 2014 book by Maureen Murrish called The Wheel of the Year
I would love to see what you’ve got if you’ve found it as early as 2011, hmu!