Sigils, Symbols, and Sketched Witchery: The Basics
Here is another post in my nascent series for beginners, and this one once again focuses on ways of practicing without fancy tools or ingredients. In this case, we’ll be talking about doing magick with simply just paper and a pen/pencil, and I’ll also be discussing symbols in general and why they are important in witchcraft.
Symbols are pretty important to many witches. While not all see it this way, some (including me) believe that all tools are truly just symbols, and their symbolic value allows them to act as power conduits within spells and workings. If that’s true, then there’s really no reason to consider an image of the alchemical symbol for Water (or any image related to water, for that matter) objectively less useful than an actual physical chalice. If you’re armed with strong enough intent, both should work equally well if you need to bring the force of Water into your magick.
There are existing symbols that have been associated with various magical principles for many, many years. In the planetary magick, there are a variety of symbols representing each planet in different contexts and traditions. The common ones called glyphs that you see in most books have always been particularly useful for me, and actually have complex symbolism built into them (they aren’t arbitrary). In the image below, I’ve discussed the three basic symbols from which these glyphs are formed, and why each one looks as it does.
There are symbols for Earth, Air, Fire and Water, of course, but also a whole host of others that have stood for different principles throughout history. I mention some of them here, but that’s barely scratching the surface, given how many exist in Western magical traditions, let alone the rest of the magical world.
Unless you’ve been studying for a while, you might not recognize or have any kind of reaction to these symbols. To someone not well-versed in magick, it can be hard to see a connection between, say, a downward-facing triangle and the element of Water. That’s the traditional symbol used for Water, but it might take a little bit of training yourself to make the connection between the two strong in your mind. I personally had the worst time learning about the planetary glyphs, but with practice, you can get yourself to the point where, when you see the symbol, your mind automatically conjures up images, thoughts, and feelings of what it stands for.
This is actually crucial, in my opinion, though some will no doubt disagree. Magick, to me, has never seemed to operate like a vending machine or other lifeless contraption. It’s not a matter of putting in the right symbols and out pops a result - rather, the symbols exist to focus the intent and will of the witch or magician. This is why I think it’s important to connect with any symbol your using so that it inspires an emotional and intellectual reaction from you, because I personally believe that said reaction is the power behind magick. You’ll hear witches talk about “charging sigils” fairly often, and, for me personally, charging a sigil (more about them later) or symbol is all about connecting them with the concept they represent in your own mind, on both an emotional and intellectual level. Others have a different idea of what charging means, though, so reading up on it and trying different methods can be helpful.
You can use these preexisting symbols in spellwork and other exercises quite effectively once you’ve made the connection, which is usually not too difficult. Just reading about the concepts they represent and why the symbol looks the way it does tends to be quite helpful. Check out this article I’ve written about the planetary glyph symbols, for example, and some theories about why they look the way they do. The important thing is not to correctly interpret the symbol based on the plan of whoever created it, though - it is much more effective to find a personal way of relating to it, if at all possible. Ask yourself if the symbol “makes sense” to you. Some will, and some won’t, and some will make sense with a little research. I know that just having a solid theory as to why the symbol looks the way it does will often be more than enough to begin using it in magick.
Now, using existing symbols is quite well and good, but it is also a good idea to experiment with making your own! These are often called sigils, and there are any number of ways of designing them. Arranging existing letters in a certain manner to form a symbol tends to be the most common method, and was developed by Mr. A. O. Spare, and it was him who popularized the term sigil - you can read more about him here. Other methods for sigil creation exist as well, and often the process is highly intuitive. In the image below, I talk about how I use certain underlying concepts in symbol form as a basis for my sigils, and that’s a method which works for some people, too.
You’ll see a lot of discussion of “charging” and “casting” sigils. These terms are used to mean different things by different people, but generally I view connecting the symbol with the concept it represents to be the “charging” part and using the symbol to invoke the concept for its purpose to be the “casting” aspect. A topic of debate between some of my offline friends has been whether any kind of formalize charging or even casting process is really required for everyone. It’s undeniably true that some people will get great results just from creating a sigil, and perhaps in those instances they both charge, cast, and create it simultaneously. My friends who do this have told me things to this effect, but I myself do tend to charge and cast separately.
Really, though, there is no wrong way to create or use a sigil, provided it connects properly in your mind (and emotions) with the concept it is meant to represent or invoke. Some witches will just sit down with paper and start drawing until they get something that reflects the concept in their imagination. The sigil may or may not really resonate or evoke that particular concept for anyone else but the witch who makes it - but it may nevertheless be effective for that one witch. In this way, sigils are extremely personal at times.
Any symbol can be cast via visualization, but another simple method would be sketching them on a piece of paper, which could then function as a talisman or just as a focal point for your concentration. This isn’t exactly completely tool-free, but paper is easy to find, as are pens and pencils. One word of advice, though - don’t feel compelled to buy special pens or nice notebooks unless that’s your thing - these techniques doesn’t require anything too special. You just need space to write on, and something to write with. Colored ink is a bonus, but not required, especially if you can just visualize the color as you’re drawing with a normal pen or pencil.
There are actually a lot of options for how to use sketching sigils and symbols in your witchcraft practice. A common way is to just develop the sigil or symbol, sketch it, and use it as something to focus on whenever you want to bring the concept it represents into your life. If I wanted to evoke the concept of Mercury in my life, I might draw the symbol of Mercury on a scrap of paper and spend a few minutes visualizing power flowing from it and entering me. That’s just one example, though. Sometimes, if you have a strong enough association for a sigil or symbol, just sketching it alone is enough to cast it in a low-key way.
Paper talismans are a thing, as well. Many people think of talismans as though they have to be made of something sturdy and expensive, but the idea isn’t diluted if they’re made out of paper, and it can work just as well. You might design and charge a complex sigil to represent a specific goal of yours, sketch it on a clean piece of paper and fold or ball it up to carry discreetly with you, touching it to activate it. This is great for those who must keep their practice secret, and is a good way of integrating witchcraft with your daily life.
If you’re into drawing more than just simple symbols, you can also use that as a way of creating magick. The truth is, the definitions of “sigil” is very loose, and expanding every day as people develop new forms of symbolism that act in a similar manner. You may have heard of emoji spells, but I’ll address them in a later post. Just sticking to paper and pen, there is no requirement that your sigil “look” a a certain way or like other sigils. It need not simply be lines connecting in various ways - an actual sketch of something, or an abstract drawing can act as a sigil as well.
Personally, though, I would define any drawing or artwork with more than one symbol/object in it as sigil - but it could still be a spell or working! One my favorite spells I did as a teenager involved drawing, and was a sort of emotional healing spell for a friend. The person had went through a nasty breakup. While she had no remaining feelings for her ex, she worried she wouldn’t feel complete again.
She also liked to draw goofy doodles on things. She drew a small, rough pencil sketch of a broken heart to encapsulate her feelings at the time, and gave it to me. With her watching, I took a sharpie and drew over the broken heart, covering the image entirely with a larger one of a whole, unbroken heart, much as one might cover a tattoo with a larger one.
At the end, the original drawing was no longer visible, and she took the paper home to keep in her scrapbook, and told me she was quite pleased with the results. You can easily imagine similar spells involving other symbols and images, and you’re really only limited by your own imagination, because the drawings needn’t be perfect.
These are just some simple ways of practicing witchcraft with nothing more that sigils, symbols, paper, and a writing utensil of some sort, but I’m sure you can think of more. Thanks for reading, and expect more soon. I’m working on further articles for this series, so expect ‘em. They’ll all be tagged with “#beginner witch,” to help people find them.
It almost goes without saying. And yet the weather patterns on our planet-such as the drought in California- as well as the leering threat of major corporations, who wish to privatize water, should make us stand back and take a good look at this element which is literally everywhere in and around us.
We are a microcosm of the universe and within us the entire universe resides. Therefore we as individuals as well as a collective human consciousness hold the keys within our own conscious awareness to heal the state of water, because it is essentially an extension of us, just as we are of it.
You will see what I mean if you have ever looked into the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese researcher who discovered that water is deeply impressionable and that by subjecting water to various sounds, words, and intentions, it would literally change at the molecular level to reflect the vibrations to which it was exposed.
The point in all of this is that we can absolutely change the quality and state of water through our thoughts and intentions. Here are 3 specific ways:
1. Heal Your Relationship with Water- This step could actually be an entire article in and of itself. In actuality, when we bring something within the self totally into alignment, we are bringing healing to the collective. To have a healthy relationship with water, we need enough water in our bodies to function properly on all levels which means staying hydrated and drinking high quality water like alkaline, spring, or at the very least filtered.
Additionally, it is good to learn to respect water. That means appreciating the water you drink, swim, and bathe in as well as cook and clean with. If you possibly can, it is respectful to reuse water. For instance, if water stagnates, it can become quite unpleasant. Use it to water the plants or clean something if you forget a glass of drinking water.
Finally, start the day with a glass of fresh water. Mindfully. Stand facing the rising sun and drink a big glass of water with gratitude and with good intentions for the day ahead.
2. Pray or Meditate to the Water: In using the word ‘pray’ I simply mean to use whatever method is appropriate to you for connecting with the greater essence of life and focusing positive intentions somewhere. Because water is impressionable, praying to or meditating for bodies of water like a local lake or creek or the ocean will have an effect on the water. This effect is highly intensified if many people participate at once. Getting a group of people together to pray for the water can affect the over-soul of consciousness of the water everywhere on the planet as well as the water in your own living cells. This type of ceremony would benefit greatly from including music and song which creates and shifts vibrations with great power.
3. Alchemize the Water- As Masaru Emoto demonstrated with his life’s work, you can create specific changes in water through your intentions and the use of sounds, intentions, the written word, and imagery. If this appeals to you here is an experimental ritual to try:
Take a small quantity of water, no more than a gallon, and place it in a glass container that can be transported easily. Now spend some time with the water. Hold your hands on the water and pray or sing, visualize the water taking beautiful forms or being full of light, color, and beautiful energies. Write positive words on small slips of paper and stick them onto the container facing inward. Expose the water to sacred geometric symbols or healing frequencies such as 432hz or to healing mantras. You could also place crystals like clear or rose quartz in the water for several hours or overnight on particularly a full moon, and allow the energies to be imprinted into the water.
Now specify your intention for the water, because you will use this water as a sort of ‘concentrate’ to heal a larger source of water. So state or imagine your intentions clearly and communicate them to the water. The inention may be your image of all the waters in the world being pure, clean, accessible, and full of healing light. Once you have sent these thoughts and intentions into the water, give the water as a gift to a larger source of water. This could be at the seashore, a lake, a creek, or even down your own drain to heal the city water which badly needs healing. Hold your intention as you give the water away as you allow it to flow away and bring the beautiful vibrrations it contains with it. See it as a sort of concentrate of energy impressions that will shift the vibration of the entire water source to which it is flowing.
The water on our planet dearly needs to be healed, but the first and most primary aspect of the healing of water is for us to come into alignment with water as individuals. After we are in a good relationship with water personally, then we can follow our inspiration and use other methods to project healing to water throughout the world.
these are some icon arts I’ve drawn for my aoi account over on twitter this year!! the xmas one was for use in december, the middle one was done in about may or so, and I just did the last one now (that’s also what I figure his hair does when he’s not pinning it back, it fluffs EVERYWHERE)
NEUROTIC MASS MOVEMENT
NMM Album ‘MORPHIA'has been recorded.
release date not scheduled ..wide awake in the polyhedral
Verbreite die Neurose [MASCHINENMANN MIX]
The Magisterium UK paperback! The hardback matched the US cover but for the paperback they’re going for a slightly different, more cool/fantasy look. The alchemical symbol for fire, water, earth, air and chaos is still visible in the hilt of the sword. I’m looking forward to seeing their Copper Gauntlet design!
From an alchemical standpoint water is a transferative medium. Through water the dead move between. When water is understood alchemically, it’s very clear why it is important to the dead. Each mind is a drop of water in the sea of mind, each soul a portion of the sea of Kalunga. The waters that coagulate to make the firm and sublimate to make the subtle. Water is a close physical coagulation of the substance of spirit, at least for spirits on earth. When we offer the dead water, we are offering them substance. We are also giving them a medium for manifestation. We can manipulate the nature of a manifestation by charging the water. We can offer different waters….fiery waters like chamba, rum… intoxicating waters like the wine so loved by Dionysus. The waters are a road, a body, a portal.