How to create and activate magic sigils

Magic sigils are one of the simplest, yet most powerful methods of practical enchantment. In this post, I’ll tell you what they are, and how to use them.

Virtually every internet wizard has a blog post (or a whole book) dedicated to the subject of sigils, so why am I writing this one? A couple of reasons.

First, I used to hate sigils. Back in the 90s–when I was an edgy teenager first learning magic–I thought sigils were silly. They didn’t feel like “real” magic. No circle on the floor, no calling out barbarous names, no skulls. Boring.

Second, when I did try to use magic sigils, they just didn’t seem to work. So, not only were they boring, they were useless.

Suffice it to say, in the thirty-ish years between then and now, my opinion of sigils is wildly different. Not only do I think they’re anything but boring and useless, they’ve become an indispensable part of my magical toolbox.

I do have other methods I use in my magical practice, and sigils aren’t my first choice for most things, but they’ve helped me get a lot of stuff done.

So let’s talk about what magic sigils are, how to create them, and how to get them working.

What are magic sigils?

The term “magic sigil” has been used since the middle ages to describe all sorts of signs and symbols. Most were used as “seals” for certain kinds of spirits, and were inscribed in order to summon or control them. In modern usage, particularly since chaos magic became a thing back in the 1970s and 1980s, the term usually refers to a symbol which the magician constructs to represent an intention.

I’ll be talking about the modern sort of magic sigil in this post.

We’re going to decide on an intention or goal we wish to manifest, then we’ll create a glyph or drawing to represent it symbolically. After we’ve created the glyph, we’re going to activate or “charge” it. And then? Well, “and then” nothing. We’re done!

As I wrote up above, this is simple, simple stuff. Minus a few easy-to-follow rules or guidelines, the previous paragraph is nearly everything you need to know about magic sigils.

Preliminaries

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know what I’m going to say next. Before you do any magic, you should perform some sort of divination on the matter, or consult with someone who can do the divination for you. I’ve never seen magic sigils manifest in undesirable ways, but you should still get the “lay of the land” before intervening.

Crafting intentions

For most people, the hardest part of creating a magic sigil is coming up with the right intention for it. This is the “what for” of the sigil itself, so if this step isn’t done well, the rest of your efforts will be all for naught. Don’t worry, though, because even this step isn’t all that hard once you get the hang of it, and you know what kind of “intention” we’re looking for.

An “intention,” in this case, is a statement. A short, simple, affirmative statement which exactly captures what you want the sigil to do. The keywords here are “short,” “simple,” and “affirmative.”

The intention you craft for your sigil should be something you can express in no more than ten words, though fewer is better. You should also use the simplest, clearest vocabulary possible. Furthermore, it’s best if your intention is expressed as a fact which is already true, and not as a wish for the future.

Another thing I should point out is that sigils tend to work on their own schedule. I’ve seen some ways in which other magicians have tried to “speed up” their sigils. I’ve tried pretty much all of these techniques, but I haven’t seen them make much of a difference.

Sigils, for me at least, tend to work very well for medium to medium-long-term goals. That is, they generally manifest anywhere from three weeks to a year out. If you need something done today, sigils aren’t the way to go. So, when you’re crafting your intentions, make sure you give them some room to work.

Lastly, this is magic we’re talking about, so don’t be afraid to “shoot for the Moon,” so to speak. You’ll see what I mean by this in the following example.

An intention example

Let’s say you’re struggling financially, and are afraid you won’t be able to make your credit card’s minimum payment next month. So, you decide to do some magic about that.

“I want to be able to pay my credit card bill next month,” is not a good intention for a magic sigil. First, it’s too long. Second, it’s phrased as a desire. We don’t want wishes, here, we want facts.

“I will be able to pay my credit card bill next month,” is only slightly better. It’s the same length as the last one, but at least it’s an affirmative statement of fact.

“I pay my credit card bill next month,” is getting there. It’s shorter, and it has that “air of confidence” about it which seems to work really well for sigils.

“My credit cards are paid in full,” is a good intention. Even shorter than the last, but now we’ve made it into a bold statement about the present. No more “wishful thinking,” we’re talking facts. Also, note how we’re not limiting ourselves to one credit card anymore. This is magic we’re doing–so why not go big, or go home?

“I am debt-free,” is an excellent intention for a sigil. Short, simple, affirmative–and we’re not holding back on what we really want to see happen.

See, when I call this “crafting” an intention, I really do mean crafting. A really good intention takes time and effort. Don’t be surprised if you have to write, write, and re-write in order to get it right. In fact, if you’re not doing that, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Creating the symbol

It’s time to turn your intention into a symbol or glyph. For this stage, I recommend that you use a sketchbook and a pencil.

At the top of a blank page, write out your intention in all capital letters, without any punctuation. Then, cross out all of the vowels. Finally, cross out any repeating consonants, leaving only the first instance of each letter in place. After you’ve done this, all you should have left is a list of unique consonants.

Now comes the fun part: trying to draw a single symbol which uses these letters as its components.

Trust me, this really is quite fun, and even if you have zero drawing ability (like me!), it’s not as hard as it sounds. You can stretch the letters, shrink them, bend them–feel free to distort them however you like. There are only three “rules” here: use all of the letters; try to “hide” them; and make the symbol look “magical.”

What does a “magical” symbol look like? That’s up to you.

A symbol example

Let’s stick with our intention example and turn it into a proper magic sigil. First, we write the phrase out in all capitals across the top of the page.

I AM DEBT FREE

Next, we’ll take out the vowels.

I AM DEBT FREE

That leaves us with only consonants.

M D B T F R

Since we have no repeating consonants here, we’re ready to create our symbol. To be clear, if we had, say, two or more R’s in our list, we’d want to cross out all but one of them.

The process of twisting and folding the letters into shape might take a while, or it could happen almost instantly. Don’t try to rush it, just let it take the time it takes.

Here’s what I came up with using the letters above…

Magic sigils don't have to be complicated.

I don’t think I did too badly! All of the letters are there, I don’t think they’re terribly obvious, and it certainly seems like a magic sigil to me. Take a good look at the symbol and compare it to the letters. See if you can work out what I did here. Even better? See what you can make of those letters on your own.

I drew this out in my sketchbook, then–because this is just and example for this post–I re-drew it on the computer. For actual sigils I plan on using, I keep everything on paper, for reasons that will be obvious in the next section.

The hardest part of this stage is knowing when a sigil is “done.” I wish I could tell you there was a simple way to know this, but there really isn’t. It’s done when it feel done. You’ll be sitting there drawing, erasing, re-drawing and then…BOOM! There it is!

You’ll just know.

Activating magic sigils

There are many different ways to activate a magic sigil. I’m going to give you the “Cliff’s Notes” version of how I activate mine, but feel free to experiment. Read up on how other magical practitioners do things and figure out what works for you.

Preparation

The first thing I do is transfer the sigil from my sketchbook to a nice piece of cardstock. Usually, I use white cardstock, but use any type or color of paper which works for you. The main things to consider are the size of the paper, and whether it will provide a good contrast to the color you’ll use for the sigil itself.

I prefer my sigils to be about four inches square. Why? It just feels right to me. At that size, I can fit in all the detail I need, and I can see the whole thing without my eyes needing to move around too much.

The next question to ask is what are you going to draw the sigil with? A black “Sharpie” marker works pretty well, in my experience. Lately, though, I’ve been using a calligraphy set for almost everything.

What can I say, dip pens hit different. You also have a lot more options when it comes to ink, which I’ll talk about later.

I like to do this transfer just before I activate the sigil. Ideally, I do it right at my altar as the start of the ritual, but my altar is pretty packed nowadays.

Regardless, once you’ve transferred your sigil, bring it to your altar or some other quiet place. You need to be able to sit and concentrate for several minutes without being disturbed.

Activation

I place the sigil face-up on the altar, and bring over a chair. The goal is to be able to sit comfortably while also being able to see the sigil clearly. I have two large altar candles which I light, then I burn some frankincense, and settle into a brief meditation to clear my thoughts.

When I’m relaxed and ready, I look at the sigil and let my eyes sort of…drift. This is the part which is hardest to explain. I’ll do my best, but experience is really the best teacher here.

After a while of concentrating on the sigil, keeping my attention on it, and allowing my eyes to see through it and past it, the sigil…moves. It will come to life and float off the paper. This is my experience of the process, but it’s pretty much universally how I’ve heard other magicians describe it.

I continue to sit there, watching the sigil move, letting it “dance,” until it eventually settles down. Sometimes it seems to collapse into the card abruptly, other times it smoothly merges into it. Either way, once the sigil looks like a inert doodle again, that’s when I know the activation is complete, and the magic sigil is now working its sigil magic.

Follow up

I usually give myself a minute or two to “come down” from the activation, then I extinguish the candles.

What do I do with the sigil now? I usually hang it up on my wall for a while. How long is a “while?” Eh, however long. I have about twenty of them on my wall now. Whenever I put up any new sigils, I take a few of the old ones down, and stick them in the back of a binder which I keep in my altar.

About once a year, I take the sigils out of my binder and burn them.

Some people burn their sigils right after activation, others carry them around for a while like a talisman. What should you do? You guessed it–whatever feels right.

Is that all there is to magic sigils?

What I’ve written above is more than enough to help you get started with sigil magic. Beyond these basics, there really isn’t a lot to cover. There are a few other things you can do or experiment with, though, should you be the curious type.

Material correspondences

According to some magical traditions, certain colors and materials correspond to certain kinds of magical forces or work. For instance, some people associate the color green with money, or the color blue with healing. The same goes for certain minerals or herbs.

This is one of the reasons why I love having a set of dip pens around. If you know how to mix your own ink, you can use that knowledge to enhance your sigil work.

The same can be said if you know how to craft your own paper.

Of course, who said you have to use pen and paper at all? Paint is a thing. So is clay. Hmm…

Multiple sigils

Another thing to try is activating multiple sigils at once. This is something I do all the time. If I have a set of related intentions, I’ll create a sigil for each one, lay them out on the altar, and activate them all in the same sitting.

Beyond keeping the sigils at least somewhat related to each other, my only other “rule” is that I never try to activate more than five at once. Why? It usually takes me about ten or so minutes to activate one sigil. An hour at my altar is about the most time I can spend at my altar comfortably without feeling fatigued.

Look to other magicians

Way back at the beginning of this post, I told you that every magician on the internet seems to have a take on magic sigils. This is only my take, and my advice. What I wrote above is what works for me, and what seemed suitable for a basic introduction.

So go on, explore! See what other people have to say on the subject.

And if you learn anything exciting, let me know in comments below.

Have a blessed day!

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