(Sigils of Lucifer, from Grimorium Verum – source)
[15th century. < late Latin sigillum “sign, trace, (in medieval Latin) seal,” singular < Latin sigilla “small images” < signum “mark, sign”]
The word sigil comes from the Latin word which means mark, or sign. It’s definition was synonymous with the word seal. A sigil is a sign which stands for something, anything from glyphs to star signs. Sigils have many definitions and each works differently with different people. There are various types of sigils as well. Everything from one made aeons ago to ones made from alphabetical letters, from supposedly drawn by Demons to given by a higher power… there can be an infinite amount of sigils for one thing, whether it be a problem of a being.
Sigil magic is a common form of magical work among practitioners; symbols and signs have always been a tool of magicians and alchemists. The ancient Germanic binding runes can be presented as examples of the idea.
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 the grimoires often listed pages of such sigils. A particularly well-known list is in the Lesser Keys of Solomon, or the Goetia, 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 Qabalistic magic upon which much of Western magic is based.
Many grimoires speak of engraving sigils on metals, or will categorize a Demon and their metal. This is a correspondence to that Demon, which most likely responds to planetary or elemental aspects. In this fashion, more than likely, Demons of lower rank are categorized as having metals of lesser worth, while the highest are most often gold. This could be a coincidence that these planets and their correspondence line up so though.
While that is the birth of sigil magic, it doesn’t go into sigils themselves. Sigils made in Kamea, or magical number squares are considered Qabalistic. This is done by taking a word, phrase, or name, breaking it down into letters which do not repeat, removing each repeating letter, then taking the numerical value using whatever method, and plotting them on the square. Other sigils, like those used by Austin Osman Spare, and referred to in Liber Null are basically letters placed on themselves, built, and interweaved lines and such. A more simplified version of the afore mentioned sigil making. Frater U.D. gave us a great deal of information in making such sigils in his book Practical Sigil Magic.
A sigil alone, regardless of how it was made, or it’s purpose must be charged. Because it is a symbol, it is a conduit of energy. It assists and helps focus the practitioner on a single point, and that point is the sigil. Charging it depends on the sigils nature. You must decide if it’s something to be done during frustration, lethargy, sexual energy buildup, or so on. When it is charged, that alone could be considered sigil magic.
There is also a bit of controversy as to the outcome of a sigil. Some believe it is sacrilegious to destroy, or alter a sigil, to commit it to fire, or any other element, as it is a part of the Demon. Others say it is just the act of releasing the energy to them, which is likened to the Phoenix rising from the ashes. Regardless, there will most probably be sigils engraved on metal or sigils of paper which are not burnt on an Altar. These are usually either sigils which have a longterm goal, or sigils of Demons which serve as reverence to them.
Planetary signs, Zodiac signs and Runes can also be called sigils, as they are signs or seals which symbolize something, in this case, celestial bodies, the star signs, and letters of protection. Many religions believed in guardians of the visible planets, and the stars which were fixed in the sky, the beasts they could connect the dots within the vast darkness, and holy words. The origin of “666” came from people who used a magical number square, of the Sun, which equaled 666. The signs in the sky and the passage of the Sun across them played out elaborate mythologies to which each one had a sign for the 12 zodiac. Runes had also been used to tell stories, but more often, to protect, guard and bind things which were bad for the tribe or person.
A sigil can also be music, artwork, a feeling… I can’t really define the term within the confines of black lines on white paper. If you can connect with a Demon, and your talent is the ability to play the violin, playing can be a sigil. In truth, a sigil just means a seal, which is originally a word for basically a contract. So it is the connection with the Demon. Even hand signs have been known to work for those who are deaf and cannot speak. It really goes to the self, if you feel a connection, that is great, it works for you! If you don’t, be creative and make a link.
Sigils have been covered, they can range from the simple to the mind numbingly complex. But, what of their use beyond images for the various beings? They have an unlimited use, which is only bound to your imagination in truth. Sigils can be adorned on the flesh as scars and tattoos, can be dressed on cloth, or burnt into wood, can be engraved, baked into clay, drawn on parchment. Again, the use of sigils has no limit. Then, after these various things are created they need to be charged. In the magickal terms it is one of the more simpler arts. Just a simple image charged appropriately can give you grand results.
To charge a sigil, make known the goal you wish. Image the appropriate color of the energy you want to work with. For an example, the colors green, yellow, gold, silver will all work for the attraction of money. Draw up the energy from deep within you, allow it to circulate through your veins, and gather your essence. Then visualize the sigil being electrified in that color, bathing in the light of the energy coming from you. My final act with something like this would be to deeply exhale upon it, a bit of a mock, breathing life into the sigil. You can also charge this with planetary energies, but I would say make sure you can control and not be overwhelmed by your own latent ability before making the jump.