Mastering intention: Sigils rely on a sentence of intention as the backbone of their magic. For witches just starting out, this is a great way to practice intention — which is so important for other spells and aspects of witchcraft. So, before beginning any sigils, here’s a crash course on how to get really good at knowing what you want. The more clear your intention, the better your sigil.
Get specific. “I win the lottery” may seem like a clear line of intention, but it’s actually missing a lot of information. When do you win the lottery? How much do you win? Why do you need the money? Who, what, where, when, why, how. Answer these questions before writing your sentence of intent to get as specific as possible. When I first started making sigils, I thought it would be best to be broader in the intention. The ‘ol spray and pray. By making my intention a little nebulous, I thought I had a better chance of something happening at least, and that would be better than nothing. I thought, well, the universe will decide the best way to make this happen. When that didn’t work, I’d try and jam a lot of intention into the sentence instead. “I win the lottery OR I get a promotion at work OR I find a drug dealer’s discarded bag of cash on the side of the road.” Not really, but you get the point. Too much or too little information doesn’t help you. A much more effective sentence is “By the end of the week I sell enough merch on eBay to pay for my $300 vet bills.” Clear, simple paths to success.
Make sure you know what you want. This seems easy, but it’s one of the main reasons spells and sigils fail. How many times have I made a furious, jagged sigil in the heat of the moment, or a quick, half-hearted sigil in desperate times… only to have none of them work? Knowing what you really want takes some time and thought. Think things through. What happens if you get what you want? Who does it affect? Will it really change your life for the better? Is there perhaps another course you haven’t thought of yet that would be more productive? What serves you best in the long run? I know it seems like I’m taking some of the joy out of making sigils, but you want them to work. Putting in this extra effort sharpens your intention like a blade.
Visualization. This is one of the best ways to master intention. It transforms words on a page into a future reality. Instead of just repeating your line of intent, you see it. Any way that helps bring this sigil to life is good, and seeing the sigil already working in your head, how it’s working, the benefits, etc, brings it to life. It opens the door of possibility.
Sigil insurance. I’m not sure why it took me so long to think of this, but once I did it seemed really obvious. Before you make any more sigils, make one sigil with this line of intention: “my sigils are powerful and they always work.” I made this sigil a few months ago then built an entire ritual around its activation (which I discuss more below). It was without a doubt my most elaborate sigil to date and huge (I needed a fireplace to safely burn it). What this did was clear my mind of any doubt for future sigils, and it made all the difference. Instead of hoping my sigils work, I know they do.
Materials matter. Traditionally, sigils are drawn on regular paper using regular pens or pencils. But they don’t have to be! I’ve said it before, but the more effort you put into something, the better your results and that goes for sigils as well. I use a gold marker for drawing sigils and black paper. I love the way it looks, and my sigils just feel more potent. You can draw your sigil on a rock or a crystal. Draw it on a blank CD and load the CD with music that reinforces the intent or helps you focus (assuming anyone still listens to CDs — I do!), then play the CD to activate it. You’ve heard of the power of bay leaves, now use them as a canvas for sigils. I’ve drawn sigils on pens to help my writing, on pieces of cloth or wood, and even on my skin. You get the idea. Try to think of the materials as yet another way to strengthen the sigil’s purpose. What materials best mirror your intent?
Shapes. Often sigils are drawn within a circle, however, certain sigils require a bit more pizazz. For sigils directed at an enemy, I draw them within a dagger. Travel sigils can be drawn in the shape of a wing. Power sigils can be drawn within a star. The possibilities are endless and should be explored.
Digital sigils. If you’re not a traditional artist and don’t enjoy spending hours working on a single image with graphite smudged all over your hands, there is another way. Open a photo editing program, add letters and manipulate them using the free transform tool or better yet, just draw the sigil using a tablet and print it out. Just as effective, less wasted paper.
Most spells I cast are centered around sigils in some way. All tarot cards, herbs, crystals, candles, etc, are chosen to reinforce the intention of the sigil, and the sigil activation itself becomes the crescendo of the spell. I’m a tinkerer by nature and I love to streamline — probably what attracted me to sigils in the beginning; they are incredibly quick and easy — and after lots of experimenting, I’m going to share the activation methods and rituals I’ve found most effective.
Crystals and stones: Instead of placing stones around my workspace, I wrap the sigil around the stone in an envelope, then activate the sigil by fire. The stone emerges from the ashes like a phoenix! For me, this charges the sigil with all the stone’s inherent power when they burn together. I’ll then re-draw the sigil on the stone with a permanent marker and place it on my altar. Just be sure your stone won't be damaged by the heat before trying this.
River rocks: These are smooth, round rocks found pretty much everywhere. I collect the darker ones, draw on the sigil with a metallic marker, then either drop the stone from a significant height to activate it or smack it against another river rock, like I’m trying to start a fire. I leave the rocks in my backyard to constantly charge the sigils in the sun and moon and rain, and thanks to all the metallic shine, my yard has some major bling.
Ice: Freeze some water in a small tin, then etch your sigil onto the flattest surface of this block of ice. Leave it out in the sun to melt, giving you another activation by transmutation. When possible, I always try to make the sigils change in some way when activating. This method works well for healing and calming sigils.
Candles: One of my favorites, draw the sigil on the side of a candle and then simply let the candle burn through it. Another way is to draw the sigil on a piece of paper, activate by candle flame, then sprinkle the ashes into the melted candle wax as the candle burns. This wax can be crushed, mixed with other ingredients, and used for spellwork.
Powders and herbs: I’ve just started using this method and so far it’s been very effective. You can either add the herbs to the sigil’s fire while it’s activating, sprinkle the herbs around the sigil while it burns, or add the sigil’s ashes to the herb mix and save for later. Great for banishing and success sigils in particular.
Tarot: Considering how expensive some decks are, not too many people will be happy to draw sigils on their beloved cards or worse, set them on fire. No worries, just placing appropriate cards around the sigil’s activation will work fine. If you did want to use the cards as canvases for sigils, I recommend finding a cheaper deck online and having it be the “spare” for this type of work. Printing out copies also works well!
All of the above methods can be used together in whatever combination you wish to build a ritual around sigil activation, and these rituals can be repeated to strengthen sigils over time. Mini altars can be fashioned for these rituals and eventually, each sigil becomes its own entity — again, bringing it to life in a new way. It’s no longer a quick and easy way to do magic, but an essential part of your craft. Your sigils become personal symbols that you pay respect to at every step of their creation.
I’ve drawn hundreds of sigils and some of them have been so beautiful, it was almost painful to burn them. I thought that was part of the process — a sacrifice or offering, so to speak. But once they were burned, I could never quite remember exactly what they looked like, and so, I could never repeat the sigil to build that power or call on it when I needed it. The simple answer is to copy all the sigils you make in a notebook or grimoire and write down their sentence of intent. This little notebook has become one of my prized possessions and I refer to it whenever I need a specific sigil. These sigils can be modified if your intent has changed slightly, or if it’s a sigil for health, for example, just added to spells. They can also represent you in spells if you’ve used them for a long period of time and put enough of yourself into them. Often, the more you use certain sigils, the more power you give them, and by having this personal reference book, I can call on any of their powers when I need to.