Sigils are a wonderfully simple form of magic and also one of my favorites. These little magical symbols are each coded with a unique purpose, allowing them to be incredibly direct and powerful while also being a very fast form of spell work for the adept witch.
There is no single, definitive method for designing a sigil. The method I use is one of the more traditional versions but any method that allows you to condense an intention into a single symbol will work. The important part is that you feel that the symbol has power when you are finished. To this end, the choice of method largely depends on your personal sense of aesthetic and how much effort you need to expend to achieve it.
How Do Sigils Actually Work?
Sigils crafting is one of those practices that is widely used but little understood by many of those who use it. Due to this, there are some huge misconceptions floating around about how sigils work, what you can actually do with them, and how transferable their power is. Before we dig into how to actually create sigils, we need to clear up these ideas and make sure that you’re starting off your sigil journey with all of the information you need.
When working with a sigil, the power comes from the act of creating the symbol itself. The process of taking an intention and transforming it into a magical symbol encodes the meaning of that symbol and it’s magical potential into your subconscious. The point of doing this is to be able to bypass the doubts, restrictive beliefs, and self consciousness of the conscious mind and tap directly into the power of the subconscious, where your power isn’t restricted by those limitations. This is powerful stuff! The activation of a sigil is like using a password that gives you access to the fullest extent of your power in one quick burst.
This brings us to the first major misconception that we have to debunk. Unfortunately, due to the necessity of this coding process to actually get the symbol embedded into your subconscious, using a sigil created by someone else just doesn’t work. Or, at least it won’t work the way a sigil is supposed to work. When you use a sigil created by someone else you’re essentially just using a random symbol to focus your conscious mind’s intention. This can still work and be effective but it is not tapping into the subconscious in the way a sigil is supposed to.
To really use sigil magic you MUST make your own sigils. There’s no way around it. Using someone else’s sigil isn’t sigil magic, it’s just some intention setting with a pretty symbol.
Beyond this key point, there’s very little that’s set in stone about sigils. Sigil magic stems from chaos magic and by its very nature this kind of magic is highly experimental and tends to evolve quickly. What this means is that are tons of right ways to use, activate, and create sigils. While this can seem overwhelming at first, it’s actually a wonderful thing! The sheer number of ways that you can create and use a sigil and have it work means that it’s a very easy form of magic to do correctly. You’re not likely to screw it up! It also means that there’s a lot of room for personal experimentation and figuring out how to optimize the practice for you and your craft. As long as you’re creating the sigil yourself, you can’t go wrong.
What If I’m Not An Artist?
One thing that trips a lot of people up when it comes to sigil crafting is a lack of confidence in their creative skills. If you search sigils on any social media site, you’ll turn up page after page of gorgeously designed sigils with artistic flair, personal style, and something about them that just makes them feel witchy. Being able to create these kinds of sigils is great and if it’s something that appeals to you then definitely work toward that but if you’re not an artistic person or you don’t feel confident in your ability to make symbols like that, it’s ok! Your sigils do not have to look a certain way.
Remember, a sigils power comes from the coding process, not from how it actually looks. It doesn’t have to be pretty! If you’re not artistic, don’t feel like making it pretty, don’t have time to put that much work in, or plain old don’t care about making it look “witchy”, then don’t! Your sigils will still work even if they’re scribbles done in pencil on the back of a receipt. Don’t worry about the aesthetic value of the sigil unless that’s something that you think would benefit your magic.
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of how sigils function and what it really takes to make this amazing form of magic work for you, it’s time to dig into the process of sigil crafting. For those of you who want a little extra help while you’re learning this process, I’ve created a free PDF workbook to guide you through sigil crafting step by step. It also includes a bonus method for you to try!
How To Create A Sigil
You Will Need:
- A pencil
I like working with paper and a pencil but if you prefer to work in another medium you should absolutely experiment with other methods. Digital art, paints, creative collage, ink pens, whiteboards, and more can all make excellent sigil mediums.
Your first step will be to figure out what the intent of your sigil is going to be. This is the most important step, your intention should be well thought out and very clear. A half-assed intention will lead to a half-assed result!
You’re going to turn this concept into a sentence, make sure you’re being specific and precise with your wording. You want the sentence to be relatively short and it needs to be phrased in the present tense, i.e. phrase it as though you’ve already got what you want.
Ex. “I have self-love” instead of “I will love myself”
While this distinction seems small, it’s actually huge. One aligns your energy with the result you want, the other aligns you with the state of wanting itself. In other words, when you phrase your intention as something you want in the future, it will remain something you want in the future… indefinitely.
As I said before, be precise and clear in your meaning. Wording can make all the difference. “I have the job of my dreams” will have significantly different results than “I am a journalist for National Geographic”. Neither is inherently better than the other but make sure you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish with your wording.
Additionally, try to avoid negative words such as “I do not”, “I will not”, “I have no”, etc. These negative words tend to get lost in the grand scheme of things and the intention “I do not smoke” can very easily lead to the result “I do smoke” instead. To avoid this, always phrase positively. (To rephrase this positively you might say something like “I quit my unhealthy vices easily”)
As an example, I’m going to use the phrase “I am mentally healthy and happy”. This is a sigil that I could use any time I’m struggling with anxiety or depression to help tip me back into a more solid headspace.
Write out your intention sentence (otherwise known as the power words or power phrase). Erase or cross out all of the vowels in the sentence. When you’re left with just the consonants, you’ll remove any repeating letters so that you have only one of each letter present. These letters are the base symbols of your sigil.
“I am mentally healthy and happy” becomes the series of consonants “M M N T L L Y H L T H Y N D H P P Y”
When you remove all of the duplicates, you’re left with the letters “M N T L Y H D P”. These are your base symbols!
Now start to fit your base symbols together into a single glyph. At first, it’s probably going to look weird and nothing like a symbol of power, that’s ok, just keep messing with it and moving things around. This part takes some time, the key is to play around with it a lot. If you don’t like the way a particular letter is fitting in anywhere, you can break the letter down into pieces, something like a P would become a line and a half circle that you can use independently within your design.
The most important thing about how it looks is that you like it. It doesn’t matter if it looks like just a jumble of letters or if none of the symbols even resemble the letters they were originally or if it doesn’t “look like a sigil”. If it looks right to you then it’s right!
After I get all of my base symbols arranged how I want them I like to take some time to stylize it, even out any symmetry and draw a few drafts just to get used to the symbol.
This is the finished first draft of my mental health sigil. As you can see, some of the letters are still pretty clear like the N and H while others have become so a part of the symbol that they’re hard to pick out. I’ve also added some aesthetic flair just for the fun of it.
It’s important to note here that there are two distinct camps among sigils users. There are the people who believe that you absolutely must forget the original phrase of the sigil before you use it and those who think that it’s ok to use the sigil even if you haven’t forgotten it. The thinking behind this is that if your conscious mind no longer remembers what the symbol is for, it can’t get in the way of the magic that the subconscious is doing. The forgetting method is definitely more traditional but I’d encourage you to try both methods to see what works best for you.
At this point, your sigil is ready to use! Slap it on jewelry, walls, mirrors, yourself, boxes, sticky notes, pie crusts, whatever you want.
When you’re ready to actually use your sigil, you’ll have to activate it. You must do this for the sigil every time you use it, even if you’re using the same symbol that’s just been copied somewhere new. If you like working in a ritual space, set that up for yourself. With practice, you can learn to activate sigils on the go without all the ritual trappings but they’re always helpful when you first begin.
The method of activation that I use is actually quite easy, though it may take a bit of practice before you identify what the “activation moment” feels like. Make sure the entire sigil is visible and gaze at it comfortably. Let your eyes become familiar with the symbol and if you’re not using the forgetting method, meditate on the sigils power phrase. As your eyes become more comfortable they’ll start to warp the sigil, it’ll look like it’s squiggling a bit. Shortly after this the sigil will fall still again and appear very ordinary and inert, letting you know that it’s charged and activated.
There are plenty of other ways to activate sigils like burning them, charging them with other power sources, baking them into food, etc. If you’re not getting good results with the method I use, do some research and try other methods of activation!
When you’re done, close down your ritual space and go about your witchy business.
Sigils are wonderful for all sorts of magic, I’ve used them on the outside of the doors to my house for protection, on my skin for changes in my mental state and on sticky notes scattered about my home and town when I need some quick magic. Give them a try and have fun learning how to tap into your subconscious power!