Basic Sigil Activation
In the creation process, you’ve built up a substantial amount of psychological, emotional and creative tension, all around a symbol. For the sigil (and your subconscious) to do its work, you have to release that tension. This is called “activating” the sigil, although you’ll sometimes hear this referred to as “consecrating,” “charging” or “discharging.” There are as many methods for activating a sigil as their are practitioners of sigil magick, but they all share a common theme of buildup and release.
As with the sigil creation, we’re presenting the most newcomer-friendly version of the activation process. It’s something anyone with access to basic household items can do in just a few minutes. We’ve also written the steps out in plain English, and with a bit of context for why you’re doing these specific actions. This isn’t intended to take the mystery or the “magic” out of the experience, it’s just to give you some basic idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, and to make you as comfortable as possible with the process.
You will need:
- Something to write with. Any normal pen or pencil will work.
- Blank paper, or tracing paper.
- A candle, fireplace, or other safe, standing flame.*
- A metal or ceramic bowl suitable for safely burning a small piece of paper in (if indoors).
- A comfortable, distraction-free place to work.
- About 30 minutes, including prep time.
Step 1: Create a quiet, distraction-free environment. There’s a simple reason why traditional magick rituals are done at night, by candlelight, or under the light of the moon. It’s not that one time of day is inherently more powerful than another, it’s simply because it’s easier to focus your attention when you’re not distracted by the normal activities of daily life. Chaos magick is all about bringing a desire or intention one step closer to reality, and the less distracted you are when you’re activating the sigil, the better the results will be. Turn off your phone and your TV. Turn down the lights. Unplug or cover up anything you find distracting. This method of Sigil activation should only take about 15 minutes, so don’t worry about missing anything important.
Optional: Create a focus area. One of the practical reasons for things like the “protection circles” you see in popular occult fiction has very little to do with anything supernatural. It’s about creating a physical area where everything around you reinforces the mood and emotional state you’re trying to evoke. Creating a rough circle around you composed of things that are important to you, or which strongly relate to the sigil you are about activate, helps keep your mind focused during the activation process. Along the same lines, turning off the room lights and working under the light of a few nearby candles helps to keep all of the distracting everyday world in the shadows, at least for the duration of the ritual. Some people find that certain kinds of music or incense helps them focus, while others find these too distracting. You’re doing it right as long as you can completely focus on the activation.
Step 2: Quiet your mind. Just like you’ve removed the distractions from your environment, you must now to the same for your mind. You don’t need to meditate or go into a trance. You just need to close your eyes, and take a dozen or so deep breaths. Clear your mind of all thoughts, just for a moment or two. Once you’re done, you should be able to focus a bit more on the task at hand.
Step 3: Light the candle, ready the bowl. You’ll want the candle burning and the fire-safe bowl within easy reach as you go into the next phase of the activation. Make sure to remove anything flammable from the area.
Step 4: “Invoke” the sigil. This isn’t as arcane or mystical as it probably sounds. If you already have the sigil you created in hand (if you’ve just created it, for instance), you’ve already “invoked” it. If not, you’ll simply want to draw the sigil again on a new piece of paper. You can use a pen or pencil, although some people prefer the look of charcoals, crayons or oil pastels for visual effect. Don’t worry if you’re not much of an artist, this is about the intent behind the sigil, not being a perfect calligrapher. As long as it looks right to you, it’ll work just fine. You can also trace an existing sigil, which is a great way to activate a sigil that you didn’t draw yourself. (If you bought one from Sigil Daily, or found a perfect example in a book, for instance.) The act of redrawing the sigil helps to bring all of the emotional investment — the “energy” — back from your subconscious to the forefront of your mind.
Optional: Tear away the edges of the paper around the sigil. Don’t worry if you accidentally rip the sigil, or tear a small piece off of the drawing. Your goal here is to end up with a piece of paper that “fits” the sigil, and to reduce the smoke and flame for the next step.
Step 5: Focus on what the sigil represents. Look at the symbol you’ve created, and remember the reason you wanted it. Look at all of the shapes and angles. Does it speak to your core goal, desire or ambition? Now that you’ve identified what it is you want, are you ready to release that “energy” — as well as the psychological, creative and emotional tension it represents — and let the magick do its work? Listen to your emotions. There’s always a chance that what you actually want isn’t what the sigil represents, in which case there’s little point in activating it. (If that happens, use what you’ve learned and repeat the sigil creation process to create a new sigil. It should only take a few moments, and you can do it right on the spot.) Once it all feels right, move on to the next step.
Step 6: “Discharge” the Sigil. There are lots of ways to “discharge” the emotional investment of the sigil, and in this case you’re simply going to be burning the paper you’ve drawn it on. Light one side of it, and then place it carefully in the bowl, making sure not to singe yourself in the process. Watch as it burns, and imagine that all of the emotional investment you’ve placed in the sigil, as well as the idea it represents, is being transformed into a new form made of the universal forces of light and heat. Imagine that light and heat radiating out from this moment, into your past and future. Imagine the glow of the sigil’s tiny light spreading across your entire life. Watch it until the flame goes out.
Note: Don’t worry if the flame accidentally goes out during this process. It doesn’t mean that the sigil activation has has failed, or anything supernatural. Some paper burns better than others. Simply relight the remaining paper. The power of this step comes from the intention to release the tension behind the sigil, not on whether or not some wood pulp catches fire.
Step 7: Let it go. Once the flame of the sigil’s paper has gone out, the sigil is discharged. While the sigil may still be a fun thing to look at or think about, the magick itself has already happened. The process has started, and it no longer needs you attention. Let the sigil and what it represents go. It will work the exact same, even if you never think about it again. That doesn’t mean that you should avoid the sigil or anything. It’s a piece of art, and you made it! But now that it has been discharged, think of it as something like a souvenir.
Take a nice, deep breath, and then congratulate yourself. You just worked actual magick! If you feel the urge to laugh at how strange the whole idea was, do it. Put one some music or something, just to change your state of mind. Now it’s time to return to the world. You’ll probably feel a little lighter, and you may even notice that the world around you looks a little different. That’s perfectly normal, so enjoy the feeling.
Additional: In the coming days, you’ll start to see little things that are eerily evocative of the sigil you activated. Don’t deny these. Don’t dismiss them, even if they seem minor. This is the process starting to work, bit by bit, to bring your intention into reality. The more open you are to these changes, the faster the magick will come into effect.
In fact, a great way to test the effectiveness of sigil magick is simply to create an activate a sigil that is of both fairly unlikely and of absolutely no consequence. “I will meet a jolly man wearing a furry hat,” for instance. You’ll soon be surprised at how utterly powerful sigils can be.
There are other ways to activate a sigil. Below are brief outlines of a few of the most common activation rituals. These are provided for reference, and to give you a starting point to find an activation ritual that is more suited to your interests.
The Fire Ritual
The ritual outlined above. There are countless variations on this, but they’re all fairly similar.
The Passion Ritual
By far the easiest way to activate a sigil, although it’s not for everyone. It works by focusing the intense power of sexual energy and orgasm into the sigil in order to activate it. This is usually done by setting aside some time, setting the right mood, getting aroused as possible and then either having sex with a like-minded partner or masturbating. As climax approaches, visualize the sigil and what it represents in your mind. The orgasm provides both the energy and release required for activation.
The Void Ritual
This technique relies on creating a meditative, trance-like state brought on by staring intensely into a mirror. It requires more time than most rituals, and is greatly aided by a basic familiarity with mediation and breathing techniques. It involves sitting in front of a large mirror, and starting intensely into your own eyes in the reflection. After a few minutes of such intense focus, the peripheral world will start to seem distorted, and soon a kind a non-thinking state will start to develop. This is called the “void” state, in the sense of a great emptiness. Once fully in the void state, eye contact with the reflection is broken and the sigil and its “energy” are released into that quiet nothingness.
The “Death Posture” Ritual
This activation technique has the same basic function as the Void Ritual, but uses a very different method to get there. It uses the dramatically named “Death Posture” (popularized by influential artist and occult thinker Austin Osman Spare) to achieve a state of “enlightenment” or “gnosis” through physical exertion. The actual death posture requires standing on tiptoe, arms locked behind your back, with your back fully arched and neck strained, bringing to mind someone being hung by the neck, straining to breathe. Thankfully, you don’t actually need do this. Any reasonably intense yoga posture will do. Once you reach an altered state of mind from the stress, focus intensely on the sigil and what it represents, releasing all of the energy and stress you’ve built up. Immediately relax your posture, and let go of all physical tension.