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Sigils, Servitors, and Godforms

[from ]

This is the first part of a three part essay written by
marik (Mark Defrates).  Comments, suggestions, criticisms
can be sent to

Subject: Sigils, Servitors, and Godforms

Sigils, servitors and god-forms are three magickal techniques that chaos
magicians use to actualize magickal intentions.  Sigils are magickal
spells developed and activated to achieve a specific, fairly well defined
and often limited end.  Servitors are entities created by a magician and
charged with certain functions.  Godforms are complex belief structures,
often held by a number of people, with which a magician interacts in order

to actualize fairly broad magickal intentions.  These three techniques are

not quite as distinct as these definitions would suggest, they tend to blu
into one another. The purpose of this essay is to explain these magickal
tools,  indicate their appropriateness for different types of magickal
intentions, and show how these tools relate to the general theories of
chaos magick and of Dzog Chen, a form of Tibetan Buddhism.

Part One:Sigils

1.  A Universe neither of Man nor God

The use of the techniques of the chaos magician presupposes a certain
stance, or attitude, towards magick that is relatively new in the history
of the occult.  This stance may, for lack of a better word, be described a
postmodern, since it is neither traditional nor modern.  The differences
between these three approaches to magick - traditional, modern or
postmodern  can be elucidated as three conceptions of the nature of the
universe.  The traditional approach is based in Judeo-Christian
metaphysics and views the universe as anthropomorphic, in the image of
the Christian God, or less rarely, some other anthropomorphic form. The
traditional  magician believes that the universe is understandable by
human consciousness because human beings are made in the image of God.
The modern view is essentially a reaction to this and humanist in the
extreme.  Here the universe may be perceived as Newtonian, as a machine
that is ultimately understandable by human consciousness, although
humans may have to evolve into a more powerful form to be able to do
this.  The postmodern view of the chaoist denies that the universe can
ever be understood by the human mind.  Influenced by modern physics,
particularly quantum mechanics and chaos theory, the chaos magician
tends to accept the universe as a series of phenomena that have little to
do with human beings.  In other words traditional magick can be said to be

God centered, modern magick to be human centered while postmodern
magick eschews the very idea of a center.  A brief review of traditional
and modern approaches to ceremonial magick may help to illuminate the
postmodern stance of the freestyle chaoist.

Ceremonial magicians use ritual magick to create effects in themselves
or in the universe that they do not feel they can as efficiently bring abo
through normal means.  All magicians agree that magick can cause change,
but few would argue that the change is inevitable, completely predictable,

or fully knowable by the magician.  All magicians, to a greater or lesser
extent, are engaged in an ongoing dynamic in which the issues of personal
desire, personal control and personal belief are thrust against the
strictures of the  universal consensual belief structure, the concept of
will as a universal force, and the ideas of fate, predestination, and karm
At the core of this confrontation is the question of the nature of the
universe.  The question is: is the universe human centered, designed,
created and maintained by a god force, or is it, as modern science seems
to indicate, just there?

Until recently, magicians have tended to distinguish amongst themselves
by hue, and the colors of the magician (white, gray or black) refer
precisely to this dynamic, the confrontation between the personal wishes
of the magician and a universal standard of morality or law.  White, and t
an extent, grey magicians, attempt to remove themselves from the debate
by insisting that their magickal acts are inspired only by the highest
motives of service and self-knowledge, that, indeed, they wish only to do
the will of higher powers known as their Holy Guardian Angels.  Perdition
shall blast, so they say, those who use magick for self-centered or
materialistic ends.  Grey magicians may proclaim that the use of magickal
powers for materialistic ends is valid sometimes, but rarely for selfish
reasons, and in any event, is always problematical.  Donald Michael Kraig,

with the breezy superficiality of the traditional magus, in  _Modern Magic
terms white magick the use of magick”for the purpose of obtaining the
Knowledge and Conversation of your Holy Guardian Angel”(1), grey magick
as magick used “for the purpose of causing either  physical or non-
physical good to yourself or to others”(2) and black magick as magick
used “for the purpose of causing either physical or non-physical harm to
yourself or others”(3).  Kraig is influenced by Aleister Crowley and by
modern Wicca, or Gardnerian witchcraft. Wiccans, ever concerned that
their white magick might slide through some unconscious twitch of desire
through grey into black, corrected Crowley’s axiom“Do What Thou Wilt
Shall Be the Whole of the Law” with the enervating modifier “An it Harm
None”.   Kraig, worried that readers of his treatise might fall “into the
of the black magician,” encourages neophyte mages to practice only white
magick.  Fortunately, before he is two thirds of the way through his book
Kraig is happily discoursing on talismans, grimoires, and the correct
methods for disposing of recalcitrant demons.  Few magicians can resist
the lure of dark magick, despite protestations of innocence.  This is
because even Wiccan influenced magicians are not, as Wiccans are,
devotees of a religion.  That is to say magicians are interested in the
dynamic of personal will versus (in Crowley’s term) True Will, while
Wiccans have resolved this issue.  While the occasional conflict may
remain, Wiccans, like Christians, Jews, and Moslems understand that they
have agreed to submit their wills to that which they construe to be the
Will of their deities.  Magicians, on the other hand, are not so sure.  Th
more than any other factor, accounts for the intense suspicion those of a
religious cast view those who practise magick.

The designation of black magician still tends to be a term that magicians
use to vilify other magicians.  Aleister Crowley, arguably the single
greatest influence on the development of magick in this century, and, for
the purposes of this essay, defined as a traditional magician, used the
term in this way. In _Magick_, for example, he asserted “any will but that

to give up the self to the Beloved is Black Magick,”(4). That is to say, a
use of magick unlike his use of magick is black magick.  Elsewhere
Crowley muttered darkly about the existence of “Black Lodges” and “Black
Brothers”, magicians who chose to remain in the Abyss, the metaphysical
gap between the first three sephiroth and the remainder of the Tree of
Life.  A magus of this hue, Crowley stated, secretes “his elements around
his Ego as if isolated from the Universe”(5), and turns his back on the tr
aim of magick, which according to Aleister, is the “attainment of the
Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.  It is the raising
of the complete man in a vertical straight line.  Any deviation from this
line tends to become black magic.  Any other operation is black
magick”(6).As students of mysticism will recognize, this goal is identical

with the mystic’s goal of the union of the self with God.  Crowley, of
course, wrote with his feet firmly planted in the Judeo-Christian
paradigm, a paradigm in which the universe  is visualized as Adam
Kadmon, the Great Man, and is thus wholly anthropomorphized.

In 1969, Anton LaVey posited the argument of the modern black magician
when in_The Satanic Bible_  he asserted “No one on earth ever pursued
occult studies, metaphysics, yoga, or any other ‘white light’ concept
without ego gratification or personal power as a goal “(7).  Moreover,
LaVey claimed “There is no difference between ‘White’ and ‘Black’ magic
except in the smug hypocrisy, guilt ridden righteousness, and self-deceit
of the ‘White’ magician himself”(8).  Thus the term black magician began
to be associated with a style of magick that did not distinguish between
self-interest and self-knowledge.  LaVey in his organization, The Church
of Satan, and later Michael Aquino in his schismatic order, The Temple of
Set,  argued that the will of the individual magician was paramount. Both
denied even the existence of a universal Will.  LaVey stated “The Satanist

realizes that man, and the action and reaction of the universe, is
responsible for everything and doesn’t mislead himself into thinking that
someone cares.” (9) Michael Aquino asserted “The Black Magician, on the
other hand, rejects both the desirability of union with the Universe and
any self-deceptive tactics designed to create such an illusion”(10).

Unfortunately the refusal of modern black magicians to deal with the
possibility that man may not be at the center of the universe, or may just

be one in a large series of interdependent phenomena leads to an error.
Reluctant, it seems, even to adopt completely a materialistic or
mechanistic view of the universe, LaVey and Aquino embrace the ghost in
the machine and assert that the individual ego can continue after death.
Thus LaVey stated “If a person has been vital throughout his life and has
fought to the end for his earthly existence, it is this ego which will
refuse to die, even after the expiration of the flesh that housed it”(11).

There is, of course, not a shred of evidence to prove that this has ever
happened nor that it can happen, but magicians of all hues, together with
the adherents of most of the world’s religions, continue to assert blandly

the existence of a transpersonal, individuated spark that somehow is
exempt from the normal process of birth, life, death, and corruption, a
kind of eternal homunculus.  Apparently the notion that the universe may
not actually be human centered is too frightening for Satanists and
modern black magicians to bear, and the old chestnut of the soul is
dredged out of the Judeo-Christian quagmire, brushed off, and presented
as the “fully gratified” ego of the modern immortal Satanist.

Teetering on the edge of postmodern magick, Peter Carroll, the first
contemporary popularizer of chaos magick, in _Liber Null and Psychonaut_,
accepted the idea that the universal force may not be a force that bears
much relationship to humanity.  He stated:”The force which initiates and
moves the universe, and the force which lies at the center of
consciousness, is whimsical and arbitrary, creating and destroying for no
purpose beyond amusing Itself.  There is nothing spiritual or moralistic
about Chaos and Kia.  We live in a universe where nothing is true...”(12).

Carroll was aware of the true nature of the ego, and stated “developing an

ego is like building a castle against reality”(13).  Moreover, he recogniz
that “the real Holy Guardian Angel is just the force of consciousness,
magic, and genius itself, nothing more.  This cannot manifest in a vacuum:

it is always expressed in some form, but its expressions are not the thing

itself.”(14)  In this statement Carroll aligned himself with the quantum
mechanical view of the universe, a view that refuses to discriminate
phenomena on the basis of dualistic concepts, but stresses the wave like
nature of energy.  This is also the viewpoint of sophisticated Buddhism.
The key phrase of the "Prajna Paramita", a critical sutra in the developme
of Buddhist metaphysics, states “form is only emptiness and emptiness is
only form.”

Ultimately Carroll, however, was as reluctant as a Satanist to let go of
the comforting paradigm of the soul or spirit and despite paying lip
service to a universe in quantum flux stated “The adept magician however
will have so strengthened his spirit by magick that it is possible to carr
it over whole into a new body”(15).  This turns out to be a crippling flaw

in Carroll’s approach to magick and one that reinforces his belief in the
efficacy of hierarchical magick, a contradiction of the fundamental
principle of chaos magick, that it replicates the non-ordered flow of
phenomena in the universe.  The ego, after all, is an ordered construct th
tolerates nothing so little as the inevitability of change. Perhaps the
problem lay in Carroll’s assertion that “physical processes alone will
never completely explain the existence of the universe”(16), a statement
that eventuates from the dualistic, epistemological mindset of Newtonian
physics and Aristotelian western philosophy.  Perhaps it comes from a
fear of death.

Yet concurrent with this discriminatory, black/white, dualistic approach
of western occultism, there has always been another strain, the
shamanistic, orgiastic approach that deliberately blurrs these definitions

and seeks to confront the universe as a dynamic, and non human process.
This approach, however, has usually been the domain of art and artists
rather than occultists.  Modern English poetry since Matthew Arnold’s
“Dover Beach” has been obsessed with reconciling the poetic imagination
with a stark and inhuman universe.  Arnold recognized the universe in
1867 as a place that:

                Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
                Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain
                And we are here as on a darkling plain
                Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
                Where ignorant armies clash by night

By the time T.S. Eliot wrote “The Wasteland” in 1922,  he saw the
universe as “a heap of broken mirrors”, an metaphor that aptly describes
the shattering of the familiar concept of the universe as reflecting a
human face.  The year before, W.B.Yeats in “The Second Coming” concurred:

                Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;.
                Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world
                The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
                The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

But the fullest expression of the awareness that the movement of energy
through the universe is absolute, interpenetrating, and neither
particularly humane nor human comes in 1934 with Dylan Thomas and:

                The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
                Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
                Is my destroyer.
                And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
                My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

This dawning consciousness infuses all the arts, from the movement of

modern art, from Dada and Cubism, through Abstract Expressionism, to
modern music, from the dissonance of Ravel’s “La Valse” to John Cage to
minimalism to industrial.  Artists for one hundred and fifty years have
struggled to depict the face of a chaotic universe, and man’s far from
central place within it.  In fact, the occult has been one of the last are
of human intellectual endeavour to avail itself of this perception of the
universe.  Not until the development of chaos magick can it truly be said
that magick has finally started to deal with the insights of modern art an
modern science.

Chaos magick derives from a series of magical positions articulated by
Austin Osman Spare, a contemporary of Aleister Crowley.  Spare’s vision,
itself influenced by  the work of William Blake, is contained succinctly i
_The Book of Pleasure_.  Spare’s approach to magick and the universe has
been validated by the discoveries of the new physics, by quantum science,
and by chaos mathematics.  The metaphysical basis for Spare’s magick is
similar to that of Dzog Chen, a form of Tibetan Buddhism, and, in fact, th
reference and counter reference between  Buddhism, art, science, and
chaos magick is striking and continuous.  Spare wrote _The Book of
Pleasure_ between 1909 and 1913, but most of Spare’s work was ignored
until Carroll began writing about it.  There are a number of reasons for
this.  Spare’s work was printed in small runs and he did not seek fame.
His style is elliptical and obscure.  His work is difficult to understand
the absence of his lush illustrations, and since the illustrations are
spells, or more precisely, sigils, they affect a deep level of the  mind a
tend to distract one from the content of his writing.  His style is
declaratory, arrogant, and uses a special vocabulary, the definitions for
which have to be teased out of the text.  But perhaps of most importance,
Spare’s view of the universe is non-human, and consequently the usual god
centered or human centered context of magick is absent.  Not until
contemporary metaphysical thought had changed to allow a non
anthropomorphic universe did Spare become accessible.  Even now he,
together with Kenneth Grant,  is one of the least read and least understoo
among modern magickal writers.

Spare begins with the idea of Kia, of which he says, in an echo of the Tao

Te Ching, “The Kia that can be expressed by conceivable ideas is not the
eternal Kia, which burns up all belief.”(17)  Thus he does not designate b
name that which later chaos magicians would call Chaos, but concentrates
on the immediate manifestation of the formless which he describes as
“the idea of self”.  This is precisely the viewpoint of Dzog Chen.  Dzog C
a sorcerous form of Buddhism developed by Padmasambhava in the eighth
century a.c.e., posits the creation of the manifest universe as occurring
the instant that the conception of self develops.  Spare said of Kia
“Anterior to Heaven and Earth,  in its aspect that transcends these, but
not intelligence, it may be regarded as the primordial sexual principle, t
idea of pleasure in self-love.”(18)  In Dzog Chen the initial impulse spli
emptiness from form, nirvana from samsara and develops dualistic
thinking.  The multiplicity of the universe streams out of this split.

One of the central symbols of Dzog Chen is the dorje.  A form of magick
wand, the dorje is composed of two stylized phalluses joined by a small
central ball.  The dorje is, according to Dzog Chen, a “terma”, or hidden
teaching.  This teaching is a treasure hidden by Padmasambhava.  The
whole of the dorje refers to the unlimited potentiality of the universe,
and thus, in modern terms, is an image of chaos, or the quantum flux of th
universe that is before and beyond discriminatory thinking, inseparable,
indissoluble.  The two ends of the dorje refer, respectively, to form and
emptiness, or samsara and sunyata.  The small central bead that joins the
two ends of this bilaterally symmetrical object is hollow to show the
unknowable potentiality at the intersection between form and emptiness,
and also to refer back to the chaos current.  Thus the dorje is a three
dimensional symbol for the way the universe manifests itself from unity
through duality into its full, lush complexity.  As Spare says “As unity
conceived duality, it begot trinity, begot tetragrammaton.”(19)  In a
statement that presages the modern understanding of the fractal universe
as an event that is essentially a complex repetition and multiplication of

a series of simple forms, Spare wrote:

        The dual principle is the quintessence of all experience, no ram-
        ification has enlarged its early simplicity, but is only its repet
        modification or complexity, never is its evolution complete.  It
        cannot go further than the experience of self-so returns and unite
        again and again, ever an anti-climax.  For ever retrogressing to i
        original simplicity by infinite complication is its evolution.  No
        shall understand ‘Why’ by its workings.  Know it as the illusion t
        embraces the learning of all existence.(19)

Recognizing the recursive movement of the movement of energy, or
consciousness, through the universe, that is to say, of Kia, is essential
the understanding of the form of magick that Spare developed because it
indicates the structure of the spells, sigils, and magickal techniques of
chaos magick.  Refuting absolutely the notion that this flow of energy is
ever understandable by dualistic minds, Spare stated unequivocally that
the magickal energy of the universe, the force that interpenetrates all
phenomena is non-human.  Moreover Spare required the magician, in order
to avail himself of this force, to renounce his human belief systems, his
dualistic mind, to achieve a state of consciousness that, as much as
possible, mimicked the primordial.  How to do this is the subject of the
next section of this essay.

2.  Spare, Self-Love and Sigil Magick

Spare recognized that the greatest bar to the successful actualization of
the magickal intention was self-consciousness, the normal, dualistic
state of mind that carries the baggage of our cultural context, our
upbringing, our human or god centered belief system.  Throughout _The
Book of Pleasure_ he inveighed against the idea of God.  He stated “The
idea of God is the primordial sin, all religions are evil”(20)  He warned
the toxic effects of self-judgement, of self-analysis while in the
performance of the magickal act.  He wrote “He who trusts to his natural
fund of genius, has no knowledge of its extent and accomplishes with
ease, but directly he doubts, ignorance obsesses him.”(21)

Spare asserted that the primordial consciousness, or Kia, was
indistinguishable from the sexual impulse.  This is partly because of the
dynamics of the manifestation of the universe from chaos.  From chaos
comes Kia, which immediately becomes duality.  Duality, according to
Spare, forms a trinity.  This is essentially a procreative act, which Spar
rightly identified as sexual.  Moreover Spare associated the intense
experience of sexual orgasm with the experience of Kia.  He wrote:

        Self-love only is the eternal all pleasing, by meditation on this
        effulgent self which is mystic joyousness.  At that time of bliss,

        he is punctual to his imagination, in that day what happiness is h
        A lusty innocent, beyond sin, without hurt!(22)

Access to magickal power, according to Spare, is encouraged by the state
of consciousness we enter when in orgasm, while the activation of spells
is facilitated by the sensation of “vacuity”.  This, he wrote “is obtained

by exhausting the mind and body by some means or another.”(21)  Sexual
release was a frequent path to this for Spare, and a common motif in his
drawings is a hand with fingers curled and thumb outstretched, an image
of both painting and masturbation.  Variants of this image include a hand
with eyes, a hand with face, and a hand with wings.  Spare continuously
sought the integration of magickal concept with magickal gesture (mudra),
with magickal drawing, with magickal act.

Spare believed that it was essential to base magickal acts in a state of
consciousness he terms “Neither-Neither”, a state of simplicity and pure
self.   This is a state where, however briefly, the mind has ceased its
chattering, its continual discourse, and is in a state that can most easil
be achieved by exhaustion, but may also be a result of sex, alcohol, or
today, even watching television until the mind has become numb and mute.
The state of vacuity can also be reached by the “neti neti” technique of
yoga, a technique in which emotional states and mental concepts are
annihilated by being opposed against each other. Doubtless Spare was
aware of this technique when he devised the Neither-Neither formulation
of vacuity. This technique results in so called “free energy”, psychic
energy that can be used to charge a sigil or infuse a magickal act. Spare
wrote that magick was “the reduction of properties to simplicity.”(22)
Moreover, he believed that the conscious mind  prevented the fulfillment
of the magickal intention.  He wrote that conscious desire raises self-
doubt and “lust for result”, that it was “non-attractive”, creating
“anxiety” which “defeats the purpose” because “it retains and exposes the

Spare asserted that the ground for magickal action was the “sub-
consciousness”, what we would normally call today the subconscious or
the unconscious mind.  He argued that the place where the magickal spell
could be seeded was deep within the mind of the magician. He defined the
subconsciousness as “the epitome of  all experience and wisdom, past
incarnations as men, animals, birds, vegetable life, etc., etc., everythin
that exists, has and ever will exist.”(24)  Spare believed that it was
possible to reach this “storehouse of memory” through sigils and other
magickal acts, but he consistently cautioned against using the rational or

discriminative mind to reach the sub-consciousness.  He wrote “in
striving for knowledge we repel it, the mind works best on a simple diet.”

This stress on simplicity, efficiency and non-rational technique is a
major characteristic differentiating Spare from most other magicians of
the Twentieth Century. Spare wrote “By Sigils and the acquirement of
vacuity, any past incarnation, experience, etc., can be summoned to
consciousness.” (25)  He placed himself firmly against the elaborate
rituals, dogma, and unending learning of the tradition of ceremonial
magick by stating “Know all ritual, ceremony, conditions, as arbitrary
(you have yourself to please), a hindrance and confusion; their origin was

for amusement, later for the purpose of deceiving others from knowing the
truth and inducing ignorance”(26)

Spare developed a method of sigilising quite unique in the history of
magick. He maintained that “Belief is the fall from the Absolute”(27).  In

other words, belief as usually practised, was self-defeating because “we
are not free to believe...however much we so desire, having conflicting
ideas from first exhaust.”(28)  The mind, conditioned by its cultural
context, the universal consensual belief structure, voices from childhood,

and many environmental factors, cannot allow pure belief, but always
muddies the intention of the magician.  Spare’s genius was to develop a
technique that took this into account and subverted the discursive mind.
He said “sigils are the art of believing; my invention for making belief
organic, ergo, true belief.”(29)  He maintained that “belief, to be true,
must be organic and sub-conscious,” that in order for the magickal desire
to be effective, it must become organic, and “can only become organic at a

time of vacuity, and by giving it (Sigil) form.”(30)

Spare stressed not only that the sigil must be implanted in the sub-
consciousness at the moment of vacuity, but that afterwards the magician
must strive to forget the sigil and the desire from which the sigil was
crafted.  He wrote

        When conscious of the Sigil form (any time but the Magical) it
        should be repressed, a deliberate striving to forget it, by this i
t is
        active and dominates at the unconscious period, its form nourishes

        and allows it to become attached to the sub-consciousness and
        become organic, that accomplished, is its reality and realization.


The assertion that Sigils need to be forgotten after they have been
charged means that sigils are not appropriate for certain magickal
intentions.  For example, a sigil to accomplish a goal which is  long term

and daily obsession may not work if the magician is unable to release the
obsession into the magickal act.  That is to say, if the magician develops
sigil to gain a promotion at work, to get good grades at school, or to
attract a sexual partner, if the day after charging of the sigil the
magician continues to obsess about his lousy job, his worsening grades or
his complete inability to get laid, it is unlikely that the sigil will wor
To give a personal example, it is my wish to actualize a much more
powerful computer system.  I have sigilized this intention.  Unfortunately
every time a computer catalog comes in the mail (almost daily), I see the
computer system I want and I wonder when my sigil will work.  I wonder
if it is going to work.  I chastise myself because I am thinking about it
working.  My mind then proceeds to create all manner of confliucting
thoughts circling around this topic.  Does magick really work?  Do I
deserve a better computer system?  Was my father right when he thought I
would be a failure?  Perhaps if I just mentally shove at the obstacle
preventing the actualizing of the sigil it will work.  Perhaps I should do

the sigil again?  Perhaps I should charge it harder?  Clearly, this is “lu
for result”, not to mention fear of success and the multiple dysfunctions
of personal psychology. In this event, another magickal technique, such as

the creation of a servitor or a sacrifice to a godform may be more
appropriate.  Sigilizing is unlikely to work while I am obsessed with a
new computer system.

The technique for developing sigils that Spare outlines in _The Book of
Pleasure_ is simplicity itself.   Giving as his magickal intention “This m
wish to obtain the strength of a tiger”, Spare analyses the structure of
the letters of the phrases that make up the sentence containing the
magickal intention, removes repeating letters, then combines them, and
finally simplifies them into an iconic symbol.  This symbol will be
sufficiently remote from the original sentence that it cannot be
identified.  Thus the only meaning it contains resides in the memory of th
magician.  Spare wrote :”Now by virtue of this Sigil you are able to send
your desire into the subconsciousness (which contains all strength)”.(32)

Carroll suggested two other methods for developing sigils.  In one, a
picture of the magickal intention is drawn, in  another, the sentence
containing the magickal intention is transformed into a mantra by, for
example, removing repeating letters and transposing other letters until a
euphonious phrase results.  Carroll stated “It is not necessary to use
complex symbol systems.”(33)  Spare went further and wrote “you do not
have to dress up as a traditional magician, wizard or priest, build
expensive temples, obtain virgin parchment, black goats blood, etc., etc.,

in fact no theatricals or humbug.”(34)  Readers interested in these
methods for constructing sigils are directed to Frater U.D.’s
comprehensive treatise _Practical Sigil Magick_.  As Frater U.D. indicates

“In Spare’s system there are no ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ sigils; neither i
there a list of ready-made symbols.  It is of no import whether a sigil is

the ‘correct’ one or not, but it is crucial that it has been created by th
magician and is therefore meaningful to him/her.”(35)

Spare’s system of creating sigils is, as Frater U.D. points out, an
individual-anarchist approach to magick.  It does not require learning
complex systems, strange incantations, or any of the usual bric-a-brac of
traditional magick or religion.  It is simple and efficient.  However,
anarchical as Spare was, he was also a man of his culture and time and his

system is influenced by ideas that while far from accepted in his day,
were current.  The idea of the subconscious is clearly influenced by
psychoanalytic theory, particularly Jung, and Spare’s insistence on the
primacy of the sexual impulse owes not a little to Freud.  Of course
Spare’s system works if one believes in psychoanalysis or not, not so
much because the existence of a deep unconscious, collective or
otherwise, is any more provable than the existence of a soul, but because
it subverts the conscious mind and the failure tapes of normal
consciousness.  Culturally defined consensual belief structures work
tirelessly against the actualization of  magickal intentions, requiring, a
the least, refuge in plausible explanations for apparently abnormal events

or at least some kind of explanation.  Thus unusual events such as the
actualization of a spell for success in one’s job, for example, are justif
by the collective consciousness as something that was bound to happen
anyway, or less plausibly, the inevitable result of increased self-
confidence that the magick spell brought about in the magician.  If these
explanations are insufficient then perhaps the grace of God, angelic
intervention, demonic agency, or just good luck can be proffered.  It is t
stance of modern chaos magick, however, that none of these explanations
are necessary, except perhaps in that they increase the  ability of the
magician to engineer belief structures.  But the engineering of belief
structures is a poor substitute for their suspension.  If quantum
mechanics is correct, human beings live in a universe of mind numbing
complexity, at an order of magnitude far greater than the ability of the
human mind to comprehend.  If this is the case, and we live in a quantum
flux of unlimited potentiality then all things are equally possible, all
beliefs equally true, or, as Hassan Ibn Al Sabah, Le Vieux de Montagne, is

alleged to have said, “Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted.”  If this
the case the need of human psychology to explain events is merely another
aspect of the totalitarian dictates of society’s consensual belief

The vacuity that characterizes the charging of a sigil in Spare’s system
takes on a different color when viewed in the light of modern chaos
magick.  It is the No-Mind of unlimited potential, a relaxation into the
quantum flux, a suspension of both belief and disbelief, of all the
paraphernalia of the rational, discursive mind, and of the seething,
bubbling unconscious mind or, as Buddhists would say, “Not Two, Not One.”
From this viewpoint, it is the discursive mind that is delusionary, the
rational mind that presents phantasms of being and becoming.  The truth is

that there is no Absolute, no becoming, no being, or as the “Prajna
Paramita” states:

                Dharmas here are empty
                all are the primal void.
                None are born or die.
                Nor are they stained or pure
                Nor do they wax or wane.(36)

The "Prajna Paramita", or Heart Sutra, is at the basis of the reformulatio
of Buddhism by Nagarjuna in the third century a.c.e.  Nagarjuna founded th
Madhyamika school of Buddhism, of which Dzog Chen is an offshoot.  Ingrid
Fischer-Schrieber wrote of Nagarjuna:

                Nagarjuna attempts to show the emptiness of the world
                through the relativity of opposites.  Opposites are mutual
                dependent; one member of a pair of opposites can only aris
                through the other.  From this he draws the conclusion that
                entities cannot really exist, since the existence of one p
                supposes the existence of the other.(37)

The reader is cautioned that emptiness, or sunyata, in Buddhist
terminology means limitlessness, or unlimited potentiality, which
Madhyamika Buddhism asserts is the true ground of being.

Spare’s technique of Neither-Neither is kin to Nagarjuna’s  mutual
dependency of opposites.  Stephen Mace, in his brilliant analysis of Spare

and Sorcery, _Stealing the Fire from Heaven_, described this technique:

                The Neither-Neither principle asserts that there is no tru
                anywhere that is not balanced by an equally true opposite
                somewhere, and there is only perspective and circumstance
                to determine which seems more true at any given time.  To
                apply this principle to conjuring, wait until you are abso
                positive something is true, then search for its opposite.
                you find it, oppose it to your ‘truth’ and let them annihi
                one another as well as they may.Any residue should oppose
to its
                opposite, and so on until your truth has been dismembered
                the passion converted into undirected energy - free belief
.  By
                applying the Neither-Neither we can gut the meaningless
                convictions that obsess us every day and use the power
                released to cause the changes we desire. (38)

It is this “undirected energy-free belief” that is used to charge the sigi
For in this state of mind the magician brings the sigil to consciousness,
concentrates on it, and allows it to sink past consciousness into the pool

of undirected energy.  In Buddhism this state is called sunyata, or

In my personal experiences of sunyata, it is a state of consciousness
characterized not so much by silence, but by a great calm.  The mind, for
me at least, continues to chatter, but it is now recognizable as just
another function of the body.  The mind chatters just as the lungs breathe
just as the heart pumps.  Thoughts arise and fall, but the universe hums
with energy, with limitless potentiality.  Space seems to expand and my
vision becomes extremely clear.  Fairly rapidly, of course, I become
distracted by the novelty of the experience and fall back into normal
consciousness, or samsara.

So Spare’s technique is one designed to reveal this state of mind, the one

Buddhists term sunyata or emptiness and Mace’s “undirected energy” may
be thought of as synonymous with sunyata.  It is part of the annihilistic
tendency in chaos magick that even Spare’s Neither-Neither technique can
be considered an unneeded elaboration, for if this state of mind is the
actual ground of being, then all that is needed is for the magician to loo
in another direction, an instant of work.  Thus, the whole edifice of ritu
is viewed by chaos magicians as a kind of massage for the mind,a way to
lull it into a state of Neither-Neither.  But actually, none of it is
necessary, and perfectly valid results can be obtained just by creating a
sigil and leaving it uncharged.  Some chaos magicians assert that sigils
never need to be charged, that, in fact, the act of their creation slips
sigil behind the discursive rational mind.

There are other methods for creating sigils, also, and some of these
collapse the charging into the creation.  For example I once did a sigil i
n a
group workshop to produce a laser printer of a certain configuration, one
that was unavailable at the time of the creation of the sigil.  My sigil,
which was a paper sculpture composed of white paper that I had colored,
rolled into a tube, cut, and shredded open, looked nothing like my magicka
intention, and, as far as I could see had no initial reference to it eithe
When I finished it I threw it under the couch of a friend.  I guessed that

the couch would not be moved for some time, and that when it was the
paper would not be recognized and would be thrown away.  The act of
creating the sigil charged it for I thought in a non-attached way, of the
printer I wanted while I created the sculpture.  I recall that we did char
the sigil by holding our breath until near to fainting while staring at th
sigil we had created.  This gave me a headache. Perhaps when my friend
moved, as he did at around the time the printer I wanted manifested
itself, he charged it when he threw it away.  Either way, the sigil worked
and I do not trouble myself with explaining to myself why it worked.

Jan Fries, in _Visual Magick_, has a few other suggestions for the creatio
of sigils.  After discussing the traditional forms of pen, ink, and
parchment, or wood engraving, or metalsmithing, Fries states:

                If you desire matters of dream magick you could draw your
                sigil on paper, fold it into a paper boat, and send it off
 on a
                river, stream, or pond.  The water destroys the body and
                receives the idea.  You might draw the sigil in earth colo
                on your skin and dance until you’ve sweated it off, or for
m the
                shape in berries, food for the birds. You could draw it in
                earth with a stick and leave it for the rains, or give it,
                on paper, to the fire.  You might even feed on it.  Ink ca
n be
                washed off and drunk with water (use a non-toxic sort), an
                some signs can be drawn or baked into cakes or bread. (39)

Chaos magicians on the Internet have developed other techniques.  After
transforming the sigil into a mantra it is sent to a usenet newsgroup
picked at random as a garbage post (or perhaps not so random, e.g.  One innovative method discussed on alt.magick.chaos
involved developing a database of the numbers of frequently used public
phones around the country.  Chaos magicians wishing to charge a sigil
would choose a number, dial it, and, if the phone is picked up, shout the
sigil at the baffled recipient.

By now it should be clear that the technique of sigilising is not as
important as the creation of the mental state which accompanies it, for it

is in this ground state that magick works.  The Temple of Psychic Youth,
founded fifteen years ago by Genesis P-Orridge and highly influenced by
the sigil techniques of A.O.Spare is an international association of chaos

magicians.  Genesis has since disavowed the project, but other members
continue the association.  Historically members of the Temple of Psychic
Youth would create sigils with three different bodily fluids and two
different protions of hair and then send them to a central depository of
sigils at one of the headquarters of the organization.  Despite the respec
with which these sigils were regarded by TOPY members, it was widely
recognized that the act was magickal because of the states of
consciousness developed, the interplay that these states allowed between
the conscious mind and the deep  mind (or that part of the mind that is no
conscious), and that actually, the sigils could have been incinerated in a

fire or confiscated by law enforcement authorities without harm being
done to the magickal intention.  Indeed, rumors abound to this day,perhaps

deliberately spread by TOPY members, that the sigil depository has been
compromised by some such action.  The usefulness of rumors such as these
lies in its ability to allow the ego of the chaos magician to confront the

process of magick.  Should a TOPY member be concerned that a British
bobby has his sigil, or that it was burnt, or that some nefarious black
magician is now using it in dark magick?  Certainly, if these concerns
allow the TOPY member to ask hirself what magick really is.   Genesis
said, in an interview in _Gnosis_ magazine, about this issue:

                I wanted to contradict the tradition that those things wer
                innately dangerous for other people to have possession of.
                Because I thought that was something people had hypnotized
                themselves into being vulnerable to. (40)

P-Orridge’s approach to chaos magick is typical in its insistence on the
importance of belief structures and the general faith in access to a
fundamental stream of energy and power that cannot really be termed
human.  He said:

                Things do get manifested when you focus on them and truly
                desire and need them to manifest.  That happens.  And I do
                really care why.  My suspicion is that it’s an innate gift
                comes from so far ago and is so primal that it’s pointless
                putting names on it and trying to humanize it.  I think it
                always an error to humanize phenomena. (41)

For magick is not a  variant of the role playing game of Dungeons and
Dragons , nor is it the Satanic cultism of the tabloid, although it may
appear from a social perspective look like that way.  Magick is the
dynamic synergy of the magician’s desires with the quantum flow of the
energy matrices of the universe.

Fries discusses in some detail the process of spell-making , and the
common delusionary  knots with which magicians engaged in this
confrontation bind themselves.  Most of these result from the mechanism
Spare termed “lust for result”, and are solved through deliberately
forgetting the sigil, the magickal intention, and, ultimately, the
precipitating desire.

As Fries states:

                Sigils are used where conscious will finds its aim frustra
                We use sigils to bypass adverse conditions, to avoid the
                censorship of identity, to achieve our will through avenue
s we
                do not even know about.  If you think about results while
                transmitting, you effectively bind your mind to find a sol
                along the desired channels, and this is frequently a hindr
                as ‘the desired channels’ are usually the very approach th
                does not function.  Our conscious selves are often the gre
                obstacle to the sigil’s manifestation.(42)

Unfortunately, as Fries points out, many magicians seem to miss the
point, and, influenced by the power stratagems of traditional magick,
charge and recharge their sigils,doubtless berating themselves for their
magickal flaccidity as they do so.  In this way, they assume, the sheer
force of their conscious will shall drive the sigil into the deep ground o
being and hence to fruition.  In fact their actions raise ever stronger
barriers against this occurring, as the conscious mind, whose habit it is
to deny the unity of the universe and the interdependence of all
phenomena, builds walls of steel against itself.  Fries counsels patience
and compassion.  He suggests dealing with the non conscious mind as one
would deal with an old, wise, dear friend.  He suggests:

                Magick can be worked quite easily once one learns to
                re-believe in innocence, simplicity and direct inspiration
.  Why
                use a memorized invocation, including ‘divine names’ and
                ‘words of power’ when one can get better and livelier resu
                by ‘speaking from the heart’ plus a dose of freestyle chao
                language and chanting? (43)

Why indeed?  Partly the answer lies in the personality and conditioning of

the magician, partly in the depth of his experience of magick.  Magicians
with very strong traditional belief structures, magicians conditioned by
membership in a magickal order such as the Ordo Templi Orientis, or even
the Illuminates of Thanateros, may need elaborate ritual in order to break

down this conditioning until a state of simplicity can be reached.
Magicians who are relatively new to magick may need ritual in order to
increase self confidence and decrease the effect of the anti-magickal
consensual belief structures.  Magicians, young or old, who have for some
reason opened the door to their own simplicity can successfully cast a
spell with a brief hand movement, with a howl at the moon, or with, as I
do from time to time, curse with the crushing of a fortune cookie at a
Chinese Restaurant.   No chaos magician writing today suggests discarding
Spare’s techniques.  The hold of traditional magick is far too strong to
neglect such an efficient system for deprogramming.  But at least among
the community of chaos magicians discussing sigils on the Internet,
suggestions are routinely made that magick is far simpler than even

According to the visions of many mystics the world itself is suffused
with magick.  Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote in 1918:

                The world is charged with the grandeur of God
                It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
                It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

                from “God’s Grandeur”

Although Hopkins writes within the paradigm of Christian mysticism, his
insight of a world filled with supernal power is hardly different from the

approach of a modern chaos magician, or a Dzog Chen master.  In the
middle of the 17th Century Thomas Traherne wrote , describing the way in
which he saw the world when he was a child:

                Rich diamond and pearl and gold
                In every place was seen;
                Rare splendors, yellow, blue, red, white and green,
                Mine eyes did everywhere behold.

                From “Wonder”

The experience of the universe as a place filled with unlimited
potentiality, and gorgeous beyond description to boot, is typical of many
altered states of mystical perception.  Dzog Chen maintains that this is
the actual nature of the universe, a place of limitless light and
potentiality.  Tibetan Buddhism is called the Vajrayana after this
assertion, for Vajra means diamond, and the universe is a diamond web of
dynamic interconnections.  Diamonds, in tantric tradition, are the
crystallized sperm of the gods.

The task of the magician who accepts the mystic’s description of the
universe, or if not that of the mystic, the model of the universe proposed

by quantum mechanics, for there is little to differentiate either model
from one another, is to deprogram himself, to annihilate the
discriminatory mind sets of rational thinking, the primary intellectual
artefact of civilization.  For once this level of consciousness is reached
once the conscious and the non conscious mind are working together, then
there is no difference between the will of the magician and the movement
of the stream of energy that is the universe.

John Cage’s statement about art is as applicable to magick.  He wrote:

               The history of art is simply a history of getting rid of th
e ugly
               by entering into it and using it.  After all, the notion of

               something outside of us being ugly is not outside of us but

               inside of us.  And that’s why I keep reiterating that we’re

               working with our minds.  What we’re trying to do is to get
               them open so we don’t see things as being ugly or beautiful
               we see them just as they are.  (44)

Substitute art with magick, ugly with unattainable and beautiful with
attainable, and Cage’s statement presents the formula for  chaos magick.
Sigils are just one means to bring about this transformation, to
internalize a desire that the magician considers to be unachievable so tha
the discriminatory definitions of achievable and out of reach no longer
have any validity.

Yet if there is so little difference between the mystic and the magician
why are they traditionally viewed as two separate paths?  Few magicians
would term themselves mystics (fearing relegation to the New Age) and
even fewer mystics would term themselves magicians.  Sai Baba and a few
other Indian gurus are exceptions.  In _Liber Kaos_, Peter Carroll postula
a psychohistorical theory that asserted that magickal shamanism, a
simple  and fluid form of magick based upon a mystical awareness  of the
interdependence of all phenomena, degrades into paganism, and with the
growth of religious forms magick is relegated to a priestly caste, who,
over a period of time lose access to the magickal current and degrade into

formalism. (45)  The argument is plausible, particularly when placed
alongside the rise of civilization, an event that required the development

of hierarchical society.  Social hierarchy, of course, is a  template that
internalized at an early age, and defines access to power as being confine
to channels devised by other than oneself.  This notion is anathema to
magick in general, and chaos magick in particular.  Thus in tribal societi
there would appear to be little difference between the mystic and the
magician, both roles often being held in the personage of the tribal
shaman, and all members of the tribe, in some degree or another, having
access to the universal magickal power.  By the time one thousand years
of Christian conditioning had afflicted the minds of the peoples of the
West, magickal acts were either heretical, quaint and secretive folk
practices, or, if approved by the Church, miraculous and the marks of
sainthood.  Another thousand years of the slow deterioration of this
conditioning, and, finally, the beginnings of breakdown in the toxic
structures of civilization, and magick has begun to be seen as a power
available to all, as a means of directly communicating with the universe
as it is, and as a particularly appropriate series of techniques to live i
n a
universe in which human beings are both as incidental and as important as
all other phenomena.



        1.      Donald Michael Kraig:  Modern Magick, Llewellyn, St. Paul,

                Minnesota, 1992, p. 10

        2.      Kraig, p. 11

        3.      Kraig, p. 12

        4.      Aleister Crowley:  Magick, Samuel Weiser, York Beach, Main
                1973, p. 60

        5.      Crowley, p. 332

        6.      Crowley, p. 294

        7.      Anton LaVey:  The Satanic Bible, Avon, 1969, p. 110

        8.      LaVey, p. 110

        9.      LaVey, p. 41

        10.     Michael Aquino: General Information and Admissions Policie
                Temple of Set, San Francisco, California, 1994, p. 4.

        11.     LaVey, p. 94

        12.     Peter Carroll: Liber Null and Psychonaut, Samuel Weiser, Y
                Beach, Maine, 1987, p. 154

        13.     Carroll, p. 165

        14.     Carroll, p. 103

        15.     Carroll, p. 167

        16.     Carroll, p. 151

        17.     Austin Osman Spare: Book of Pleasure (Self-Love), from Fro
m the
                Inferno to Zos: The Writings and Images of Austin Osman Sp
                First Impressions, Seattle, 1993 , p. 7

        18.     Spare, p. 7

        19.     Spare, p. 9

        20.     Spare, p. 30

        21.     Spare, p. 30

        22.     Spare, p. 33

        21.     Spare, p. 51

        22.     Spare, p. 37

        23.     Spare, p. 38

        24.     Spare, p. 47

        25.     Spare, p. 48

        26.     Spare, p. 48

        27.     Spare, p. 44

        28.     Spare, p. 44

        29.     Spare, p. 44

        30.     Spare, p. 44

        31.     Spare, p. 31

        32.     Spare, p. 51

        33.     Carroll, p. 20

        34.     Spare, p. 50

        35.     Frater U.D. : Practical Sigil Magick, Llewellyn, 1991, p.

        36.     Translation of the Heart Sutra in Roshi Philip Kapleau: Ze
                Dawn in the West, Anchor Books, Anchor Press/Doubleday, Ne
                York, 1980, p. 180

        37.     Fischer-Schrieber, Erhard & Diener, tr. Michael Kohn: The
                Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, Shambhala, Bosto
                1991, p. 152

        38.     Stephen Mace: Stealing the Fire from Heaven, Privately Pri
                New Haven, Connecticut, 1984, p. 20

        39.     Jan Fries:  Visual Magick: A Manual of Freestyle Shamanism
                Mandrake, Oxford, 1992, p. 16

        40.     Genesis-P-Orridge, interviewed by Jay Kinney in Gnosis, Su
                1994, p.52

        41.     Kinney, p. 53

        42.     Fries, p. 22

        43.     Fries, p. 35

        44.     John Cage quoted in Williams & Tollett: A Blip in the Cont
                Peachpit Press, Berkeley, California, 1995, p.81

        45.     Peter Carroll: Liber Kaos, Samuel Weiser, York Beach, 1992
, p.53
                to 75.

This is a work in progress, but may be freely disseminated on the Internet
The author requests email notifying him of such acts. His address is


◊2ż,`w °Ęŕ23RS„.x¬ZßŮ9ľĹÕőŌűŲų>÷ c¨Ū5~Ň
        T               Š




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