Where Sigils Come From (Jason Miller)

Where Sigils Come From (Jason Miller)

I was witness to a recent discussion on sigils that made me want to cry. One person arguing that “real sigils” are X and another that “real sigils” are Y. Two people arguing in favor of cripplingly simplistic yet definitive answers.

Magic and Spirits are more subtle than ordinary things, so why we cling to simplistic explanations that lack the nuance of even ordinary things? We then fight over which model is right rather than entertaining the notion that perhaps the issue is more complicated and subtle than we know.

In my life I work with sigils all the time, but they are not all born in the same way. Here are just some sources of sigils and seals that I work with.


Spirits will give sigils and seals directly through vision, automatic writing, or dreams. The “Lightning Glyphs”, from financial sorcery are just one example of this. The Strategic Sorcery planetary seals are another. I feel like such seals often convey the presence of the spirit or a spiritual action quite directly.

Some people consider these sorts of revealed sigils to be the gold standard since it is given directly by a spirit or deity. What could be better right?

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as all that. Every encounter we ever have is a mix of accurate perception and our own projections. Experiences with spirits are even more prone to these projections and fantasies. The quality of the seal then depends upon the quality of the perception of the person that received it. In the case of the Lightning Glyphs, they all came in a flood during one single operation.

In the case of the Planetary seals, it took weeks and many repeated attempts to get something close to what the spirit was trying to convey. In both cases, the actual rendering of the seal was beyond me so I relied upon artist-seer Matthew Brownlee to put the pen to paper.

Planetary Seals

My point is that it takes work, and this being the hard-edged material world, the result should never be considered flawless or pure. So, while I obviously favor sigils derived directly from spirit contact, its not as simple as “The spirit showed it to me, so its true!”

As it is with sigils, so it is with the rest of magic.


When you look at Agrippas seals for planetary intelligences and spirits you are not looking at sigils given directly by the spirits, but ones derived from tracing seals on the planetary Kamea. The Golden Dawn famously traces sigils in a similar way on a twenty-two petaled rose containing all the Hebrew letters. I have seen other ways of generating sigils based on systems like this. William Gray provides two wheels with different letter arrangements in his “Magical Ritual Methods” book.

I myself sometimes use a spin on a method I learned from Don Webb. I lay out a five by 5 grid and connect with the spirit. power, or action that the seal is to represent. Once I feel that connection with spirit, I let it guide me in filling in the 25 squares with letters of the alphabet – treating “I” and “J” as the same letter. I can then trace names and keywords on this board to generate sigils.

The extent to which these sigils are effective is based largely on how effective the system of generation is. Does this mean that the system has to be given by spirit? Not necessarily. Human beings are spirits. YOU are a spirit, you just also have a body. A person with sufficient realization, who develops a system that reflects a spiritual truth, will produce excellent sigils. Someone who just throws something together because of a brain fart, might not get excellent results.

Though I have a great dislike for Artificial Intelligence, both in terms of current use and where it seems to be headed, I would be remiss if I didn’t include AI generated sigils under this section. To me, unless the developer of the AI was a mystic and coded it in such a way to reflect those principles, this is a dead way to generate sigils, but plenty of people disagree with me. Some feel that if you invoke a spirit or do a spell before asking AI to produce a seal, you should treat it as if it was received from spirit itself.

I have already met students who don’t understand why we bother with mystical practices when all we need to do to pray to Hekate then “talk to her” through chat GPT. Idea like this make me throw up in my mouth a little, but suffice to say that this will be what magic is to some people going forward.


You don’t need a kamea or a rose to trace sigils of course, you can just make them. Chaos magic managed to popularize A.O. Spares method of combing letters of keywords or statements into sigils. Of course this tradition goes back much further than Spare. You can see it in bind-runes, the Catholic ChiRho and innumerable monograms throughout the world.

Wealth Stave from the Amazerak system

Still other methods can be thought of as alphabets of magical action that get combined to make sigils. Icelandic Staves show signs of this, and to some extent I think you could say that some Brazilian Ponto’s were developed along these lines as well. Students that have taken my Black School course can use the Staves of Amazerak to create complex staves like this.

Of course you free yourself even of these constraints and just create….

This raises the question: if these sigils and seals don’t come from a spirit, or get generated by a magical system, how can they be effective? Is it just the mind of the practitioner as Chaos Magicians often assert? Sometimes yes, but often no.

The answer is that a competent Witch, Magician, and Sorcerer has the power to vest authority. You can think of this as the power of naming as well. A Sorcerer can create a seal for a spirit and see if that spirit will agree to the use of that seal. It’s not just the mind of the magician, it’s a pact between man and spirit. The same is true of a created name as well, which is why special epithets and names exist. Not just descriptors, but pacts in and of themselves.

In particularly confrontational situations like an exorcism, the magician can even force the spirit to go by that name and seal. How? The same way that if someone threw you in prison and decided to call you “penguin”, you would answer because the guards or gang leaders have the power to enforce their name for you.

Even in the case of a simple sigil designed for a short term spell, there is more going on than simply what this means in the mind of the magician. The ideas vested in the sigil take on a power of their own and that power gets recognized by other beings and by the world itself, which is absolutely alive with spirit.

The power of the magician to vest meaning and have it recognized is at the root not just of magic, but of what makes human beings different than animals. Yuval Noah Harari argues that the ability to create “Imagined Realities” is what has enabled human beings to get massive numbers of people to act collectively in massive number in a way that other animals simply cannot. This concept can even be enshrined in law, where everything from a corporation to a town to the law itself is defined as a “Legal Fiction”.


Its useful to break things down like this for understanding and discussion, but we need to remember not to treat these breakdowns as inherently real or having firm boundaries. Most sigils and seals are combinations of the above to one extent or another. The meaning of a sigil or seal can change over time as well.

Seal of Lucifer in Asia or Lucifer everywhere and anywhere?

Take the Seal that is now often regarded as THE seal of Lucifer. In the Grimoire Verum, where the seal originally appeared, it was just the seal of Lucifer in Asia. These days however, it’s used by thousands of people as a Universal seal of Lucifer that has almost nothing to do with the Grimoire Verum, no matter where you are on the globe.

So what happened? Does the seal not really work outside of Asia? I see no evidence of that. Did Lucifer decide that this seal should be more well known and push this as his main sigil himself? Did people just decide it was cool looking and started using it as a universal symbol? If so does Lucifer recognize the new meaning vested in it by people?

Because spirits are subtle beings we don’t need to have just one answer to this. In fact, I would suggest that we always assume we have only a sliver of understanding. As it is with sigils and seals, so it is with magic itself.


Nice post! I’ll say, when it comes to learning the occult, it’s important to look at the essence behind things.

For example, study a lot of banishing rituals and you will find this: Evil spirits are repelled by holiness.
Put into traditional esoteric philosophy, it suddenly also becomes clearer why evil spirits are weakened and even repelled by Fire.

Now, with the above regarding sigils, you will see in all these methods of creating them, there is one thing common to all: There is something in the sigil that relates to the essence of the spirit.

With the first method, you obtain the sigil directly from the spirit, and I believe that if you study the sigil closely, you will find a link between the sigil itself and the essence and power of the spirit. If the sigil is for a God, then you may even find part of the sigil within the things the God generates in the world.

With the second method, the sigil is an image of the name of the spirit, holding their essence. The seals and sigils Agrippa gives is an espscially good example of making an image that embodies the essence of a being in this way.

With the third method, regarding chaos magick sigils, of course it embodies the entire essence of the petition! It’s made from the whole sentence. Even with methods of making chaos magick sigils like in Adam Blackthorn’s ‘The Master Works of Chaos Magick’, which don’t use any sentence but simply feeling emotion while making squiggles and lines, don’t think that it bears no resemblance to emotion or thought. When you draw or paint and listen to heavy metal music and feel aggression, and then draw or pain while listening to something much calmer and feeling relaxed, you will notice the difference this makes in what is made.

When you look at a lot of Greek “Barbarous words”, these words don’t mean anything in language, but if you look at the letters using Isopsephy, you often find the letters by extension the sound of the word itself relates esoterically to the power of the word, as though by “coincidence” (of course, this is not a coincidence).

Anything that embodies the essence of a being can be used as a sigil of them. In the Renaissance and before, it was more common to have “images” of Gods and Spirits. Look closely, and you will find a link between the image and the God or Spirit. Look closely, and you will find the link!

And from my contemplations of the Night, here is an image I believe I recieved of the Night in this post:

Sometimes, the Sigils we see can also be a simplified form of the image relating to a being. It’s possible some of the Sigils of the Celestial Gods we have had their origin like this.

What I don’t like quite like about what Miller says here is that often the sigil is linked to the spirit because the magician has the authority to make it so, as if it is a forced connection. An arbitrary connection. But I have a feeling that upon closer expection, you will find this is not the case.

But, those are just my thoughts on the matter.


I learned recently, that the planetary symbol for Jupiter contains the eagle of Jove! Fascinating :cloud_with_lightning::eagle:

1 Like

To my understanding, all the Planetary “Characters” have a clear and reasonable link to the Planets like that. The Character for Saturn, ♄, for example, involves a scythe. I can’t quite remember what the rest of the Characters/Symbols for the Planets represent exactly. But it’s also generally quite clear how the Characters of the Signs relate to the Signs.

For some of the other Sigils, it can be a bit more complicated.
In Rufus Opus’ ‘Modern Angelic Grimoire’, he comments a bit on how the Sigils of the Angels of the Planets from The Magical Calander relate to the Planets from their appearance. But, when he gets to the Sigil of the Angel of Venus:


He doesn’t comment on how it relates to Venus. I reckon because, well, it’s not hard to see how the Sigil relates to Venus!


Incredible :rofl::rofl:

1 Like

The Renaissance Magician who brought that Sigil into the world definitely knew what they were doing! (Or, perhaps it was fully channeled, that’s also possible!)


Excellent post and discussion!