The Art in the art
June 28, 2018 7:29 AM   Subscribe

(That being said, I definitely did that sigil thing after watching Grant Morrison's Disinfo Con talk almost two decades ago.)
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:16 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

charge yer sigils folks
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:41 AM on June 28, 2018

Thanks for posting this, it was a good read and pretty well inside my artistic wheelhouse.

Despite the fact I'm going to a talk about English Folk Magic in Early Colonial America tonight, I remain a dabbler when it comes to the occult. Actually, that's being kind - I'm a thief. If this was D&D, I'd be the rogue who just picked up the Use Scrolls ability and am speed-reading my way through towards accidentally polymorphing myself into something awkward. The inspiration I find in magickal texts is not in the deeper understanding of the soul, but in the actual symbols printed on the page which I promptly appropriate for my own use. (Here's me welding together the layout of a talisman from The Black Pullet with some Thelemic code, Roswell symbols, channeled writing, and a big ole Lam head. )

I try to use the symbols I find where their meaning is maintained, insomuch that I under stand it. Still, I'm usually immediately found out when someone who's in the know talks to me about my work. The look of sorrow on that dude's face when he realize I had confused Theban with Enochian will haint me. I can usually hide behind CHAOS MAGICK, BITCHES as I leap out the van door and get away. Of course, this works until I run into a chaos magician who leaps after me and wants to talk about Austin Osman Spare. Ungh.

Finding symbols for my work remains tricky. I try not to appropriate symbols from outside my culture - so no voodoo, Santeria, I Ching, etc. - and due to neonazi appropriation of Nordic runes I'm super wary about dipping into that. I also stay away from chaos magic sigils, partially because I find them boring. At best, they're so personal that they're the magickal equivalent of "let me tell you about this dream I had." At worst, they're just a bunch of letters smooshed together.

My favorite sources are grimoires, Emblems, the Tarot, medieval woodcuts, self-published stories of alien abduction, and good old John Keel-style whatthefuckery.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:55 AM on June 28, 2018 [10 favorites]

I love the symbolism of western occultism and the practices of deep self exploration, but there's so much in magic(k) that's just pure, inherited wankery. I couldn't possibly care less about the psychocosms of medieval thinkers any more than I care about their medical theories or theology. Frankly, I don't really give a shit about anyone's psychocosm but my own. I value tradition, but not to the exclusion of my own reason and I see no purpose in systems that don't work with my understanding of reality. Clinging dogmatically to "ancient" texts is, in my view, holding a lot of practitioners back. I am, of course, a fan of Chapman's Advanced Magick for Beginners, so please take my opinions with a mountain of salt.

Do not follow in the footsteps of the wise, seek what they sought - Basho
posted by Lighthammer at 9:52 AM on June 28, 2018

Clinging dogmatically to "ancient" texts

many of which are pretty much fantasy, made up by people who passed them off as "ancient"
posted by thelonius at 10:01 AM on June 28, 2018

Yeah, but then you start getting into the whole "forgery is an art form of its own" thing. We're a few hundred years removed from some of the "fakes" and one wonders if centuries of belief gives them some sort of meaning of their own.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:17 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

do whatever sounds cool to you shall be the whole of the law
posted by thelonius at 10:26 AM on June 28, 2018 [10 favorites]

"pure, inherited wankery"

Insert Grant Morrison joke
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:33 AM on June 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

Being an artist who dabbles in majgickqfh has been a long, strange path that lead to me putting a huge sigil drawn in spot gloss on white paper in the end of my first graphic novel.

I also really really need to get off my ass and get started on the Kickstarter for the second edition of my Tarot deck. It is pretty clear that the universe wants there to be more copies of it out there, but my last self-pub experience was a huge pile of stress and I really just wanna get stuck into drawing the new comic...
posted by egypturnash at 10:57 AM on June 28, 2018 [7 favorites]

Yes please, EgyptUrnash! I've been dying for a copy of Silicon Dawn for my collection and I'll jump on that kickstarter like a fruit fly on spilled soda!
posted by Lighthammer at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2018

"pure, inherited wankery"

Insert Grant Morrison joke
Came here for this.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:20 PM on July 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Actually super fascinating. I've always liked the whole 'condensation of human culture and symbolism into artworks' thing of the Tarot, and how the better decks can recontextualise that for modern cultures with shifted perspectives and sensibilities.

The concept of sigil magic and drawing sigils, too. I recently interviewed an illustrator, Mister Lucian, about the practice of sigil magic and that any drawn image can work as a sigil if done with the right intent. If you've drawn fanart for a friend, that's figuratively and literally sending them art made with good vibes and if that's not incredibly dope I don't know what is.
posted by NeonCaster at 4:34 AM on July 2, 2018

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