Sigil Magic, Hoodoo and Sympathetic Magic

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Hoodoo is African American folk magic. That makes for a very unique tradition, African traditions blended with European immigrant traditions as Hoodoo Root workers read new materials and learned from different people and added to their practice those ideas and techniques they found effective.

Austin Osman Spare is not an influence on traditional Hoodoo. As a recipient of traditional Witch training and interviewed by Gerald Gardner as he sought to reclaim the Old Traditions, he may lay claim to influencing Wicca. Peter Carrol mined the writing of Austin Osman Spare, added to it his own and other ideas and branded the result ‘Chaos Magic’.

With the Doctrine of Signatures (the spiritual power of a thing is suggested in its form), it is possible to improvise within the Hoodoo tradition. Newly minted currency, such as the Sacajawea dollar coin, can be used in such a way the imagery suggests to the magician. Though more traditional items are locked into traditional associations.

Austin Spare intended his sigil magic as a solution to the problems of sympathetic magic. Those problems are explained better in the sigil magic article.

  • Lust for Result: wondering “is it here yet?” will sabotage a result.
  • Duality of desire: I want the job promotion, but not lose the camaraderie of those who would become subordinates.
  • Psychic Censor: the part of you attached to magic not being real.

Austin Spare’s understanding of magic is that the subconscious mind does the heavy lifting and the unconscious mind is where the power is at. Peter Carrol accepted this premise hook line and sinker for Chaos Magic. Spare’s solution to the problems of sympathetic magic, is therefore to take the conscious mind out of the equation. This is pretty radical, in the face of several centuries of tradition of using the conscious mind’s focus to drive magic.

In the Hoodoo paradigm how radical are Spare’s concepts? I am new to Hoodoo and don’t have the benefit of growing up into the tradition or anything like that. But invested in the spiritual energies of plants and things themselves and given the abstracted nature of sympathetic magic that clearly makes more sense subconsciously than consciously, I think paradigm compatibility is possible.

Please read my article on Sigil magic, it’s as clear and complete as I am able to write it.

To Paraphrase- Create a statement of desire, extracting unique letters and compose an abstracted image or nonsense word from the characters – repeat the process many times. Later, once the sigils have had their association consciously forgotten – they are ‘launched’ through meditation or even masturbation. The subconscious never forgets what the association is – and this technique has become very broadly popular as a function of a highly reliable success rate.

Now, of course, when practising Hoodoo, the conscious mind is always in on the action. The herbs and materials have to be selected with care to support and suggest sympathetically the realization of a specific desire.  So certainly, while Sigil magic as proposed by Austin Spare is an interesting technique worth exploring, it has no place as a Hoodoo technique.

Or does it? One difficulty Hoodoo can present that sigil magic may prove very helpful in remedying is – how do I get a spell to do specifically… something?

Let’s say your husband is very headstrong and a hothead and is up for a job promotion that you DON’T want him to get because it would go to his head and he’d abuse his power. But you DO want your husband to learn from losing the promotion that he has to change his ways, and sign up for Anger Management and Self Improvement counselling. How do you accomplish that with a single Hoodoo spell? What is the sympathetic magic? A curse to lose the promotion? A healing to grow emotionally?

Now, me, because I know a bit about Buddhism – I’d ask a Buddhist demon to help  prevent the husband from getting a promotion so he can learn from the experience. The nature of a Buddhist demon would always be to do ‘ill’ such that a lesson is learned, it’s their nature.

But if that idea didn’t occur to you – or if you have some other desire that’s less than very straightforward, sigil magic would fit the bill! The sigil creating process is golden, you know your subconscious connects your written desire with that sigil because your subconscious was there and helped you create the sigil! And you lock the sigil into what you write! And what you write – awesome powers of specificity are now yours!

Now beware, sigil magic is very effective at giving you exactly what you ask for. It’s not unlike the wishing folklore where if your wish can be interpreted in a way you don’t care for – that’s the way it arrives. So take care crafting your desire in language. Always take advantage of opportunities that come to you, and make opportunities where you’re able, that’s the best advice to get positive results with sigil magic – and any magic really.


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