Runes, Sigil Magic, Wyrms

I just finished reading through Stephen Flowers’ Icelandic Magic[1], and I realize that he’s also known as Edred Thorsson (who I’ve read previously in Futhark). And Flowers’ book seems to focus primarily on galðr-derived magic, and I get to the operative parts of the text. The ritual procedure he offers begins with a directional opening using Icelandic directional animal spirits and an appeal to Odin for blessing the operation as the most powerful spirit in the cosm. There’s also offerings, the consumption of red wine, proper knowledge and awareness of the runic inscription, including its “multi-dimensional” quality. That is, getting at the deeper forces the runes point and bridge to.

But as I read on what to do after closing, I realize something. What Flowers has offered here is Old Norse and Icelandic-themed sigil magic and activation. As opposed to the AO Spare and ‘90s Chaos Magic school of activation, Flowers points to activation using Odin, wine, and a meditative state. You put away and hide the runes (sigil) after charging them. But that’s pretty much what the process entails.

Where Carroll and company and classic Chaos Magic sigil formation focuses on a positive and concrete statement of intention and desire, Flowers points to runic sigil formation using magic squares (and his examples puts me in mind of the Golden Dawn rose lamen for essentially the same purpose), as well as bind-runes and other methods of sigil creation. As I have this realization—I knew this already on one level, but the pre-Chaos Magic modes I hadn’t properly connected here—it occurs to me how Carroll & company point to the arbitrariness of sigil design. It’s more a matter of forming and encoding desire and will and then matching it with focused intention: how ever you “activate” that encoded desire and send it out into the Otherworlds and world.

In the back half of the book, Flowers includes what is essentially a catalogue of sigils for various purposes—this is his “Gray-Skin” book—along with notes from the old Icelandic grimoires on what are fairly pragmatic activation procedures.

All this also puts me in the mind of T Thorn Coyle’s Sigil Magic[2], who honestly gestures at very similar principles as I’m getting at in this post. Coyle spends a good portion of her book pointing at how you have to find or create the “sigils” that imbed the results and intentions you want to actualize and offers several examples from her own experience before offering some quick, pragmatic ways to create and activate your sigils. The portions of the book that talk around sigil creation also talk about how to adjust your habits of action and thought to bring them in line with the sigil goals you’re interested in.

I’ve been making my own “sigils” and “runes” for ages: my “wyrms that are wise” (I am a Moorcockian fangirl). They’re in many ways my own alphabet of desire. I’ve developed my own names for them, my own “wyrm poems” (cf. rune poems), and so on. And while I use several of them often, I haven’t really thought to treat them as “sigil magic”, let alone shoal them.

Featured Image: “Norwegian runestaff from Oppland, Vang O. This is the winter side, from October 14 to March 25.” (by Reinsfelt, Anne-Lise / Norsk Folkemuseum) Used under CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

[1] Stephen E. Flowers, Icelandic Magic: Practical Secrets of the Northern Grimoires (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2016).

[2] T. Thorn Coyle, Sigil Magic for Writers, Artists & Other Creatives ([Berkeley, CA]: Sunna, 2015).

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