I had personally committed to participating in the June 2018 Do Magick when it was first announced, and made a wee public commitment late last month. And then went radio silent about it immediately after.
I am already entangled in some shenanigans that will limit the scope of what I can do for the challenge. Not to mention offline commitments like work and laundry that tend to eat up all available time and headspace.
By the evening of May 28, I found myself with only some vague catchphrases of what I wanted to start on June 1. I started to mutter the worst words any woo-slinger could utter. “I wish…”
I wish I had more time to myself.
I wish I had more resources to play with.
I wish I didn’t have to spend mental points in dealing with assholes at work that leave me mentally exhausted by the time the day is over.
Why wish when I could woo?
If I did nothing, then nothing would change. But if I turned those wishes into a magical request… say… a sigil… and instead of just accepting my environment, I started to adjust my environment… well… think of all the fun that could be?
I wrote down two lists of desires, wants, and (non-critical) needs. One list were goals that were already in place and/or progress but needed daily attention to maintain. The other list were goals that I had not been able to work towards. I chose five items from each list, reworded each entry to as short and concise a naming as possible, and began the work to sigilize each item.
The idea (as I understand Gordon White’s explanation) is to combine things that are already in place with things that I want to put in place and then set that combined action out into the world. Just as a shoal of fish will act as an unit despite being combined of many individuals, so will the combined sigils act upon the momentum of the already in progress desires.
My initial plan was to sigilize each item, then somehow combine the ten individual sigils into one “shoaling” sigil. So when I activated the shoaling sigil, it will be activating the ten individual sigils simultaneously, supporting the desires already completed and kickstarting the desires yet to manifest.
So my plan as of the morning of May 31 was this:
- Make ten sigils of the ten desires.
- Combine the ten sigils into one.
I found out the night of May 31 that none of my notes regarding sigils had survived the
winter move. None of my present books had information about sigils. I intentionally did not want to use the Golden Dawn rose regardless of the language of the letters. I wanted to make this as simple as possible but still be able to say with a straight face that I magic’d a thing!
I have a bad habit of over complicating everything. If something seems too simple, then it must be because I’m doing it wrong. Toss in a nasty perfectionist streak and I become unable to start because I cannot assure myself of the finish.
I could not afford to spend the entire night looking up sigils on the Internet because falling asleep at my desk at work the next day would not have a positive effect on my paycheck. I had to rely on whatever information I had immediately at hand or perhaps, put off my start to June 2nd.
The only thing more tyrannical than my perfectionist streak is my ego.
Just as I was going to reach for the Hermetic Kabbalah Tarot to begin the process of using the rose after all, I remembered that the Wyzard of Odd deck is also a compilation of different magical and spiritual systems. And one of the cards is about planetary squares.
As I have no knowledge of planetary squares, I don’t know if this card is correct or not. But after learning a few things about grimoires, I actually don’t care.
This card represents a system, a repeatable system, that I can refer to for the purposes of making the sigils. I am very aware that it is an oil-slick thin introduction to an ocean of information, knowledge, and understanding, but that same limitation will keep me from overthinking the process and getting in my own way.
I went back to my very carefully worded list of desires, reduced each entry to a catchphrase of two or three words, then used the method on the card to convert each phrase into a series of numbers from one to nine. The system on the card is valid as is only for the Sun square (in the middle of the image). Which is okay for my purposes, because why not use the largest source of energy in the solar system as fuel for this engine, right?
The plan now became:
- List ten desires and write them as concise as possible.
- Make ten sigils of the ten desires.
- Combine the ten sigils into one.
Progress. I have ten desires and ten sigils made from the ten desires. But how was I going to convert the ten sigils into one? Mushing the numeric codes into one long sequence, while easy, resulted into one very ugly sigil. (However, a contrary thought noted that a sigil this ugly and compact would make a good scaffold for a sealing symbol in other uses. I pocketed that thought for later exploration.)
Each letter was translated into a number. Numbers can be manipulated. What if I added the numbers in each code? I thought about adding each sigil’s numeric code separately to make a ten digit chain to map on the Sun square.
That didn’t feel right (to my aesthetic). The resulting sigil would be a combination of the ten individuals, but the ten individuals would still be distinct individuals. If one of the ten failed to come about, would it affect the outcomes of any desires that followed it in the list?
What if I added the first number in each individual code, and reduced that to a number between one and nine? Then do that with the second number in each code, and the third, and so on until I had a code that was as long as the longest individual code? A failure of one desire would then be absorbed into the others, and since I had intentionally included five desires that were already in place, there was a buffer for disappointment that would cushion the desires still to come.
I reduced the numbers in two fashions to see how the end result would look and how the process would feel. My first attempt was to sum up the numbers, then take the modulus of ten from it. That resulted in two columns having the number zero as the modulo. There is no zero in the Sun square. Whoops. I’m not comfortable skipping numbers, so this method was cast aside.
My second attempt was to add the individual numbers of the sum (and the individual numbers of that sum, if necessary) to obtain a number between one and nine. So if the sum of the first column of numbers was 75, then I would add seven to five to obtain 12, and one to two to obtain 3, which would then be the number used for the combined sigil.
The combined sigil using the summation method resulted in a ten digit numeric code that could be mapped out on the Sun square. When I drew the resulting image, I fell in love. The final “shoaling” sigil was very pleasing to see, very easy to draw, and was instantly memorable.
The working method was:
- List ten desires and write them as concise as possible.
- Convert the desires into a numeric code as if to sigilize on the Sun square.
- Using summation, convert each individual code into the shoaling code one step at a time.
- Sigilize the shoaling code on the Sun square to create the final Shoal Sigil.
- Experiment with various methods of activation through the month of June.
I had originally planned to make a wee little booklet containing the ten individual sigils and the shoaling sigil so that I could look at the symbols at will during the day. But now that I had created the shoaling sigil, I had the instinct that carrying the initial sigils would undermine the work I was trying to start.
Either I could look at a particular and unique fish in the shoal and not see the shoal itself, or I could pull back my field of view and see the shoal at the cost of not seeing individual fish.
(See also: Can’t see the forest for the trees.)
I put the booklet away, memorized the shoal sigil, and prepared for the next day. (However, the method I found for making an 18 page booklet from one sheet of paper is leading to inspiration for other shenanigans. What the video doesn’t show is there are 8 “back” pages to that booklet. If you glue them together, you get a very sturdy 18 page booklet. If you were to place sigils or the like on those pages before glueing…. hmm…)
June 1st, 2018: Day 1 – Fire In The Hole
One of the desires encoded into the shoal sigil was “Daily Coffee”. A routine already well underway and not likely to end until I am under the ground. (However, my daughter has often quipped that she would offer my spirit coffee after I pass… so…) I traced the shoal sigil in the bottom of the coffee mug , made my coffee in that same mug, and so began the June 2018 Do Magick “Enchantment” Challenge.
Of the ten desires, five were already in place or underway as the month started:
- Daily Coffee
- Fit and Flexible
- Good Eats
- Good Cheer
- Restful Sleep
Some are more effective than others, but these were desires that already had a good amount of momentum behind them. So before I began any of these five actions, I “drew” the shoal sigil and focused upon it for a few seconds to activate it. Hence the sigil in the bottom of my coffee mug.
And the tracing of the sigil in the air before I started my morning home yoga routine.
And the tracing of the sigil in the sauce of my food before eating.
And the mental projection of the sigil before greeting coworkers and clients at work.
And the mental projection of the sigil over the bed before going to sleep.
The sigil itself, despite having ten “stops”, is so very lovely to look at and so very easy to draw that I had no difficulty “seeing” it or quickly marking it out. The sigil was easy, the day was not, and in reflection, I blame the sigil but am also marking it a preliminary success!
There was nothing different about my coffee. However, as is our habit at work, some of my fellows went on a “short walk” for exercise at lunch. (We get an extended lunch period to make up for it.) I had joined them several months ago and had become accustomed to the circuit at that time. Earlier this week, the person setting the route had changed it to give us something different to look at. Yesterday (after the firing of the sigil that morning), we took the new route, but at a new pace.
To keep up, I was walking some portions and jogging others. My stride length could not keep up with them merely walking, but my jogging speed overtook them. I apologized about not being able to merely power-walk as they were doing. They encouraged me to do what I needed to do to complete the route and offered to slow their pace so that I didn’t need to sprint as much. I told them to keep going.
After we completed the route, recovered, and came back to work, the pacesetter for the day said he had a confession to make. “I saw how easy you were taking the old route and pace, and knew you wanted to challenge yourself, so I set the new pace so you could decide just how much you wanted to challenge yourself. If you had said it was too much, I would have slowed down for you. But you said to keep going every time I asked. So I did. And you did. Hot damn.”
As he spoke, I was reminded of one of the goals of the shoal. “Fit and flexible.” I was already accomplishing the “flexible” portion at home with the yoga. Now I am being challenged to step up and get better at being “fit”. Yes, the pace pushed me out of my comfort zone. But the pace was not unreasonable. I just haven’t asked my body to move like that for a couple decades.
I’ll leave it to the theorists if the magic of the shoal sigil led to the increased pace, the more difficult route, or me completing both. I’m not going to get tangled up in that. All I know is there was a transit marker set, and I passed it giving a high five to the pace setter and asking him to use that same pace next week.
“Good Cheer” is something I need to personally work on, but also something required in the work environment. It doesn’t always happen when there is someone personally offended that other people aren’t personally offended about whatever sticking point is their obsession of the day.
While I have another personal project for joy, that is a personal objective. For this shoal, “Good Cheer” is a mandate for the spaces in between people. So when someone left my office, or passed me by, with a dark cloud of grumpiness, I intentionally thought of something that made me happy and projected that happiness out around me with the shoal sigil.
Was there a noticable difference yesterday that I could directly trace to the effect of the shoal sigil? Not sure. One coworker brought everyone fancy donuts for everyone, and another coworker brought in ice cream for everyone to celebrate a birthday. Neither knew what the other was going to do. One client came in to apologize for her behavior. Another client came in with a bad mood, realized his mood, and stated he was going to “shove his bad mood in the shitter” because he didn’t want to bring us down. “You got some good vibes in here, so let’s keep it up.”
But people are random and so is the workflow from day to day. The momentum, however, continues to carry.
Yesterday was Day One of the deployment of the shoal sigil. It will take time for the other five desires to begin their manifestation. They range from the “very doable with work” to “lightning strike odds”. I am not expecting all five to actually come about, but I will work towards that end just the same.
I will say this, it feels very good to get involved in something “fun” again and remind myself that it is okay to make room for wonder.
Be of good cheer.