An Introduction to the Narrative Hypersigil

This is Part 1 of 2. Part 2 is a working example of a hypersigil, posted here.

invisiblesThere’s talk here and there about hypersigils; the most famous being “The Invisibles” by Grant Morrison. It’s rumored he coined the phrase through his article “Pop Magick[1].” Despite this, there is a lot of confusion about what a hypersigil really is, and how the normal, everyday, aspiring magician can implement one. This- the application of magic to literature- is something I’ve attempted on and off since before I called myself an occultist, with some success and failure. The written word has so much raw power, and there must be a way to implement that power beyond the basics of black print on a white page.

A hypersigil, according to the dictionary, is “a creative work that via the medium of its artificial universe changes its creator, its observers, the real world, or other things[2].” For our purposes, it is essentially a form of narrative magic that impacts both its creator and its audience. It can take the form of a poem, song, story, comic, or pretty much anything else. It works because “the hypersigil functions as a two-way axis, images and symbols of desire being fed into the subconscious and received from the depths of flashes of insight and inspiration. [It] is meant to be dwelled upon as an ongoing creation ritual of daydream[3].” Pretty much, what that means, is that it works through obsession, as opposed to the classic method for sigils of forgetting. If you look around, hypersigils have been unwittingly released throughout popular culture. These are manifest in every field, but the ones I am going to highlight are art, comics, poetry, narratives, music, and movies.

One example of art that is a form of hypersigil is the work of Joe Coleman, an artist who knowingly creates works of magic. He himself states that “exorcism, alchemy, mysticism, all of these things exist in my work, but only in the most practical and instinctual sense of a very personal need[4].” An artist who works in a similar manner by distorting reality for the common individual is Bansky. His works of graffiti almost always have political or societal messages to them, causing people to think. Likewise, the most famous form of known hypersigil is the comic series “The Invisibles” by Grant Morrison. It’s been said that the main character in the series, King Mob, is loosely based upon the author, who experienced many of the same things in his life after having written them in the comic[5]. “The Sandman” by Neil Gaiman has too many occult and esoteric references that are correct for it to be anything but a hypersigil[6]. The demons, gods/desses and symbols are all legitimate.

Poetry and narratives are often quick and convenient formats for a hypersigil. The “Jabborwocky” has to be one of the best examples of a hypersigil poem. Not only is it well known, but it has changed the world as we know it through its nonsense wording and its dreamlike guise that has left readers fascinated. William Butler Yeats is perhaps one of the most famous authors out there, and was a member of the Golden Dawn Society[7]. As one looks through his works, one can see a number of mythological references, as well as a good deal of spiritual ones. An example of a narrative is Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.” When it was first published it was met with public outrage and hundreds of hate letters poured in[8]. Another is the Cthulu Mythos, whose affect can be seen through a number of other areas[9]. Perhaps the most well known Cthulu work is the “Necronomicon,” which has been referenced in television, movies, and stories as an ancient book of evil.

Music and movies are becoming more and more frequently a form of narrative, as well as a field with large impact on our nation. Morbid Angel is an excellent example of this and is a band who uses the occult in their music[10]. Their use of satanic imagery, sumerian gods, and the occult have brought them to the top of the heavy metal scene. Another less conventional example is Elvis Presley. Elvis became an international hit and revolutionized the music industry[11]. In the field of movies, what movie series could be bigger than that of Star Wars? Rare is the individual who does not at least know of the series inspired by Joseph Campbell’s book “The hero with a thousand faces.” The heros of the series have captivated peoples’ hearts, providing a new form of mythos for them to identify with. Likewise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a well-known cult classic and has the longest running release in film history[12]. Even today you can go to any large city and see a midnight showing of TRHPS and watch the colorful people come out with their movie-going props. I hope by now you have an idea of the different forms that a hypersigil can take.

To begin forming a hypersigil you need to do what you do for any other formal magical endeavor- get into a trance state however you wish. I find for writing that music in the right mood, some incense, smokes and alcohol work great (I’m sure pot would work for this as well). In my case- when writing- this generally follows the form of playing certain playlists on my itunes that have songs that correlate. If I’m really feeling it, I’ll even get on my youtube and grab a playlist that works off of there so I have the visuals pumping in the background as well.

So once you’re feeling it, the next step is to plan out your intent. The most common way of doing this is to come up with a list of desires you’re looking to achieve, and checking that they are things that have strong emotional attachment to you, or that are things you can easily obsess over. I usually form mine in a disorderly bubble map because that’s what works- I want to emphasize this- do what works for you. I am going to be playing with a motif that is near and dear to me and that appears in a large majority of my work- the sparrow. The desires I have listed are freedom, adventure, companionship, and new experiences. I am going a bit free-form on this one since I find that works the best for me when the muse takes over.

The next step is to actually write this narrative up, making sure that you incorporate sense and feelings. Realize now that your hypersigil will probably reveal a large part of your soul to paper; the things that you are afraid to tell and show others is what are going to come out, whether you like it or not. It’s unavoidable and will reveal more of yourself than you have ever wanted to reveal. I’ve always felt that this is why the works of many of the “greats” weren’t really published until after their deaths- Emily Dickinson comes to mind as an example. The hypersigil I’ve chosen to written for this article is titled “The Sparrow and the Magician.”

After you’ve had the pleasure of losing a number of hours in your trance and writing, regroup! Put it away if you need to. Then reread what you’ve written. Edit it where needed and add the nice little finalizing touches that it may need. Make sure your intent is clear in the piece, and if it need clarification, supply it. At this point, if you want to do a form of ritual, feel free to. Sometimes a piece needs that extra little bit of oomph- especially if it’s written with a more occult feel to it (like a narrative written about a ritual’s success). I’d recommend charging it with an intense emotion similar to the goals and desires you’ve chosen.

Now that you have your amazing, super awesome, powerful hypersigil all ready to go, it’s time to think about what you’re going to do with it. There’s always the option of publishing it. You can post it up on scribd, lulu, torrent it, or submit it to an ezine like The Infinity Network’s. Or you can spam it everywhere by posting it on forums, facebook, twitter, and your blog. And then there’s always the option of burning it, which I find works really well for negative narratives. It tends to clear the air and block off that path, giving you more potential paths for your life or for the situation you find yourself in. I’m sure you guys can think of a multitude of other things that can be done with this.

Hypersigils can be a lot of fun to play with. There’s a lot of different point-of-views on them, and they come in many, many, many forms as well, making them malleable for the aspiring magician to play with. I feel that it is a different process overall for each magician and certainly is one that needs to be fine-tuned by the individual.


[1]              http://www.scribd.com/doc/24506/Pop-Magic-by-Grant-Morrison

[2]              http://www.doubletongued.org/index.php/dictionary/hypersigil/

[3]              http://beautifulpyre.typepad.com/beautifulpyre/2010/02/golden-fiction.html

[4]              http://books.google.com/books?id=W6IycFk3VZ0C&lpg=PA361&ots=QkFhKgLsgB&dq=joe%20coleman%20occult&pg=PA49#v=onepage&q=joe%20coleman%20occult&f=false

[5]              http://suicidegirls.com/interviews/Grant+Morrison/

[6]              http://www.dccomics.com/media/excerpts/1696_1.pdf

[7]              http://www.magickalmind.com/dorian/Yeats.html

[8]              http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/298866/Shirley-Jackson

[9]              http://necronomicon.net/

[10]              http://www.morbidangel.com/biography.html

[11]              http://www.elvis.com/about-the-king/biography_.aspx

[12]              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rocky_Horror_Picture_Show

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