Chinese etymology can help with your sigil magic

Chinese characters

I came across this very interesting piece by xiaoJ on the design site COLOURlovers yesterday. Anyone interested in sigil magic would do well to read over this.

Many outsiders think that modern Chinese remains a purely pictographic language, similar to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. While it is true that Chinese script began as a pictographic system, pictures do not make for a particular efficient writing system. Some pictograms do still exist (e.g., ? ?mountain’, ? ?person’), but 90% of modern Chinese characters are phono-semantic compounds: they are part semantic (a portion of the character, called a radical, provides the general meaning) and part phonetic (the other portion of the character tells you how it is pronounced).

The characters for red, green, blue, and purple in Chinese are phono-semantic (all bearing the radical for silk, ?), but a few color characters are associative compounds: two or more ideographic elements combined to create another meaning.

I find the phono-semantic description very intriguing. It reminds me of the utteral and inutteral elements of magic as espoused in R. Scott Bakker’s The Prince of Nothing books. Albeit fiction, his understanding of philosophy has given him some great insight into how human will and the universe can coalesce.

While I am not too familiar with the works of Michael Bertiaux, I was led to believe him and the Cult of the Black Snake (I think that was their name) were constructing ever larger sigils out of carefully constructed smaller ones. Careful consideration may be placed unto the original sigils, to be wed together on a dreamscape of a sort by the members of the Cult. What they were accomplishing with this stuff, I dunno.

Anyhow, just an interesting read for anyone that works with sigil magic. Let me know if anyone is doing any interesting or experimental work with sigils or chaos magic these days. =]


  1. I am learning how to writte in chinesse usign a a traditional calligraph set ( ) quite cheaps on “chinese stores”.

    Just to made ink from the solid bar helps you to focuss on the sigil. and also drawing without the chance to correct it. i am loving it.

  2. Many outsiders think that modern Chinese remains a purely pictographic language, similar to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

    Excepting the fact ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing (one of three major ancient Egyptian writing systems) was not pictographic. Hieroglyphs included an alphabet, a syllabary, pictograms and non-phonetic determinatives.

    Hermeticism 101, people.

  3. Haha excellent! I’m not big into Hermeticism, but I definitely learn something new everyday! Thx, Flea.

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