Sigil (I-IV, a tetraptych)
1 : a sign, word or device held to have occult power in astrology or magic.
2 : a symbolic representation of its creator's desired outcome. A symbol with intention.
3 : the only meaning is that which the human mind creates. It is extracted from the organization witnessed in the natural world – the logarithmic spiral, the endless branching and reticulation of division, symmetry – and give it power with our intention. This is how we create sigils which are the symbols that hold our intention in their mathematically derived forms. They emerge out of the entropic and become beautiful in our eyes, and so we build our own versions in order to make organization out of the chaos, sacred out of the profane.
Journal excerpt from the artist : Notes on the component sigils and their personal interpretations:
Sigil I. Grasshopper – insect – arthropod. Armored against the world. The reticulation of the wings under the armor represents delicate structure: allows the freedom of flight, and yet is extremely fragile. It is kept safe by armor, but only able to fly if exposed. Freedom through vulnerability.
Sigil II. Spine – column – cumulative. Protects the spinal chord and therefore the personality itself. Basis of the body: must be aligned to move and express freely. The rest of the body is a flowering from the spine. Freedom through alignment.
Sigil III. Nautilus – outer shell follows the laws of universal perfection (the golden ratio, Fibonacci spiral). Cumulative in its growth and layers. Paired with an organic, chaotic-seeming lifeform, reaching out and drawing in alternately. One cannot exist without the other. Perfect balance of entropy and order, armor and vulnerability. The spiral shows movements in all planes, yet is also recognizable when reduced down to two dimensions. At the same time, breaking out of this shape and its boundaries allows for new growth in unexpected directions. Freedom through wholeness.
Sigil IV. Plant – immobile – most vulnerable yet most independent (autotrophic). Excellent at symbiotic relationship with its surroundings. Rooted, grounded, connected with the earth and the universe (solar energy, open air, soil). Old and wise. Freedom through stillness and grounding.
12/9/2011 Journal entry written upon finishing the series (began on 11/9/2010):
I began this series not knowing exactly what it meant or why I needed to paint it. But there was a sense of that knowledge existing, yet it was locked away somewhere, and I would eventually access it when the time was right. Some part of me knew, but the rest of me needed to walk that road to get to the end point in order to earn that knowledge.
Finishing the work now feels more like a beginning than an end.
I feel like a lot of my work is just making keys: upon finishing the work – as well as along the way – I unlock parts of my mind. The work brings truths to my attention that are hidden away in my subconscious, effectively holding up a mirror. I shape the images on paper but they in turn shape me.
Sigil has been a sort of guide. It has seen me through the last 13 months. I began this period of time at the bottom; considering whether I really wanted to continue this life, and with a sense, therefore, of nothing to lose. I began a battle against depression and emotional conflict that transformed into a journey of awakening and growing more connected to a deeper, older, bigger self than I'd ever been aware of. The path to enlightenment rose to meet my footsteps in a more real way than ever before.
Excerpt added at a much later date: (Upon later reflection I realized that part of the need to create this work within these circumstances was, in a way, my choosing life over annihilation. I had another series planned which I would later complete called Contemplations on the Void. It was about that desire for annihilation, and the search for enlightenment through it. But right at that time, I was not ready to walk that edge because I was too close to falling over it. I needed to dig my heels into life, and creating Sigil was how I was to do that.) - End of excerpt.
I had recently renewed my interest in sigils, symbols and ritual, but they still held no personal meaning for me. I simply felt intensely drawn to the idea of it without knowing why. Once again, part of me knew something the rest of me did not. As I worked these sigils into my art, it became a practice of blindly following orders from the subconscious. Only now has it become more clear what this is. I was building empty vessels – sigils whose meaning was only that they represented the idea of symbolizing something. But upon finishing this vessel (which is not just a symbol – but an act of conjuring, in this case conjuring meaning and purpose), I knew it had been filled. And the power is not only held in the symbol at the center, formed by the four pieces, but in every shape of the entire work. It is a sigil of me – or at least an aspect of me – and its full meaning or what it will manifest is not fully known to me yet. It is a most complicated sigil, but a raw one with meaning hidden deep within it – esoteric, mysterious even to its maker. Excerpt added: (It is an interesting twist to the art of sigil-making. Often they are made with conscious intent and then destroyed in order to loose the consciousness' hold over the meaning and relinquish it to the subconscious. I had unwittingly reversed this process: creating something from the subconscious of which the conscious mind could slowly gain knowledge.) - End of excerpt.
No one can be connected to a piece of art so much as the artist, because the artist is the only one that witnesses the entire process. This is true of this piece as well. The real art is the process, and how it has shaped and changed me, the maker. That is the spell I cast here; what others see is merely the scar from it, the ashes from the fire. But, if upon viewing it, I can evoke the audience to imagine what it would feel like to be given the scar, or how hot the fire must have burned, how the warmth would feel – to leave these ashes, then the art will have cast its spell in some small amount for others like it did in a big way for me.
As a whole, this series is more powerful than the sum of its four parts. I am in it, it is in me, and we are the same. It is a scar upon my skin, but not the pain itself; an evidence of a ritual but not the ritual itself – that is the process that made it. Others will look upon it and perhaps remember the pain of their own scars, the deepening from their own rituals. But first and foremost: it is me, I am it.
These are all of me: who I am now, who I was, and who I will strive to become. This is a sigil for coming alive, for truly coming into one's existence. It is to open gateways in the conscious, the subconscious, the body, and the connection of these to the rest of reality. This opens the door for balance, awareness, and freedom. To see pain and pleasure as one, to close the gap between perceived 'good' and 'bad' into a balance of wholeness.
Added note on process: These are numbered by the order in which they were completed. They were planned one at a time, so when I was creating the first one, I had no idea what the other three would look like and did not plan accordingly, with the exception of the sigil at the center formed by the four tiled together. I did know that each would have a separate object or creature that was featured in them, but I wasn't even sure what those would be until I got to them. For each new painting, I had to find a way to fit it with the others as I created them, which became more challenging, and therefore had to become more intuitive of a process as I went along. These aren't meant to match or blend into each other, but to stand separate with one main unifying factor (and other smaller unifying motifs).