A glyph is a shape or symbol, and these marks are an ancient and universal medium for magic. The caves at Lascaux, France, one of the best-preserved sites of primitive art dating from around 13,000 B.C.E., are full of them: the entrancing spiral and other mind-altering geometric patterns dot the walls, hinting that it may have been a place of shamanic ritual. In Siberia, spirals and a circle are found engraved on a 24,000-year old amulet made of mammoth tooth. The Tarot, a crowning triumph of magical culture both past and present, combines Pagan, Gnostic, Hebrew, Italian, and French symbolism to great effect. The Nordic runes are another well-known example of glyphs used magically. Throughout the world, magical glyphs were revered in antiquity and are still indispensable in modern times. Symbology, like all magical arts, evolves as new discoveries are made and cultural developments expand and enrich the ways in which the symbols are used. The witch who learns fresh ways to tap into this ancient power will find all sorts of spellwork to be a breeze. By simply adding a magical symbol to a rite, the spell becomes much more potent and desired results will likely be achieved.
Magical symbols are used in spellwork in many ways. What works wonderfully for one witch may not work as well for another, so it's wise to experiment until you find the methods that suit you best. Magic is a personal business, and the key to using magical glyphs effectively lies in the creativity and uniqueness of each witch. Use the following examples as a guide to inspire you in your own craft. These techniques are tried and true, but there is no need to strictly adhere to these instructions. Take what you like and expand upon it, and you just might become the next pioneer witch to discover a brand new way to use ancient symbols in magic.
To create a powder glyph, choose herbs in harmony with your goal, grind them into a fine powder, and sprinkle the blend in the shape of the symbol you wish to invoke. For example, a circle is a Roma/Gypsy symbol meaning a safe place. To increase the potency of a protection spell, make a magic powder with bay, pepper, or other defensive herbs, and then pour the powder into a circle shape on the ground in front of your feet. As you step within the symbol, visualize yourself surrounded by a sphere of light that no darkness or danger can penetrate. You may wish to say an affirmation: "I am safe. I am protected. With me, I keep the power of this symbol, and enemies know I cannot be touched. So will it be!" You can leave the symbol in place, or scatter it with your broom as you end the spell. Another option is to gather up the powder into a small cloth bag and draw the symbol you used in the spell on the outside of the bundle. This can be carried with you as a charm to further increase and prolong the magic.
Using powder glyphs is also a great way to add a bit of magic to a place for a party or other event. If you're hosting a family gathering, for instance, you can ensure harmony by charming your house with a lavender and chamomile powder sprinkled onto a windowsill in the shape of a peace symbol. Likewise, a study date can be transformed into a romantic evening by placing a powder glyph for love near the entrance of the library.
When using powder glyphs, it's best to make the symbol in a hidden place. You don't want your spellwork trampled on by reckless dogs or innocent passersby. As practitioners of Hoodoo are well aware, the magic of a powder is easily absorbed through the feet, and the power of a symbol crafted with powder could be transferred to any who walk upon it if the mark is carelessly placed.
Drawing upon your knowledge of both herbs and symbols will enable you to design powder glyphs of maximum effectiveness. By making sure that all elements of a spell are in harmony, from the ingredients and symbolic elements to the incantations, the witch can be certain that the magic will be quite potent. Although a magical symbol can be simply drawn on paper or scratched in the dirt, creating them with powders adds yet another layer of unified power to the work.
Now, Pay Attention!
The infinity symbol can be used in this way to benefit any spell, as can the symbol of the Monad, a universal sign for oneness comprised of a circle with a dot in its center. Both glyphs symbolize magical energy in its highest forms, the infinity sign describing endless movement and the Monad indicating the source and center of everything. Either of these symbols will melt away mental clutter and give consciousness a firm push upwards.
Naturally, these are not the only symbols that can be used in this way. Let your imagination and your intent guide you as you make your selections. If a particular symbol stirs your deepest instincts and strokes your emotions in a way that seems in harmony with your magical goal, it is a proper choice for your spell.
To create a spellkeeper for a love charm, draw a symbol such as the Seal of Aphrodite (above), known to attract romance. A rabbit glyph could likewise be chosen, as rabbits are symbols of the moon and the intrigue, love, and passion that come with it. Contemplate and conjure the essence of love as you make the mark.
Concentrate this energy into your brow, and when the feeling reaches its peak, your body tingling, send the magic through a flash of your eyes and into the symbol. The result is a charm that will act as a beacon to helpful energies, drawing the magic you seek straight to you. With a spellkeeper in your pocket, your spell will take effect more swiftly and with greater impact. Give your magic the best chances for success by adding this extra punch to your craft.
Looking Good, Cleopatra!
To boost the impact of a happiness spell, for instance, you can draw a sun symbol on your cheek, or on a strip of cloth to tie around your arm. Likewise, you could create an ankh symbol out of clay, bake it, and string it onto a necklace that will bring you great vitality and heightened spirituality as you work your magic. The possibilities are infinite for Pagan fashionistas.
Take it Higher
Melanie Marquis is the founder of the United Witches global coven and the organizer of Denver Pagans. She has written for Circle, Pentacle, and the American Tarot Association. Melanie's books include Llewellyn's Little Book ...