A Sigil Can Be A Spell For Good Luck for the Lunar New Year
We are in the midst of the Lunar New Year season, welcoming the Year of the Dragon, where many cultures in East Asia use sigils as a spell for good luck and health. I share why sigils can be lucky, as well as what folks who come from cultures outside of Asia can practice sigil work and celebrate the soon to arrive Wood Dragon with respect.
Luck, at her very core, is understood as a means of returning, that is, returning to the beginnings, to the roots. Luck, then, is land-based and cyclical. Fu (also known as Fortune in Mandarin), Luck’s other name, is one of the basic Taoist concept— Fu as fate of all the things and beings in the Cosmos, in seasonal movement of the course of nature, much like how the Fortune in the Tarot tradition is understood. To harness Fu is to draw the resources and power from our Universal Essence, and deliver it in a clear, directed way.
In the ancient Chinese oracular system, the I Ching, the Hexagram Fu is comprised of one Yang line (Divine Masculine), and 5 Yin lines (Divine Feminine) stacked up on top of him. The light, symbolized by the Yang line on the bottom in the context of the 5 dark (the Winter), is also deeply related to the approaching emergence of spring. Spring, the most vigorous season of the year, is seen as immensely luck-filled. And with Winter shedding her frosty outer dress, the Lunar New Year is poising herself to begin a new cycle of Fortune. This is why those who follow the Moon’s rhythms celebrate this start of the New Year with a sense of shimmering suspense.
We clean our homes.
We wear our best clothing.
We fill our altars and kitchens with luck-inducing delicacies.
We offer loved ones near and far gifts.
We share blessings as a means of foretelling.
We drink tea.
And we hang lucky sigils.
A sigil is a magickally crafted image, ideogram, or writing that courts, bonds, and transfers Cosmic Energy (Qi) into our physical reality. Sigils can be used for many purposes, such as strengthening or tempering an aspect of ourselves or a situation within our lives; we can attract romantic love with a sigil, we can earn more income, we can ease conflict with family members. In the case of the Lunar New Year, a common sigil to create is to call on Luck to the physical form, whereby the sigil functioning as an effective tool to evoke and invoke her blessings, in other words, a sigil is a spell for good luck. Sigils may look like a conglomeration of shapes, letters, glyphs, scribbles, and colours, and often the form relates to its intention. Many traditional cultures have their own version of sigil crafting, and certain elements of sigils may be religious, but the magickal craft behind its conjuring is not.
Much of what we know in the modern world are distant relatives of the sigil, even if the connection has been more or less forgotten. A national flag. An institutional or family crest. Monograms. A logo. A tattoo. Artwork in your entryway.
As a shamanic occultist, I craft and employ sigils to conjure spirits, banish spirits, invoke dieties, and invite ancestors and other spirit beings. A sigil can be used to protect, cure, influence, create, destroy, remove barriers, and used both defensively and offensively. It would be a naïve oversimplification to call a sigil a charm. This is because in the context of sigil making, the involvement of Fu is a comprehensive and complete system of magick on its own. When I craft sigils, it’s always at the height of combining words, actions, and the visual form in a ritualized manner with the intent of materializing a specific vision. For this reason, a sigil, for me (and for many others), is also evidence that Qi – the Cosmic Consciousness and Force – has been accessed and a spell has been cast.
In traditional Chinese practices and lunar new year rituals, it is customary to hang sigils that relate to Fortune: happiness, health and well-being, peace, material prosperity, abundance of friends, success of career, and so forth. Sigils are often hung on doors, windows, and inside the homes. Some sigils (such as Double Happiness) are deliberately hung in reverse, as a mechanism to distract or confuse demons.
It would be irresponsible of me to discuss Fu Sigils for a Western/Westernized audience and not mention cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation happens when an individual takes an image or other sacred artifact outside of their cultural context, with little or no understanding of its intention and power. When something is taken out of context, the meaning gets lost or diluted, and the original context suffers as a result. Cultural appropriation would take place if your context is outside traditional Chinese culture and are purchasing a sigil from Chinatown and hanging it on your door as decoration without having first gained some understanding and respect for Taoism and ancient Chinese esoterics.
Tangent 1- This is partly why I created the Mystery Mentorship self-paced series – a) to invite those of Chinese heritage to return to our ancient ways, and b) to also welcome those outside of Chinese ancestry to a place where you can learn and apply in your own practice with accuracy, respect, integrity, depth, safety, and accountability.
Tangent 2- In the complex world we live in that has increasingly become a global village, I don’t believe in simplistically defining culture as biological genetics alone: we carry the blood of both the colonizer and colonized in us. And as a diasporic Han-Taiwanese woman, the concept of home has become, well, a conceptual one. We need a more nuanced way to navigate culture and spirituality in a respectful way. I don’t claim I have all the answers, or any at all, but I am intent on looking at my unique experience to inform me, and to provide some insights – or certainly to have a conversation.
No matter what cultures you identify with, you can still work with sigils in a profound and authentic way as sigils exist in all traditional cultures. And since all old cultures have understood time via the Moon at one point in their history, I invite all to explore their own ancestry and the sigils that exist within them as we approach the Lunar New Year. When I say authentic, I am referring to not mimicking (appropriating) ways that are outside of your specific cultural context. Focus more on how you will understand and direct esoteric principles to best bring your intentions to life. In other words, use your own craft. The key is to do it with respect.
Perhaps it is connecting with a Rune and finding a way to fashion it to your space. Perhaps your sigil is a poem you wrote, framing it, and hanging it by your entrance. Perhaps it’s drawing your emotions in the forms of colours and organic shapes, and allowing the power of the energy to execute its charge. And sadly, if patriarchy, colonialism, and industrialization has completely de-rooted you from your place(s) of origin(s), it may be a time to begin re-membering through esoteric means, that is, by connecting to your ancestry psychically: via your dreamscapes, your body’s intuition, the Moon herself, through core shamanic journeying, and through animistic methods. (I also discuss how to do this in my Mystery Mentorship).
Lastly, Lady Luck is far more interested in your genuine, heart-open willingness to revere her than for you to be textbook accurate. In other words, she asks for devotion, not perfection. Magick is meant to be done, not intellectualized. It means to have fun, to experiment, to embody your mysterious experiences, and simply show up to walk this Hidden Path of the Unseen. Luck will find you, or put it another way, you are the lucky one.
If you’re looking to practice your magick in community, I warmly invite you to Homing Coven, an online metaphysical gathering space, provides support to animist witches, healers, and those exploring occult practices through a Taoist lens (also spelled as Daoist) with a strong commitment to ethics, decolonization, and enacting real change. It caters to individuals in search of communal support, serving as a sanctuary for those desiring a mature, nurturing community.
Animist spirit medium