Maps and Sigils

Day #30 of Hilma af Klint and the Imaginary Impossible

Extraordinary Machine by Suzanne LaGrande

Hilma af Klint came from a family of mapmakers. The male line of af Klints were prominent navigators, ocean map-makers and engineers. She inherited from her family both a curiosity about the natural world and a scientific interest understanding how it worked.

Her own investigations into spiritualism and theosophy lead her to study the nature of the invisible world — unseen spiritual and cosmic energies, like the unseen workings of atoms and electricity were all part of her search for the truth.

In her paintings she sought to bring together her understandings and discoveries and communicate them. Everything in her paintings has significance.

For example, the color blue represents femininity, the color yellow, masculinity. The shapes of spirals or the almond shape refers to ideas about energy, development, unity and completion. The letters U and W found in many of her paintings represents Spirit and matter respectively.

To me, looking at her paintings was a bit like trying to read a conceptual map or a coded symbolic language.

I began to think about the shapes and the letters in her paintings, in combination with the other images and colors as a kind of sigil. A combination of shapes, images and colors that are imbued with not only symbolic meaning, but also created energies that worked on the viewer — in effect a kind of visual magical spell.

The word for a type of symbol used in magic is a sigil “a pictorial symbol used in ritualistic magic and supposed to have supernatural power”

The term has usually referred to a type of pictorial signature of a deity or spirit. In modern usage, especially in the context of chaos magic, sigil refers to a symbolic representation of the practitioner’s desired outcome. Seven sigils spell out the names of the seven archangels who govern the days of the week….

I decided to try an experiment and use the letters in my name as the basis for a painting and to see if I could create a kind of pictorial seal, following Hilma’s idea that letters and shapes and colors have spiritual significance and my idea, maybe hers too, that this all have vibrational significance.



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Suzanne LaGrande

Writer, artist, host of Disobedient Femmes & The Voice Plays podcasts. Interested in personal transformation & collective liberation.