Nature provides incredible opportunities for us to work with her magic, through symbolism, sacred geometry, and meditation. Today, I wanted to share a technique I’ve been developing for land healing purposes–tree sigil work.
Sigils have many different purposes. In classic Western Occultism, some of the most well-known sigils are found in the Lesser Key of Solomon and are used to identify and evoke a particular spirit or entity. Another more recent use of sigils is through the practice of Chaos magic, where sigils are often used to set an intention and use the image to focus on that intention. I covered bardic intuitive sigils some time ago on this blog; this use is in line more with the second intention. Sigils can be meditated upon, carved into wood or stone, energized and blessed, burned or buried, or placed in key areas for reminder and reflection.
Tree sigil work can be used for either purpose. That is, tree sigils can be used to bring the energy of the tree into your life. And tree sigils can also be used for setting intentions and magical work. Sigils can then be meditated on, carried with you, buried, burned, set on an altar, and much more.
But what about natural sigils? How might we draw upon this practice in a nature-oriented way? Enter intuitive tree sigils!
Tree Sigils and Nature’s Patterns
If there is one constant of nature, it is the pattern. Patterns great and small can be found all over the natural world in various ways: spirals, branches, waves, and clouds being just a few. Patterns are reflected all through sacred trees and plants–branching patterns, wave patterns, spirals, and much more. Tree sigils are sigils created from particular patterns present in nature, such as those found in trees. That is, we can use nature as a guide to design symbols for a specific purpose. Thus, we can look to these sacred trees for inspiration when we need it. For further info on nature’s patterns and archetypes, you might check out my post on the basics of sacred geometry and nature’s patterns; I also have a post on the use of sigils in snow.
Tree sigils are simply images that we create after connecting to and being inspired by a particular pattern. This pattern could be unique to a specific tree or can be indicative of all spaces of tree. Once we are inspired by the tree, we can capture some small form of it in a sigil, which we can then work with magically. So let’s go through the steps to do this:
First, you want to set an intention for your sigil work. Consider the following: Do you want to more deeply connect to the energy of a particular tree? Do you want the tree to aid you with a specific thing? Do you want to direct energy outward towards the tree or the land for healing/blessing? Spend time setting your intentions, as sigil magic is more effective when you have a clear sense of what you want.
Once you have your intention firmly in your mind, seek out a tree that may guide you. If you want to work with particular energy, you can seek out a specific tree species that may hold that energy (e.g spruce for healing from illness, oak for strength, hawthorn for heart healing). You can use your intuition to find the “right” tree, the tree that speaks to you.
Once you find your tree, make an offering and ask the tree if you can work with it for creating a sigil. If the tree says no, thank the tree and move on. If the tree says yes, spend time with the tree using basic plant spirit communication guidelines. Quiet your mind, meditate with the tree and listen to what the tree has to say to you. Use any divination approach you want to ask further questions (a pendulum being good for yes or no questions, while something like the Plant Spirit Oracle is useful for more complex questions). Finally, ask the tree to provide you with a sigil for your work.
Once you’ve received your message, start observing the tree really carefully. Move away from it and then walk up to it using different angles. Get in close, looking at the details of branches, leaves, fruit, or nuts. Walk around the tree and see what draws your eye. Spend time doing this–it may take a while or something about the tree may immediately speak to you. Now, look for patterns. Most commonly, you can find patterns in the following ways
- In the bark of the tree, including in areas that are damaged or different
- In the branches of the tree—look up and see how the branches may grow or cross each other
- In the pattern of the leaf of the tree or the leaf veins of the tree
- In the pattern of nuts, flowers, and other aspects of the tree
Each tree has many patterns that you can find—the key for you is to find the one that speaks to you most strongly. Once you have found the pattern you like, draw it on your paper. You can redraw it, change it, or even add a second or third pattern to the tree sigil from different parts of the tree. There is no right or wrong way to do this—just use your intuition until you have a pattern, derived from that tree, that can guide you.
From there, you can decide how to best use the sigil based on your intention. If you are bringing something into your life, you might consider turning it into a pendant and blessing it (using a tree oil, tree incense, or sacred grove work). Wear your pendant and meditate on the sigil each day. If you are using the sigil to remove something, you might create the pendant on a larger piece of paper and wood and then have a ritual fire to burn it or cast it into running water. If you are doing blessing work on behalf of the land or others, you might create an altar and do regular prayers and blessings, placing the sigil in the center of the altar. You can combine the sigil with any number of other tree magic practices here in this chapter.
Example: Eastern White Cedar Good Health/Revitalization Sigil
I wanted to work with a tree to develop a sigil for good health and revitalization due to a recent illness. First, I went out onto my land and spoke my intention aloud, allowing my intention to settle across the land. Then, I just let my intuition guide me. I closed my eyes and opened myself to the land, allowing me to be pulled in a direction. I opened my eyes and started to walk. Quickly, I could feel the large Eastern White Cedar near our garage pulling me to her.
I came to her and asked to sit before her. I saw with her, paying attention to different aspects of her: the way her needles grow closely over each other, the pattern of bark on the branches, and the pattern of the trunk. I was drawn to the pattern of the trunk, so I meditated on it for a bit.
Then, I sat with my notebook and began to create the sigil. This one happened fast–I started with a more literal representation of the trunk and branch pattern and then simplified it. Here’s what I came up with!
From there, the next step is to use the sigil however you want. For me, I trace the sigil into the air around me each day before I go off to work (as right now, I’m back to in-person teaching and I want to have a bit of extra magical protection as I’m exposed to many people). I also fashioned it into a small charm made of Cedar wood that I can carry with me.
Finally, this post is material from my forthcoming North American TreeLore Oracle project! This project focuses on creating new knowledge and magical practices surrounding common trees in Eastern North America. This is a great way for us to reconnect to the living earth, build new traditions surrounding nature, and more deeply understand the interconnection of ecology, lore, herbalism, and much more. If you are interested in learning more about the project, we’ll be releasing a Kickstarter for it in the next 3-4 months. You can follow my blog and/or sign up for my newsletter for more information!