Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about something my guides showed me many years ago.

To be honest, I don’t remember what my original question was, but my guides led me deep within a red-rock canyon on the astral plane (ya know, just another Tuesday!) where we entered a soaring geodesic dome, dimly lit in purplish blue.

I was immediately reminded of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, where I lived for 20 years (Chicago, not in the planetarium–that’d be a story, huh?). As a kid, seeing a Sky Show in the domed, wraparound theater was so thrilling, I can still remember my stomach getting all rabbity nervous and rumbly, such that I had to wait half the show for it to settle enough to eat my snacks.

Adler Planetarium
inside the Sky Show theater

So when my guides led me into an astral dome, I was immediately at attention.

On their cue, individual “panes” of the dome’s interior sprang to life, each displaying an animated scene from my life, like being enclosed in a cave of psychic televisions.

In the image below, notice the darker lines bordering the dome’s triangles. Now, imagine each of those lines transmits energy, activating whatever triangular “screens” they touch and triggering the memory being played on those screens.

Let’s say we activate the following lines:

Looks an awful lot like a sigil doesn’t it?

Depending on which memories are triggered (and this can happen on a deeply unconscious level), I will experience different thoughts and feelings, and therefore behave differently. For instance, if a memory associated with feeling small and insecure is activated while I’m writing, I might be less likely to share my work, or I might get all up in my head, trying to sound extra smart, only to end up with convoluted, highfalutin’ word salad.

According to this model, a sigil has the power to activate a different sequence of memories (more accurately, a complex) in your psyche, leading to potentially very different perspectives and subsequent behaviors.

Now, back in the day when my guides brought me to this giant memory dome, I didn’t have a lot of experience with Jungian psychology. My understanding of complexes was largely colloquial, like, “I’ve got a major father complex,” but I didn’t have a clue, really, as to how a complex “lived” in my psyche.

If we weave in a more nuanced understanding of complexes, let’s see what we uncover.

Complexes exist in the unconscious, first of all, so a sigil is targeting layers of the psyche that you don’t have conscious control over. Think about this for a sec: Your unconscious is hugely powerful in determining how you live your life, yet you don’t have a conscious say in how it operates…because it’s unconscious.

Only with sigils, you do. I mean, how cool is that?

Second, a complex isn’t merely personal energy, it’s collective, and to understand why this matters we need to sketch the geography of a complex. (Keep in mind, when we’re talking about psychic contents this imagery is largely metaphorical, but that doesn’t make it any less useful.)

Complexes are like mini solar systems within the unconscious, and they attract all sorts of material into their gravitational pull, things like images, sounds, smells, thoughts, bodily sensations–all the material that, when activated, can trigger a powerful internal experience, what we often think of as a memory.

But these experiences can occur below the threshold of conscious awareness, so you might be in the middle of a Zoom meeting on June 13, 2023, but your unconscious has time traveled back to a Wednesday morning in 1998, and you have no clue. All you know is that it’s suddenly imperative to get the boss’ approval on your marketing plan or it’s going to be reallyreally bad.

And not like, oh, what a bummer your idea didn’t go through–no, it feels far more dire, as if you’ll be plunged into a pit of cringy, stomach-twisting rejection and nothing will ever be right again.

Everything is riding on this fucking marketing plan now, and if Troy from communications makes some snide comment about how it’s not feasible, blah blah blah, then he is clearly an asshole. How did you never notice how much Troy tries to undermine you in front of the team? Actually, no, you did notice, didn’t you? Back at the company picnic he said that thing, which, in hindsight, was pretty obnoxious, and then you had to–

And on and on it goes.

When a complex is activated, the ego is temporarily not in charge of what’s going on–what we’re saying, what we’re doing–but the rub is that we’re flooded with such intense energy, in the form of heightened emotions or highly charged thoughts, that everything feels extra real, extra true. And we feel extra right.

Where does all this energy come from?

Well, this is where complexes get super interesting, because at the core of this swirling mass of personal material is the slumbering giant responsible for the complex’s gravitational pull: an archetype.

Archetypes are not personal, meaning they exist in the collective psyche, not belonging to any one individual. Being collective, they are also MASSIVE. Think: the ego is a speck of dust on an ant’s antennae as it crawls along a blade of grass, and the archetype is the entire football field of grass and then some.

Why are they so big? Well, think about the archetype of Finding Food. How many people and animals and plants, throughout all of time, have carried out this archetype as they search for nourishment? A staggering, unfathomable amount. And each time, more energy is added to the archetypal pot of Finding Food.

If we imagine these archetypes as primordial rivers, branches of these formidable flows extend into the waters of our personal unconscious, and the fact that one of these archetypes is hiding out at the center of every complex means that our personal psyche is plugged into a ginormous energy source. Trigger a complex, and you poke the archetypal bear.

This can be an incredibly electrifying–and beneficial–experience, such as when we’re afire with creative ideas and infused with the energy to see them through. But it can also lead to things like, oh, I don’t know–people storming the Capitol?

Archetypal energy can flood us with a sense of monumental meaning and purpose, which can be downright intoxicating. And when it ebbs away, we can feel bereft of said meaning and purpose, willing to do just about anything for that next high. (Addiction in a nutshell.)

But learning how to channel this archetypal energy–as my therapist says, adjusting the garden hose–so we’re not blasting ourselves and everyone around us in the face, is the mark of a wise witch/magician/adult. With archetypal energy flowing through us in proper proportion, we can become unstoppable forces for good, because there is nothing more powerful than an archetype.

They are the primal forces of all existence. (Gods, perhaps…?)

And this liminal zone where the collective/archetypal (what we might call the “outer world”) blends into the personal, inner world is where the high weirdness of magic is found in spades. This is synchronicity’s zip code, where stuff “in our head” somehow has an effect on stuff “out there.”

So when we create sigils…

…which act upon the complexes in our personal unconscious, we awaken the slumbering archetypes, channeling their gobsmacking power into new pathways of meaning and purpose, altering the fabric of inner and outer reality.

Talk about life changing.

We’ve been learning how to create and activate sigils this month in the Portal. ​Join us here​ to press play on your most magical summer yet. (When you sign up you’ll get a link to the Portal Archives, so you can catch up on previous sigil-how-to emails.) See you inside.

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