The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2014

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JUNE 2014 Issue
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Dreamscripts in the Waking World

One of the signs which has become a trademark of being in a dream is the inability to read the written word or at other times to decipher numbers on a clock face or elsewhere. Such figures most often appear to blur before the eyes. There are times when the oneiric traveller is blest with clarity of vision wherein the characters in the given instance are crystal clear, but such instances are typically rare. It is significant that there is a crossover between the experience of legible and illegible scripts in both the waking and dream worlds.

Sigillic devices from a 19th century Faustian grimoire from the author’s collection

What is an “illegible” script? Just as “barbarous words of power,” found among Greek magical papyrii and European grimoires, share in this intangible intelligibility, written forms1 of secrets2 wear the mask of sigillic devices, magical alphabets and asemic writing. Visual “barbarous sigla” act as keys to subtler parts of the universe or encapsulate the essence of something in symbolic emblemata. In the mundane sphere such sigil texts would be as abstract as dream text, yet they convey information and even direct power from its inscribed purpose. All who would read the runes of Liber Mundi will find that learning how to read and access such texts in the wake world can lead to similar readings of dreamscripts while traveling under the veil of sleep.

In accessing such encrypted arcana concentration is required and this discipline is juxtaposed with a receptivity which also serves one who is scrying. Thus a certain gaze, which was developed through the inner eye, allows for a visual focus or blurring in order to access the clear view. Those who have eyes will see. However there are outward criteria that can assist in focusing the sensible eyes upon the patterns of the sigil itself. Asemic writing expresses itself in a physically visual way, causing the eye to follow wavy and then straight lines or perhaps fluctuate between dark and light marks. Sigils are sometimes quite chaotic, like the massa confusa described in alchemical texts, while at other times they are very structured and ordered patterns. Consideration will reveal the atmosphere that such a device exemplifies and this is a subtle reading from the perspective of the wake world and yet still a more concretized form or vessel of its essence. One who has a proficiency with such ‘readings’ can employ the same techniques on blurred dreamscripts while asleep. By peering through the script the vision may apprehend the force behind the form.

With the use of oneiric praxis, sigils of the wake world can be brought to the dreamscape, as well as drawing the dream texts upon the waking consciousness. No doubt the viewing of sigillic devices could produce the atmosphere of the dream in the waking consciousness of one unaccustomed to seeing such scripts. It is this alteration of consciousness that allows for the ingress and egress of secret knowledge. Hypnogogia occurs naturally when the consciousness is falling toward sleep but there are examples of sorcerous use of hypnogogia in order to create [or receive] automatic writing which also displays the characteristics of asemic, sigillic and oneiric script. Whether received or indited, the sigillic device serves as a medium or bridge between worlds.


  1. Here I am writing about the visual written forms such as found in the growing corpus of sigla as opposed to the apophatic language described in Michael Sells’ recommended book; Mystical Languages of Unsaying.
  2. The use of the word secrets is meant to broadly indicate all occult matters.


William Kiesel

William Kiesel is the publishing director at Ouroboros Press and co-editor of CLAVIS Journal of Occult Arts, Letters and Experience.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2014

All Issues