Observable and objective reality informs us that 40,000 years ago our ancestors were marking symbols and pictograms on cave walls. Whether painted or carved, we believe the intention to be communication and documentation. We often think of written language and imagery as recording, that it is a passive form. Observable and objective reality also informs us that symbolism and shamanism are intimately tied to these early echoes of our ancestors; we might imagine them enacting similar traditions to our more recent pagan and earth-based cultures who attempt to elicit environmental and metaphysical change through ritual and conjuring.
Archeological analysis posits some caves that contain paintings also acted as shelter for early humans 100,000 years ago. We can only struggle to imagine how their lives played out - we have little to no true frame of reference to understand their interaction with the natural and supernatural world. We are unable to withdraw ourselves from our modern incarnations sufficiently enough to truly appreciate their drives and motives. What we do understand though is that our brains (indeed all brains) share similar structural qualities that attach meaning and value to patterns. We are programmed to respond to symmetry and to solutions. Our innate survival drives flood our brains with the chemical dopamine in order to 'teach' us to repeat certain actions over others. We might consider the purposeful recording of imagery and symbolism as an extension of our neurobiology - the first attempts at creating the fundamental basis of magickal practices; to alter ones reality through intention and will.
In recording our intention, our wish and our will, we are engaging in simple magick - we are adding our own personal and intrapsychic weight to the objective universe. All things carry weight, all things cost, and magick costs the most of all.
The weight of something is an important measure in magick, not in a trite sense, but the metaphysical cost of an act. We need only look to how in modern symbology we communicate danger in order to understand that gravitas can be simply expressed though symbols. In a more colorful example we might look to poisonous frogs or fish. The communication of cost is a natural one. We are also drawn toward specific patterns and colors for pleasant things, and all interaction is recorded in our brain, processed, graded, and given value and meaning. Essentially we are designed to recognize symbolism.
Approximately 7500 years ago, a man was buried in Romania. Buried alongside him was a talisman. It is considered to be one of the earliest discovered forms of writing. We also know that 1500 years prior our ancestors were making shells and objects with symbols. As much of ancient property is lost through time, so too is the intention. Intention, in reference to magick, is subjective. True will is obscured. The personal path is a hidden one. Talismans are the embodiment of weight in the Great Work of magick, as they center themselves to the individual - causing the wearer to become the center of their own subjective universe. The property of such an item is to introduce a sphere of influence into the larger objective universe. This is commonly done through sigils.
While it is true that a talisman can simply be an object of meaning, it is the sigil that centers and directs that meaning. We are designed to respond to patterns, to hold bias toward coincidence, and to attach meaning to events. We look for the action of luck in the world. A talisman is more than a 'lucky charm' though, and a sigil is more than a symbol. The combining of an object with an inscription is to put into action the axiom as above/so below - it is mirroring the mortality of our incarnation by creating an object with meaning and purpose that is bound to the laws of the physical universe. A talisman can be broken, just as we can expire.
Our incarnation is finite, and the consequence of will. So too are our creations. The symmetry is sacred. Just as our biochemistry exists to support our organic survival by preferring patterns over chaos, so too does our spiritual and metaphysical self act through symbolism, talismans, and sigils to support our spiritual wellbeing. The creation of a magickal object or act is as integral to our survival as learning which plants are edible and which are poisonous. Even those amongst us who claim to attach no spiritual meaning to existence still do so as they experience joy, love, loss, hope, fear, and death. The exchange is intrapsychic, and we are designed to respond to the power of symbolism.
In creating a sigil we are as children attempting to master our senses and motor functions. We are grounding our place in the greater universe, we are repeating that which gives rise to power and change, and we are revealing the more objective nature of reality - that it is fluid, and that we are able to elicit great change with the correct intention. The fundamental nature of magick is that we center ourselves in the cost of our will, and that we subscribe to paying the cost of that intention through our lived intention - a sigil circumvents the elongated process of conjuring, it is the 'shorthand' of the Great Work. That if we hold the correct knowledge and intention, that we might crystallize it into a cryptogram that enables us to transmute our true will into an object of power.