A Name By Any Other Name

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What’s in a name? that which we call a rose- by any other name would smell as sweet; (Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare)

Taking a Craft Name
There are many reasons to take a craft name and many ways in which one is selected. The magickal name holds much the same purpose as having specific and dedicated ritual wear, jewelry and one’s own magickal tools. It is another piece of connection that designates something important, non-routine and magickal is about to occur. But, most importantly the magickal name is your name of power. It is your energetic signature, that when spoken brings its vibration into the working that is to be done. And, as the quote by Shakespeare states above, the taking of a magickal name still retains the originally named energetic stamp of whoever newly adopts it so you are bringing the mundane and the magickal aspects of your being into ritual space.

In many ancient cultures, the name was said to contain the life essence of the individual and all of the individual’s power. It was for that reason that a person’s true name was never known or spoken by any other than the one who gave the name at birth and the one to whom it was given. And, it was Isis who tricked the God RA into giving her his secret name and thus giving her some of his power.

How To
There is no standard formula for choosing or seeking out a magickal name. Usually, the name is selected because of a natural preference for a specific subject or thing such as someone who is drawn to herbology may choose a name such as sage or rowan. Someone who feels strongly attuned to a specific element may incorporate it into his/her name such as Firesong or Wind Dancer. Gemstone and crystal names are also common choices as are animal names such as Raven’s Wing or Sacred Wolf. A name will often be revealed as part of the initiation experience or during a meditation. Asking Deity to provide you with information to reveal your magickal name is appropriate and often the most successful way of acquiring your name.

The important thing to remember is that the name that you choose or is given to you carries with it the vibrations and energies of those things you are including. This is a statement of you and what you either feel you have already developed in skill and connection or wish to draw to yourself. Take your time, do some research and be sure that what you are bringing into your spiritual life is worthy of your efforts and that you are in turn living to the fullest degree of what that name expresses.

You will also find that it is not uncommon for your name to change as you progress in your spiritual life. What you selected early on, you may have outgrown or is no longer the vital force running through you a few years later. It is fine to change your name, as long as it is not on a whim, capri or just to be “in”. You will know when and if the time is right and at that time, you may be gifted with a name from Deity or the inner planes that is just the right fit for who you have become.

A Public and Private Name
Many Witches choose more than one magickal name. This may seem in excess, but if appropriately selected each fits a specific sort of use. If the witch has a public presence, a name may be taken that is identifiable to those who are seeking him/her out. This would be the name by which you are known in public settings. For example my public name is Amethyst Brighid. This is the name I have used for many years now when I communicate with potential members and those inquiring through the internet. This is also the name I would use in our open or public rituals. I chose Amethyst because of its spiritual properties, the associated color purple, which is of a spiritual nature and it is my birthstone. Brighid is one of my patrons, and I wished to bring the triplicity of creativity, transformation and nurturance into my public presence.

I have a second magickal name that is used only within coven and Tradition settings. This is the name by which I am known to those with whom I work personally and intimately energetically. This name was also chosen because of the specifics and the energy that surrounds its use. The third name is one given to me on the inner planes and is only known to myself, and to those unseen with whom I work. It is not a name I would publicly or privately use within the coven. This is my spiritual name and as such is used as identification within the spiritual and astral realms. It is also associated with the retrieving of a past life magickal persona. Which is all the more reason why I do not share this name.

Not every witch is made aware of a magickal name that is relevant to another lifetime, as it is usually one that is given rather than selected or sought out by the witch after much work in opening to information that is kept in the deepest parts of memory. Not every witch needs a public name either. Much will depend on the nature of public presence that the particular individual has. For most, one name will suffice and with continued use it becomes the vibration of the magickal persona that you are always working to refine and empower more fully.

A Very Brief List of Magickal Names
courtesy of : Shadows of Oz (website no longer active)

Mythology
Perhaps you have a particular affinity for a certain god or goddess – if you feel particularly drawn to the Greek sun god Apollo or the Norse god Thor, you might incorporate that into your name. There are some of the opinion that giving yourself the exact name of a god or goddess shows a certain amount of hubris, and may even cause a little divine annoyance. You need to think about that before you call yourself ‘Isis’ or ‘Apollo’, and perhaps consider using names inspired by them instead – for example, instead of ‘Apollo’ you may choose ‘Apolline’ or ‘Apollos’, and instead of ‘Isis’ you could use ‘Isadora’ or ‘Isa’, which all basically mean ‘Of/Like Apollo’ and ‘Gift of Isis’. Where more mainstream names like ‘Phoebe’ and ‘Rhiannon’ are concerned, it’s not so much of an issue – but you should probably leave the big ones like ‘Apollo’, ‘Isis’, ‘Vulcan’, etc. to the gods themselves.

Other interesting names from mythology you may want to think about are ‘Inanna’ (Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility and war), ‘Selene’ (Greek moon goddess), ‘Luna’ (Roman moon goddess), ‘Calliope’ (Greek Muse of heroic poetry), ‘Clio’ (Greek Muse of history), ‘Vesta’ (Greek goddess of hearth and family), ‘Phoebe’ (Greek Titan, associated with the Moon), ‘Maia’ (one of the Greek Pleiades, companions of Artemis), ‘Nyx’ (Roman goddess of the night), ‘Vulcan’ (Roman god of fire, volcanoes), ‘Rhiannon’ (Welsh horse goddess) ‘Medea’ (Greek goddess/sorceress/priestess of Hecate) and ‘Morgan’ (sorceress from the Arthur legend – though incredibly overused).

Plants
People also commonly use plant-derived names like ‘Rose’, ‘Jasmine’, ‘Acacia’, ‘Lily’, ‘Iris’, ‘Ash’, ‘Rowan’, ‘Willow’ and ‘Violet’ – I also know of someone that took the name ‘Acorn’ in anticipation of growing within the Craft and becoming ‘Oak’. Since we Pagans tend to be very nature-conscious, plants are a common inspiration for our craft names. It also means you can plant your namesake in the garden, which is nice.

Animals
Animals are an equally common choice – ‘Eagle’, ‘Wolf’, ‘Hawk’, ‘Fox’, ‘Lynx’, ‘Tiger’, ‘Raven’, ‘Dove’ and so on. Someone might choose the name of an animal because they identify with the characteristics of that animal, or just because it’s always been their favourite – perhaps your bedroom has just always been covered in tiger print, and you’ve always identified with tigers. That’s the kind of sign that can lead to a craft name!

Gemstones
Everybody likes a pretty gemstone, and this is reflected in many craft names out there. You’ll find ‘Pearl’, ‘Emerald’, ‘Sapphire’, ‘Obsidian’, ‘Amber’, ‘Crystal’, ‘Diamond’, ‘Amethyst’, ‘Jade’, ‘Opal’, ‘Onyx’… the possibilities are endless! If you were going to make a gemstone part of your craft name, you would choose your favorite stone (if you have one you’ve always loved) or decide based on its properties.

Elements
Elemental themes are popular in craft names as well. You may just incorporate ‘Air’, ‘Earth’, ‘Fire’ or ‘Water’, or you may use the name of an elemental: ‘Sylph’, ‘Gnome’, ‘Salamander’ or ‘Undine’. You can even use the names of the archangels associated with your favourite element: ‘Raphael’, ‘Ariel’, ‘Michael’ or ‘Gabriel’. You can also use a name (that would be given as a Christian name) which has a meaning that incorporates your favourite element – ‘Iara’, for example, is a Brazilian name meaning ‘Water Lady’ and ‘Avani’ is a Sanskrit name meaning ‘Earth’. Just as naming yourself after a god may be a bit ostentatious, naming yourself after one of the four winds associated with the elements may also be a bit presumptuous…

Foreign names
If you have ancestors from overseas, you may want to choose a name from that country. One of the advantages of choosing a name from a country that speaks a language other than English is that you can usually find a literal translation very close by – for example, if you have Greek heritage you may like ‘Thea’ (‘Goddess’) or ‘Dianthe’ (‘Divine Flower’).

Fiction
There are some great names in fiction that you might like to consider for your craft name. ‘Gandalf’ (wizard from The Lord of the Rings – means ‘Elf with the Staff’), ‘Oberon’ (King of Shadows and the Faeries in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream), ‘Titania’ (Queen of the Faeries in A Midsummer Night’s Dream), ‘Miranda’ (from Shakespeare’s The Tempest) and ‘Ariel’ (a sylph, also from The Tempest). There are so many characters in so many books that you’re sure to find one you like, if you’re so inclined.

Foundations of Practice:
Seeking and Empowering a Magickal Name

Next Week
A Book is Not (Always) Just a Book

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