What’s in a Name

This week I settled on magical names for Fundamental Friday. Let’s start this off by saying that it’s completely valid to only ever use the name your given at birth (or whatever), and choosing a magical name is entirely optional HOWEVER for many, it’s a vital part of their path.
Many people, across many religions, believe that there is power in names. For instance, through most of Europe during the middle ages it was common to have a “Christian” name, and the name you were commonly called by (your last name was commonly either your job title or a variation of the local nobility’s name depending on location) . So you would be Joshua “Thomas” Smith for example, and yes this is where we get middle names from. The “Thomas” was given to you at your baptism (*cough* initiation *cough*), and was used almost exclusively by the church and for any legal documents (marriage and such).
Some people believe that the use of a “craft” or “magical” name came about as a form of protection, as those names were used ONLY among fellow practitioners, sometimes without the knowledge of a person’s common name. If you didn’t know their names you couldn’t be forced to give them up under torture, and “Silver Moonwater” was unlikely to found the next village over, even if there IS a Sarah Baker.
Others believe (with some archaeological evidence) that the practice goes farther back to when a priest/ess in training would set aside their old name and take on a new in devotion and service to their deity (we see this too among Catholic Nuns).
Nowadays, it typically isn’t a life or death situation for our names to be known (although there ARE still places where it can be dangerous to be called a witch), but there is still a wide variety of reasons that some one may choose to keep their name private. Some one may not be “out of the broom closet” yet, or live in an area where they would be relentlessly harassed, or they may simply feel like it’s a private matter between them and their deity/deities. Ultimately, the choice to use any name publicly is up to the individual.
There seem to be two common methods for gaining a magical name the first we’ll call “gifting”, and the second “choosing”. The gifting of a magical name is sometimes part of initiation into a coven or circle and is decided by the leadership (with or without the input of the dedicant depending on the tradition). I have also heard of names being gifted through meditation or divination.
The choosing of a magical name can be a deeply personal experience and the name chosen is often of significant meaning to the bearer. I have heard MANY methods of deciding, including (but not limited to), honoring an ancestor, using a variant of their patron god/ess’ name, a beloved character from a story or history/mythology, a name they’ve always loved,ect… the list could go on endlessly!
Some people use the same magical name throughout their entire practice/life. Others feel, for many reasons, that they have outgrown a name and so choose another. Any and all of these are valid and no one really has the authority to tell you that your name is “wrong” as long as you’re happy with it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s