Lord EarthAngel's What's in a magickal name?
What is a magickal name?
In the Old Days, when our pagan ancestors were going through the persecutions known as the "Burning Times", witches took craftnames or "magickal names" to conceal their identities and avoid those annoying visits by the Inquisition. In the course of the years, it was noticed that those aliases could also be used as a foundation for building up a magickal personality, carrying out various kinds of transformative work on the self, and the like. A magickal name is your "witch name" what you have chosen to call yourself in the craft. It is not your born name (since you had no control over that!), but rather the name you feel describes yourself. There are many ways to choose a name. Raymond Buckland suggests using a numerical alphabet and numerology to choose your name by. Some others say what you want is what you get. It is what you feel is best. There is no right or wrong name for you. And keep in mind that you will probably go through names during your time with the craft.
Most Wiccans choose a magick name. Because Wicca is a new way of life, it is traditional to find a new name that you feel suits you. At birth, we are given names without any personality to base it on. When you choose a magick name, it will be something very much a part of you, perfectly fitting and comfortable. A name is a symbol of yourself and of our devotion to Wicca. You should choose a name that fits you just right. It should say something about your personality. And of course, choosing a new name represents the birth of a "new" you as you enter the world of magick, paganism, and the God and Goddess.
Magick names are so popular, in fact, that many Wiccans have two or even three such names. A public magick name is used at Wiccan gatherings, when writing articles, and so on. The second name is a secret name that is bestowed during initiation. The third name is used only when addressing the Goddess and God, and is known only to Them and the Wiccan. Wiccans who are members of more than one tradition may have different names for each group.
Throughout history, names have been given considerable magical importance. A spirit's name had to be known before it could be exorcised from a sick person in ancient Sumer, Babylon and Assyria. In Hawaii, babies were given revolting names in infancy to guard them from molestation from evil during their early, vulnerable years. A more fitting name was given to the child when she or he reached a certain age and was less susceptible to the wiles of evil spirits. In some cultures, mothers will bestow a secret name on their children. This "real" name, unknown to anybody but the mother, protects the child. The common name by which he or she is called has no power over them.
Numerology is used to discover the power of our names, and many people change their names to advance in their careers.
With all this importance attached to names, it's not difficult to understand why many Wiccans use magick names.
Do I have to have one?
No, although it is not necessary to have a magickal name to practice Wicca, it is useful in helping you get into a ritual mind-set. It is your special name that you have set aside for worship. It is okay if you don't want to choose one. The Goddess and God will commune and help you whether you have a magickal name or not.
To cut to the heart of this matter: do you have to adopt a Wiccan name? If you wish your Wicca to correspond to conventional Wicca as far as possible, yes. If you feel freer than these constraints, adoption of a special name isn't necessary. Once again, the decision is yours alone. "What's in a name? A rose by any other name, wouldn't smell as sweet."
Perhaps that is so, and if so, why all the fuss about choosing the right magickal name or craft name? Indeed, why even bother to choose a name at all? What's wrong with just being "Sue" or "Bill"?
Let's take the example of the rose. When you hear the word "rose" you get a definite picture in your mind, you see a color, you see the flower, you know what scent to expect, and you also know it will have thorns. Those are the attributes of a rose. So when I say "rose" and you hear "rose" we may not be seeing exactly the same mental image, but we will be talking about basically the same flower. So it is with names, craft names and magickal names especially. Not every "Sue" or "Bill" is alike, and when you hear that name, it may not bring up any mental images for you at all. If you know someone already with that name, you will naturally think of that person, and compare them to this one.
The main reason for utilizing a magickal name, is that it represents the Wiccan you. For some, use of this name gives them a sense of power and mystery which the may otherwise not feel. Magickal names conjure up a mental image of the attributes of the name itself, or the God or Goddess associated with it. The same holds true with magickal names that are of plants or animals. Each has attributes that are beneficial and will bring those to mind when you hear that name. We live in such a mundane world that it can indeed be difficult to "switch on" the magical side of our nature. Thus, use of a Wiccan name may assist in altering the conscious mind and preparing it for ritual.
Some people take an entirely different approach:
they legally adopt their Wiccan name. Thus, Sally Thompson becomes Amber; Frank Jones becomes Greywolf. This name may even appear on driver's licenses, leases and other documents. This legal avenue is inadvisable unless you're completely open about your religion, since such a name will naturally draw attention to its bearer. Though many state that they've chosen to use their new name to the exclusion of the old one purely for spiritual reasons, most are also making a public statement regarding their religion. Another reason to choose a magickal name is to let your younger self out to play, and to expand and allow your rational self to be the person you have always wanted to be. You are not the mundane person who goes to work from 9 to 5 everyday - when you are in circle, you let the magickal, spiritual, real you come out! A magickal name will assist you in this, if you are careful and choose the correct one for you.
How do I choose a magickal name?
There are many approaches. Some Wiccans adopt the name of a Goddess or God, in honor of Them. Others look into their family's cultural history and choose a name from the associated folklore: a person with British ancestry may opt for a name culled from British folklore. Many contemporary American Wiccans incorporate an animal in their name, such as "Howling Wolf" or "Sweeping Eagle". Flower and plant names (such as Rose, Oak Keeper, Grove, Fir, Ash) are other possibilities.
To take a God or Goddess name as a magick name, especially for inner court working, it requires research in at least three different sources to be sure that all sides of this personality are known. You see, these names have been used for centuries, and myths have been told and retold, and there is definite energy associated with these names on the astral plane. The myths will give you clues as to how this Deity behaves, and what are his or her attributes. Three sources are the minimum needed because many books will give you slightly different versions or different stories.
Some say it isn't a good idea, that it can even be dangerous. To take the name of a very powerful deity like Odin, Kali or Isis. Others say this is up to you, that only you can judge whether or not you are able to handle the power of such a name. For example, "Isis" is not a name to start with, as this Goddess is widely worshipped, powerful, and has a lot of hidden mysteries. You can end up as Isis as you grow in the Craft, but you will be much better off, and have less to deal with, if you choose a more local deity, or one that is less complicated. That will give you smaller changes that are easier to handle, and attributes that may be more smoothly integrated into your life.
You may also simply make up a name. Many Wiccan names consist of two words that have been put together. Such names are usually quite descriptive.
Some famous Wiccan names have been published. Gerald Gardner publicly used the name Scire. Al least one of Doreen Valiente's magical names was Ameth. A well-known High Priest adopted the public Craft name of Phoenix.
Still other popular names include. Morgan, Morgana, Morgaine, Morgraine, Lugh and Arthur (all associated with Celtic mythology); Ariadne, Diana, Hermes, Poseidon, Cassandra and Triton (Green and Roman mythology); Selket, Ma'at, Osiris, and other Egyptian names. (Among the most commonly used names are Amber, Phoenix and Merlin. Calling out one of these names at a Pagan gathering will usually cause many heads to turn.)
People will take the name of an animal to encourage the good qualities of that animal in their personalities, or to strengthen tendencies they already possess towards those qualities. Not all qualities are desirable, however, and you need to remember when picking this name that you will also get the less beneficial ones along with the ones you are seeking.
For example, a rose has thorns. Many animals have sharp teeth and claws for defense or attack. Some are carnivores and prey on creatures smaller than themselves. Does this mean that if you take the name of a tiger (such as tigershadow) that you will become a bully? Probably not, but why ARE you taking the name? Be clear just what the attributes are, both the positive ones that you want, and also the ones that you may not like very much.
In some traditions the prefix "Lady" or even "Lord", is used. In Gardnerian the High Priestess is always referred to as "Lady...(Name).." When speaking directly to her, it is also proper to say "My Lady". She is the only one so called, in that tradition, and no male in Gardnerian is ever called "Lord...(Name)..."
From time to time, a student may ask a teacher or close friend to aid them in choosing a name, or in choosing between a few names that they like. That's fine if the person knows you well and will be honest with you, but please, don't ask another person to name you. This is too great a responsibility for another person. It's up to you to decide how you want to grow in the Craft, and what kind of person you wish to be. Others can help, but only by doing the research and the actual choosing yourself can you be certain that you have picked a name which will allow you to grow into it gracefully. Here are some guidelines:
Let your name come to you. If you try to force yourself to come up with a name, you'll only end up with something that sounds nice, but will always seem a little less than fitting. The name that suits you will come along and be just right. Try thinking of it from this perspective: What would you be, if you weren't a human? An animal? An inanimate object, like a flower or a tree? Or would you be a great body of water, or a torrent of wind and rain, or a mirage in a hot desert? Think of yourself that way, and it may help the name form in your mind. Think about how others see you. Imagine being on the outside, talking to yourself... a little like reflecting your personality so it's more tangible. Then maybe that name will come to you! Consider your personality. What name would represent your characteristics best? Names like "Charisma" or "Star" might suggest an outgoing personality, while a name like "Dove" or "Innocence" would represent a shy, gentle person. Go from there.
So there are plenty of possibilities from which to chose. If you decide to use a Wiccan name in ritual, always use it. Use it in prayer. Use it in rituals. Write it, in runes or in English, on your tools. You may even wish to perform some sort of name-adoption ritual. This could consist of casting a circle and invoking the Goddess and God to be present and asking Them to recognize you by your new name.
One last thought on names - when you are choosing this name, know that it will not be the last name that you choose. You aren't stuck with it for life! As you grow in the Craft and change, your name can change with you. You should be very careful when changing and reshaping your name in any way because you will change or reshape your magickal essence. It can even disperse your personality in a negative manner.
There may be a time when you really feel the need to change your name. This could be because of personal or spiritual growth, and you would like your new name to encompass that essence. Just remember to give your friends and associates ample time to adjust to the new name. When writing sign your old name first and place your new name underneath until you feel you can drop the first one. Craft Name Numerical Method is as follows:
Whichever name you choose, or feel especially drawn to, check out to see if it is in fact right for you. You do this through numerology- There are a number of different systems of numerology. The following is probably the most commonly used. Follow it step by step.
1) Find your Birth Number by adding the digits of your date of birth. If you were born June 10th 1976, your number would be 6,10,1976 = 6+1+0+1+9+7+6 = 30 bring that down to a single digit: 3+0= 3 Then 3 is your Birth Number. 2) Find the Name Number of the name you have chosen.
This is done by equating all the letters of the alphabet with the first nine numbers, then adding it all together and see if they are the same.
You want to take the name EarthAngel as your magick name...
Using the above numerical alphabet find the numbers that correspond with the desired name. Now add them together until you get one digit:
5+1+9+2+8+1+5+7+5+3= 46, 4+6= 10, 1+0= 1
The craft name you want should numerically match your birth number for it to be a "match". In this case with the birth number being 3 and the Name number for "Earthangel" being a 1, this would not be a good match according to this method.
You can use this method, if you wish, but remember it is up to you what name you choose.
Writing your magick name with Runes
The word Rune means "secret" or "mystery" in Early English and related languages. It is certainly heavily charged with overtones, and for good reason. Runes were never a strictly utilitarian script. From their earliest adaptation into Germanic usage they served for divinitory and ritual uses. The Seax-Wica use a runic alphabet.
It will be noticed that any of the glyphs can be written backwards (sometimes referred to as "mirror writing"). If there are double letters in a word (e.g. merry, boss) then one of the double letters would be reversed.
Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft
To Ride a Silver Broomstick
Back to Page 1 of Assignment # 1: Magickal Name