Names are very important in our society. They distinguish each of us as individual entities. They group us together under a common theme or ideal. Some are very proud of their names and display them for the world to see. Others despise their names and will go through the red tape of getting it changed legally. Some adopt pseudonyms for protection and anonymity and others because they do not believe their name match their personalities. Names can define us. Names can mold and shape us.
In some ancient cultures, and even to this day, there are those who will not give out the true name of their newborn child. Instead, they have a nickname designation they share with everyone else and the true name of the child is whispered into the child's ear and shared only with those the mother truly trusts. It is believed by some societies that knowing the true name of a person can hold them in your power, mundanely or metaphysically (Rumpelstiltskin, Betelgeuse). Others also believe that the name and soul of a person are synonymous. To read the name of the dead would breathe life into their soul. Taboos against speaking a dead persons name for fear that it would invoke them and they would haunt you abound all over the world. Many great magi throughout the ages have utilized a version of this belief to call and control different demons, angels and similar entities.
The Craft name you choose for yourself, if you decide to do so, works in a similar manner as above. It can define you. It can ennoble you. It can give you courage, strength, or compassion. It can protect you. It can shape you into what you've always believed you can become.
In my group, we require that you have a Craft name. To us, the magical name is a most essential tool. Just as there are many diverse groups in the Craft, there are just as many protocols for finding, choosing, or being granted a magical name.
Others, if even semi-cognizant of the world around them, will be given their name by the Universe itself through a series of seeming coincidences. They'll receive some mail with a name that's interesting on it and then a phone call asking for that particular name. In a place they've been a thousand times will suddenly appear a book or article in reference to that name and then a friend will mention it out of the blue.... Maybe they'll even dream about it. Who knows? Take it as a gift, a divine helping step into your new life.
There are some who are not even in the Craft that love the aspect of having a pseudonym. The Internet with all of it's message boards, online societies, and social media promote this behavior and the reasoning as to why a witch would choose a name can dutifully apply to that of the Internet surfer as well. But unlike that of just finding a name to identify yourself on Twitter, the magical name will serve a purpose in your magic and Craft life for years to come. It should be given some deep thought and at least a little research. It should reflect a side of your soul and inner self that you want to share with the divine. The traits your name carries will come to fruition in your life, magically (and sometimes mundanely) speaking, but we'll cover that in just a little bit.
Still others like the occult mysteries from which we learn and choose names like Shadow and Rain. There are tree and flower names like Rowan and Waterlily. There are stones and other natural edifices like Amethyst, Amber, Meadow, or Sierra. Still others go universal and use names like Starchild or Moonglow. Metals like Silver, Gold, and Iron are popular as are names that derive from the legends of heroes like Boadicea or Ulysses. Family ancestry can play a part in the choice of name a young witch may choose for themselves as well as the rapport they may have with a culture other than their own. Of course, many of these name are used in conjunction with one another like the popular authors Silver Ravenwolf and Starhawk.
The most important thing about your magical name is what it means to you. If you're happy with a silly name like Tootsiepop or Starbunny then you should have a bonafide reason for having it. If you believe that you take life too seriously and this would aid you to lighten up - could be used as a pretty good argument for the use of that name if it is being presented to your Priest or Priestess, just argue it well. While the Craft is filled with love and light and even the Charge of the Goddess may refer to mirth:
"Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals. Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you."
Studying the Craft to become a priest or priestess should be taken just a little more seriously. 'Mirth' is paired with 'reverence' Let's not forget that. There's lots of learning to get to.
Your magical name should reflect the qualities about yourself that you love and want to bring out. It should help to bring out qualities that you think you might lack. For those qualities that you lack, you have to be careful. If you want to convey strength, choose wisely. "Oak" seems to be the most popular for relaying this quality. "Storm" is a popular name in the Craft, especially after the X-Men movies, but Storm brings more connotations than strength. It brings the ideas of chaos, destruction, and turbulence. The word "Blood" is also used in the Craft often, especially those drawn to the mythology of vampires but you have to remember that the word "blood" can be a verb as well as a noun, ie; to blood someone. Even some innocuous names can have dire consequences in your pursuit of magical knowledge as well as in your personal life. We had a young lady who chose the name 'Gypsy' for herself. While it is a lovely name and evocative of her heritage and of mystery, Gypsy found herself moving from one place to the next constantly. She dropped and rejoined classes often. It was once suggested she change her name to something more stable, like 'Pat' or 'Mountain'. (I was joking with mountain.)
Powerful magus and sorceress names are popular as well. "Circe" is a common name amongst women in the Craft and while she may have ultimately helped Odysseus in the end to get home, she did hold him captive for over a year and turned his men into pigs. She could be quite treacherous and vengeful so if you believe that those traits are a good exchange for being a top notch enchantress, then by all means, just don't expect to have a lot of friends in or out of the Craft after you've attempted to turn them into swine.
If Athena would have worked out numerically for me, it would be the name I would be using now. I'm glad it didn't. Instead, I added the 'O' to make it a numerological viable number and the rest, as they say, is history. Not only did I have a unique and beautiful name, but it honors Athena much better than calling myself by her name. (I get to explain it and talk about Her a lot.)
Just as the names of everyday things utilized as a magical name can invoke those particular traits into your life, you'd better believe that the same goes for the names of gods, goddesses, heroes and legends. I've known a Herakles and while having great resolve, he was forever being tasked and persecuted by all the women he dated. Almost every god and goddess has a good side as well as a dark side. You have to be sure you can live with the dark aspects of that god and goddess before calling yourself by their name.
Some in the Craft believe it to be utterly presumptuous to go around calling yourself by a God name. If you decide to call yourself Thor, you'd better not go around being dishonorable in any way that could sully that Gods name. It is a great responsibility to wear the mantle of a god or goddess. Make sure you are up to the task, which incidentally, most of us mere mortals are not. And what if you decide to change the God/Goddess name opting for something different after having been studying for a while? Changing the smooth flow of god-to-you-to-god energies that you decided to align yourselves with in the first place can have grave repercussions when you decide to interrupt those energies. It's likened to turning your back on those particular god-forms and a form of disrespect.
As my current High Priest says, "If you're going to be Wiccan, then you need to be wise."
Where Should I Use My Magical Name?
There are some that use their magical name everywhere, like me. I write essays under this name and if it has to do with the Craft at all, I utilize the name Atheona instead of my mundane name. At my regular job, around my family and in my business, I strictly use my given name (which I also happen to like a lot since I was named for my great grandmother). Some schools of thought believe that your magical name should only be between you, your coven, and the gods. This is a good school. Others believe you can't fully experience all there is to experience with the Craft unless you immerse yourself into it fully. I can see their point. I don't quite agree with it, but I do see it. This all depends on you personally, your tradition, and location, location, location. If you find yourself living in an area where your magical name could get you persecuted, I would rethink having one that you use publicly.
Why Choose A Magical Name?
In the Craft, the reasons for taking on a magical name are numerous. First of all. Let me say that I agree with many who say there is no reason to take on a magical name if you don't want to. It should, as always, defer to the tradition and path you want to follow. In fact, I would rather a student go without a magical name instead of taking on a silly one just for the sake of having a name. In our group, is required to have a magical name before the first non-introduction class. (about three weeks in).
The main objective of taking on a magical name is for its utilitarian aspect of being a 'tool of transformation'. It aids in the separation of the magical side of a person and their mundane life by helping a young witch focus and prepare for the work at hand. Using your magical name in a simple chant is usually enough to help 'switch' your mind over from the grocery list to making a holy space to practice magic. A magical name can give a wallflower a sense of courage and purpose otherwise not displayed on a regular basis. A forceful name can convey a sense of strength, fortitude, or steadfastness. A gentle name can tame the coarsest of behaviors. A spiritual name can aid in the attainment of enlightenment. Power and mystery can be easily conveyed through an enigmatic magical name far more than 'Wilbur' ever could. (No offense to any Wilburs.)
Unfortunately, even today, many witches take on a pseudonym for protective purposes. Adopting a magical name today serves the same purpose in the way of protection as it has for centuries. Authors, teachers, Craft leaders, and store owners can find themselves as targets of those with ill intentions towards any involved in the ancient arts and sciences. When the witch hunters of medieval Europe went searching for a great magus, they usually only knew a magical name which kept the identity of many a nobleman or noble woman protected. On the other hand, I have a dear friend who did subject himself to the paperwork and fees needed to add his magical name to his government name so that he doesn't have to delay when he decides to devote himself fully to the Craft in deed and in work.
It can be a means of connecting to divinity without and within. Some in the Craft have such an affinity for the mythologies they grew up hearing as a child that when they finally do find this religion that caters to the stories of their youth, they can't help but align themselves more closely to that divinity they have loved their whole life. Others have a difficult time with the concept of a divine being outside of themselves. Trees, stones, animals and other humans having the spark of the divine within them can sometimes be a hard notion to embrace, but the other aspects of the religion are common sense enough that the connection to divinity is the only impediment. By aligning oneself to divinity, whether specific or general, can sometimes help bridge the gap.
Taking on a magical name can be symbolic of the devotion you have for your new found religion. I hear so often from new additions to our coven that they have believed in the concepts of Wicca their entire life but never knew there was an actual religion that encompassed their beliefs. Upon finding a book, another practicing witch, or a class like ours - some of these students are so overwhelmed that they'll even start to cry. "It feels like I have finally found my place," is a phrase I hear at least once a year, usually through a veil of caught voices and tears. Even before experiencing an initiation, these students have had a rebirth into a religion they call home.
The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania by Joseph Noel Paton
How Do I Go About Choosing A Magical Name?
Start by looking around you. Look at your favorite books and stories. Look to the flowers that you love and the trees that fascinate you. Look at the ideas and things that thrill you. Look at your own life and your own personality. The choices for a magical name are endless. Just try to remember the caveats I've expressed already. Tools you can use to help choose a name are divinatory. Tarot cards, pendulums, scrying mirrors, crystal balls, rune stones or chips, Yes-yes boards (Ouija), dreaming and meditation are all great ways of helping you choose or narrow your choices for a name. Sometimes, the universe can be cajoled into helping you find a name even if its not dropping it into your lap as described before. You're about to become a witch. Ask the universe for help. Wish upon a falling star. Write the request on parchment and burn an offertory candle. Stand with your face to the wind and put it out there into the ether. Connect with the nature around you by going out into it. Here is a great story about how the son of one of our members decided on his magical name,
âRead Daniel's Magical Name
Do I Need To Choose My Name Numerologically?
No. But you can if you choose to.
Raymond Buckland says, "Why does the name have to match your Birth Number? Because your birth number is unchanging. People can change their names, addresses, etc., but they cannot change their date of birth. By choosing a new name that matches that birth number, you are then aligning yourself with that same vibration; the vibration of the moment you chose to be born."
Write your birth date and add the numbers. Reduce to one number.
09-23-1976 = 37 --> 3 + 7 = 10 --> 1 + 0 = 1
Use the chart above to designate number for the letters of your magical name. Add and reduce.
Atheona = A 1 + T 2 + H 8 + E 5 + O 6 + N 5 + A 1 = 28 --> 2 + 8 = 10 --> 1 + 0 = 1
There. Hopefully I've covered every part of the magical name I could cover. If I missed something, please do not hesitate to ask. I'd be more than happy to provide an answer if I can. If I can't answer it myself, I'll find the answer for you.
Improvise! Adapt! Overcome!