Many pagans, and most witches have a magical name. What is a magical name and what is it’s purpose? The origin of magical names seems to be cultural and rooted in the ancient past. Parents would give their children a secret name shortly after birth in order to protect their children from harm. This name would be whispered in the child’s ear and would be kept secret, even from other members of the family.
Ancient Britons, Romans, Egyptians and many other pagan cultures believed that a person’s name was inextricably tied to a person’s soul; through the name a person would be remembered. This can be seen in an obvious way through Egyptian hieroglyphs, where Pharaohs would inscribe their names in many places. If a carved name was destroyed, the person was obliterated and their soul could not enter the After Life.
So too witches and magicians of old had secret names that were only known to those in the ‘inner circle’. It was a common belief that if anyone from outside the inner circle knew the magical name of a witch or magician, they would lose their powers, or even come under the thrall of the person who knew the name. Moreover, magical names seemed to be a form of protection. In the days when practising witchcraft was illegal and punishable by death, those who practised the ancient arts would use a public name in order to protect their real ‘magical’ name.
So, what is the purpose of having a magical name today, and do you really need one? Well, many witches and pagans choose to have a magical name in order to separate their magical lives from their mundane one. For some, having a magical name helps them focus on the magic at hand be it spell work, ritual or some other kind of magical/spiritual endeavour. Another reason is that of protection, for similar reasons as witches from the past. Not all countries have legalised witchcraft and even in those countries which have many witches (and pagans) still come up against a lot of discrimination.
There is a lot of debate among witches and pagans as to whether a magical name is actually necessary. Whilst some feel that having a special name is an important aspect of the Craft or their belief system, for others it seems unnecessary because they have no distinction between their ‘mundane’ and their ‘spiritual’ lives. Having, or not having, a magical name is a very personal decision. While it is quite usual for those belonging to a Coven to have one, many Solitaries choose not too – either way it is a personal choice.
I have a magical name (Deep~Glade BrackenFae) that I’ve had for a number of years now and it is so much part of my life that I sometimes forget what my ‘given’ name is. I tend to refer to myself as Deep~Glade even with friends who are not of the Craft. I think this has happened because I have no separate ‘mundane’ / ‘spiritual’ life. I only have one life and ALL is spiritual. That does not mean I spend all day in meditation, or casting spells or performing rituals. Far from it actually but I do see the spiritual in everything – I am a spirit having a human experience and NOT a human having a spiritual experience. So having my magical name is very important to me.
How does one find a magical name? Well, again this is a very personal experience and it is different for each individual. Some people only ever have one name and others change their magical names as they grow in spiritual maturity. There is no right or wrong method of choosing one’s magical name, should you decide you want one. The only thing to keep in mind is that your magical name should reflect your personal values and ideals. Here are some ways of finding you magical name (and this list is not exhaustive by all means):
* Choose a name from your favourite myth or legend
* Choose an animal name (a spirit guide or totem animal perhaps, only don’t forget to ask permission first)
* Choose a name from a plant or tree, or crystal (again ask permission from the plant, tree or gem first)
* Do a name quest journey or meditation and see what comes up
* Use divination tools to help you find your name. You could use runes or ogham fews, the tarot or an oracle deck.
*Use numerology to help determine the letters of your magical name
* Scry for your name using a crystal ball, a scrying mirror or a candle.
These are just some ideas, there are many methods of choosing or being given, your magical name. Use your imagination and creativity and be open to the Universe and its workings. You will ‘know’ in your heart when the name is right – it will feel right and sit right with you; you will have no doubts. Although sometimes, as I’ve mentioned before, some witches take on a different name later on, or even change their magical name many times throughout their life. This is perfectly ok just as long as whatever name you take at the time feels right to you in your innermost heart. It’s often the case that some people just outgrow their names as they mature spiritually and become more experienced in the Craft.
However, some do keep their names all their lives and that’s perfectly ok too. I’ve never changed my name and it has remained the same since the first moment I was called to the Craft many years ago. It fits perfectly now, just as it did then and I am very happy with it – it is me!
Two interesting books that you can read about the topic are The Sacred Power in Your Name by Ted Andrews and The Complete Book of Magickal Names by Phoenix McFarland.