Magical Names

There is an ancient belief that by naming something you invoke it. In earlier times, and in tribal societies, the naming of a thing or person was a great responsibility. The true name of something encapsulates its essential nature. Even today a child is named in a solemn ceremony and there is a belief that the name chosen will affect the child, in some way shaping its character.

Often a child is not felt to be a person at all – or to have its own individual identity – until it is formally named. Un-named or unbaptized children were considered to be at risk of being kidnapped by fairies and jealous spirits. In some traditional societies, the naming does not take place until some time after birth, but the child is called by something that is not the real name, which is secret. In Europe the name was often kept secret until the christening, even from the mother. This stems back to the old belief that people, animals, places, gods and spirits have real names that are secret. If a person can discover the real name, then they will have the being in their power (think of Rumpelstiltskin), and the real name can be used to work magic against its owner. Magicians use words of power, which include the names of gods and spirits, tapping into the essence and energy of the being when the name is intoned correctly.

Often a person takes a new name with a change of status, for example a boy will assume a new name when he comes to manhood, a woman when she marries, a priest when he is ordained, and a witch or magician when initiated. Many people choose a special name that they use just for magical work. This is known as a magical name and has certain advantages. When you are within your circle, you leave the everyday world behind and become a magical being who will learn to see things in an entirely new way. Having a magical name can help separate the two worlds and some people find this very useful. Another reason people choose a magical name is for anonymity. In the days when witchcraft was under attack, it was dangerous to be named as a witch, so they took secret names and did not refer to each other’s everyday names at all in connection with the coven.

There is no right or wrong way to choose a magical name. You may have had one in mind for some time. Perhaps you would like to meditate and take whatever comes to you during the meditation. Don’t let anyone choose your name for you, or don’t be persuaded into a name you don’t feel comfortable with. Some choose plants or animals they feel an affinity with. Ravens, crows, foxes and wolves are popular. Herbs have great appeal since they can often sound very well.  Some include a name that relates to their heritage. Some combine an animal name with their own everyday name. Other options include taking the name or part of the name of a famous wizard from legend – especially from the Arthurian tales. There are any number of Merlins, Morgans, Morganas, and Nimues. Take a look on the Pagan or occult shelf of your local bookshelf; many authors write under assumed names which are often the same as their magical names.

© Anna Franklin


Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

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