Thursday, January 22, 2009
What's in a Name?
In my spiritual practice I have been covering new ground and looking over older ideas and seeing if they still apply to my practice today. Specifically in the areas of trance work and magical names.
The stage I am at in my trance work (following the guidelines laid out by Poppy Palin in her book: Craft of the Wild Witch.) is one where I am to find my magical name. In Palin's opinion the name is to be used in reference to the astral or inner self that is manifest in a trance journey.
This has lead me to read and meditate on the nature of magical names in the pagan community and how they are chosen, used and found. I currently have a magical name, and while there are some aspects of it that I love, I definitely feel that I have moved beyond it's significance in my life.
My magical name is: Artemisia Goldenthread. This name was given to me by my circle sisters during our Samhain ritual in 2003. We had an eclectic pagan circle of three. We were not a coven, which would have changed the "rules" for magical names.
According to my research, within a coven many years ago, whether Wiccan or of a specific tradition, magical names were more secretive and meant to keep identities hidden in case of discovery. There is also a theory that knowing someones real name gives one power over them. Therefore a magical name was a protection measure and carried with it a certain amount of secrecy.
Today it seems magical names are very specific to which tradition you follow, in relation to how your name is used or shared. There are still many rules according to various articles, most discourage using the name of a deity, and most caution one to not choose the most popular ones.
In relating the use of a magical name to my eclectic, solitary pagan path I want to understand why I need this name, what context I will use it in, and consider why the one I now have is no longer working. Artemisia Goldenthread was chosen for me by my circle sisters. They knew me very well and chose the name based on important meaning for me. Artemisia was chosen for the plant also known as Wormwood. A plant said to be used by witches for psychic visions.
Artemisia Gentileschi was also the name of one of the first recorded female painters. Very meaningful to me in both counts. Goldenthread is taken from a line in a poem by Yeats. It was chosen because of my sewing. I do not think that I could have chosen a better name for myself.
The ritual in which we named each other was very simple but magical for us. We decided to try and keep the names secret to the three of us. We used them in sacred space. We created some art around them. I embroidered each of our names and framed them. After a few years I decided to use my name on The Witch's Voice. It was my first membership on an exclusively pagan site. And that is where my name has stayed. I feel like the name was specific to the Circle group. Since I have left the group, keeping it rings false to me, and it has been stagnant for many years. I don't think I ever fully identified myself by the name, in trance work or in the pagan community.
Why do I need a magical name at all? I now use my given name as my identity on social networks. I am indifferent to my name, I don't hate it and I don't love it. I have never thought of myself as someone who was misnamed. It just is what it is. I don't feel the need for a secret name, nor do I think that it is a tribute to how pagan I am to be dubbed something other than Jen. So I have decided to search out a magical name in trance, as a distinction for my astral self, but not to the exclusion of my "mundane" self. I would like to explore what symbols call to me, and what they say about where I am on my path. I will use the name only in my journey work, and if in the future I feel the need to share it I will.
How should I say goodbye to the other name? What do you see as the significance of your magical name? Do you have one yet? Do you want one? Here are some of the articles I read for my research. If you are searching for your magical name, or have decided to find a new one, blessings on your quest.
Choosing a Magical Name by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
The Magick of Names by Lionrhod
And a somewhat sarcastic but interesting one called:
How to Choose a Bad Magickal Name by Juliapgreen