The Serious Business of Choosing a Magical Name

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: , ,

Sure, magical names are fun.  They reflect what we find powerful and exciting, giving like-minded folks a taste of our personality and what drew us to magic in the first place.  They're a good way to overwrite our given names which can feel dull or too common for ritual use.

When they're chosen by a teacher, they're even more thrilling.  Names bequeathed on you hold a sort of street cred with other practitiners.  You've been through proper training and received initiation through means that most of us have not.  Don't be shy about flaunting it!  The use of such a name can reflect a special sort of faith in yourself by dint of the faith your teacher had in you, as well as the respect you hold for that teacher.

In a pragmatic way, names can be useful.  Their original purpose, it is said, was to hide one's true identity so that one could never be handed over to authorities.  That can still work for us today.   Though we are far beyond the grasp of witch hunters, some practitioners do still face the threat of bosses, ex-spouses, and influencial relatives discovering their "secret" and using it against them.  Please note that all of these things are illegal and it is my firm belief that we stand up against such devious tactics by boldly displaying our beliefs and practices without shame.  However, if your situation seems to prevent this, having a name that you use only amongst practitioners can be a great ally.

As a code, a connection, a secret door that opens in your to let the magic out, your name can iuld a stronger bond between yourself and your Gods or guiding spirits.  It is part of what attaches you to the hidden world.  Keep it safe and use it only in those instances that bring the most benefit to you and your work.

Now you can see what I mean by the serious business of names.  There are many ings to consider before you take a new name, and many more when assessing a name you have hand for years.  Let's take a look at the most important aspects.

It is Your Definition

Most folks choose their name based on what most interests them about witchcraft.  It is a sign of the kind of power they wish to embody, the things they want to learn, where they want magic to take them.

Before taking a name, ask yourself if you can be summed up.  What words are your inspiration?  What is your drive?  What do you choose to be the totality of the magical side of yourself?  Yes, these things can be expressed in just a word or two.  Keep trying until you find them.

I've never had a hard time figuring out who I was or what I wanted.  It was easy, therefore, to choose a theme for my magical name at my official initiation in 2001.  I went through the motions of making my committment to magic and the Gods I worshipped because I'd been doing it for many years already, but taking a name was something I did with the greatest of care.  Even though I knew what I wanted my name to say about me, I still gave it long and thougtful consideration before making my decision.  The name I took expressed the parts of my personailty that I wanted to come to the forefornt.  Always a cage rattler, I never shied from a battle and was often found debating issues about which I had little interest, simply for the fun of the kill.  By this point, however, I was a wife and new mother and ready to let a still strong but calm side of me show.  So I named myself for the power of flexibility, compromise, and secret storms.  It was just what I needed at the time.

It Can Shape Your Future

Magical names are rarely thought of as limiting but it is quite true.  Because they are your aspirations, there may come a time when the goal they posit has been achived.  What then?  Well, now you have your limit.  You have grown into your name, expanding to its greatest dimensions, but further.

This may sound like a bad thing, but it really isn't.  First, there are a shockingly low number
of magical people who work long and hard enough to reach their ultimate goals.  Consider yourself quite lucky to be one.  Second, realize that many things go into building our experiences and not all of them are what we expected to find when we set out.  Perhaps you set your sights too low and your name's aspirations were easy to achieve.  Reach high next time.  Strive for something truly great.  Or maybe your name was sufficiently ambitious but you just got a wonderful set of opportunities that brought you to the finish line early.  Don't complain about that!  Start again with a new plan and hope that fortune willl favor you a second time.

I learned firsthand how much a name can shape you.  My flexible, yielding name overstayed its welcome and this tigress became toothless.  I stopped sticking up for myself at all.  I became too easy to get along with and my kindness was abused by employers, relatives, and friends.  Even after all these years, I'm still working myself away from the patterns this set for my reactions.

My best advice is to never keep a name so long that it begins to do you harm.  Go into that name knowing what potentials lie within for negative expressions and step away as soon as they begin to manifest.  I waited; you shouldn't.

It Must Change as You Change

So it's clear that you've got to take a new name now and again.  That's something I've not heard many practitioners discuss.  Maybe it's simply because our names become a convienece.  They're the way we are known in the community and we keep them for ease of use with others.  I totally understand.  This is why having both a public and a private name is helpful.  If your old name is what you're called by your coven, what gets shouted out across the festival grounds, or what you use in business, teaching, or online interactions, by all means hold onto it.  If you have seriously outgrown it, though, create a new one that better expresses your position and use it in more intimate settings.

You may require a new name only a few years after choosing one initially, or you may never see the end of the original.  It's only important if there's signs that it's not enough.  If you have reached sufficiently high and made connections sufficiently deep, you may be called by one name your whole life.

As for me, I didn't use my old name much so I didn't often consider it as being so out-of-touch with my current self.  Your own amount of usage will vary, of course, but for me it simply didn't come up as something I was ofen called.  I spent many of my early years (even once I was technically in the magical community and public about my practice outside it as well) without many physical interactions with other practitioners.  Online I was called by my sign-ons, not my magical name.  Offline, my only real use for it was for listing the source when writing and sharing spells with others.

It was only once it was obvious that my old name no longer fit that I took the leap to change  it.  I knew it was time because the old one seemed almost silly to me, a shade of my former self and the things she wanted to be.  So I finally took a new name that easily reflected the way I wanted to be now. I had feared the switch at first, but I quickly saw that the new name gave me more freedom, more expression, and a more useful position in my life.

Now that I am immersed in the community, I use my name a great deal more.  It's how I'm known to students, customers, and readers here and elsewhere.  It has become the new space for me to inhabit, with distant limits I may only see many, many years from now.

As you can see, careful choice is essential.  Use your well-crafted name often and use it well.  It's part of the will you work in the world and it can lead you to great places.  Open yourself to its influence and you can craft a version of yourself that is nowhere else so easily achieved.

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 

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