The Power of (Craft) Names

I recently came across a post on The Wild Hunt's blog - The Witch Gambit Didn’t Work (This Time). The main thing that sparked my interest was the debate that was sparked regarding the name of the woman talked about in the post. Many spoke about how her chosen craft name didn't help her credibility, with Peg Aloi summing it up well by saying that often people who have these Native-American style alter-ego names have problems being taken seriously by those both inside and outside the the pagan community. Many more have stated that craft names are losing their importance and relevance nowadays. Where in the past people used craft names to protect their identities, there is now less of a need for secrecy due to the wider spread of paganism (but, this does not mean that pagans do not get persecuted for their beliefs in present times, because they do). It seems now, within the pagan community, there is a scepticism towards the use of craft names.

Now I agree that a name like Vanilla-Clove Moonstone sounds rather silly. Names like these only serve as ammunition for ridicule by the public, regardless of the sincerity of the person whose name it is. If we are to be taken seriously by society, we have to accept that the more strange and different we make ourselves to be, the more we will continue to be marginalised. I'm not saying that we abandon any attempt at individuality, but we must realise that there is time and place for this. Some people are still just too closed to change and difference, and we won't get understanding from them by making the rift between us and them wider. I also agree that there is some less need for secrecy. But, I would like to disagree that the use of craft names is now redundant.

When you adopt a craft name during initiation, or when you commit yourself to your spiritual tradition, you are experessing a wish to start a new life and indentity. Your new name, through it's meaning and energy, helps to shape your 'spiritual personality' and also the things that are important to you on your life's journey.

One of my favourite books on pagan ethics is 'A Witch's 10 Commandments' by Marian Singer. It does a good job of trying to find underlying and unifying ethics and beliefs among the pagan community - which is in nature varied and multi-faceted, and therefore a difficult task! In this book, there is a chapter called 'Spirit Abides in all things. Names and Words have Power', where it says . . .

"If you have a word for it, you can think about it, and if you think about it you can begin to manifest it at least on a personal level."

Once you name something, it gives it form and expression in the world. The Egyptian god Ptah made all things by uttering them into creation. Sounds and mantras used in meditation summon certain energies and vibrations. To name something is to give it power. A craft name provides a boundary, a definition within which you can begin to build the characteristics you wish, as well as help build a connection between you and the deities you honour.


Beverly 26 January 2009 at 06:28  

Greetings Haley! Honestly, I have to admit some craft names I've heard sound ridiculous and when I decided to take one on I put a lot of thought into it. I wanted it to have some meaning and reflect my spiritual life. I don't use it often and only a few very close friends and my son know it, but deep in my heart I am my alter ego. Carrying it with me, I feel more magical and have the spiritual confidence to reach out to others in a more confident way.

Haley @ Iridescent Dark 26 January 2009 at 10:11  

Hiya Beverly! Yeah, some I've heard are pretty far out. I agree with you, when it came to choosing my name a lot of thought and effort was involved. I've had quite a few over the years, where I've liked them then it wore off. Looking back though, it seems to be because I just liked the meaning (eg. Haley = hay meadow/hero) and therefore my interpretation and its effect on me was limited. But the one I have now does more than that for me - when I chose it it conjured a visual image in my mind and created a certain feeling in me. That is what I think is key - that it isn't just a name, but almost like an anchor for a type of aura that settles on you with it's usage. I hope that makes some sense, it sounds a little confused!

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