What is your name
What’s In a Name?
New Hope Baptist Church
Text: Genesis 32:27-29
To the ancients names were very important. Egyptians considered them to hold the power of the person or God, to the extent that if one knew the secret names of the gods’ one could have power over them. According to some legends Isis obtained her magical powers by tricking Ra into revealing his secret name to her, thus gaining access his magical knowledge.1
In later times mythographer's cunningly alternated a persons name to show a transition, change or even another aspect of a deities ideas or personality. Biblical examples of this nature include references to Peter and Simon, which mean "Rock" in Hebrew and Greek respectively. It was of interest to Gnostic philosophers to understand these occurrences of synonymous names, which generally represented an initiation or change within the character of the myth.
This method of correspondence through similarity in names helped initiates to search for the symbolic truths within the biblical parables. Other examples of similar "name play" occur with Moses and Isaiah in Exodus and Mary and Martha who play host to Jesus and represent the contemplative and active stages of achieving Gnosis.
The power of a name becomes clear when we contemplate the use names can have within corporate companies and branding. A new products name is usually chosen to inspire or entice and can sway people by tapping into their unconscious desires or stereotypes. For example cars with powerful names such as Mustang are more likely to attract rough and ready adventurous types looking for a certain "grunt" or power to their automobile. If that same car was called "Pony", I'm sure it would attract less of the target audience.
In our modern society we only have a tradition of birth names, which don't usually reflect our inner spirit. Some tribal cultures, such as the North Americans, participate in a vision quest where they seek out their true name and visions of their life for the future. This usually marks a rite of passage, especially the transition of child or adolescence to adulthood, and is followed by a naming ceremony to imbue the power into the individual.
Many people used to western society are now finding power through taking on a spiritual or "magick" name. Some participate in vision quests, while others take them as part of an initiation into a Pagan path. To me, by using a magickal name when conducting magick I am using it as a subconscious trigger to tell myself that I am going to be doing something that is not mundane.
It is also said that the names we know for entities and deities are their public names. If we create a bond with these energies we may discover their secret names and grow in power and wisdom. For example the dragons that represent each element are Fafnir (fire), Grael (earth), Sairys (air) and Naelon (water).5 I have been told that you can learn a different name, if they are willing to give it to you, and then perform more complex magick with their aid.
Pagans may take on a few different names. These can include a public "craft" name or alias (mine is Metanoia) that all may know. Those in a coven may have a particular name to use only within coven activities. Some may also have a secret or personal craft name known only to themselves and their patriot deity.
When choosing a magickal name, craft name or spiritual name you should chose something which speaks to you on a deep level. They should say something about who you are, what you like or where your affinities lie. Your name may come to you when you least expect it, such as in a dream or observing nature. You might find a name or word in a book that speaks to you or form a word from a series of sounds which doesn't have a meaning in English, yet has a profound feeling associated with it because of the vibrations. You may take on a name that has aspects of a plant or animal, a god or goddess or any number of things. I believe the most popular names are those involving an animal, or a season or goddess. (ie. Silver RavenWolf, StarHawk, Autumn Samhain, etc)