How many of you searched for the symbolic meaning of your name? Googled your name on the internet? Why do so many of us participate in such an activity? The truth is that names are a part of every culture and that they are of enormous importance to both the individual who receives the name and for the societies, families and cultures who give them. I’ve always found it interesting how people tend to reflect on their names and the stories behind the naming ceremony. In fact, I find it a great deal more intriguing how much naming ceremonies vary from culture to culture and that, regardless of when, why, or how often it happens, the giving and receiving of a name is an event of major importance. Frequently, the significance of names is emphasized by elaborate rituals that almost always have deep religious/spiritual meaning.
In Christianity, the child is officially recognized and named through a baptism ceremony whereas in Islam, the infant is named on the seventh day by the mother and father who make a decision together on what the child should be called. In the Hindu tradition, naming is considered a sacred practice and it involves not only the parents but also close relatives and friends. An elaborate ceremony is conducted on the 12th day after the birth of the child. No matter the differences in traditions, the effect of the naming ceremonies -across cultures- is the same. The person receiving a name also receives an identity and a place in society.
I’ll refrain from doing deeper into the symbolic contract we make in naming individuals but I will ask you, in exchange, to consider all that comes with having a name: the birth certificate and all of the societal benefits that are attributed to those who bear legally recognized names, like being able to register for social security, schools, etc. Another thing to consider is how convicts, as punishment, are stripped of their names and are forced to be recognized by prison numbers. In doing this, society says, in effect, that the convicts have broken the contract with civilization that their names imply. They have separated themselves from the community by breaking the rules; thus, they are no longer entitled to the identity and social privileges their names give them.
The link between names and identity is reflected in the search for the symbolic meaning so many of use participate in online. We are wondering if our names correspond to who we believe ourselves to be. When we introduce ourselves, answer phone calls, we take care in the pronunciation of our names. By that same token, we are offended when people mispronounce them because, in doing so, they distort our identity. Accidental distortions are annoying, but mispronunciation and distortions of a name on purpose are sizable insults, especially if they result in unflattering puns. (Consider how people refer to Trump as Drumpf — along with many other insulting/unflattering names and how he, in turn, creates insulting nicknames for his own enemies.) The sense of personal identity and uniqueness that a name gives us is at the heart of why names interest us and why they are important to us as individuals and to our society as a whole. In spite of their importance, though, most people know very little about names and about the effects they have on us and on our children in everyday life. In a very real sense, we are consumers of names, and we have a need and right to know about the psychological, magical, legal, religious, and ethnic aspects of our names.
In Wiccan/Witchy Traditions, initiates take a Wiccan Name (Craft Name, Magickal Name). This name is typically not used in public, but is shared with other Witches, Pagans and Wiccans relevant communities or gatherings. Some Occult authors use their craft name on their publications. For Example, Silver Ravenwolf, Starhawk and Oberon Zell-Ravenheart. This tradition of re-naming signifies re-birth for Wiccans. As you are no doubt aware by now, names and naming both hold a significant amount of power. The Witch’s magickal name is encapsulates her/his Essential Self. It is their “true name.”
This is the very reason why your magickal name is held sacred and secret, generally divulged only to those with whom you are close. To know your true name is to know a great deal about you. Very few people know my full magickal name.
I often say to myself, “Know Thyself, Witch.” In taking a magickal name, full of intent and in complete understanding of it’s symbolic meaning, I identify myself. Every time I hear it or say it, I’m reminded of who I am – of who I choose to be. Every time I am called by this name, I feel the energy of it move within myself and in the person who uses it. I firmly believe that the Universe shifts, when you take ownership of yourself and give yourself a magickal name, to help you become that person you know yourself to be. The more cognizant you are of your name’s meaning, the more alignment with your Divine Essence you are creating. Thus, you are accessing more power when you invoke the name.
There are several components to my Magickal Name but I will only share two with you here:
Tala (TAH-lâ) – In Samoan culture means “teller of stories” or “story”. Significant because I am a writer. In Arabic, it means “little tree”, an offshoot that grows alongside a greater mother tree. Significant because, to me, it corresponds to spiritual growth and the Goddess.
Añuli (ah NOO lee) – In Igbo, means “joy” or “daughter who brings happiness”. Significant because I want to radiate with joy and bring happiness to those around me.
When put together, Tala Añuli speaks of a person, perpetually on a path of spiritual growth, who brings joy through her words, stories, and deeds. This is who I know and want myself to be.