What’s in a Magical Name, and Why Is Everyone Named Raven?

What’s in a Magical Name, and Why Is Everyone Named Raven?

When they become Wiccan, many people take on a magical name—or craft name—and it’s the name other Wiccans in the community will know them by and that they’ll use in Wiccan rituals. Some people take on a name when they first become interested in Wicca. Others wait until they dedicate themselves to the path through a self-dedication ceremony or when they are initiated into a particular Wiccan group. Some Wiccan traditions have special rules for when someone takes a name and what kind of name it can be, and others don’t.

Most Wiccans who have magical names only use them in the Wiccan community, and use their legal names elsewhere. Having a second name can help protect your privacy in case there are people you don’t want to know about your Wiccan practice. However some Wiccans use their magical names all the time, even outside of the Wiccan community, and some only use theirs when they are in ritual space.

How Do I Choose a Name?

Your magical name should represent something that applies to or describes you, something you aspire to be, or something that’s very meaningful to you. Some Wiccans choose names out of literature or mythology. For example, I have a friend who chose the name Cian from the Cath Maige Tuired saga from Celtic mythology. Others choose nature-oriented names, such as the name of a favorite tree or healing herb. Still others choose family names; I have a friend who uses his deceased grandfather’s first. Some possibilities are names of stars, planets, elements, animals, stones, or colors; mythological beasts; names that reflect a craft or trade; names related to music or art—the sky is the limit (and yes, I know one or two Wiccans named Sky). The most important things are that your magical name should be meaningful to you and that it should be something you’re willing to use in front of the gods in sacred space.

Some Things to Consider

The name you choose should also be something you like enough to use for a long time and can either grow into or that will still work for you when you’re further down your path. You can take a different magical name later if you’ve outgrown the old one, but it’s hard to re-train your friends to use the new name, so it’s best to think ahead and pick one you can use for a long time.

It’s okay to take the name of a deity—such as Athena, Lugh, Inanna, or Osiris—but if you’re thinking of doing that, make sure you’ve done your research, you know a lot about that deity, and you have some sort of relationship with him or her. It would be disrespectful to take on the name of a deity you know very little about. Consider doing a ritual in honor of the deity and asking his or her permission through pathworking or meditation before taking on the name.

You may also want to try to pick a name that’s not common in the community. Since there are more Wiccans these days than ever, this can be a challenge. The reason there are so many Wiccans named Raven is that ravens are really cool, and they’re associated with several deities, such as Odin and the Morrigan.

Last but not least, try to pick something that’s not pretentious, especially if you are a beginner. Sometimes Wiccan high priests and high priestesses are referred to as “Lord” and “Lady” respectively. Do not use these honorifics if you aren’t part of a tradition that uses them and/or you haven’t earned them. And there are few things in the Wiccan community that cause more eye-rolling than a new practitioner who asks to be called a name that would be better in a LARP.

Questions to Help You Choose

Here are some questions to spark your creativity in thinking of a magical name.

  • Do you have a favorite myth or set of myths? Is there a character or deity in those stories who appeals to you, or whose qualities you’d like to embody?
  • Is there anything in the natural world you have a particular affinity for, or whose characteristics you have or would like to have? Examples are:
  • Animals (mammals, fish, birds)
  • Herbs (for healing, incense, or those with magical properties)
  • Flowers and trees
  • Stones (tourmaline, lapis, tiger eye, etc.)
  • Elements (earth, air, water, fire)
  • Weather (wind, rain, sun)
  • Celestial bodies (moon, sun, stars)
  • Is there a particular trait or talent you have or that you’d like to enhance? Is there a word related to this talent that you can use? Is there a deity associated with this talent whose name you could use? (For example, Bridgid is a goddess of the forge, and Apollo is a god of music.)
  • Is there a name from astrology, runes, or tarot that might work for you? How about high magic or the Kabbalah?
  • Is there a particular historical figure, musician, or artist you identify with?
  • Is there someone from your ancestry whose name you might like to use? Or is there another name you might like that would reflect and honor your ancestry?

What If I Don’t Want a Magical Name?

When I was initiated, I didn’t want to take a magical name. I felt that if I couldn’t walk before the gods as myself, what was the point? Do what feels right to you. If you want to practice using your legal name, so mote it be.