What’s in a Name?
When I first got an internet connection years ago in the nineties, it was still in its infancy for private individuals. It was exciting and I was a bit insecure. There was so much to explore and I discovered lots of websites and forums. People told me “Don’t interact on the net with your own name, that’s dangerous!” So I had to choose a nickname on the spot. I couldn’t come up with anything at first. Then I looked at my little collection of Tinkerbell stuff that I had been collecting since I was a kid, so I decided I would use Tinkerbell. Hmm, there already were people with the same idea… So I shortened it to Tink and added something personal, TinkNL (Netherlands) or Tink68 (my birth year). That’s how I started, and that’s what I still use most of the time nowadays. I’ve never been one for a new nickname for every forum or interest. I was and am Tink almost everywhere: in Dutch or English, on pagan websites, on Robbie Williams forums, on other fansites but also technical stuff, my blog, social media, etc. And of course right here on PaganPages!
I was a regular on pagan forums and everyone knew me as Tink. One of the major forums in those early days was WhiteshadoW. Through there I met several people in real life, in small groups or a lot on forum meetings. I’ve never really made a secret of my own name, but everyone just called me Tink. I listen to it just as good as to my real name. ‘Tink’ became much more than a nickname; it is my other persona without being someone else. Even today, having used my real name on Facebook for years, a lot of people still call me Tink. I don’t mind at all. When I hear it in a crowd on a festival or fair for example, I turn my head immediately to see who’s calling for me.
When I joined a coven for the first time, it was with people that knew me as Tink but we used our real names too. When it was time for my neophyte initiation ritual I was asked to choose a name. I thought about it for some time, but decided to go with Tinkerbell. It felt good and fitted me like a glove, although my appearance is far from a tiny pretty fairy. 😉 So we went ahead with that. After I quit the coven I didn’t think I’d join one ever again. But as always, life makes unexpected turns and I was warmly welcomed into another coven. This time I deliberately chose another name to signify that this was another part of my journey… I will always stay Tink, but it was time for a new name, my magical name.
I was thinking about a certain name and just a moment later my HPs (High Priestess) suggested that same name. I hesitated because it’s the name of a goddess, my patron goddess. If you’ve read my columns before, you know who that is. 🙂 I always felt it is a bit presumptuous to give yourself the name of a goddess. Maybe I could add –dóttir (daughter in Icelandic) or something like that. I decided to ask the goddess herself. In an earlier journey she told me she wanted to be known again. In this new journey she repeated that and gave me permission to use her name, in her honour as her priestess.
In pagan groups on Facebook (or elsewhere on the world wide web) beginners often ask how they can find their craft name, witches name, magical name or whatever they call it. They think they need a magical name right away, but that’s nonsense. I advise them to wait and think about it for some time. In the past, when witchcraft was illegal and considered wrong, practitioners needed a magical name to protect themselves. Nowadays we can take the time to find something that suits us best. When you have found the right name, it is intended to stay with you for a long time.
A magical name is something different though. It gets extra power and meaning along your path, so choose it carefully. A teenager that’s new to it all and enters a forum with “Hi, I’m Kali, that’s my magical name” worries me. If you really want to name yourself after a god of goddess, at least do your homework first and study what this deity stands for. Get to know him or her, look for the meaning and story behind it, meditate, do a ritual, etc. Consider to use not the name itself, but something based on it.
In some traditions it’s customary to wait a year and a day before choosing your name. Other paths give you a name (or let you choose one) at the time of initiation. Some pagans have two names: a public one and one that’s only used within the group or coven they work with.
A name can be chosen because of many reasons, varying from ‘I just like it’ to a complicated search and based on numerology or something like that. Sometimes you get a name in a dream, or in a meditation. It can be a short name, or it can be longer and have more components. The possibilities are virtually endless: animals, trees, gems, deities, book characters and so much more.
Do you have a magical name, or more?
How did you find it, or did it find you?