N is for Names

Craft Names and other religious names come up a lot in Pagan circles. The idea of taking a new religious name as a way of ‘being born’ into your new path isn’t one that’s unique to Wicca and Paganism. I’ve heard of similar traditions in Judaism, Islam and Hinduism, at least with regards to converts, though there are probably others too that I’m not aware of.

Taking a new religious name is a way of naming yourself. Most of the time, we’re given names by our parents, ones we don’t choose and have to live with unless we decide to change them and pick something else. Choosing your own name can be a powerful experience, and it can bring a lot of confidence with it. ‘This is who I really am’, ‘this is what I want the world to call me’, these are powerful things one can do, and sometimes give a sense of control over your own identity. Sometimes, too, it’s a way of escaping a name you were given but have never identified with for whatever reason. People choose names for themselves for a variety of reasons, and this extends to choosing religious or Craft names for Pagans. Because names are such a personal thing, I try not to judge people based on their chosen Craft names, even if they sound daft. You never know, that person calling themselves Merriweather Moonshine might have some very good reasons for using that name that you might not be aware of. So I try to respect that.

I know I had a few weird Craft names when I was just starting out. I was getting into Paganism in the late 90s/early 2000s and a lot of what I had access to was neoWiccan materials, most of which emphasised the ‘picking your Craft name’ thing based on colours, metals, crystals, animals, etc. It seemed like it was just the big thing at the time, that Craft names were meant to be that sort of thing, a combination of words like Merriweather Moonshine Ravenwings (or something else just as weird) that meant something to you. Those books are still around today, and this hasn’t really gone away. I feel like it’s something many new pagans go through as they begin to pick out their path.

Silver GhostCat was one of my first Craft names, and Argento Occhi was another. The only other one I can think of that I used back then was Akarhu Tesenisis, based off a (blatant self-insert) character I’d created some time before. It’s strange to think back on them, because even though they’re not names I use anymore, they still mark that part of my path, and I can still relate to them on a weird level. The older I get, and the more experienced I become as a pagan, the more I can read into them. I can see meaning there that I couldn’t see when I was using them. For me, that’s an important aspect of all these Craft names. Maybe they sound daft to my 28 year old self, but they mark that time for me, when I was a baby Pagan and just learning about the path I was beginning to walk.

As I was becoming more Kemetic and left Wicca behind, I took on more Kemetic names as I started to get stuck into learning hieroglyphics. MerytDjehuty (Beloved of Djehuty) was one, and I used that more extensively than the others, particularly online. SatSobek (Daughter of Sobek) was another I used online. I also had one for Aset, but it was never as meaningful as those two were. How I had come to know that, when I was finally divined as a Kemetic Orthodox shemsu, that Sobek would be my Dad, and Djehuty my Beloved, I don’t know. But I was using those names 3-4 years before that divination. Perhaps I always knew.

At the time, I also found another name, a secret name, that was only known to me and the Gods. Until then, all my Craft names had been public, but this one, a male name, was to remain secret. It has two meanings, and the more I look into them, and see how they relate to my path now, the deeper it gets, and the more I come to relate to that name and what it means to have that name.

IbDjehuty was another of my names, and another I used extensively online. It is the only one that’s been given to me. I had this awesomely crazy dream back in 2003/4 or thereabouts in which Djehuty gave me that name, appearing as Tommy Lee Jones in a daft movie theatre. The name was the name of a movie I was seeing, IbDjehuty’s Temple, and I parsed the name in English as read the title. (It was a weird dream, but hey, it started a trend of my Gods taking on odd forms to talk to me. So. /weird.)

The next name I acquired was my Shemsu name as I joined Kemetic Orthodoxy properly as a Shemsu. The name I was given was Sobekemiti, with the ridiculously adorable meaning of ‘Sobek is my Daddy’. N’aww. <3 It’s the one Kemetic name I use most often now, particularly among Kemetic recon circles, as it was the name I was known by for five years. Most of my Kemetic path has been practised under that name, and most of my Kemetic friends are most familiar with it, so I use it. It still has a lot of meaning attached to it, the more I delve into it, and even though I’m not Kemetic Orthodox anymore, I still have my name. When I became a Shemsu all those years ago, when I was named, I vowed to learn the secrets of that name, and six years down the track, it’s still slowly revealing its secrets.

But my path isn’t purely Kemetic anymore, and as I took on a multipath practise (is it multipath? I have no idea anymore), it didn’t seem appropriate to use my Shemsu name for everything. It wasn’t meant to be used for that. So, after so many years without a ‘Craft name’, it was time to find a new one. One more geared towards a more general Pagan audience that was also easier to pronounce.

At the time, Isis was drawing me back to Her, and to a Roman style of worship, and I took on a Roman name for Her. She said it was appropriate to do so. When in Rome, etc. So C. Aur. Isidora Aegyptia was the name I (half-)chose. Isis pretty much insisted on the latter part (the cognomen) because She always wanted me to remember that I belong to the Egyptian Isis. (Even though Isidora is kinda Greek-ish, rather than an actual Roman name. But whatever. I think this is to make it a Graeco-Roman name, so I don’t need a Greek name too.) The choice of praenomen and nomen was up to me, and after a lot of indecision, I picked Gaia Aurelia. It also had to be feminine. Isis wanted me to have a feminine name. I … don’t think it was distinctly proper Roman practice for females to be called by their cognomen, but it’s right for this name, so the very short one name form is Isidora, or C. Aur. Isidora in abbreviated form.

And that brings us back to Arden  Star, the last of my new names. It was partly last NaNo’s fault, because I spent the time writing about Hekate and keys and odd magical forest rites in the West Midlands, so having the Forest of Arden as a namesake was… not entirely unexpected. (This is the RL one that no longer exists, not the one from Shakespeare.) Hekate and Isis are the Star that’s being referenced, as far as I can tell.

It’s a weird sort of name, because I know it makes sense to me, and I know there are layers of meaning here, but I’m not at the stage yet where I can articulate them. I’m not entirely ruling out it being something to do with the Horned Goddess either, though I haven’t entirely puzzled that out yet either. But I like it, and it’s not a bad general Pagan name. ‘Star forest’ is another thing I need to meditate on, as that was almost part of the name, too. This name went down a lot of different paths before it settled down.

This is an interesting topic to write about at this time, too, as lately, I’ve been having one of those weird urges to legally change my name, since my uni degree is almost over omg. I don’t know why I’m suddenly now panicking about having my birth name on my degree, but I am. I haven’t made a decision either way though, not yet. I haven’t even decided what to change it to, let alone gathered the funds to do it yet. But if I decide to do it, I want to get it done before I graduate. I feel like I’ve been calling myself Sasha for nigh on eight years now, and Laura just doesn’t fit anymore. But I’m still thinking about that. (And yet, I don’t mind being called ‘Lil’, which is a short form of my middle name. So. /I have no idea.)

I think I’ll leave this here for now, and make sure this is posted on the right day before I go catch up on all the tele I’ve been downloading recently that I need to catch up on. 😀 (and not stay up til 4:30am. >_>)

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