| poetry & writing | Feasts
In Search of a Magickal Name by Valerie, Sibylline Priestess
When I first stumbled into Wicca, almost all of my learning came from books, and I always practiced alone. I remained a solitary for five or six years before moving from Massachusetts to Texas. Once settled in Austin, I began to seek out a Pagan community. And I found one! As a solitary, I had never really put much thought into finding a Craft name. After all, who would use it? But the more involved I became in a community of witches, the more I started to think about it. Everybody else seemed to have these great mystical names, and I wanted one, too. Thus began my search.
Anyone who knows me knows that once I decide to do something, almost nothing can stop me. I am nothing if not fiercely determined. So off I went in search of information on how to find a name. I learned that some people are given their name during initiation into a coven; some people pick a name because they feel a strong connection to either the name, its meaning, or both; some people pick a name because they think it sounds cool…there is no real “standard.” Well, I wasn’t in a coven and didn’t plan to join one. And I didn’t just want to pick a name I liked the sound of. So I figured my task was to find a name that held some sort of special meaning to me, or that I felt a connection with. How hard could that be?
I soon discovered that it wasn’t as easy as I’d expected. I explored some of my options. I could choose the name of a Goddess I identified with. But the word “hubris” kept popping into my head, and I decided that wasn’t the route for me. How about a plant or herb with magical properties? I tried “Valerian” (good for soothing nerves and close to my real name) for about a week, but it didn’t catch on. Something serpent-related to reflect my love of snakes? Nope. I even tried those silly name generators online. A year passed, and still no luck. And as I got absorbed in other things and ideas, I spent less time worrying about it. But it was always there, in the back of my mind, waiting.
I meet regularly with a group, and a little before Yule we started a mask-making project. One mask would be an archetype that was “assigned” to us. The other would be a deity mask of our choosing. I did a guided meditation to help me choose a deity, and it was Pan who came to me. Not who I expected, but I was prepared to take on that challenge. A week or so later, before actually making the masks, the group did a meditation together where we visited with our chosen deities to see if they had any further wisdom to share regarding how they should be depicted in these masks. During that second meditation, Pan decided to share something else with me instead – and that was my magickal name!
In my journey, I arrived at my sacred space (inside an enormous tree). It was all decked out for a celebratory feast, and there was a very long table with many chairs, with a little place card at each chair. I started wandering the length of the table, looking for my name, but couldn't find it. I started to think maybe I wasn't meant to be there - nobody else was there, after all. Then Pan appeared, took my hand, and led me to a place at the table. I looked down, and the place card said "Astrid." I looked back at Pan, confused, because this is not my name. He looked into my eyes, nodded gently, and pulled out the chair for me to take that place at the table. So I sat. And my journey was done. Pan had nothing more to share with me on that day. I was so excited when I came back from that journey. I wanted to tell everyone in the group what had happened. But I decided that I’d do a little research first, just to make sure Pan had it “right.” (And the word “hubris” surfaces again…)
I looked up the name “Astrid” on the internet, and I like
what I found. It is a Scandinavian/Norse/Swedish name (my father's side
of the family comes from Sweden) meaning divine strength. In Armenian
and Greek, the name means star (the card I connect with most in the Tarot).
Also in Scandinavian, the name is associated with divine beauty, or beautiful
goddess. I found that very interesting, given my ongoing personal struggles
with my physical self, and especially the emotions I was dealing with
on that particular evening, as brought about by being assigned the Seductress
archetype for the other mask we were making (but that’s a whole
other story for another time).
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