This is a Words have Power piece and will be a running series by Wytcher, so feel free to contribute your response and discussion in the comments and await the next piece in the series.
Sometimes we forget the things we say. Sometimes we forget how we say them. Sometimes we say whatever we want because we have the right. But when was the last time you reflected on the words you say? When was the last time you thought about how your words affect those around you? As witches, everything we say has impact. As people, everything we say has an impact.
Words have Power. Real tangible power. Look at the news. Listen to the radio. Watch videos online. All of these sources have words flying out into the universe waiting to be empowered by the reactions and emotions of the ones who hear them. I say a word and feeling is attached to it. Slanderous words, created to be harmful, have power. Affirmations are designed to combat, and strike down, negativity with personal power and fulfillment. All of these words have an impact.
I could say I perform Hexes on a regular basis and you, the reader, are already forming an opinion. I haven’t told you how I hexed my wallet to never be empty. I haven’t told you I hexed the grounds outside of my home against intruders. But that word has an emotional tie to each of us in a different format. Words carry our thoughts, and emotions, giving them voice; and we direct that through prayers, fights, wooing in acts of love, and in acts of hate.
A common practice in the pagan community, not practiced by all, but by many, is the art of choosing a magickal name. A name that honors our highest truest self. One that reflects us in one of our many facets. This name has an impact the moment it is known. The point of having a name differs from source to source, but the common threads are clear. The name invokes protection within magick, it is sacred before the person’s goddess and god, and it conveys personality using key words (conveying strength with the word Oak, or adaption with a watery theme).
These names are important. They are powerful and they are dangerous. Every witch will tell you never to utter your sacred “holy name” before those you do not trust. They will forsake you, they whisper. They will rob your talent and destroy you should you disagree with them, they hiss.
Names are words and they have power.
Knowing what your name, means and represents, is just as sacred as whispering it to yourself. Learning Latin can add strength and depth to our day-to-day language. Some say saying words in your native tongue grants it special properties. In the end how the power is granted is from those listening to it.
Choosing a name that involves deity is risky. You are laying claim to their legacy by taking on their name in your craft. You could argue that by taking on their name you are furthering your worship of them. But there is caution to this further still. You become a representation of how that deity is perceived. If you leave a bad taste in an Elders mouth because of something shameful, that Elder will begin to subconsciously distance themselves from that deity. Slowly but surely.
You also run the risk of being offensive to many people and cultures around the world. It may seem fun and playful to call yourself something like, “Willow Riverrunner” or “Bear who climbs Trees” but that is incredibly offensive to many cultures. It is offensive to American Indian tribes, for example, to refer to yourself as a Shaman*. Think about how and why you take on names that you do. They have an impact.
*More on cultural appropriation to come (see additional reading)
Appropriation, please read & and contribute thoughts for future blog posts on this subject: