You know how people, some people, take up a “craft name”, or a practice name? Lots of time that makes sense. Tradition requires it, the coven all do it as part of coven practice…you just want to have a craft name for whatever reason. Really, the reason why you use one doesn’t matter. It’s totally understandable, and actually, I think that it’s rather an intriguing idea to use: having a special name you use with your coven or within your tradition.
Myself, personally, I don’t have a craft name or anything. I just use the name I was born with if I so choose to name myself during my work. Maybe if one day I ever felt drawn to it, I would pick one up; or do some kind of divination to figure out what my name should be. It’s all rather up in the air for me; considering that I don’t even think the broader Slavic-pagan community does anything at all like that. Though to be fair, I don’t know what established groups back in Europe do. I just know that I don’t know of any American Slavic pagans who use a “craft name”. And for me personally, it’s just not a thing right about now.
But there is a type of name I see people in the broader community using that kind of sticks for me. I’ve noticed recently a lot of people doing this. It’s rather curious for me. I’ll admit that I probably usually kind of keep myself aloof from the broader community; so this might probably be far more prevalent than I really expect or recognize. That’s easy for me admit; since I don’t pay much attention to just how long or prevalent trends are–not until they pique my interest.
Using Gods’ Names
Just what the hell is that about?
When you meet someone online who has a “craft name” with a god’s name–it’s usually a Lady Morrigan or Aphrodite or Hekate/Hecate. And those are the 3 names that I see most often across online posting and communities. Don’t know why it’s specifically those 3, but it really is. In my nearly 15 years on the pagan forums, boards, etc I’ve seen probably hundreds of women using these names. I strongly guess that the popularity of Celtic and Greek paganism must have something to do with it.
But then again–I don’t run into men claiming to be Lord Lugh, Hades or Apollo either. So go figure out just why far more women do this than men; at least in using gods’ names. I’ve yet to really come to any conclusions on just why this is.
That’s probably a whole other post on just why people pick those particular gods and use their names. And there’s probably a massive backstory and/or psychology that explains why you see far more women taking on goddess names rather than men taking on god names. I’m not going to get into that–nor do I have the knowledge prerequisite to be able to figure that kind of thing out. It’s too far above my pay grade to even begin to academically discuss.
This is probably just me personally, but I absolutely would not be comfortable using a god’s name as my craft name. All I can picture is that you are willingly and openly taking on…well, something of the god if you take their name. I can’t definitively say it’s their spirit, personality, vices or just essence. It’s more amorphous than that. But I really do believe that if you take on a god’s name, you are welcoming their direct self into your life. And far more than just when you’re worshiping, working with or honoring said same god. It seems to me that I would not want that kind of attention or burden. Hell, I’m not even ready for the attention that comes from formally dedicating myself to a god for a permanent, official, proper relationship. I’m more a fan of devotion, working with, and honoring as I may, on my own time.
Other people do want it–or just don’t see it the way I do. So obviously you see lots of people online who call themselves Lady/Lord So-and-So or whatever. And I’ve never really been inclined to bother people in forums on why they chose to use a god’s name. Lots of people get kind of…eh, annoyed or less than chatty when they get asked questions. That leads to me not wanting to push people or ask for too much information. Better not to cause trouble if it can be avoided. Of course, this means that I don’t have first-hand (or rather second-hand) anecdotes about just why or how people come along and get themselves into using such a name.
So it’s quite curious to see the rafts of people online who take on a god’s name. And interesting. Because, just what draws people to do that. I mean…it’s one thing to call yourself Lady Silver-Fox Raven-Wing or something like that, or to take on the craft name Elizabeth Bookmancer…or whatever else relates to your craft, practice or tradition. Those kind of names don’t make my ears perk up curiously, not much. They’re kind of par for the course within the broader pagan community. Nothing to make you really blink twice in most cases.
But to go on and say your name is Lady Morrigan–that’s a particular type of personality that I just flat don’t get. I might almost call it hubris. But that’s not quite the word either. It’s not that, not with a lot of them. And I certainly don’t want to insult people with the type of relationship with their deity to pull off taking on their god’s name. But…it’s definitely a certain type of person you usually see online that takes on such a name.
There’s a few who are super popular for names. And those are the ones that just baffle me.
Let’s just think about that for a moment.
Hekate is scary enough. I would not dare take on her name without knowing damn well what I got myself into. I have a healthy respect for her and her work. Not to mention, any of her domain is well worth cautious respect on its own. There’s no interest on my part, or on hers, for us to work together. But if I were to come across her in my own work, there’s healthy respect and a quick wide berth. I’m not much interested personally in much that she holds sway over–not as for her as a deity. Still, cautious, respectful and quite polite. That is how I handle anything that at all relates to her.
The one that terrifies me though:
There are very few things out there I am legitimately terrified by.
Baba Jaga is one (for very obvious reasons, to be clear), the Morrigan is another. That one, absolutely freezes my blood. If there is one deity outside my own pantheon that I want to absolutely never piss off, it’s her. I’ve never had to deal with her directly, and I’ll admit I’ve deliberately stayed well clear to avoid any chance of it happening. With the Morrigan it is not just cautious respect–like I said, terror is a bit more accurate. Though I’m not so much so that I would totally freeze up.
Just, it is far too clear for me that I should never make this one angry. There’s probably a reason all the Celtic pagans, recons or polytheists I know of speak of the Morrigan with total reverence; as well as a very healthy respect for her person. She’s absolutely not one to be fluffy and sweet and loving. From what I know, secondhand, she’s a pusher. She’s one to shatter personal boundaries and doesn’t coddle nor tolerate stupid or weak.
I like to think I’m neither of those – stupid or weak – but she is absolutely not one I want to deal with. Outside my pantheon and my work for one; for two she’s got a particular type of work ethic that I respect, but do not want to be part of. I deal in a different way with my gods; and it would not mesh well with the Morrigan herself. But that’s why I’m a Slavic polytheist, and I don’t worship nor devote myself to the Morrigan. Of all the gods and spirits not in my pantheon, she’s the one I would most fear to cross or to even take on herself with the taking on of her name.
And now back around to my confusion.
Why the hell would anyone want to take on a name like that? Even those that I know who worship or work with the Morrigan have said they would never take on her name as their own. They respect her, but have a deep understanding that it would not be smart to try and assume her name and persona. Too overwhelming and too dangerous. So I tend to trust their instincts and experience.
So what really draws “newbies” into calling themselves Morrigan or even Hekate for that matter? I honestly have no clue. I can’t fathom it. It’s too dangerous for me to consider. It would be absolutely against my own understanding or wish to take that aspect on. But perhaps I’ve done too much academic research to really get on with it. I know all too well exactly what the cultural context of these gods are; I know their history and just how the history of the peoples who worshiped them fits into historical context and that tells me just how dangerous they are to take on.
Maybe…perhaps it’s simply that newbies don’t realize what they’re getting into. That could be a pretty good explanation. I don’t know if it’s correct; but I am sure there must be some kind of correlation. After all, these gods are among the most popular pantheons, so I expect a higher percentage of people choosing their names. But then…why? There are better gods or spirits you could use the name of–ones potentially far less dangerous to call on.
It’s just so strange. I absolutely do not comprehend why anyone would want to take on that kind of burden. It makes no sense. But then, I suppose I just am not going to understand it–since it’s too weirdly foreign from my world view.∗