In the Olde Days, when our pagan ancestors were going through the persecutions
we now invoke to justify various kinds of current silliness, witches
took craft names to conceal their identities and avoid those annoying
visits by the Inquisition. In the course of years, it was noticed that
these aliases could also be used as a foundation for building up a magical
personality, carrying out various kinds of transformative work on the
self, and the like. It's clear, though, that these were mere distractions
from the real purpose lying hidden within the craft name tradition.
It took contact with other sources of ancient, mystic lore - mostly
the SCA, role-playing games, and assorted fantasy trilogies - to awaken
the Craft to the innermost secret of craft names: they make really cool
It's in this spirit that Lady Pixie Moondrip offers the
following guidelines to choosing your own craft name. Such a guide is
long overdue; the point of fashion, after all, is that it allows you
to express your own utterly unique individuality by doing exactly the
same thing as everyone else. (Those who are particularly drawn to this
element of the craft name tradition will find the Random Craft Name
Generator near the end of this guide especially useful.)
The approaches given here can be used separately, or combined
in a single name to produce any number of interesting effects. Given
enough cleverness (and lack of taste), the possibilities are endless!
Starting Off Right
Whatever else you do, you should certainly begin your craft name with
"Lord" or "Lady." First of all, it's pretentious,
and that's always a good way to start. Secondly, it makes an interesting
statement about a religion that supposedly has its roots in the traditions
of peasants and rural tribespeople. Thirdly, since most Craft groups
use exactly these same words for the God and the Goddess, this creates
a (by no means inappropriate) confusion about just who it is that we
Along the same lines, you can always take the name of a god, a goddess,
a mythological being or a legendary hero as your craft name, thus putting
yourself on the same level as the powers you invoke.
Having once watched two fifteen-year-old boys get into
a fistfight over which had the right to call himself "Lord Merlin"
Lady Pixie has a high opinion of the possibilities of this approach.
She notes, however, that there seems to be an unwritten law among those
who have made use of this type of name already, and it's no doubt wisest
to follow suit: the more grandiose the name that you choose, the more
of a complete nebbish you should be. Nearly anyone can carry off, say,
"Lady Niwalen," but it takes a special kind of person to handle
a name like "Lord Jehovah God Almighty." Fortunately, there
are those among us who are equal to the task.
A related approach involves taking a name that implies (or, better yet,
states openly) that you are an elf or some other kind of nonhuman, magical
being. This works best if you are willing to act the part obsessively,
and to get really petulant when anyone fails to respond accordingly.
Subtlety should be avoided; nobody will catch something like "Lord
Elrandir" unless they know Tolkien inside and out. Try something
more like "Lord Celeborn Pointears the Real Live Elf."
The burgeoning field of fantasy fiction offers another source for fashionable
craft names, and in many cases, for interesting complications as well.
One popular approach is to choose the name of your favorite character;
as with nonhumans, this works best if you play the part, and throw a
tantrum unless everyone else plays along. Given luck and a sense of
the popular, you may be able to choose everyone else's favorite character,
too, and end up tussling over a name with a dozen other people. (Mercedes
Lackey is a good author to try if this is your goal.) Both this and
the last category have the added advantage of making it clear that,
as far as you are concerned, the Craft is simply a setting for make-believe
games; this can help spare you the annoyance of actually having to learn
something about it.
Inventing A Name From Scratch
The best way to do this is to come up with something that sounds, say,
vaguely Celtic, perhaps by mangling a couple of existing names together,
and then resolutely avoid looking it up in a Welsh or Gaelic dictionary.
Luck is an important factor here, but there is always the chance that
you'll manage something striking. It took one person of Lady Pixie's
acquaintance only a few minutes to blur together Gwydion son of Don
and Girion, Lord of Dale, into the craft name "Lord Gwyrionin,"
and several months to find out that the name he had invented, and used
throughout the local pagan scene, was also the Welsh word for "idiot."
Following a Grand Tradition
Though the ink is barely dry on most of our modern pagan "traditions,"
there's at least one ancient European tradition that many people in
the Craft follow: the tradition of stealing things from non-Western
peoples. Fake Indian craft names are always chic, especially if the
closest thing to contact with Native American spirituality you've ever
had is watching Dances With Wolves at a beer party. Better still, mix
whatever Craft teachings you've absorbed with a few ideas you picked
up from a Michael Harner book, break out the buckskins and the medicine
pouches, and proclaim yourself a shaman. Mind you, there are people
out there who have received real Native American medicine teachings,
and they may just turn you into hamburger if you piss them off; still,
that's the risk you run if you want to be really trendy.