What’s in a Name?

Names have power. From the first name our parents bestowed upon us at our birth, to the nicknames (good and bad) we

veiled goddess modron

acquired in school, to the names we have given or taken for ourselves. Each had its own power, if we allowed it, to shape and define who we were at the time.

I remember when I was in junior high school, way back at the tender age of 12, I decided that I didn’t want to be called Nancy any more. Nancy wasn’t a nice name in my mind. I wanted to be called Lynn. That was my middle name. Lynn to me spoke of sophistication and a grownup-ness that I wanted desperately to have.

Of course, my efforts to get people to call my Lynn fell on deaf ears and I went back to being Nancy within a couple of weeks.

Nancy I was and Nancy I remained until I packed up and moved from Kansas to London. Here, my name was shortened to Nan by friends and my new family. Well, my parents-in-law still called me Nancy but that’s okay.

Nan is a name that fits me now. Nan is what some children here call their grandmother and as I am now at an age where I am old enough to have grandchildren, or at least my eldest son is at an age where he is old enough to make me a grandmother though he is not quite ready otherwise. But my hair is turning (turned?) grey, my face holds a few more lines, and I am entering the crone stage of life. Nan is a good name to hold.

I have other names, and titles. Some given to me by others, some earned through study and effort. Some positive, some negative. Some I have chosen to take on as my own, some I have rejected. Some hold no power any longer. A relative addressing me as Nancy Lynn as a child would have caused trembles of fear. “What have I done wrong?” Yet when a relative addressed me in this way a few years ago, it merely caused me to laugh at her assumption that Nan the adult would respond in the same way that Nancy the child had done.

An integral part of some Pagan practices is that of taking on a “craft name” when one is initiated into a tradition, or initiated themselves as a solitary practitioner. For some, this name is secret and is only shared within ritual circle. For others, this name becomes their identity both within ritual and without. Some have gone so far, when they take on a ritual name or undergo a major transformation which includes taking a new name, to have their birth name legally changed.

In my early solitary practices I discovered and gave myself a craft name. Then when I was part of a coven in the Blue Star tradition, I was given craft names at my dedication and initiation ceremonies. The last craft name I received was given tome when I received my third degree initiation and hived away.

That name was Maedrona and it heralded the arrival of  Modron as my Patron goddess. I’ve had and used this name in ritual since 1998.

In recent years, Modron has taken a step back and is no longer my Patron Goddess. Fitting when you consider that she is a Mother Goddess and while I still have children my fertile years are past. I am moving into my croning time.

It may be that as I move more fully into this new power and new time of life a new craft name will reveal itself to me. For now though, you can call me Nan.


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