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Names and Magic

To: alt.magick,alt.traditional.witchcraft,alt.pagan.magick,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.chaos,alt.religion.wicca
From: nagasiva 
Subject: Re: Names and Magic
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 02:15:42 GMT

50031030 viii om

hi Tom,

#># An interesting aspect of magick is naming.

#> many replace their names at initiation, for example.

# Which seems reasonable.  A transformation in one's 
# view of oneself would be paired with the adoption 
# of a new name for oneself.

yes, and/or a new interface with one's community.
prefacing titles can facilitate that too, like a
packaging context.

# In magick, the name is a formula, a description 
# of the essence of a thing, and a link to that 
# thing, by which it may be influenced.

very much so. this is why name-papers are used in
spells, and it seems at the outside of the person
in terms of personal concerns, leading into their
body parts like nails, hair, fluids, etc., as means 
of cementing the connection, the Magical Link.

#># Which names are not real?
#> those put on to deceive or opaque rather than to reveal.
# Must this be intentional, or can it be simply a case 
# of mistaken identity?

good call. mine was merely one example. yours is another
good one. name-calling is used as a means of attempting
to harm, comparable to a kind of spiritual-cookie-cutting,
intending to format the target to standards of inferiority
that only a person's integrity and strength can survive
unscathed (hollering "sticks and stones!!!!").

this can go the other way too: initiatic names given can
fail to 'take' and yield the transformation which was
supposed to have been intended within ceremonial rites.
in some religions this can be recognized, and require
remediation (as when someone breaks the conditions of
restriction during a recovery period after the initiation).

#># Could "real name" be an oxymoron?
#> it sure could. 'real' may be the thing itself, the name
#> may get in the way of an encounter with said thing.
# "The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao."

indeed, or the 'Name of God' which some go to lengths 
to avoid saying, or say it in code.

#># Is it possible to change one's "real name"?  Why or why not?
#> fundamental shifts in identity, social role, and general
#> behavioural repertoire are opportunities for such changes,
#> and some select that time to reformat their sociopersonal
#> referent. effectively that name which most accurately
#> reflects the being in question (an ideal) can fluctuate,
#> requiring a new identifier. typically this occurs during
#> times of reorientation or the adoption of new social roles.
# I've noticed people trying to change their identities, 
# social roles, etc, by adopting a new name.  So in addition 
# to commemorating a change, it might also be an attempt to 
# precipitate one.

yes, catalyzing. this is one reason that I've defended the
occasional intrepid youthful mage in internet forums when
they've assumed grandiose identities and attempted to hold
their own (long time ago there was a 'Pendragon' that 
caught some heat for it in alt.magick, for example). 

I've compared it with a kind of controlled or slow ego-
inflation into which one might grow. this might also be
in part the method by which some initiatic societies
like the OTO confer transformation upon their initiates
outside of their comparable matriculatory orders (GD+):
the personality 'tries on a new identification' and 
then expands to supplement, growing in the experience.

are there other reasons to adopt names beyond reflecting
what has already happened or attempting to catalyzing it?


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