Sometimes through familiarity, we can loose the sense of the meaning, power and risk in the names we use to call to our Gods and Goddesses, and for those of us who cast spells or direct any kind of magic at or in the name of a person, the significance of that mortal name hides magical symbolism which needs to be taken into account and respected.
This session will look at what names have been used for, are still used for and why you should be careful when calling a name.
Importance of names
- To the ancient Egyptian, to preserve the name will allow that personal to live for ever.
- The ancient Egyptian magicians task was to know the names of the Gods so that they could be used to lend their power to their magic. Similar views were also held across many other paths to know the names of Gods and Goddesses to either control or use their power.
- Medieval grimoire texts that use Christian magic to know the names of God, the Angels and the Demons for binding.
- More modern uses of correspondences, not names as we know them but ways of linking and identifying a particular force or deity can be seen in a similar way to identify.
- Various societies through time have used important stages of life such as gaining adulthood a reason to take on a new ‘personal’ name.
- What about modern Western uses of names? Although everyone has their given name, many still chose something more suitable for daily life with their given name for formal use, and those in the craft also tend to pick secret names for their own use or that of the group. Even differing names for various social and professional settings.
Names are important, they define or reflect our personalities, our most obvious attributes or just something that sounds right in various situations. And then what about the phase He doesn’t look like a Jack’? The works of Oscar Wilde includes the marvellously funny play the Importance Of Being Ernest which revolves around this strange stereotype of names possessing certain characteristics. Perhaps it’s a recent association but it’s quite marked. Does the name define the person or the person describe the name?
There is something about a name and how its attached or linked between the person and their label, that is more intuitive than a given. Although they are intangible, powerful and magical they are still very definite.
What about their use? To know a name provides the user of that knowledge with power over the named, perhaps more than that, perhaps their very existence as the name defines their whole being. To know someone’s name is to know every aspect of them, which echoes back to ancient Egyptian times.
In ancient and modern times they can be used to gain the power of the deities for protection, to take vengeance, grant good luck and all of the usual things that people tend to want magical help with. There are even tells of the gods trying to find out the names of other gods to gain control over them thats how important they were and still are.
Some uses however don’t quite fit comfortably with modern paths and thats in attacking or an aggressive use but I will still describe common situations.
- There are many texts for using names to bind spirit by summoning – obviously doing this really upsets whatever it is you are trying to bind. And it will try and break the binding. This is a major problem should the bound spirit be particularly strong will resent the disruption it causes to their activities and do whatever they can to subvert it and perhaps even exert their own punishment on the caster for their impudence.
- Binding a spirit – now this already appears in the negative section, but in some situations it can be useful and relatively tolerable. The main use would be for a localized protection, to bind a protective force, be it an elemental, thought form or some other minor spirit to an item or place. Which ever being is chosen it is best and highly advisable to only bind for a limited length of time, no more than a year. Perpetual servitude would have much the same effect as mentioned above. And once the task is complete dissolve the binding and give thanks for the service given. A bit of good will could be repaid by more cooperation next time!
- Empowerment through invocation, multiple deities and this can be for any ritual task you may want where you need knowledge, strength of influence thats attributed to the divine being you are invoking.
- Any process where you need to make contact with another person for healing, sending a psychic message, thought or emotion (e.g. think about the times you’ve thought of someone that you need to phone, put to one side for a moment and at shortly thereafter they phone you? Thats sort of thing I’m referring to) or locating them.
- Of course the classic use is to make them a target for a particular spell, such as luck or protection, etc.
However, in using people names you many see a flaw in using just a name, in that even for the most uncommon name you will quite likely not have a unique name. Try it in an Internet Search engine, and see how many instances of your name pop up. Its quite amazing really. Documented spirit names do tend to be unique so you can be fairly sure that you will get the correct one, but as spellings change slightly due to age and methods of translation over time, you still need to research the name to be certain you have the correct one. A mistake summoning the wrong spirit could lead to unexpected situations to say the least.
For dealings with people, the common examples where some kind of spell is placed one someone, you will find that a combination of methods are used to locate the correct individual. For example, the classic wax doll for good or bad, tends to combine the name and personal items and/or hair/nail clippings to make a connection, although in some ways this makes use of contagious magic concepts where contact with someone remains, so it’s important to be aware that the use of other symbolism is important to locate and fix the target. Just think of it as fine tuning the address of the spells destination by adding a postal code.
Following on, and connected with the issue of miss spellings, is the pronunication of the names. This becomes more of a problem when the name is not in the casters native language and the adaption or lack of understanding of the vocalisation of the sounds could have an impact. Now, for me this is a big problem as my Egptian path does have the added complication that the language has not had a native speaker for a couple of thousand years. We have no idea how the sounds were vocalisated and what with the added impact of miss spellings, translation, transliteration errors I’m walking a mine field of potientially summoning the wrong deity every time.
There are however a couple of ways around this for me and for anyone who is in a simliar situation. The most obvious is use a name connected with the deity in a language you can pronouce correctly and has been known to work. For example Isis most of people have heard of, but that’s a Greek name, her native Egptian name is Aset. Then again there may be older ones and alternative spellings so where do you stop? If you pick one thats established then you have a good chance of calling the right one.
Another option that I go with is to make use of other connections to the name (as I mentioned above about fine tuning the address). Using the same example again of Isis, I could say that name (or Aset) while also picturing an image of her, holding one of her amulets, touching or addressing a statue of her. Any or all of these things will help in locating the subject.
In summary, we perhaps take for granted the use of names and how we use them during rituals. Whenever you use name just think of what it means and what you are calling for, they may not come but they are listening (or something is if you have the wrong one), it’s their choice to come freely unless you force them and that’s never a good thing. Or at the very least you’ve alerted them to your presence and that mayperk their interest in you. For the rest of us mortals, the name is as important as our souls, to use names is to play with another’s existence, do so with care and respect.