"More than just a cool sounding name"

From: Phoenix McFarland, the author of The Complete Book of Magical Names

What do most people do with a baby name book? They pick it up, look up their name and find out it's a Greek name meaning "Bunion of God" or "Bearer of the buckwheat" or something. Then they toss it aside and forget about it. Names are important. They are beginning to do studies now that prove that what you are named influences who you become.

I designed THE COMPLETE BOOK OF MAGICAL NAMES to work differently than other name books. Most baby name books are just lists of names and definitions grouped alphabetically. I have an Index of Characteristics at the back of my book. It lists names according to what qualities they invoke. Beauty, wealth, protection, power... Do not pick up this book expecting to look up your name, you won't find it, except by accident. I wanted the emphasis to be on the name's meaning, not on the name itself. Magical names are very important tools of the Wiccan Priest or Priestess. They should be treated with respect and chosen carefully. The right name can help you grow and become more powerful, wise, healthy, safe...It's a powerful tool for wielding magick. It's more than just finding a cool sounding name. Much more.

The inspiration for this book came rather naturally. I've always been a name freak. I have collected interesting names from the time I was a child. My own family tree had some very unusual names hanging from it. We have traced our family tree all the way back to a warrior invading England with the Norman invasion in 1066. During the burning times we were Puritans (EEEK!) one of which married Nicholas Noyes the sinister minister of the Salem witch trials! During the Puritan era, we had names such as Ebenezer, Hezekiah, Ichabod, Silas, Eliakim, and Eliphalt. Of course that was a time for unusual names. People were rebelling against the church (Hey, I can relate to that!) and instead of choosing names sanctioned by the church, they picked names at random from the Old Testament. It was the dreaded Close Your Eyes and Point System of name choosing. Some very unfortunate names were chosen in this manner including (I'm not making these up, they were real people's first names!) Dust, Ashes and Flea-Fornication. And, although the records do no bear this out, I suspect that more than few children were named The, And, and But. But I don't want your readers to assume THE COMPLETE BOOK OF MAGICAL NAMES is all about Christian names. I only mention the funnier ones in the chapter on the history of names. On the whole, there are over 5,000 names listed which are not of biblical or Christian origin. Christian names are fine, especially for Christians, but it's important that Pagans have their own names. The church went to extreme measures to force us to abandon our names in exchange for Christian ones. When they stole our names they took something akin to our very souls, which was their intent. I think it's time we take them back.

I had in mind people using this book in four ways.

As a baby name book. Especially for naming a child of Pagan or New Age parents. This would make a really good baby shower present for open minded parents to be. It's not just for Pagans though, it's great for anyone looking for unusual names for their baby.

As a tool for self transformation. Since what you are named influences what you become, why not use names as a tool to help you grow into who you want to be? By choosing a name which invokes that which we seek, we draw that element to us. For example, using a name for use in your journaling which invokes the qualities you desire in yourself, reminds you of the direction in which you are heading and helps keep you on track. Referring to yourself by that name everyday cements the magic and creates the reality. If what we are named helps shape who we are, it stands to reason that by changing our names we can change who we will become in the future. So, what kind of person do you want to be? Name it and claim it!

To mark the phases in our lives. We go through so many phases in life, adolescence, losing virginity, becoming a parent, getting married, getting divorced, growing older, kids leaving the nest, retirement, and these phases remain unmarked. Joseph Campbell thought that was one of the reasons that people today often don't grow up. Most people don't feel their age, they feel 9 or 17 all through their lives missing out on what it is to grow up and mature. That's partly because there was no ritual which marked the significant events. No rites of passage. By recognizing the new phase in one's life and re-naming yourself you are symbolically going through rebirth. Beginning each phase of your life anew. Many women of my acquaintance as they are settling into middle age celebrate the silvering strands and character etched faces by adopting a crone name such as Silver, Elder, Wisdom or Autumn. Embrace life, celebrate your progress along the path! You don't need to publically alter people's use of your old name, these new names can be private, knick names your family uses, or names just for your journals.

As a source book for Magical Names. When a Wiccan is initiated, the new Witch often takes one (or more) new names. Some traditions have the Witch taking a new name upon achieving each degree. Then there are public or festival names, or pen names such as mine. In addition, those who work in covens also may have a secret name known only to members of the coven. Some have a secret name never spoken aloud but kept silent within yourself to share only with the Gods. Many magical teachers give their students THE COMPLETE BOOK OF MAGICAL NAMES as a dedication/ initiation gift.

"Girl's names are given to them. Women choose their own."

Years ago, I quit smoking on a snowy Friday night. I quit cold turkey. The weather blew up into a major blizzard. For several days thereafter I was snowbound in my apartment. Everything came to a standstill. The electricity went out. I spent that weekend huddled by the fireplace in the Colorado Rockies reading Marion Zimmer Bradley's THE MISTS OF AVALON by candle light. It's a classic, if you haven't read it, you should! When the storm was over, I emerged a non-smoker and a Priestess of the Goddess. The first person I showed my manuscript to when I finished the book, was Marion Zimmer Bradley. I held my breath while she read it. She is known for being a perfectionist and very little passes muster with her. When she sent me her quote for the cover, my spirit soared with the eagles. Being accepted by someone I so admired, and who was so influential in my life, marked my passage into the world of professional writers.

So, what else am I working on?

Together with my husband, Kerr Cuhulain (The Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca), I am working as a consultant on a dramatic television series about a Wiccan coven. I also write a quarterly humor/slice of life column in the Pagan magazine Connections, a Journal of Community, Philosophy and Magick. I hope you'll catch my column called "Rainforest Echoes".

"One of the most scholarly works of its kind I can remember reading.
It makes the average baby name book look like a tabloid."

Marion Zimmer Bradley
author of The Mists of Avalon

You can contact Phoenix on the Internet at PhoenixMcF@aol.com

McFarland, Phoenix
304 pp., illustrated, index
Available for purchase through Maledicta Moonchild.