Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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A Few Friendly Tips on Choosing a Coven Name

Take your time. In the initial exhilaration of coming together, it's altogether tempting to want to name your new coven right away.

My recommendation is, don't. This is really far too important a decision to rush into.

Names are Wyrd-ful things. A coven name is aspirational, yes: but though it shapes what the coven will eventually become, it also needs to reflect what the coven already is. And sometimes that can take a while to "firm up."

So go slowly, and hold out for quality.

Avoid the humorous. Really, will the joke still seem funny 25 years down the road, after the ten thousandth repetition?

Probably not.

Avoid the clever. Really, will it still seem clever 25 years down the road, after the ten thousandth repetition?

Probably not.

Keep it lean. English likes terse.

Anything long and unwieldy will either slim down in use, or become (ugh) an acronym.

It's best to forestall such erosive processes from the get-go.

Keep it native (or at least English-proximate). Names in languages other than English are simply pleading for satire. You know English-speakers: we will make fun of what we don't understand.

For gods' sakes, give us something we can pronounce.

Consider geography. Covens have a long, long history of being named for places.

Geographic names are (in general) honest and unpretentious. Interests and mythologies come and go, but place endures.

We're nothing if not the people of place.

Steer clear of pop culture. Pop culture is a yawning vacuity. For a good coven name, you need depth, resonance, and mystery.

Move along, folks, there's nothing here to see.

Comb the Lore. The Received Tradition is a rich source of resonant, evocative names. Avail yourself of this trove of ancestral wealth.

Consult a bard. If you know someone with a good feel for words, don't be afraid to ask his—or her—opinion. Your local lore-master will be able to tell you what's worthy and what isn't.


A new coven doesn't need a name right away.

Fear not: if the coven endures, eventually the right name will turn up, and when it does, you'll know it when you hear it.

You'll all know.

So choose wisely, and with care.

With luck, they'll still be using the name 100 years from now.


You Know Who You Are



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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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