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PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

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Why the Term 'Wiccaning' Doesn't Work, and What to Replace It With

I always cringe when I hear the term “wiccaning.”

Moral of the story: Let the borrower beware.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Wiccaning makes me think of weaving a wicker basket. Naming sounds right.
On Not Mentioning the Malefactor's Name

Announcing the perpetrator of the most recent mass shooting, the police chief of Virginia Beach said pointedly: “I'm only going to mention his name once.” It's been gratifying to note other news commentators following his lead.

This restraint fulfills an ancient and ancestral urge: why reward ill-wreakers with fame?

Case in point: the Troll-in-Chief. We've got a geis in place against mentioning his name at our coven meetings, and I note that, even at other times, we do the same. I've noticed the same practice among other Lefties.

To speak the name gives life, said the people of ancient Egypt. To this end, they spoke of You-Know-Who—the heretic pharaoh—not by name, but as the Criminal of Akhetaten.

Why give life to the undeserving?

The ancestors were driven to deeds of heroism to make their names live after them. As for those who do the opposite, let their names die with them.

"The dead are pleased when their names are remembered," say the Kalasha, the only remaining Indo-European-speaking people who have practiced their traditional religion without interruption since antiquity. The bale-workers, let us deservedly forget.

On the day that Alexander the Great was born, the most beautiful temple in the world—the temple of Artemis at Ephesos—was destroyed by a massive fire. When they caught the arsonist, they asked, unbelieving, “Why did you do it?”

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Hear, hear!

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Does Your Coven Have a Secret Name?

Even after 40-some years inside, the Craft can still surprise me.

A friend was telling me about her group.

“What are you guys called again?” I asked.

She looked a little embarrassed.

“Well, the real name's secret” she said, “but we go by N.”

Like most good ideas, the notion that a coven should have a secret name seems perfectly obvious—once someone else has thought of it. People have secret names, cities have secret names. (Rome's, for instance, is Flora.) It makes perfect sense for a coven to have one too.

Now, when it comes to covens, I feel like I've won the jackpot in the Paganistani lottery. I'm part of the oldest continuously-operating coven here in Witch City; this year, we'll be celebrating our 38th Harvest Home together.

But in that moment I'll admit to having felt some envy.

“I wish we had a secret name,” I whined to myself.

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When Names Bore Meaning

Once our names bore meaning.

We worshiped in the Old Way then.

Ælf-win, “elf-friend.”

Os-gar, “god-spear.”

Æthel-ræd, “noble counsel.”

New Ways came, but still we held to our old and meaningful names.

Then came Billy the Bastard with his Franks, and soon our names were outland names, empty names with stories, but meaning nothing at all.

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It's Your Name, Pagan

 We've got the honor of the coven to uphold, after all.

Magenta Griffith

 

There's the name that you're given, usually by your parents.

 

And then there's the name that you earn.

 

And, as the ancestors knew, living by name—reputation—is a long-sum game.

 

Name is vulnerable. Everybody screws up or makes a bad decision now and then. One mistake can destroy a name that you've spent years building.

 

But that isn't necessarily the end. It all depends on what you did before and on what you do after. Name is about consistency.

 

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What's Your Name?

What will they remember about you when you're dead?

1300 years ago, the Anglo-Saxon Hwicce—the Tribe of Witches—called it nama. 5000 years before that, it was *nomn. But they both meant the same thing.

As one whose concept of afterlife is the Grand Sabbat of the atoms, I've sometimes been asked: What, then, is your motivation for moral behavior?

The ancestors had a name for it: Name.

What's your name?

Call it name, or reputation. Name is what they know you by.

What do they say about you? What's your reputation among those that know you?

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For the Statue, Five Dollars; for the Story, One Hundred

I just paid $100 for a story.

I couldn't be happier.

Let me explain. Pagans tend to be people of stuff. Like so many of us, I'm an avid collector of pagan artifacts. I'd acquired a gilded sterling brooch from a dealer in Tel Aviv. Dating from the 1950s or 60s, it's a reproduction of a Minoan seal depicting a seated female (goddess? priestess? queen?) in a flounced skirt holding a bouquet of poppy heads.

Whenever I acquire something, I always ask about provenance. Where did it come from? Who made it? How did you get it? Who did you get it from?

Because everything is more valuable when it comes with a story.

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