There’s been a few conversations about names popping up in Tumblr Pagandom, that I’ve seen anyway. The most recent one was basically a question about why people choose “craft” names, what they meant, and what the intent was behind them. It reminded me that I wanted to talk about that here, albeit briefly, and talk about the name I’ve chosen to write under in the Pagan community.
Names are sacred to me. They are important and hold power over folks. When I curse, it’s by using the target’s name. I also name everything, from the gargoyle that sits on my altar (we agreed on Bob, and you’ll hear more about him later), to the werewolf on the poster that hung on the front of my door at university (his name was Stan the Werewolf Man). When I was younger, I spoke to everything (including a fish I drew on the wall behind my bookcase, but that’s another story), but it’s hard to hold a conversation with someone – or something – if you don’t know there name, at least for me. Names are used for emphasis, they are used to remind us who we are talking to, they are used to get someone’s attention; they are used for many reasons. When I’m having a conversation and I don’t know the person’s name – at least a given name or a nickname – it’s difficult for me to talk to them because I don’t know how to relate what I’m learning about them through the conversation with an identity I can associate it to.
That said, names have power. I’ve already mentioned that I use names to curse, but I also use them for more “positive” magix, too. They’re a way for me to target my spell more effectively, especially if I have the target’s full given name: given, middle, surname and/or married name, depending on their current status.
So is it any wonder why I go by a different name online? I dislike giving my full name away to people I know. You can never tell what someone might do with it, and I try to be cautious about what kind of information I leave hanging around, like photos. The photo I use here is actually from high school, about seven years ago, so I’m much more comfortable with using it than photos taken more recently, if I even allow them. (Actually, thinking on it, none of the women in my maternal line like having their photos taken. …Huh.)
The name I go by here is still significant to me, but it’s also akin to a shield, like what one normally hears about in the Pagan community (in the topic of grounding, centering, shielding, anyway). “Kaye” is actually a different spelling of a family nickname for me; “MacArthur” is a reference to my Scottish heritage and an allusion to my love of folklore and mythology. In past years, I used the surname “Sweetbriar” as a reference to my dual-nature: sweet and briar; kind and harsh.
So names hold power for me. When I read these conversations with people about why use a “Pagan” name or why use a “fake” name, I have to cock my head and say “It’s not a fake name. It’s a name that I go by, no less than you might use one nickname with a few friends and another one at home.”
Plus, I like ’em.