This short, sweet book does a number of things.
It is at once a how-to for selecting a magical name for oneself. It’s also an inspirational argument for why choosing a name for yourself is a good idea. It’s a bit of a memoir as to how the author came by his own public witchcraft name. And it’s also a contemplation on what he calls our “magical identity,” as he writes that the journey of seeking our magical name “leads us to a place much, much deeper than can be captured by mere words, powerful though they may be.”
As for how to choose a magical name for yourself –if you choose to—this book is a compendium of ideas for names to be found in myths, names of animals, plants, stones, metals, and fixed star constellations. There’s a good synopsis of astrology as a source of themes for names. There’s material on how to use divination techniques dreams and art work.
But why would someone even want to adopt a magical name? The short answer is: because names are magic. Repetition of your name is like casting a spell on yourself, over and over and over. A name is also a sigil as we print, type and sign it countless times if we’re using it publicly. Having a resonant name can change your personality, and your fate. Part of what makes a successful witch is the creation of a sense of personal power which comes from developing a sense of confidence. Using a magical name helps with all that.
The author’s name is Storm. Faery. Wolf. It sounds like something out of witchy central casting, doesn’t it? Read his beautiful story for how the three parts of this name came together for him in his youth, and how he gradually went public with this combination. It is Storm Faerywolf’s explicit intention to teach and represent the Faery path, a lineage of witchcraft made known primarily by Victor and Cora Anderson. On a mission, Faerywolf is a prolific writer, poet and teacher. (See especially his 2017 book Betwixt and Between: Exploring the Faery Tradition of Witchcraft and his other new 2022 book The Satyr’s Kiss about witchcraft for queer men.) Faerywolf is out of the closet, and here I’ll recall an old hippie superlative: he is far out.
I’m with him on what a powerful gift it is to name oneself. When I was 19 years old, I cast off the birth name my parents had screamed at me throughout my childhood and legally changed my name to Sara Rose, a resonant name that has multiple meanings, to me. It was one of the best things I ever did, a deliberate act of healing and charting my own reality.
The Witch’s Name has a long section about magical identity, which Faerywolf calls that place that is deeper than what can be captured by words, even a chosen name. This is a profound section of the book, worth reading on its own. Faerywolf delves into the connections between confidently “changing consciousness at will” – Dion Fortune’s term for what magic is – and cultivating a personal relationship with the Divine. To know the Divine, we must first know our own nature, the component parts of ourselves which are sentience, intelligence, and agency.
Whether or not one chooses a magical name, to use publicly as Faerywolf does, or to keep private for inner work, this book has a broader teaching. It’s about what he calls the “focused use of imagination,” joined with the will through ritual. It’s about “creating a sense of personal power and taking it on as part of one's identity."
~review by: Sara R. Diamond
Author: Storm Faerywolf
Llewellyn Publications, 2022
224 pp., $16.99