Articles/Essays From Pagans
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
Nothing Special... Part Two
The Third Path
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
A Witch in the Closet
How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?
Gut Hunches, Mouse Dreams, and Pinkie Sense
December 30th. 2012 ...
Ritual "Cheat Sheet" Bracelet
Magick is All Around Us
Confessions of a Living Satyr
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History
December 23rd. 2012 ...
The Warrior Goddess and You.
World Change: A Message from Greece
What's the Meaning of Life, Anyway?
My Brother's Keeper
December 16th. 2012 ...
Keeping Christ in Xmas
Love is the Law
Listen to Your Heart's Wisdom
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Article ID: 14661
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 681
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Author: Naya Aerodiode
Posted: July 10th. 2011
Times Viewed: 3,210
Do you remember the Brothers Grimm fairy tale about Rumplestiltskin? In the story, an overzealous father told the king that his daughter could spin straw into gold. The king, greedy as kings tend to be, decides to put the father's claim to the test and locks the daughter in a room full of straw. If it were not all turned to gold by the morning, he would execute the daughter. The daughter, in her despair, cries out for help, only to be answered by a gnome who offers his help in exchange for something of value from her. The first night the daughter is in this predicament, the gnome asks for her necklace. The second night (because one pile of spun straw isn't good enough for the king) , the gnome asks for her ring. The king keeps her locked up with a pile of straw a third night, and on this third night the daughter has nothing left to give the gnome. The gnome demands her first-born child in exchange for spinning the third and final pile of straw into gold.
The king is pleased and marries the daughter, making her the queen of the land. Shortly thereafter, she gives birth to a baby boy. The gnome returns promptly to collect his due. The queen begs and pleads, and finally the gnome gives in and makes her a deal: if she can guess his true name in three days, she can keep her child. The queen guesses every name in the book and some that aren't in the book, all to no avail. On the third and final night that one of her messengers returns to her, informing her that he saw the gnome in his cottage, singing the rhyme:
To-day do I bake, to-morrow I brew,
The day after that the queen's child comes in;
And oh! I am glad that nobody knew
That the name I am called is Rumpelstiltskin!"
At being defeated, Rumplestiltskin takes off into the night, never to be heard from again, and this classic tale ends happily for the humans, and not so happily for the gnome. This tale is repeated in many guises with the same basic plot throughout many cultures, and spirits such as Gebhart, Girle Guairle, Hipche, Kruzimugeli, Mollyndroat, Kinkach Martinko, and Peerifool have likewise been banished by someone who knows the spirit's true name.
The use of true names is widespread, across many cultures, times and paradigms. Spirits and humans alike have known since the dawn of intelligence that true names have power. Superman carefully hides his true name, because in knowing that, his enemies could destroy him by destroying the life of Clark Kent. Many hackers hide behind aliases and groups such as Anonymous wear masks, for letting the public at large know their true names could destroy their ability to wield the power that they do. Many Witches and occultists have always have kept their true names a secret, instead using aliases and magical monikers to protect their privacy and personal life. Performers and artists of all sorts likewise use stage names and noms de plume for the same reason.
Cats, as described in T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" each have their own secret name, too.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
-T.S. Eliot, "The Naming of Cats"
Still, true names are not limited to spirits and people. Even though I do not apply a purely scientific, psychological "it's all in your head" paradigm to my work with magic and spirits, it is still a useful fact that many emotional and mental states (particularly the undesirable ones) have been blamed on spirits in many cultures. Spiritual healers have prayed and worked over their distressed patients to pull the baneful spirits out and to heal them. I've heard some modern-day therapists suggest to their patients that they imagine their pain, anger, or addiction in an anthropomorphic form and confront it; Psychology has not strayed too far from the spirit model at all. For some who are dealing with particularly strong mental or emotional difficulties, approaching them as spirits is a very useful therapeutic angle to take. The first step in this process is to learn the spirit's name.
Addictions are one such disorder that some might attribute to a spirit. Consider this. By naming the spirit what it is - addiction - one can start to exert control over it. Looking over the 12 steps of addiction recovery programs, the first step says, "We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable." In other words, name it. Harry Potter was never afraid to name Voldemort, and in doing so he eventually was able to exert enough power over him to defeat him. People in 12-step programs need to name their demons for exactly what they are first and foremost. Until those people in addiction recovery programs name the spirits that are controlling them, the spirits will always own them. Perhaps one day, Rumplestiltskin will collect his due when child services comes along to collect the children from those who could not control the spirits.
Scientists name things all the time. There's an entire discipline - taxonomy - devoted to collecting the names of every living thing on Earth and organizing them into useful classifications. Without knowing the kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species of that plant you just plucked, you have no idea whether it will feed you or kill you. You have only experimental data to go on, and one test subject you can rightfully experiment upon - yourself. Knowing the true name of the plant means that you can work with the plant, know its uses and understand its dangers. Knowing the true name of the plant gives you power over this plant, the power to wield and use the plant effectively.
Physicians make naming a large part of their trade. After all, how can one prescribe the right treatment without naming the bacteria or virus that is causing the disease? Spirits, too, are blamed by many for physical ailments. The healers of cultures far and wide have named them as well for much the same reason. Knowing the names of these spirits allow the healers across all of these cultures to banish them.
One of a magic worker's greatest powers is to name things. Part of working magic is naming things that do not exist yet, but will as soon as the name is spoken. Working a spell is to create something that will manifest on earth. The first thing to do, then, is to define the goal, to clearly shape and concisely summarize the intended outcome. The rest of the working is about giving enough power to the name so that it can manifest into reality. This process is true for casting a spell just as it is true for creating a business, building a house, and pretty much any other creative act I can think of. Name it, empower it, manifest it, then enjoy it.
Truth is, I use naming constantly. However, by understanding the power of names, I can work with them more effectively (thereby naming again) . I seek as part of my ever-evolving magical development to know the true names of as many things as possible. Still, my cats will never let me know their true names, but I'm OK with having a little mystery in my life, too.
Copyright: Copyright 2011 by Naya Aerodiode. All rights reserved.
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
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