Monday, June 09, 2008

The Naming of Pagans

I caught a lot of flack from the locals when I first started going by Evn, mainly because the name didn't strike them as... well, Pagan enough.

"What about Evyn?" I was asked one night, at a meeting of the group with which I was affiliated at the time. "Or Even, because you're an even person."

"I appreciate the input," I replied. "But I really like Evn."

"Oh. Well, then how about Thomas the Rhymer?"

It should be said that the guys in this group were militantly committed to the names they'd adopted (accidentally call somebody "Clarence" instead of "WaterHawk FireLyte," and oy, the drama that ensued). But it was commitment at a superficial level. They backed off when I explained that Evn was short for Evnissyen, but that a name could have a deeper, private meaning, as opposed to just sounding magickal, was a profoundly alien concept.

To this day, one of them still calls me Even.

Shudder.

If you're new to NeoPaganism, and you're desperately trying to come up with an As Pagan As Possible moniker, don't worry about the romantic references to the natural world, or the unnecessary surnames with the random capitalizations. Instead, I refer you to the best name-choosing guidelines available: The first poem in T. S. Eliot's perennial, Broadway-bound classic, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats:

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey -
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter -
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
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.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.


Substitute the words "Pagan," "Witchcraft" and "Ritual Nudity" as needed. And name thyself accordingly.

4 comments:

Yvonne said...

Similarly, a friend of mine got told off by a HPs for saying his totem animal is a wombat. (But it is, it really is.)

Evn said...

I can sympathize. My totem animal is the skunk. But my HP was there when the skunk claimed me, so no one ever took issue with it.

Have you ever read Coarse Witchcraft? There's a hilarious chapter on Pagans and their totems.

Grian/Lee said...

I've got dibs on Bombalurina! But I like Jellylorum too. I shall now be Bambalurina/Jellylorum.

Evn said...

Can I call you Bambi-J for short?

I'm taking Munkustrap. Or maybe Quaxo. Or both.