Before I begin I just want to make one thing clear. Unless you are in a coven or other organization that requires you to choose a spiritual name (aka Pagan name, or magical name or Witch name) for initiation, you do not need a spiritual name to be a Pagan, a Heathen or a Witch. The name your parents gave you will work just fine unless:

  1. You really hate it or associate it with things that are contrary to your spiritual and/or magical goals.
  2. You are hesitant to use it in public settings because you are worried that you or your family may be harmfully impacted by your open engagement in the Pagan, Heathen or magical community.
  3. You want one. For whatever reason that is personal to you and has nothing to do with other people wondering why you don't have one.

If you are approaching initiation to an organization and are required to choose your own spiritual name, you were probably given guidelines by that organization. Examine those guidelines thoroughly and meditate upon them and remember that if you find anything here that conflicts with those guidelines, you should disregard it in favor or your organization's rules.

Now that that's all out of the way…

If you are having trouble choosing your spiritual name, begin by giving yourself a framework to work from. Ask yourself the following questions and write down the answers in the form of a list of key words rather than complete sentences. This is a good use of your Book of Shadows.

  1. What are my spiritual goals?
  2. What God(s) or Goddess(es) are most influential to my spiritual path? Do some research and write down any alternative names and epithets you can find as well as a list of keywords relating to His/Her realm of influence and associations. Don't just look at what you can find in print. Meditate and pray on this and write down the impressions you get from your gut.
  3. Is there any location, season, time of day, heavenly body, plant or animal that I feel a special spiritual connection to? How about a character or a concept from the mythos of your faith?
  4. What magical/spiritual activity is most meaningful to you? What activity that might be considered mundane to anyone else feels magical to you? For example, knitting, sewing, making music, writing poetry, painting, etc.
  5. What is the most profound spiritual experience you've ever had? It might be a ritual, a dream, a vision or something else. Describe it in several keywords.

Spend some time on each of these questions. Feel free to spend several days and nights meditating on each. Put a notebook on your nightstand and just before you go to bed write at the top of a clean sheet what you want to explore in your dreams and be prepared to write down what you discover immediately upon waking

Make sure you write down your keywords, don't just think you'll remember them. I can't tell you how much gnosis has fallen to me dreaming or during meditation that I've lost by not writing it down. (I comfort myself by telling myself it was probably not as profound as all that anyway.)

Now you have your keywords, take a moment to see if you notice any recurring themes. Do any words repeat or are there any words in different sections that are closely related? These may be the words you want to focus on. Circle these words.

Also look for words that have an especially strong pull for you or that seem especially meaningful, even if you aren't sure why. Circle these.

Now that you have your keywords, you may at this point already have your name. Some keywords may have simply fallen together in a way that flows off the tongue and you feel suits you. If so, congratulations! If not, do not despair. There is simply more work to do.

Now take each keyword or group of related keywords and put them each on the top of a new sheet of paper. It's time to expand on these keywords.

For each keyword, look in a Thesaurus for synonyms. Remember that the synonyms in a Thesaurus may not necessarily match the meaning you are feeling for a word, so be sure to look at the word's definition as well. If you go to http://www.thesaurus.com it's quite easy.

Look up the keyword and some synonyms in a name database like this one. Write down any names you find that appeal to you.

If your religion or spiritual practice is based on a specific culture, you may wish to also look up the translations of some of your keywords in a language dictionary. Write these down as well.

Now take a look at your keywords, their synonyms, their translations and the names you've written down. See if anything jumps out at you. If not, don't despair. Sleep on it for a few days.

Before going to bed, pray to the deity you connect with closely (or Totem or spirit guide). Ask Him/Her to come to you in your dreams and call you by your spiritual name. Or if you're skilled with journey work, you can take a journey or vision quest with the same goal in mind. You may also use your favorite means of divination.

Remember to keep your Book of Shadows close by and write down your impressions immediately upon waking.

If you are still having trouble and are choosing a name because you are required to do so for initiation into an organization, consult with your mentor. He or she will have insights for you.

If you are still having trouble and choosing a name on your own. Take some time off. It will come to you. Revisit the whole thing in a month and see what happens. If you have several options that sound equally good to you, try using numerology to narrow them down (See Using Numerology to Choose a Name)

See also About Spiritual Names