A craft name is an alias or witch name that you create as part of your pagan identity. You might refer to yourself with your craft name only to your gods. Or you might use it to introduce yourself to the larger pagan community. You do not have to choose a craft name to be a pagan or Wiccan. It is just an option that some take, but others see no need to do so. If you are thinking about a craft name for yourself, you might be interested in the spiritual concept of rebirth that lies at the heart of this custom.
You cross a threshold. You leave behind the name and life that you have outgrown. You embrace a new name and a new destiny. This tradition goes back to the dawn of human history. Usually it is interwoven with completing an ordeal of initiation. A young person might undergo sleep deprivation, fasting, pain, isolation, and hardship during initiation. He or she might ingest hallucinogenic plants and pray for visions. Initiation signifies a passage from a smaller life, usually childhood, to a greater life, usually adulthood, and with it comes a new name. The new name might be given by the tribal shaman. Or a young person might receive it from the gods via a vision or symbol seen during the ordeal of initiation. Likewise, the prehistoric adult who aspired to learn the mysteries of the shaman or to join a priesthood would undergo another ordeal of initiation and choose another name to reflect his or her rebirth into a new life. Nowadays, some pagan and Wiccan traditions include a symbolic initiation and choosing of a craft name.
The craft name has its parallel in almost all world religions. Initiates to a religious community either choose or receive a new name to signify that they have left behind everything that has shaped them thus far, and they have given themselves to their new spiritual path. This is how Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone became Saint Francis of Assisi. Likewise, this is how American author Ram Dass transformed from being Richard Alpert. Solitary practitioners have always given themselves new names as well. Consider the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity or the wandering Hindu ascetics. A new name means an evolved self to interact more closely with one's god or gods.
And when you have been reborn under a new name, even if it is never spoken aloud and exists only between you and your gods, it can give you a feeling of limitless potential. You are no longer the spiritually lost person you might have been before. A new name and a fresh start can be very powerfully symbolic and can free you to be the best person you can be, unencumbered by past mistakes.
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