The New Book of Magical Names

by Phoenix McFarland
Silver Chalice E-zine — Book Review
Wicca Spirituality Table of Contents
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The New Book of Magical Names, by Phoenix McFarland, leaves other baby name books in the dust! If you're interested in choosing a Wiccan name for yourself, or you're looking for unique baby names, cat names, coven names, business names, or anything else, The New Book of Magical Names is a fabulous resource.

What Sets This Book Apart

It tells you what you really want to know, when you're looking for Wiccan names, or just unique, non-traditional names:
  •   A vast collection of names: over 7,000 modern and ancient names - a much wider variety of names than any other baby-names book
  •   Unusual names that are different from the standards in baby-names books.
  •   The only dictionary of non-Christian names in print
  •   Names derived from nature, mythology, history, literature, fantasy, and other cultures
  •   Insight into the names' origins
  •   Explanations of each name's meaning
  •   Pronounciation guides
  •   Indexes of names alphabetically AND by the qualities they invoke (for example: beauty, change, Earth, wealth, power)
  •   Quizzes to help you find your magical name
  •   Rituals to unleash the power within your name
  •   How names affect the wearer
  •   The original version of this classic guide (The Complete Book of Magical Names) was included in the prestigious New York Times "Reader's Guide to the Best 10,000 Books in Print." (How many Wiccan-based books can say that?)
  •   Non-Wiccans love this book as much as Wiccans do.
  •   Perhaps most surprising, it's fun just to read!
Not only does it specialize in unique names of interest to pagans, but the explanations are richer, more detailed than any other "baby-names" books.

McFarland also offers suggestions for the type of personality that the names will suit.

McFarland is amazingly thorough in her collection. Included, and explained, are . . .
  • Goddesses and Gods of 10 different cultures

  • Gems, minerals, and metals

  • Birds and other fauna

  • Plants & trees

  • Celestial objects, space and time

  • Elemental names (Earth, Air, Fire, Water)

  • Even Cat Names from T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" and other names from literature.

A Few Flaws

Now, I must say that I own the previous incarnation of the book (The Complete Book of Magical Names), and not the new, updated edition.

In the original, there were some oversights. For instance, the Goddesses of India lists only 10 names, and there are many common Indian Goddesses that were skipped.

However, with 2,000 more names than its predecessor, The New Book of Magical Names makes up for a lot of those.

The down-side in the original, too, was the lack of a good index. This is a common complaint I have with books, but a resource book in particular needs an index.

Because The Complete Book of Magical Names is organized by themes, it can make it difficult to track down a specific magical name.

It seems they've remedied this situation in the new edition, as well.

One thing both books ignore are the "challenging" names, such as Kali, Chaos, etc. For baby names, this is quite appropriate (see the chapter on the Power of the Magical Name). However, for Witches who are strong and clear in their intention, such names may be desirable at times.

Index of Names by Characteristic

One of the most valuable additions to the book is the Index of Names by Characteristic.

You can flip to the back of the book, and find out what names are associated with a particular meaning or quality that you want to invoke, such as Abundance, or Fire, or Healing, or Writing Ability.

Another appendix offers pronounciation tips for those tricky Welsh and Finnish sounds.

Name Meanings and Origins, plus a Lot More Info

There's more to The New Book of Magical Names than just names, though. McFarland begins by investigating the name's origin and folklore. You are left with a sense of the real name meaning, which few other authors accomplish.

She details the power of using magickal names.

McFarland also discusses how religious and political movements, ancient traditions and social standards influence the use and evolution of names.

In addition, there is a very useful section of practical rituals, spells, and meditations for finding and empowering names. Along with naming traditions and customs, rites of passage, etc from various cultures.

Particularly suitable for Wiccans are the quite lovely rituals for a girl's coming of age, a croning ritual, and a warrior initiation for women (and men).

All in all, this is not only the ONLY book of Wiccan names and Wiccan naming out there, it's the best! It'd be hard for anyone to top it.

Excerpts from The New Book of Magical Names

Many Pagans, especially Wiccans, choose a special name called a magical name which, in essence, is a name for the magical part of themselves.

We all wear many names through life's changes. . . . We name our tools, our homes, our pets, our children, and our covens. The reason we have so many names is that we are constantly evolving, and for each new stage in our development we choose a new name.

If chosen thoughtfully, each name can be used as a tool to hasten our spiritual evolution and our understanding of ourselves.

The source of our power is in our own minds. To understand ourselves is to gain control over that which creates our reality. Most of us haven't a clue as to who we are. Perhaps such understand begins with the name by which we call ourselves. This may be a key to spiritual transmutation.

The names we choose for ourselves can serve as magical tools as we travel on our individual paths.

A name can be an inspiration . . . and can inspire us to change. Our names can associate us with elemental powers and bring that energy into our lives.... A name can help to improve how we feel about ourselves .... it can emphasize where we are now or where we hope to go. It can make us feel more powerful, wiser, more beautiful, more commanding, gentler, stronger, more female/male, more exotic, more innocent, more sexual, more enthusiastic, more fertile, etc.

There is no limit to what a name can bring into our lives....

As Pagans, many of us have come to learn the power of the magical name. It is more than a "cool" name, it is a very powerful magical tool.

As with any power, knowledge is the beginning of mastery of that power. When you understand where our names come from, what they mean, . . . you will have a deeper appreciation of names as tools of magical transformation.

When the church captured our naming practices they stole something akin to our very souls, which was their intent. Now it's time to take the practice back.
-- The New Book of Magical Names, by Phoenix McFarland. Llewellyn Publications, 1996. ISBN-10: 0738703958. (All bold text, my emphasis.)

Rating for The New Book of Magical Names: 5 Stars

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With Brightest Blessings,

erin Dragonsong

Witch Love Smilie  ©  Wicca Spirituality

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