I have been Spanish Moss for a long time now. I took this name 17 years ago, I was in my early teens. Taking the name always felt like it was my adult name. Sure I have a birth name but I was never called it growing up. Nope. I was called by a shortened version of my middle name. As a result, it felt like my childhood name. Names were weird growing up for me. I was called by my first name at school but no so at home. So depending on how I knew someone my name changed… all up until that day I had decided on Spanish Moss.
I recall riding in my Uncle’s car with him and my cousin. My cousin and I were about 8-9 and were talking about what we wanted our magickal names to be. In typical that-age ego driven fashion I wanted it to be something fierce, awesome, cool, and glorious all at once. I never settled on one though because somehow my Uncle was able to explain to me and have me understand that I was trying to choose a name for the wrong reasons.
This was about the time that I started attending circle with CoR. I was the misfit in the name arena. All of the other kids had names, but not I. As a result, one well-meaning individual took to calling me a funny name in hopes it would encourage me to decide on something. It did not. It just made the tangle of names more complex.
I spent a lot of time from that conversation until I decided on the name I would choose four years later. In fact, I recall it quite easily. I was at an age where my association with CoR was no longer at a point of my tagging along with my Dad but of free choice. I needed a name for adoption into our ‘tribe’. In fact, I was on the way to the ritual itself when the name came to me. I had given up and was just going to let them choose something for me. Then the scene of the night, the torches, the moon shimmering off the water surrounding the peninsula, the candle lit path, the majestic oaks towering overhead, and the spanish moss draped thereon. In an instant, I knew.
I got odd looks when I said that was my name, and was even questioned on whether or not I was sure. I was. I never explained to them why I chose the name I did, or the unspoken meaning I would learn was there. All of that aside, the name took on a separate function.
Spanish Moss has become my name of adulthood. I took it when I was thirteen. From that moment almost all of friends, my peers, have called me by it. My birth name was used in formal settings; at school or later in legal functions. My childhood name was still used by my family, it felt only right that I was that name to them… still am. Since entering the work force I have been called by my parts of my legal name and occasionally by rank or job title. When I entered the Priesthood I took an inner craft name, the name to be called in circle only. Otherwise I don’t speak it. Names are important to me.
All of my names are important because they tell a story about where I have been, each telling a different viewpoint. Spanish Moss is the most important though. This name has really been the only constant name that I have known that spans my different worlds of function. As a result, unless I am at work or legally obliged, I introduce myself as Spanish Moss. I have been Spanish Moss in ritual before the altar, at the movie theatre, sitting around a fire with friends, leading festival rituals, when crying, when angry, when ecstatic… at each step along the path. This name has stood witness to my myth. It hangs upon my World Tree and notes each trial, triumph, and failure. I have had the name so long that there is no single function for it.
There is a conflict in Witch lore about names. Names are the stuff of ego and identity to this life. At the same time, something is not said to exist until it has been named. I think both are true. There is a part of our being that cannot be named, it is always of the realm of the Unmanifest, yet it exists. This potential moves into form and it is the form that is named. Our names are tied to one of the three alone, the part that anchors our identity to the singular focus amongst the myriad of lives.
Just thought I would share. Hopefully there is a lesson in there somewhere.
“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”