Names of Power

Names of Power

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Certain names are believed to have intrinsic power, which magicians use for raising energy. The "tetragrammaton" of ceremonial magic is the ineffable name of god, the name many believe should never be written nor spoken. It is the YHWH, or Yahweh, of the Old Testament. In ceremonial magic, the magician tries to conjure entities and make them appear. The magician does this by using the powerful names of god and of the angels and archangels—names that apparently strike fear into the entities being conjured.

To know the most secret name of a god is to have a power over that deity. It followed, then, that to know the name of your enemy's god was to gain immeasurable power over that enemy, so such names were known only to a favored few in the priesthood.

Sir James Frazer tells the story of Isis and how she became a goddess by learning the most secret name of the great god Ra. Isis knew that Ra walked in his garden every morning. She lay in wait, and when he passed by she saw that he spat upon the ground. She hurried forward and fashioned a serpent from the earth and his spittle. She lay this in the pathway so that on his return Ra stepped near the serpent and was bitten. Ra cried out for help from "the children of the gods with healing words and understanding lips, whose power reacheth to heaven. . . And Isis came with her craft, whose mouth was full of the breath of life, whose spells chase pain away, whose words maketh the dead to live." Ra pleaded with her to heal him but she refused until he gave her his true name. Ra gave her many names, all the time getting weaker. To each of them, Isis replied, "That is not thy name that thou speakest to me. Oh tell it me, that the poison may depart." Finally Ra told her his most secret name and she made the poison flow away. From then on she became known as "the queen of the gods, she who knows Ra and his true name."

Even today in Wicca, the names of the gods are given at initiation to the neophyte, who is then administered an oath of secrecy.