Blog Response: John the Pagan

Over at Patheos, Star Foster asks about people’s Craft/Spirit names. 

Here’s my response:

I’ve always found the craft/spirit name thing to be off-putting, at least when it is used publicly (as opposed to being used only in magical/ritual practice).  I admit, I’m a mainstreamer and I would like to see Paganism treated as a serious (albeit joyous) religion by the mainstream.  And I think adopting the names of deities, or names that sound like our parents were hippies (even if they were), is an obstacle to being treated seriously.  I’ve noticed that more of the people interacting with the mainstream on behalf of Paganism are identifying by their given names.  Take Patrick McCollum and Jason-Pitzl Waters, for example.  I think there is something honest and commendable about being able to say, “Hi, I’m Steve (or Joe or Jack) and I’m a Pagan.”

Actually, I have been struggling with the name issue myself recently and I ultimately came to this conclusion: My name, John, may be the most common English male name, and it may be used pejoratively in a number of ways, and it may be a Christian name, but there are good reasons why as a Pagan I can embrace it.  First, it’s the name of my father and my grandfather and my greatgrandfather — so it connects me with my ancestors (an important Pagan value).  And while it may be Christian, it connects me to the wild man of the wilderness, John the Baptist; the lover and beloved of the god-man Jesus, John the Apostle; and in his later role, the visionary, John the Revelator.  I can see Pagan archetypes in all of these roles: the lover of nature, the lover of the gods and humankind, and the ecstatic.  So that’s me — just plain (or maybe not so plain) John.  Oh, and thanks Mom and Dad.

[P.S. Also, the name John connects me to John Trevor, my fantasy former incarnation who I have written about previously.]

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