First I initially did state “et. al.” in the title so I reserve the right to ramble incoherently.
Earlier today I was reading Donald Michael Kraig’s blog on The Magickal Name and after reading the thought processes of earlier Golden Dawn members when selecting their mottoes I felt compelled to comment because naturally I thought necessity being the mother of invention I’d been rather clever in spotting a suitable motto in my family motto (thank heavens for being from a Norman family!). Oh well least there’s validation and I can rest assured that I’m not alone (truthfully I do know some others who’ve found empowering family mottoes to serve as magical mottoes too but if I didn’t post on this I’d never make a post at all). I think there is a marked difference between a magic(k)al name and a motto.
First, a name is a noun and can have a multitude of concepts attached to it. For instance I’ve known many a neo-pagan who took the name of a particular mythological figure or deity only to end up living out this character’s role almost perpetually. I’ve known others who adopt a series of adjectives as names like Dancing Faerystorm and then wonder why they’ve started acting like they have ADHD and their voices have gone up a couple of octaves so that now dogs seem to respond. Kraig references Silver RavenWolf as one of his examples of the thought processes involved in selecting a magickal name, so there are some really well considered names out there which hold much deeper reflection for the individual.
Secondly, a motto is more descriptive than a magickal name is. It tends to encapsulate an ideal in the form a of phrase. A better way of describing a motto would to call it an aspiration for one’s work within the Order/tradition. Generally, its considered poor taste to select a motto of another magician because the aspirations selected could prove problematic; there are, however, several common names that would have two or more mottoes associated with them so not sure how practical this is. Like I said I took my motto from my family’s motto. At one point it was public but not since initiation.
For people’s delectation I’m linking to The Golden Dawn Roll Call on angelfire, though Morgan Drake comments on Golden Dawn Forum that there is a more comprehensive list in The Golden Dawn Source Book by Darcy Kuntz.
Following on from the role of mottoes and magickal names is the concept of robes and basically dragging it to the androgynous beat that is the Tau-robe. So while dear-not-so-auld Ru Paul here (pictured right) might be prone to donning glamourous costumes for his performances the androgynous nature of the spiritual elements to the Great Work of the G.D. magician tend to pull together for a different effect.
Lets face it Tau-robes and nemyss and the whole ensemble isn’t designed to be flattering to anyone’s shape or their EGO. And neither is one’s magical motto. The objective is clear as one is meant to be seeking communion with the Higher Self. I’m not even doing to presume I’ve accomplished this and know anything about it but such is the objective. Its not that the magician suddenly stops being female or male (or any association thereof) during ritual but another mode of expression is being sought. One’s magical persona is a safe vestige for aspects of the Higher Self to manifest in the ritual drama.
I was at a workshop for LGBT awareness in my university at the start of this year and attended a drag workshop hosted by a friend of mine. I felt bad for this friend because the workshop wasn’t simply a skit of how to slap on some lippy or eyeliner and a cheap dress but it explored the whole concept of gender inversion and the history of performance. In hindsight probably a little OTT for an audience of college students who’d been out the night before and many still not sober. I remember something which stood out for me as part of the talk when it cam to a performance by Lady GaGa which entailed a Ritual of the Phoenix. I doubt there was much magic involved but the dramatic effect was evident even from the images (will try and source an image shortly). At the time GaGa was coming into question around what precisely was her specific gender. It really illustrated how drama can be an extremely potent tool for an individual let alone for an aspiring magician.