Like the phoenix for which I am named, The New Book of Magical Names arose from the ashes of its old self as a whole new being. After the first edition (with the title The Complete Book of Magical Names) appeared, I had the luxury of time—six years—to think about it some more.
I also had the unexpected delight of receiving letters from a great number of (mostly) young readers who took the time to share with me what they got out of my first edition. Those letters are something I cherish. So many young teens had written from a place of personal angst. They were young people searching for themselves in a book of names.
The idea of using the names as a tool for self-transformation was something I covered in the original book, but the idea of self-definition was a new notion. To address that, I enlarged the "Index by Characteristics." This is a place where names are listed by the characteristics they evoke. If a woman wants to express more of a certain characteristic, she could start by choosing a magical name from the appropriate category. As that person and others increasingly identify her by using that name, the more she and others believe her to be that way. Soon she will begin to adopt other mannerisms and interests in that direction. Eventually, she will indeed have a name that suits the new her. It works for men, too.
Also during the time from the first book to the second, many things had come about in our popular culture. Harry Potter had invaded our world and made everyone, adults and kids alike, mad for the next Harry Potter book and movie. I included names from Harry Potter books in a chapter titled "Names from Fiction." My personal favorite author is Terry Pratchett, the prolific English author of a magical world called Discworld. To me he is a modern day Dickens showing us ourselves in a fantasy world that is much like our own. To tip my hat to him, I included quotations from some of his books, and I included names from his books in the "Names from Fiction" chapter. Another force of nature in our world today is the ever-quotable George W. Bush, whose less than eloquent blurbs also show up in amusing quotations here and there.
The biggest change, however, is all the new material in this version. I have been an unabashed name collector for many years. The publication of the first book did not stop the collection from growing. So when I had the chance, I included many more categories of names, such as African, African-American, Time, Space, Colors, and even Names from Archetypes. The old book housed two thousand of my favorite names; the new one has over seven thousand, making it the largest non-Biblical name book in the world!
I also heard from a lot of non-Pagan expectant mothers who used my book to name their babies. I hadn't thought of anyone using a magical name book for baby naming, but what a good place to look for really different names. So, I made the new book a bit more easily readable for people who may not know what Wicca is. I also included a complete A-Z index of every name in the book.
So many people wanted me to help them figure out which name was right for them. Don't bother asking—I won't do that for anyone. Choosing a name is a personal journey everyone must take individually. I wouldn't take that away from you. But to make it a little easier to navigate, I have included a couple of quizzes to help you narrow down the field. One is about which element you have in your personality and another is about which archetype of the gods you most relate to. These quizzes may help guide you toward your magical name.
Many people wrote to tell me their favorite part of my book. Now I'll share my favorite part with you. In The New Book of Magical Names I share a near-death experience with you. The unexpected beauty to be found in such a terrifying moment was a surprise to my then sixteen-year-old self, and to tell the truth, I didn't know what to make of it for years. But writing about that very magical experience was a profound and moving catharsis for me. It makes me see everything through a new filter—the sanctity of life and the powerful force of love.
Gods bless you all.
Phoenix McFarland (British Colombia, Canada) describes herself as "an irreverent Wiccan Priestess." Ms. McFarland has had many articles and poems published in Pagan publications, including the column "Rainforest Echoes" in ...