Every magician has a motto. In a way it is the magician’s business card and badge of authority. I also see it as one of the magicians tools amongst the other tools like the wand, dagger, pentacle, cup etc.
Now how important is a motto? The motto is not important at all and at the same time it is essential. I know, but let me explain. The motto represents change. By adopting a motto, the magician makes a statement that he now chooses another path in his life. Maybe you can say by choosing a motto he creates a new identity or a new reality, an additional one in which he is all Magus – separate from his mundane being. I would even say that it is not a separate reality but another level/plane of his reality – however you want to define reality in the first place. Like with the preparation for ritual, taking a ritual bath, putting on the gown, preparing the altar, the tools, the temple etc, the motto as the magicians name helps to create a mind shift for the performance of ritual. It also is good for self assurance to remind the magician on who he is and what his place and abilities are. If you would have a strong will and focus, together with the necessary knowledge and understanding, you would not necessarily need any of this. All these tools are just little helpers. However, most of us do not function like that and though we need these helpers to enter and live in the magician’s world. A friend of mine insists that only if he wears a suit at the office, he would be able to take his (solely in house) work as a lawyer serious. In my case, I could sit here in a clown’s costume and be as effective but I have to say when I go to court, wearing a suit, putting on my black gown (yes, we still do wear these), I feel better – different, maybe even stronger than in cases when I am appearing in court in jeans and without my gown. At the end of the day cloth make people. The same goes with a name, specifically if you get to choose it yourself. Now and then the magician will proclaim his name in ritual while calling upon entities and forces, showing his badge of power and authority. That way, the motto also is a name of power. In that very moment in a ritual, it expresses all the power and abilities and authority the magician has before the forces he is dealing with. So you better choose wisely in order to be taken seriously. Also the magician needs to fully understand his chosen motto or name or this name can never expand its function and authority in relation to the magician but also in relation to external entities and forces.
How to choose your magical name then? Some magicians have more than one motto or name (sometimes one as a secret name only revealed in ritual towards any entity they deal with while the other name is used for being addressed by others in the magician’s outer world. However, in most cases the magician has only one name/motto he uses at a time. This motto should reflect his current ambitions, aims, abilities and position in the universe as it is revealed to him through meditation, ritual or by other means (like dreams). As mentioned before, it is essential, that the magician has a full understanding of the meaning and significance of his chosen motto. Usually the magician would adopt other mottos throughout his growing through work and experience as magician’s understanding of the universe and his position therein will change. Also his aims and ambitions will change. Sometimes that happens sooner than later, sometimes it takes a while. As a member of an order progressing through the grades of outer and inner orders, the magician does not necessarily has to pick a new motto with each grade. Usually the magician would change his motto when either, throughout initiation or other ritual (or in any other way) a new motto is revealed to him or if he feels that the current motto does not fit any longer, does not represent his current state of mind, his current understanding of the universe and his position therein. In so far, there is a similarity to the magician’s individual pentacle, a tool which also will change with the magician’s growing experience and understanding.
In my case, my first motto was something that popped up in my head after trying to think about what would be a suitable motto. Although this motto perfectly fit me and my understanding at that time, after a while I was not sure whether this name may have been too “constructed”, or “wanted”. I guess that is the case with a lot of beginners since at that very first stage of the magician’s life, there is no real feeling or influence from the work and ritual and the understanding of the universe is like a little flame shining somewhere far away in a deep dark tunnel. So what to pick? Within our group we had the same or similar experiences when it comes to the picking of our mottos. Throughout practice things became clearer, the light shines brighter and you find yourself and your current position, you are suddenly becoming aware of your next aims (and your long term goals), and after a while, in my case throughout ritual and meditation, suddenly there are some letters manifesting before your eye or sounding in your head. Unclear first but they become clearer and clearer. Maybe that was the best visualisation I ever had, even without aiming for it.
How is a motto compiled? Mottos are traditionally consisting of names, words or phrases in an ancient language such as Latin, Greek or Hebrew. You should not get overly stressed by finding a nice phase or word in one of these languages. There is no rule and you can call yourself whatever you want in any language you want. If you see your aims and ambitions clear and have a meaning for and understanding of your motto, you do not necessarily need to find someone who can give you an accurate translation into Latin or Greek. Of course it adds a mystical momentum to the magicians name and thus fits into the whole set up of mystical ritual. However, sometimes people try too hard and end up with something which – correctly re-translated – sounds quite different from what they were aiming for. That way, your motto may rather confuse (or amuse) the entities you are going to work with. It is more important that your chosen name is clear in its meaning than that it sounds fancy.
Sometimes, a student gets his (first or new) motto by a mentor, teacher or other elder member of a group or order. It then reflects the student’s current abilities, maybe his way of working, a specific ability or something it reflects what the student needs to focus on or aim for.
For picking your own first motto, some advise. Think about what your next aim is. Think about which words would express this in the best – straight to the point - way. If you use several words, do not pay attention that the short version can be pronounced as a word or sounds groovy. Meditate, contemplate, perform some basic ritual and ask the divine powers to show you your name. Believe me, something will happen and if it feels right, adopt it. For your next motto, you will see, it works different. You will feel the need for a change. With the grown experience and feeling for the current of your work and the power of the energies you are working with, you will see that the word(s) or name(s) will come by themselves. Maybe while meditating, within a ritual within a dream….
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