Pagan Blog Project Week 5: Craft Name, or H is for Harlot

Craft names. I don’t use one. Generally, I think they tend to be a bit silly and pompous (naming yourself “Lady Circe Stonehenge-Faery” seems a little self-aggrandizing), the absolute hypocrisy of that being that I legally changed my name years ago to conceal my identity, and my legal name is about as ridiculous and attention-getting as they come. It wasn’t intentional. I compiled a list of first names and a list of last names and gave one to each of my best friends and asked them to pick. I then took my my niece’s middle name (which is also an old family name), and with this Mad Lib moniker I walked down to the county courthouse with the man who is now my Paramour in tow. In this way, my rebirth had new “parents”. Male Friend acted a symbolic father, Female Friend acted as a symbolic mother, and my Paramour was my midwife, guiding me into my new identity. I chose this method deliberately, as the naming of a thing is a sacred act and calls for a certain amount of care. The fact that the end results sounds like an Alan Moore superheroine was not important, it was the act of renaming that mattered to me.

My reasons for changing my name were primarily to disassociate myself from my past. Having been a former adult entertainer in the age of the internet means your past is never more than a few clicks away (granted, when I went into the business, the internet was new and more a novelty that the ubiquitous presence it is now). Simply googling your name will turn up a wealth of things you do not want an employer finding once you try to go legit. Due to what I can only assume was a “clerical error”, much of my work was released under my real name. I have had male coworkers approach me for sexual favors in exchange for “keeping my secret”. I have had female coworkers cattily state thinly veiled allusions to what they had discovered about me in front of the entire staff. I have even had people bring in copies of magazines I was in and ask me for my autograph at work. Eventually, I had to change my name if I ever wanted to be able to function in society without the stigma of being the town whore. This angered me, since I did not and still do not see anything wrong with what I have done. However, I was never particularly attached to my name, having always felt it didn’t suit me.

Of course, this has made my life awkward in many ways. In the Pagan community, people often mistake my name for a craft name. In public life I frequently get comments on the strange nature of my name, which of course means I have to pretend it is my name by birth or risk the myriad of questions that will follow. There is a weird embarrassment to confessing you have legally changed your name, like I need to justify my decision. Half my family forgets to call me by my new name, the other half refuses and will announce this in front of people who don’t know that I changed my name. My friends have all adapted, but new friends will eventually have to be told if they become more than acquaintances.

In some ways, my original name is my magical name; it is the secret name known only to me and a few close relations. I have had so many different names over the years, I can literally get confused in a crowd if I hear someone calling out anything phonetically close to any one of them. I have 2 different names from the various S&M clubs I used to work at, the names that I modeled under, names I used for film work, nicknames I have had, online monikers. These are all names that I have responded to, identities I have had that sit on top of my original self like layers of experience. My name now seems to bring them all together so I feel a little less like Sybil Green, but I still have this weird sense of the different chapters in my life having happened to someone else.

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