What’s in a name

I am guessing a lot of my readers are already familiar with Walking the Hedge, but I still wanted to highlight this post that Juniper did last month.

To answer a question: shaman covers a lot of what currently gets discussed in personal labels and titles used among magical workers of various stripes. The end of the post is the gold mine though, filled with various terminology for European magical workers of the past. Some of what is in the post sums up why I claimed hedge witch and hedge rider for myself a few years ago. (Well, aside from the unseen pushing that I HAD to use the term witch for myself in a public way.) It sums up a lot of how I work, because while I have had training in various trance and shamanic techniques in the past, I did not have the backing to call myself a shaman and I didn’t like spirit worker for myself.

Plus, a more specific title for oneself can be a big help in shaping one’s practice and workings. If you can pin down words for yourself which more succinctly sum up what you’re doing with your woo it can help you both focus and broaden your practice.

So just out of curiosity, readers, how many of you use one of these more rarefied titles for yourself?


9 comments on “What’s in a name

  1. Syrbal, exactly my thought as well. I’m also one of those people who thinks you can’t take the title for yourself, your community puts it upon you.

  2. I have taken to ‘spirit worker’ because it is neutral–yep, spirits, yep, I work with them. While there are clearly cultural influences on the sort of work I do, it doesn’t really fit to call it by any term from a specific culture. I’m sure in a year or two it will have too much baggage for me and then I don’t know what I’ll do; someone has already staked out the ‘Unnamed Path’ 😉

    I really like where some of the commenters on that post go, too–there are good reasons for most indigenous folks to avoid the term ‘shaman,’ because as it gets used these days, it is basically an English word that erases their own native words for the kinds of spirit work they do. Given how specific a religious role can be in a community, the adoption of the term shaman can be the first step to erasing their history!

  3. Way back in the olden days (20ish years ago and more), I would have thougth of myself as a shaman; it was the only terminology I knew that approximated what I had experienced and what I was doing, to some extent.

    However, with a long time to think about it since then, I’ve moved away from that terminology entirely, and have used words that describe my actual role and function spiritually within a larger community (that varies, and is often not present at all, granted, but anyway…!?!).

    As a Doctor, I am a “teacher,” because I get information–both from books and such, but also from experiences with the gods–and bring it to other people to teach them. I’m also a Fili because I practice poetry in the Irish manner, and with some of the social and legal expectations that accompany it.

    I’m not entirely happy with the term “spirit-worker,” because I feel it somewhat diminishes some of the beings I work with (mostly gods), but I don’t mind if some people apply it to me as the catch-all term for a larger group of us who have different methodologies, etc. Push comes to shove, yes, I am that and I do that; but, if there are other more specific options (as a lot of what I do as a Doctor and a Fili is not typical of many spiritworkers), I’d prefer to use those.

  4. Re: knowing Hyperion–I know. I met you at P-Con (the Ian attached to the Stacey). See, I have no internet manners, just posting without saying who I am.

  5. Pretty much the main title I go by is “Hemet”, which is the Kemetic word for priestess. 😉 I do not feel comfortable calling myself a shaman, nor do I think “spirit worker” is appropriate. I’ve referred to myself as a “light worker”, but I honestly have never really put a lot of thought into these titles.

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