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Ch.4 Into the Mysteries (WMB 4.b)

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @


There is a clear precedent for this idea of the witch name in the medieval witch trials, where the idea of being given a new name on becoming a witch was a common theme in the records of confessions. We are aware that some of the witchcraft confessions are disputed, but all the same we also need to take into consideration that the early practitioners of Wicca, would have been familiar with the trial records and may have been influenced by them – regardless of the accuracy contained within and for this reason it is probable that these records may have provided some form of inspiration, at the very least. In one such example from Scotland in 1644 we find a woman from Lauder confessing to being an initiated witch, even though she was offered the opportunity to set herself free:

“She had been fyled[1] as a witch, she said, and as a witch she would die. And had not the devil once, when she was a young lassie, kissed her, and given her a new name.”[2]

Likewise, the story of the famous Scottish witch Isobell Gowdie is described in the same book under the heading of The Witches of Auldearne. She was invited by the devil to meet with him at night at the parish church of Auldearne. Promising she would, Isobell met with him accordingly and:

“…he baptized her by the name of ‘Janet’ and accepted her service.”[3]

The taking of a new magickal name for use within ceremonies was a common practice in magickal groups such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Ordo Templi Orientis, where a new name or motto which represented the aspirations of the individual was taken upon initiation.

[1] Fyled is an old Scottish term meaning ‘soiled’ or ‘fouled’. [2] Witch Stories, Lynn Linton, 1861, ‘Sinclair’s stories’ [3] Witch Stories, Lynn Linton, 1861, ‘The Witches of Auldearne’


<1> The Religion of Babylonia & Assyria, Jastrow, 1893, also quoted in The Book of Witches, Hueffer, 1908

<2> An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft: With Observations Upon Matters of Fact, Hutchinson, 1718

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.



My name is Sorita d'Este

and this is my website and blog!  Thanks for visiting - I hope you are finding what you are looking for!


Many years ago I dedicated myself to the pursuit of both esoteric knowledge, and an understanding of polytheism, the Gods and Nature.  I have been a full-time writer, author and publisher, specialising subjects linked to the occult, witchcraft, Paganism, mythology, ancient religions and magic - and all kinds of things in between since 2003. 


I live on a hill in Glastonbury, overlooking the marshes of Somerset,  a place of myth and legend, and a crossroad for many different religions. Here I am frequently found digging and growing, serving my fluffy rescue cat and navigating the unknown with my teenage son.  

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