Hermetic names

I am wondering about personal names for Magi. Firstly, do all apprentices take on a new name on passing their apprentice's gauntlet, or does custom vary from House to House and/or Tribunal to Tribunal and covenant to covenant? Secondly when apprentices do receive a new name, who gives it to them? The assumption seems to be on an earlier thread 'Magi Names' that the new magus or maga chooses their own name, but this seems odd to me:
Outside the Order, children would receive their names from their family, and I don't think monks and nuns choose their monastic names themselves (although in modern times, in some traditions at least, they might influence the choice). Are there any period examples of people choosing their own name? While magi are more individualistically minded than the historical norm, personally I think it is more likely that a mage's name would be chosen by their parens as the last stamp that they can make on their apprentice before he or she breaks free.

And then I wonder what might influence the choice of name. One can find historical genealogies where the same names crop up again and again, suggesting that families liked naming children either after themselves, or perhaps after their father or mother. It is a way of emphasising how you and your fore-fathers live on through you children. Would magi be any different? I can imagine that those within the True Lineage Houses would be particularly inclined towards naming their filii after themselves, or else after famous magi within the same lineage.

With the Mystery Houses, there may be a particular corpus of names, or naming customs, within each House that are thought to be appropriate - in Bjornaer, for instance, perhaps magi tend to be given a name that describes a quality of their Heartbeast or perhaps the name is simply the word for their Heartbeast in Gothic. And with the Societates Houses perhaps practice varies considerably from House to House and even within each House.


PS I am afraid I don't have the 'Apprentices' book and I half expect to be told that all this is explained there in detail...

I've always taken the default position that it is the master that gives his apprentice his Hermetic name after Gauntlet. Some will consult their apprentice on it. Others won't.

Of course, the new magus/maga can always change it afterward, but that usually means they don't get along with their pater...

It is pretty much the same as legally changing your given name nowadays. What message does it send to your parents?

I consider the custom to be that the parens decides the name, but that officially only the Tribunal can recognize names. At the beginning of every Tribunal session there are Ceremonies of Welcome where new magi, having finished their gauntlet since the previous one, are recognized; this includes the name. It's usually just the Quaesitor officiating the ceremony and the master declaring that the apprentice passed his Gauntlet, and the Tribunal ratifying the whole deal; but the Tribunal can decide to do other things.

Some Gauntlets are also held at these Ceremonies. I had one case where the Tribunal ruled that a maga passed her gauntlet despite her master's protestations to the contrary, and let her choose her own name.

I'd personally assume that except in House Tytalus and House Bjornaer, the parens names their fidelius upon Gauntlet. In House Tytalus, the apprentice chooses her name and forces her parens to accept it, while Bjornaer are named at the Gathering of Twelve Years by the mystagogue.

Definitely varies by house, and by individual circumstance.

Whether or not a magus uses their birth name depends on how much that name has meaning to them. Some don't recall their birth name (either due to the failing of youthful memory or some master-assisted amnesia), while others may either use it proudly or conceal it for a variety of reasons.

The name a magus gets at apprenticeship is similarly either awarded by a parens or claimed by the magus themselves. Again, circumstances probably play a significant role. Most Tytalean magi probably claim their own name, while at the other extreme most Tremere magi probably go with whatever their superiors dictate. There will always be exceptions.

Note that grandiose names might not be accepted by the hermetic community- the example of Mercere's son who wanted the name Hermes Trimesgus(sp?) and the community named him Mutantus instead. This was when the order was much smaller, but the principle holds. Also, taking the name of a dead and/or famous magus should be frowned upon unless the blood relation is very close (father/son).

I'm pretty certain that the pope choses their papal name in period.

Apart from those entering religious orders received new names, the lay also could receive new names. In some places, in period (not everywhere), you sometimes get a new name at confirmation and at baptism. If those happen when the character is an adult it would seem natural for the receiver of the name to have some input into the choice --- even if technically they are "given" the name.

As far as magi are concerned. I'd say it should be like a religious name: i.e. given to you at Gauntlet, but it being common for apprentices to have some influence over the name received. Of course, there is nothing preventing a magus from calling himself something else if they don't like the given name. Most magi should have at least three names (birth, baptismal, Hermetic).

I don't know if I agree with that. Taking the name of a dead / famous magus is kind of like taking the name of a saint (or a celebrity today). It is perhaps hubris to take the name of a very famous magus (like a founder), but magi are not exactly immune to hubris. Taking the name of a slightly less famous magus (the House Primus, for example) seems to be something that would be done as both a mark of respect and as a signal as to who the new magus thinks of as a role model.

Mercere members (Redcap and Gifted) seem to generally have relatively mundane names these days. Fashions do change over time, even in the Order.

Many thanks for all the responses. Things are a lot clearer to me now. I agree with Richard Love when he writes,

I can imagine a magus's parens naming them after their own parens or else after another magus they respected, perhaps long dead, or perhaps indeed the House Primus of the time. But I imagine parens would tend to understand the desire of most magi to be distinctive, and so once a certain magus has been given a name (say that of the House Primus), others may avoid that name while that magus is alive.

I wonder if magi would continue using their old names in some circumstances. Christian magi surely would continue using their Baptismal names amongst other Christians, and I would have thought the more pious at least would consider their Christian name their main name, for in that name they have an association with a saint who they turn to for guidance and protection, and that would be the name by which God and his servants would know them. Those magi who continue to have relations with mundane friends and family may continue to use their old names with them. One can see how some magi may feel they have a double identity represented in their two names - their Christian and mundane identity on the one hand, and their identity within the Order of Hermes on the other.


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There is a need to distinguish magi from each other - so Marcus and Marcus need nicknames, Marcus Maximus and Marcus the Younger, for example. There are a couple cases of this in the character canon.