What’s in a Motto?

There is a tradition in many Western Mystery Traditions, to take on a ‘motto’ when becoming a member. In some orders, you a given or provided a motto, in others you may choose your own. Some may come by a motto via means of divination and I’m sure there are numerous other forms of choosing or obtaining a motto with which I am not even familiar. In some orders, you may even change your motto at a certain point in your progress. Suffice to say that oftentimes, the motto is said to represent your purpose, your aspiration, your direction or your reason for undertaking the Great Work and initiation into a mystery school.

In our Order, we allow candidates to choose their own motto. This is part of the process that they undergo as they pass through the Probationer program prior to initiation. It is our feeling that the individual best knows the goal and direction that they wish to undertake when joining the Order. That being said, most will find that their direction will shift course at some point, some slightly and others more drastically. In both cases, most will find that their motto continues to ‘fit’ their purpose, goal and direction for many years. In our experience, some members have even had the magical events in their lives manifest specifically via their motto. Our members have found that the motto’s that they choose become powerful forces within not only their pursuit of the Great Work, but also in their day to day lives. Thus, a motto should not be chosen lightly, but should be given proper thought and meditation. A motto should truly be chosen based upon a purpose or virtue that one wishes to bring into their life.

This motto truly has the effect of an alchemical transformation, causing change within the individual. Thus, a motto should never be chosen based upon a ‘cool sounding name’ or other frivolous concern. Care should also be taken when taking on a motto that is one that was used by a historic figure or is the proper name of an angel, deity or other commonly used figure. While there have been a few who have done so successfully, you are potentially taking on the energy and influence of that person, power or being and allowing them to have some amount of influence upon yourself. Again, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, but more of a precaution, and as always, careful thought should be given before taking on such a motto.

After our formal meetings, where initiations often take place, the Cancellarius (or secretary) chats with various members about their feelings and perceptions of the energy of that particular meeting. This information is then compiled into an ‘energy notes’ section of our minutes. Thus, in the future, meetings can be analyzed and checked for various astrological, elemental and other forms of magical timing. Recently we had an initiation of a new member, who’s motto had the word ‘love’ found within its phrase. I will not reveal that motto, but suffice to say that it is a very powerful sentiment. In our notes from the meeting, numerous members commented about having a very different feeling than ever before (many of the members going back years in our Order’s history). Upon further questioning, it was found that the feeling was one of unification, peace, calm and yes, love. This was a new member, and yet the motto they had chosen not only had an influence upon the initiate, but also upon all of the members who were present that day. This is a powerful testament not only to the very nature of choosing a magical motto, but also of the connected nature of those involved in magical studies and ritual together.

Choosing a magical motto is an act of pure magic on its own. What starts with a magical act, that of assuming the motto, becomes magic itself, causing events, as well as the outcomes of magical work, to manifest these magical works in the life of the magician, as well as those around him. It is a powerful piece of magic, which can trace its roots back in various traditions back through the ages. In Hinduism and Buddhism, individuals who convert often take a new ‘Dharma’ or name. In Judaism, sometimes children are given both a secular name and a religious name. In Catholicism, a new Pope takes on a new name. In Mormonism, each member is given a ‘new name’ when passing through the Temple ceremony. In many forms of paganism, a person takes on a magical name. More specifically, in the old testament, Elohim changed the name (or perhaps gave a ‘new name’) to Jacob, and called him Israel. Abram was changed to Abraham. In the New Testament, Simon’s name was changed to Peter.

There are numerous examples of people having their name changed, and in most cases it was to establish them with a new identity, a new place from which to start moving forward. This is much the same purpose that the magical motto performs. As we begin a new magical life, whether it be a new life on a new path, or joining a new Order relating to work previously done, the motto represents a new milestone in life, a new marker from which to proceed and from which new miracles, new revelations, new knowledge and new experiences may all spring forth, and manifest in your life.

Yours in the Great Work,

V.H. Frater M.T.O.

Praemonstrator, Order of the Golden Dawn