Community Welcoming and Naming Rituals

    This was published in Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac in 2007.  I have used this ritual many times and it is very popular.  The secret is it involves the entire community in the process, and does not need a High Priestess to run it, anyone who is acknowledged as a community leader, or head of the household can do this ritual.  This is also not a “Wiccaning” so it is not religion specific.  The ceremony is in two parts; the naming and the welcoming.  You can make the ritual as complex, or as simple as you would like – and you can include as many or as few people as you have on hand.

    So, read through the article and feel free to use it within your own community.


    Many folks are more familiar with the term “Wiccaning” and this ritual is offered as an alternative to a “Wiccaning”.  There are folks who want to celebrate a “Rite of Passage” for their children, but do not find the traditional “Wiccaning” ceremony appropriate, usually because they are not Wiccan, or because of the part of the ritual which suggests that the child be brought up Wiccan.  Pagans are not necessarily Wiccan, and many households, like my own, would rather allow the child to find their own Spiritual Path when they are grown up and mature enough to make that decision on their own.

    I have used this ceremony many times with mixed groups of pagans.  It can be used in a community group, a family setting or just with the parents, depending on if the family is group oriented or solitary.    It is always followed with a shared meal for everyone to enjoy, turning into a “pot luck” with the larger groups.  It can also be a ritual used for a group of children, or it can be for one.  Remember, take the basic ritual outlined here and “tweak” it to fit your own situation.  This ritual is very generic, but it has elements that can be basic to any celebration of this nature.

    The naming part of this ritual is intended to be the child’s actual name, not their magical name.  This is a community celebration, and the name the community will be using is the child’s community name.  Magical names are intended for a coven group or individual use and are not usually intended to be known by the entire community.  Save that naming for when the child finally decides on what spiritual path they wish to follow, and allow the child to decide on their own magical name, just as you chose yours.

    Finally, this ritual is intended for children, however, if you have folks moving to your area and you wish to welcome them in a similar manner, some elements of this ritual may fit, while others will not.  Again, “tweaking” is recommended.  I do have this ritual in two parts, and you could use the welcoming part for an older member.

    Naming Ceremony 

    There should be selected beforehand one person who will be the designated leader of the ritual.  This can be the patriarch or matriarch of the family or a community elder.  This person’s responsibility will be to start the ritual off and ask the question of the child’s name.  Read through the ritual, and make this decision in advance.

    Also, it is suggested that one of the family members, usually the oldest relative, give the child something associated with the family as a sign that the child is part of that family.  This can be anything from a piece of family jewelry to a scroll containing the family linage or a welcoming message.  For young children or babies, this can be given to the parents.

    This person should also give the “Blessing of the Family”.   This can be as simple as asking all the family Ancestors to acknowledge this child as their rightful heir and to bless the child, to a very elaborate blessing calling upon specific ancestors and/or family Deities to bless this child as they grow.  Again, this should be worked out in advance and decided upon.

    The gathered, be they the community or the family, can form a circle, setup Sacred Space if appropriate, or just gather together in any comfortable manner.  Once the group has gathered and the area set up as desired, the one who is to be the leader will take the child in front of the gathered.

    Elder/Leader:  Who takes responsibility for this child in our family (and community)?

    The parent(s) or guardian(s) respond: We do!

    Elder/Leader:  And what shall this child be called by the family (and community)?

    The parent(s) or guardian(s) respond with the child’s rightful name.

    Elder/Leader:  So shall it be that this child will be known as __________ by the family and shall be the responsibility of (parent(s) and/or guardian(s) name) till he/she is old enough by our community standards to be responsible for their own.

    At this point, the family will begin the “well wishing”.  This can be extended to the community gathered as well.

    In the tradition of the old fairy tales, where the “fairy godmothers” would “wish” an attribute for the child, so to the gathered will wish something for the child to grow on.  This can be worked out in advance.  I have seen several variations on this, and it can be fun.  One way is to hand out to each member attending a small index cards with something already filled in like “strength” or “courage” or “common sense”.

    We have made “fairy godmother wand” – a stick with a star on top, covered in glitter with dangling ribbons, which we pass from person to person to designate who will speak next.  You can use a “talking stick” or just move from person to person.

    Each of the family or community members who wish to participate in turn says:

    To (child’s name) I wish that he/she be blessed with (attribute).

    Some groups leave the wishes up to the individuals.  In small groups, there is usually enough for each participant to find something to wish; in larger groups it can be challenging, and cause for much laughter and merriment as folks try to find something original to wish for the child.

    The last person to make the wish for the child should be the family Elder, who will present the child with the family gift.  At this point, the family Elder will also speak the “Blessing of the Family” upon the child.

    Community Welcoming

    Elder:  Today we welcome a new member (or new members) to our community.  Please join with me to welcome (name or names) and make them feel at home in our group. 

    The members of the community should then take turns shaking hands, introducing themselves and giving hugs and/or blessings.

    This is a very simple welcoming, but in many communities, acknowledgement of new members can very important to make them feel welcome and a part of a new group.

    Of course, this can become more elaborate, depending on how much you want to put into this.  If the new members have just moved into the neighborhood and have a new home, house warming gifts as simple as candles can be given.  If you are going to have a pot luck dinner, maybe make an addition of small gifts of jarred goods or cakes to be presented to the new member in addition to welcoming them to the table to join in the group meal.  Again, it is very dependent on what the group is doing, and what kind of effort you, as a group, want to make to make new folks feel welcome in your community.

    This may sound rather simple, but it is often overlooked.   A simple acknowledgement of a new member by name is really all that is needed and it is very important.  If it is all your group ever does, it is an important step in your own community’s development.  Acknowledging someone in your group is a rite of passage, no matter how small, and will make them feel important and encourage them to be useful and participating members in the community.

    And for children, it allows them to see that there are folks outside of their family who care for them and will acknowledge them and help them to grow.  It is part of their developing social skills that needs to be nurtured and expanded upon.

    If your family group or community has never done either of these “Rites of Passage”, now is a good time to consider it.  A “Rite of Passage” is an acknowledgement of members of your family or community, and it is a positive affirmation for them and your community.  It builds togetherness and binds the community closer together.  Anything that can be done to bring our community together is a good thing, and should not be overlooked.  Besides, it is another good excuse to get together, talk, have fun, and eat!  What can be more pagan than that?

     Copyright © 2005 Boudica Foster

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Boudica Foster is the pen name for Margaret Foster. All website material written, drawn or photographed is the work of Margaret Foster.