Saturday, December 18, 2010


Recently I joined a Wiccan social group online, which I'm using partially to look for more names. The number of witches that use Seraphim as a magickal name was surprising to me. I suppose that means it should be the next profile.

Seraphim (pronounced "SAIR-ah-fim," the plural of Seraph) is of Hebrew origin and means "burning ones." They appear predominantly in the Old Testament, which makes them a Jewish creation. Medieval Christian theology gave them more attention than Judaism ever did. However, all of the references to them are more from Christian folklore than from any official cannon.

The Christians describe the Seraphim as one of the highest orders of celestial beings. They are depicted in human form (and appear to all be male from what I could find) with three pairs of wings. According to Jewish historians Seraphim were originally fiery, flying serpents. It is said that whoever looks upon a seraph will instantly burst into flames due to the intense heat and light that radiates from them. So it's a good thing that seraphs don't involve themselves in the affairs of humans very often. Their main job is to keep Divinity in good order, and they have direct communication with God. Due to their "bright and burning" reputation, the Seraphim are associated with unending energy, chasing away darkness, and clarity. Some well known Seraphim include Gabriel, Metatron, Nathanael, Kemuel, and...Lucifer.

So what does any of this mean in a Wiccan context? No, it has nothing to do with Lucifer.

According to the Wicca and Witchcraft for Dummies book, all Judeo-Christian celestial beings can be summoned for ritual the same way gods or fairies are. Although if my memory serves me right, it would be very rare to call on the highest choir of angels for petty human problems. That's what angels are for.

Over the years Seraphim, and angel-like creatures in general, have transcended their Judeo-Christian origins and become universal. They appear in art, literature, music, film, video games, comic books, and advertising. The idea of angels has assimilated into a lot of different religions and cultures, including Neo-Paganism.

There is a Saint Seraphim from Russia, so this is an established given name and quite old. Seraphim has a lot of different variations for both sexes: Seraphina, Seraph, and Serafine among many others. But today, Seraphim is rather rare and has never been in the 1000 most popular names in America. Some people believe that it's more appropriate for a girl, since most angels are depicted as feminine beings today, even though this is not historically correct. This is just another instance of the changing naming fashions of today in which names that were once unquestionably masculine are now switching genders.

It's not as popular as Raven or Wolf, but Seraphim is more prominent as a magickal name than I thought it would be. It just goes to show how much of a "patchwork" religion Neo-Paganism really is.

Wicca for Dummies by Diane Smith

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