Donald Michael Kraig has an excellent post on magical names, including some history behind the practice.
Kraig brings up an interesting point that the practice of the magical name probably originated with the rise of Christianity, as magicians had to hide their identity. Unfortunately, he missed the importance that the ancient Egyptians placed on the “true name” that held magical powers over gods and men, which could easily be seen as a precursor to the practice of a magical name (and the reason some traditions keep such names secret).
So, I obviously use a magical name …
My name is more of a nome de plume and to differentiate my magical work from the rest of my affairs. I do use it in ritual, though, and it has a very specific meaning.
“Chirotus” is a portmanteau of a few different planets that were involved in a particularly harsh astrological transit I went through about 10 years ago (Specifically Chiron, Pluto, and Uranus). It involved Mars transiting several planets, going retrograde across them all, and then going direct and hitting them again. Not long after was when I began my academic career.
Also, Chirotus is apparently a genus of termite. I did not know this at the time I chose the name.
I came up with “Infinitum” because most online forums required a last name, and it sounded good. It’s also just pretentious enough that it reminds me not to take myself too seriously. Most of the time.
I’m still open to changing my magical name if a cause for it arises. It is not the first that I have had. I will admit, though, that changing my magical name will require a life-changing event of a magnitude that I’m not sure I want to deal with again …