I have been painting pictures of faeries and their magical realm for many years now — yet even when their forms emerge vibrant of the paper before me, their names (and personalities) will often remain maddeningly elusive. … I’ve learned that names, if I’m not careful, can turn them lifeless and flat, nailing the images down to one rigid meaning, lessening possibilities — and greatly dismaying to the faeries … [They] insist on a multiplicity of names, changing from day to day or from moment to moment. … they themselves change their names according to whim, circumstance, or the person they’re talking to. … I waited for the faeries [in my paintings] to tell me the words by which they’d like to be known.
Despite this multiplicity of names, faeries (like cats) each secretly possess a single real name — usually hidden and guarded, but sometimes given as a powerful gift. The real name of a faery is an integral part of the creature itself. To possess the name is to possess the faery…
excerpts from “Naming Faeries”, from Brian Froud’s brilliant book Good Faeries/Bad Faeries