I have a short name. One syllable, three letters. Easy to pronounce. My mother chose my name specifically because she did not like names that can be shortened into nicknames. My mother’s name is Sandra. And she was mightily offended whenever anyone called her Sandy. My mom associated the name Sandy with the dog character in the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. Naturally, she was offended when strangers dared to call her Sandy.

So my mom named me Kim, the shortest name possible that still sounded nice with Kovach, to prevent me from the horrors of unwanted nicknames. The family story is that a few hours after I was born, a nurse held me in her arms and cheerfully chirped, “Here’s Kimmie!” You can imagine my mom’s chagrin. She never thought that people would make my name longer!

But that’s what happens. I’ve been called Kimberly on numerous occasions. (That’s fine with me.) My dentist calls me Kimmy (I like it—friendly and welcoming!). Jill, one of my dearest friends since our early days working in public relations, calls me Kimmer! (I like it—unique and personal!)

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Names have power. Have you ever read a novel and decided that a character was pretty or handsome or ugly or sly based on the character’s name? Our brains create images based on positive or negative associations we may have with a name. Have you ever considered a name to be tainted, remembering that mean kid in second grade or that annoying co-worker by the name of (fill in the blank)?

In one of my adult writing classes, a woman mentioned that when she was younger, she learned that a friend’s mother had put her name in the freezer. I had never heard of this custom! Apparently, many different cultures have used the “freeze out” as an even more powerful way of giving someone the cold shoulder. By placing a person’s name in the freezer, it is supposed to freeze their words or actions against you. To silence that person forever.

A little Googling of “Putting a name in the freezer” resulted in directions for ways to “ice out” someone spreading malicious gossip. Writing a person’s name on a piece of paper and placing it in a plastic baggie or container also works for former flames or someone threatening legal action.

“Container spells” work to constrain the negative actions of the specific meanie. Write the name of the target, include a photograph or a strand of the person’s hair or an object they have touched, and place these items in an empty jar. Fill the jar with vinegar or salt water to make their hurtful words turn bitter in their mouth. Next, seal the jar by dripping black candle wax on the lid (who has black candles?) or wrap the container in aluminum foil, shiny side facing inward, to ensure that the negative actions reflect back on that specific person. Finally, place the container in the freezer. The freezer spell should be complete.

Researching this further, I discovered a few positive “jar spells” that date back hundreds of years in folk magic traditions. For example, to sweeten someone’s disposition towards you, write the person’s name on a slip of paper, place it in a jar or saucer and pour honey over it.  Then stick a candle in the jar or saucer of honey, light the candle and let the candle burn until it goes out on its own.

A money jar spell is used to bring wealth. Put nine pennies or coins in a jar or bottle and place it where it can be seen each day. The belief for this tradition is that eventually money will start finding its way to you. Interesting…

Kim Kovach does not endorse freezer spells, jar spells or witchcraft of any kind. However, mean people may find their names used for unflattering characters in her short stories. Learn more at kimkovachwrites.com.