Saturday, August 23, 2014

Virgo the Maiden


Painting of Diana.
 
"The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything."
--Johann von Goethe, writer, statesman, and Virgo.

Many modern Pagans prefer to pick names based on astrological signs. Yes, I know I just finished doing a series of posts very similar to this on the old blog, but this time I'm not limiting myself to thirteen names. Llewellyn's Complete Book of Names by K. M. Sheard is an excellent resource for finding names to go with specific astrological signs, so if you want even more options than the ones I list here go find that book.

Today the sun sign enters Virgo (generally it lasts from August 22nd to September 22nd, depending on the year). Virgos are traditionally known for having a purity of spirit and a love of knowledge. They're very detail oriented and love research. This is an earth sign, so that immediately means that Virgos are very practical. This sign is symbolized by the maiden (Pagans in general are not fond of the word "virgin" so I replaced it with maiden because it means the same thing) which is meant to represent their modesty. They're very self contained and don't like to be in the spotlight. Virgos are also known for being fussy about their surroundings and very aware of their bodies.

Just a word about name selection for Virgos: unlike the Leos, it is unlikely that they will appreciate a name that sticks out from the crowd. So unless there are more flamboyant signs in the rest of their astrological chart (and I included some more unique options for that reason) it's probably better to stick with more "sensible" names.

Maiden (or young man) names:

Cora
Virgil
Vestal
Junius
Dido
Fawn
Rhian
Azra
Mabyn
Owain
Galadriel ("maiden crowned with a radiant garland")

Virgin goddesses:

Artemis
Diana
Cynthia
Athene
Minerva
Pallas
Ariadne
Elettra
Kore
Mary
Sophia
Vesta

Earth names:

Gaia
Octavian ("eighth")
Octavie
Ottavia
Eartha
Demeter ("earth mother")
Ceres ("to grow")
Gardner
Garden
Sita ("furrow")
George ("farmer")
Georgia
North
Terra
Harvest
Meadow

Time names:

August
Augustus
Augusta
September
Septima
Septimus
Sistine ("Sixth," because it's the sixth sign in the zodiac.)

Green, Yellow, and Brown names:

Lourdes (arguably "pale yellow")
Mahogany
Copper
Cypress
Viridian
Sage
Jade
Holly
Russell
Olive
Amber
Saffron
Xanthe ("fair hair")
Duncan ("brown-haired")

Attribute names:

True
Truly
Valor
Ophelia ("help")
Ophelie
Cosima ("order, decency")
Cosmina
Cosmo
Cosimo
Eulalie ("well spoken")
Esperanza ("to hope")
Esperance
Remedy
Remedios
Valentine ("strong")
Valentino
Valentina
Clemency ("mercy")
Constant
Constance
Erastus ("beloved")
Modestus
Vimala ("pure")
Mabel ("loving")

Other ideas:

Paloma
Orchard
Huckleberry
Maple
Juniper
Bryony
Florence
Delphine
Delphino
Pomona
Arcadia
Arcadio
Avalon
Echo
Magdalene
Marigold
Opal
Nao
Rosalind
Siddhartha
Mercury
Lazarus
Peridot
Fabrice
Orlando
Sebastian
Percival
Cyprian
Raphael
Raphaella

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Name Profile: Raven

It's no secret why this was the first name profile I did back when I started my first blog in 2010. It is an incredibly popular name in the modern Pagan world. If you go to a Pagan event or a Wiccan forum, it's likely you'll find about a dozen Ravens.

Even if you're not magickally inclined, you probably have a picture in your mind of what a person named Raven looks like. A woman with long, flowing, jet black hair. Perhaps she's a bit of a goth girl (like Raven in Teen Titans), or perhaps a hippy. That's probably the stereotypical image that a lot of people have.

It's really not hard to see why this name is such a favorite in Pagan circles. This jet black bird has played a role in mythology throughout North America and Europe. Also, it's just an awesome animal all around.

The raven (pronounced "RAY-vehn" for you non-native English speakers out there) is an intelligent and curious animal, having one of the largest brains in the bird kingdom. They are highly adaptable and eat almost anything. They can mimic human speech like parrots. Ravens usually travel in mated pairs, and are devoted to their families. They horde shiny objects like jewelry, pieces of metal, and shiny stones, possibly to impress other ravens.

There is a wide variety of depictions of ravens in mythology and culture. In most Western societies, the raven was considered a bad omen, due to it's diet of dead animal carcasses and it's all-black plumage. A raven is the famous bearer of bad news in Edgar Allen Poe's classic poem "The Raven." The Norse god Odin has two ravens named Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), who fly all over the world, observing everything.

Personally, the name appeals to me because of Haida/Tlingit mythology (I've lived in the Pacific Northwest longer than I've lived anywhere). The Raven is described as a cunning trickster god who loves to change things up and enjoy life. He's also a bit of a horny bastard. In one story a fisherman beats Raven to a bloody pulp and throws him down a latrine when he discovered him locked in an intimate embrace with his wife. But the most known and retold story is "The Raven Steals the Light," in which he conspires to take the stars, the moon, and the sun away from an old man hording them in boxes. Raven transforms himself into a single hemlock needle that floats down a stream and into the old man's daughter's basket. The daughter becomes thirsty and swallows the needle, and in nine months Raven is born in human form. While in the form of a boy, he cajoles his now-grandfather to give him the boxes, which he immediately opens thus releasing the light. Whereupon he instantly transforms back into his true form and flies away.

If we let conventional opinion have any say in the matter, Raven is a feminine name. According to social security records, Raven has charted as a girls name since 1977, and it has never left. It's highest year was in 1993 at #139. It's popularity has dwindled since then, it is now at #543. It is worth stating that this name was particularly popular amongst African Americans, Raven Symone is a famous example.

This doesn't mean that boys named Raven are completely unheard of. Raven even appeared on the social security listings for boys between 1997 and 2002. It's best year was in 1999 at #812.

As I said before, this name is pretty common in modern Pagan circles and a few of those people have achieved a level of notoriety. Raven Grimassi is the nome de plume of a Wiccan author who help launch the Stregheria tradition, which he described as "the witch sect of Old Italy." And he's a man. I would say that in Modern Pagan circles, the name Raven is equally used by both men and women. Another well known Pagan is Wiccan author and lecturer Silver Ravenwolf.

I think there is a little bit of a cultural divide between Pagans and non-Pagans in regards to this name. When talking to other name enthusiasts I found out that when most people picture a Raven their first thought is the color (raven can be used as a more poetic term for "black".) I'm willing to bet that most Pagans like it because of the bird and all of its mythical implications.

By the way, all of these dozens of witchy Ravens that I'm talking about are adults. I have yet to meet a child from a Pagan family named Raven. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps the name is a bit tired. Perhaps it screams, "Hey I'm a witch!" a little too much.

But that is exactly why I love this name for a boy. I would argue that it's fresher and cooler for a boy. There's a bit of a rock star edge to it. And I always love to bend gender expectations.

Some combos:

Raven Samsara

Raven Jove

Ptolemy Raven

Bianca Raven

Related names:

Ravenel (Not etymologically related to ravens, but c'mon.)

Ravenna (See above.)

Corvus

Bertrand ("bright raven")

Bran

Corbin ("little crow" or "little raven")

Fiachra

Wolfram ("wolf-raven")

Draven (If you want to be generous.)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Name Magpie: Ooo, Shiny!

Having been a name enthusiast ever since I was a child, there's not much that surprises me anymore. But there will always be names that are completely new to me. That's one of the joys of life. And I collect these little treasures like a bird collects stale french fries.

Sionnach. I always laugh a little bit when I see lists of names that are supposedly "popular in witchcraft" and it includes none of the ones I've seen repeatedly and at least one that I've never seen before in my life. This is one of the later. It's Irish for "fox," or "red dog" if you want to be literal. I couldn't explain how to pronounce it to save my life. Just listen to it here.

Piera. A feminine form of Peter that I was previously unfamiliar with, profiled by Appellation Mountain.

Grapevine. This idea came to me when I misread a name announcement. Baylor Grapevine was the name of the hospital, not the baby. But now I can't stop thinking about it. It would be great middle name for a Mabon baby, am I right Wiccans?

Prose. Another interesting middle name possibility. Well, the person who wanted opinions on this idea posited it for the middle slot. I actually wouldn't hate it in the first slot. Please someone write a science fiction or fantasy book and give this name to a librarian character.

Valentinus. Another variant that I was previously unaware of. There's also Valentinius.

Snowbird. Apparently this is the name of a child on a reality show somewhere. I don't really watch television, but I saw some other name enthusiast talking about it and I kind of love it. The child goes by Birdie I think.

Kinsman. The old-timey finds on British Baby Names are always fun to dig through and that's how I found Kinsman. It means "blood relative," which I guess is a bit of a literal name to give to a son. But I think it's cool.

That's what caught my eye recently. Perhaps this could be a monthly feature.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Harvest of Grains

British postage stamp.
 
Harvest at La Crau, with Montmajour in the Background by Vincent Van Gogh

Blessed Lughnasadh to those who celebrate it! Before I get to the massive name round up, let's get into what this holiday means.

This holiday is also known as Lammas, but I think Lughnasadh is more beautiful to say. I mean, now that I've figured out how to say it. It's "loo-NAH-sah," right? Irish words are tricky. It's the first of a long string of harvest holidays and the earth is full of delicious goodies. Traditionally, this is the time in which farmers would begin the work of harvesting. So this is a time of excitement. But even though we're still in the dog days of summer, the sun's power is beginning to wane. I'm feeling very conscious of the fact that winter will be here before I know it. This is why this holiday is also associated with regrets, and the need to let them go.

The main deity of the season is, obviously, Lugh. Lugh (pronounced "Loo") is an Irish god that was honored almost universally by the Celts. He is a heroic king known for having mastered many skill sets, and he is the patron god of craftsmen and the distribution of talent. Musicians, bards, poets, and artisans can call upon him when they need a boost of creativity. And while he is not necessarily a war god per se, he definitely knows how to fight. In an old Irish text called The Book of Invasions it states that Lugh instituted Lughnasadh in honor of his foster mother, Tailtiu. Tailtiu died of exhaustion after clearing the land for agriculture. So we have them to thank for this holiday.

So how do Modern Pagan celebrate the holiday? Most people don't live on farmlands, after all. Here are some ideas.
  • Typically celebrating this festival involves lots of baking. There are all sorts of tutorials online for how to bake bread into fun shapes like suns and dragons, but any type of bread works great.  You can also count on a Lughnasadh feast. The traditional foods are bread, corn, root vegetables, pasta, berries, sunflower seeds, and honey, but eating what is in season at the location you're currently living in is encouraged.
  • Making corn husk dolls (or, really, anything out of corn husks) is a very popular activity, and you can find plenty of tutorials for that as well.
  • The Lughnasadh festival used to be very similar to the Olympic games, so it is common to celebrate Lughnasadh with some sort of competition. Traditional summer games like relay races and water balloon fights are lots of fun, but if the weather's bad you could also invite your friends to a chess match or a video game competition.
  • Lughnasadh is a time to honor mentors, teachers, and coaches. So find a way to show that you appreciate the skills they taught you.
  • It's also ideal to burn a bonfire or a wicker man because it's not a Pagan holiday unless we're burning something!
Enough with that, on with the names!

Mythical beings associated with the season:

Lugh

Llew

Tailtiu

Ceres (Roman)

Demeter (Greek)

Adonis (Greek)

Dagon (Semitic)

Mercury (Roman)

Hermes (Greek)

Parvati (Hindu)

Danu (Irish)

John Barleycorn (English folkloric. Barleycorn doesn't really work, but Barley does).

Bride (Celtic)

Onatah (Iroquois)

Freya (Norse)

Bast (Egyptian)

Bastet

Sif (Norse)

Other suggestions:

Lunasa

August

Augustus

Augusta

Harvest

Theresa ("summer" or "to harvest")

Hotaka ("tall grain")

Arista ("ear of corn")

Golden

Ochre

Goldenrod

Blueberry

Baker

Sunflower

Amber

Honey

Deborah ("bee")

Madhu ("honey")

Heather

Hollyhock

Acacia

Crow

Phoenix

Griffin

Juliet (A strange Pagan-y specific that I like from Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet is that Juliet was born on Lughnasadh: "Come Lammas Eve at night she shall be fourteen.")

Capulet (See above.)

Catherine (Catholic saint associated with the season.)

Wheatley

Maize

Dimitri

Demetria

Jera (The harvest rune.)

Fun combo time:

John Harvest

Freya Capulet

Augustus Baker

Demeter Phoenix

Catherine Hollyhock