Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Misgivings

Since I want to talk about more than names here, I feel like I can discus a topic that I have very complicated feelings about. As a Wiccan, how much should I really care about Halloween?

Obviously, I care about Samhain. It's arguably the most important Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year. But contrary to popular believe, they're not the same holiday. They're not even on the same day period. Samhain is on November 1.

Don't believe me? Think about it. All of the Wiccan holidays are evenly spaced in reliable month-and-a-half long increments. They're never at the end of a month, they're always in the middle or the beginning. Halloween is Samhain Eve. So technically a Pagan could celebrate both Halloween and Samhain as completely separate holidays. But most don't. They lump them together.

There really isn't much that's Pagan about the modern American Halloween. It's true that the Celts celebrated a harvest festival at around the same time, and that it was associated with the dead. But there's no clear evidence that they dressed in costumes. They did not go from door to door begging for treats. Being "scared" or "scary" had no part in it. The only detail that ties the two holidays together are the harvest foods.

I've been thinking a lot about this recently. As I've mentioned before, I'm planning on moving abroad. Apparently, Halloween is not as universal as I had assumed it was. I expected Asia and Africa to not have a Halloween, but it's not celebrated in most parts of Europe and South America either. Aside from the United States and Canada, it seems like it only has deep roots in England and Ireland (and, of course, Mexico has Dia de la Muerte). Almost everyone else sees it as an annoying, commercialist American thing. I am older than Halloween celebrations in Germany. Should I start a family in a foreign country, my children could possibly never celebrate Halloween.

I didn't used to be this cynical about this holiday. I used to love it when I was a kid. But Halloween has lost it's childlike wonder since then, and I don't think it's my imagination. Despite the fact that we are spending more money on this holiday than ever before, the number of trick-or-treaters is lower and lower with every passing year. It's evolving into more of an adult holiday. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Halloween is considered by many to be a Pagan holiday, and there is a grain of truth in that. It's also a Catholic holiday. But mostly it's...nothing. So I don't feel like I would be a bad Wiccan by not paying attention to it.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a Samhain name round-up.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Scorpio the Reborn

"The Zodiac, Scorpio" by Erte

"You know what charm is: a way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question."
--Albert Camus, author and Scorpio.

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 switches to a sign that is very dear to my heart since most of my astrological chart is almost nothing but Scorpio and Aries. Scorpio lasts roughly from October 23 to November 23. This sign is symbolized by the scorpion, but also the eagle. In the olden days, Scorpio was associated with death and was therefore an unlucky sign to be born under. It's not for nothing that the height of Scorpio's power is on Samhain. Since then, we've become more enlightened and Scorpio now represents rebirth. Scorpio is the most fiery of the water signs. People born under this sign are known for their intense emotions and for embracing the darker side of life. Their personalities can be very catlike in that they do what they want to do when they want to do it. Scorpios also have a tremendous amount of power, and are not easily intimidated. On the negative side, they can be pessimistic and overly serious. Once they learn optimism, they can have amazing regenerative energy.

Death/rebirth names:

Viva ("live")
Jivan ("life")
Ambrose ("immortal")
Zoe ("life")
Anastasia ("resurrection")
Vivienne ("alive")

Water and (to a lesser extent) fire names:

India ("river")
Delphine ("dolphin, womb")
Tempest ("storm")
Rosmerta ("great provider")
Mortimer ("still water")
Tallulah ("leaping waters")
Merlin ("sea fortress")
Undine ("wave")
Dover ("the waters")
Rumi ("current/flow" or "water")
Leviathan ("sea monster")

Time names:

Hachi ("eight," because it's the eighth sign.)

Red, blue, and green names:

Sappho ("sapphire")
Viridian ("green")
Midori ("green")

Attribute names:

Belladonna ("beautiful woman")
Rune ("secret")
Fortuna ("fortunate, lucky")
Maeve ("intoxicating")
Pia ("pious")
Mohandas ("bewitching")
Boniface ("good fate")
Theodoric ("ruler of the people")
Velda ("power, rule")
Odysseus ("to hate")
Odin ("inspiration, rage, frenzy")
Vera ("true")

Other ideas:


Artists Names from Our Age

Banksy graffiti

I love perusing round-ups of art inspired names. Nook of names has an extensive one, and there's a few on Nameberry. There's even a list of the names of artists' children. Here's the thing though: all of your references are so old. What about the artists that are making stuff now?

"Sunflower Seeds" by Ai Weiwei

A confession: I love contemporary art. I went to London to study contemporary art in college. The Whitney Biennial was one of my favorite museum experiences. I'm always the one who is explaining the value of this type of art when my family and friends "don't get it."

"Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow, Blue and Death" by Takashi Murakami

I get why people are more comfortable using the names of artsy and bohemian people from the past. They have the weight of history on their side. They are, for the most part, no longer controversial as their work has been integrated into mainstream society. Also, artwork of the past is easier to understand. Most people understand why an impressionist painting has value. Not everyone understands why an empty room with the light turning on an off has value.

But I love that artwork has broadened out into objects and experiences that cannot be easily bought and sold. On top of that, the art world is a lot more international with a lot for women artists than it used to be.

So I found some inspiring names of artists who are working and in museums now, or at least very recently. I'm sure there are way more than this.

Ai. Ai Weiwei, Chinese.

Anish. Anish Kapoor, Indian.

Anselm. Anselm Kiefer, German.

Aurel. Aurel Schmidt, Canadian.

Banksy. Banksy, British.

Barney. Matthew Barney, American.

Cattelan. Maurizio Cattelan, Italian.

Chantal. Chantal Akerman, Belgian.

Christo. Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Bulgarian and French.

Cornelia. Cornelia Konrads, German.

Crow. Rosson Crow, American.

Cy. Cy Twombly, American.

Dinos. Jake & Dinos Chapman, British.

Drury. Drury Brennan, American.

Elmgreen. Elmgreen & Dragset, Danish and Norwegian.

Emin. Tracey Emin, British.

Ernesto. Ernesto Neto, Brazilian.

Felice. Felice Varini, Swiss.

Goldin. Nan Goldin, American.

Grayson. Grayson Perry, British.

Hebru. Hebru Brantley, American.

Hirst. Damien Hirst, British.

July. Miranda July, American.

Kehinde. Kehinde Wiley, American.

Koons. Jeff Koons, American.

Lewitt. Sol Lewitt, American.

Lucian. Lucian Freud, German-British.

McQueen. Alexander McQueen, British.

Marina. Marina Abramovic, Serbian.

Maurizio. See Cattelan.

Miranda. See July.

Miroslaw. Miroslaw Balka, Polish.

Munro. Bruce Munro, British.

Murakami. Takashi Murakami, Japanese.

Nan. See Goldin.

Neo. Neo Rauch, German.

Neto. See Ernesto.

Olafur. Olafur Eliasson, Danish-Icelandic.

Orozco. Gabriel Orozco, Mexican.

Pipilotti. Pipilotti Rist, Swiss.

Quinn. Marc Quinn, British.

Rirkrit. Rirkrit Tiravanija, Argentinian.

Riusuke. Riusuke Fukahori, Japanese.

Rosson. See Crow.

Saber. SABER, American.

Sanford. Sanford Biggers, American.

Sherman. Cindy Sherman, American.

Shirazeh. Shirazeh Houshiary, Iranian.

Shirin. Shirin Neshat, Iranian.

Subodh. Subodh Gupta, Indian.

Sunny. Soo Sunny Park, Korean.

Takashi. See Murakami.

Tomokazu. Tomokazu Matsuyama, Japanese.

Turk. Gavin Turk, British.

Yulia. Yulia Brodskaya, Russian.

Viola. Bill Viola, American

Wangechi. Wangechi Mutu, Kenyan.

Weiwei. See Ai.

Wilding. Alison Wilding, British.

Wolfgang. Wolfgang Tillmans, German.

Zaha. Zaha Hadid, Iraqi.

Obviously, this must inspire some combos:

Rosson Wilding

Miranda Shirin

Wolfgang Quinn

July Christo

Nan Aurel

Banksy Sherman

Grayson Neo

Viola Sunny

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Name Magpie: Back to School

Happy October! I missed September, so I'll just be a name magpie every second month, okay? Good.

Like a lot of people, I am busy being a student again. I'm in the middle of getting a TEFL certification. If you're not familiar with that initialism, it's training for teaching English in foreign countries. Which means that instead of writing here, I have been relearning grammar terms and researching countries. But Bewitching Names and Curious Ideas will be international! Isn't that exciting?

Until then, I've been finding new names in the nooks and crannies of the Internet and in my daily wanderings.

Blackery. This one is a surname that I had never heard before. It seems like many parents and name enthusiasts are looking for new and interesting surnames to use in the first spot, and this one fits the bill. It's kind of like Bellamy, but with more bite.

Calytrix. Found by Mer de Noms, it's the name of a genus of a group of plants.

Tearose. It is a little bit too cute for my taste, but it makes a whimsical middle name. Or maybe a name for a fairy.

Amphora. I thought this sounded like a beautiful name, but then I found out that it's the proper term for the Ancient Greek vases with the long necks. Well, I guess if Calico can be a name, so can Amphora.

Plover. It means "belonging to rain," and it's the name of a type of bird. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I live in an area with a lot of rain, but I'm really digging this.

Simrin. I have heard of this name before, but I am having some trouble finding information for it. My Google-fu suggests that it might be from India, but I'm not all that convinced. I'm posting it here in the hopes that someone else might know something about it.