Sunday, December 13, 2015

Name Profile: Ivy

Along with Holly and Mistletoe, Ivy has long been a traditional symbol of the Winter Solstice. There is even a popular Christmas carol meaning it, "The Holly and the Ivy." But the plant's significance predates the story of Mary and Jesus.

Ivy (pronounced "EYE-vee") comes from the Old English language and it means...well, "ivy." It's hard to believe, but the Christian church once tried to ban ivy due to it's Pagan associations. Ivy is an evergreen vine that was the symbol of eternal life and rebirth among early Northern pagans, due to it's resilience and it's ability to produce berries during the time of year when no other plant is bearing fruit. It's a plant that needs to be closely monitored, because it will pretty much grow anywhere, taking over the sides of buildings and smothering plants. It was also the symbol of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and wine-related debauchery. Ivy used to be placed outside the door of vintner's shops because of this.

The ivy plays a big role in at least two Roman myths. One involves Zeus and his illicit lover Semele. When Hera found out that the two were fooling around she was furious, but she decided to be clever. She suggested to Zeus that he should reveal his true form to Semele. When he did so, his divine flames consumed her and almost killed her unborn child, the god Dionysus. The only thing that saved them was a sudden growth of ivy. In another story, a nymph named Kissos dances for Dionysus. But she does so with such energy that she collapses and dies from exhaustion. In his grief, Dionysus transforms her into ivy.

The Celtic Tree Month of Ivy takes place from September 30th to October 27th. It's Celtic name is Gort. The month of ivy is considered a good time to practice magick that has to do with rebirth, but also for controlling emotion, healing, protection, exorcism, and fertility. Ivy is also equated with fidelity, and is used in binding charms for love.

There are many other beliefs surrounding this plant. There is an old tradition of brides wearing crowns of ivy. This was done for protection, but also think about how ivy grows. It twines and clings hard to buildings and trees. So the ivy was meant to symbolize a strong union. There are also some superstitions surrounding ivy and death. Should ivy not grow on a grave, it is a sign that the burried's soul is restless. But if a woman's grave is covered in ivy, it means that she died of a broken heart. This plant was used to make crowns worn by poets because it was believed that it would give them divine inspiration. The leaves of ivy are in the shape of a five-pointed star, very similar to the Wiccan Pentagram.

Despite all of that, this name's "witchiness" is not super apparent. In America, Ivy is a common girl's name that has never left the girl's top 1000 and is currently at it's most popular at #146. So this name doesn't stand out in a crowd of non-Pagans, but the person who has it will know of it's deeper significance. There was also a time that Ivy was a well used boy's name. It fell out of the top 1000 for boys in 1936. To be fair, the ivy plant has always been associated with femininity. But to be honest, I think this could sound charming on a boy.

A thoughtful, name-loving modern Pagan would use the name of a plant in the hopes that either a child or his/herself would gain the virtues associated with it. So, what qualities does the ivy plant represent? Resilience, fidelity, the protective powers of love, divine inspiration...all good things. Despite it's ever growing popularity, there is really no good reason not to consider it.

Some Name Combos:

Ivy Winter

Ivy Evelyn

Ivy Hathor

Ivy Cosmina

James Ivy

Related Names:

Iva

Ivo

Ivie

Ivey

Ivalyn

Kissos (Greek for "ivy")

Hedera (the plant's scientific name)

Friday, December 4, 2015

My Favorite Names (50-41)

A while ago, there was a theme going on amongst the name vloggers on youtube. They were each making a list of their top 50 favorite names for boys and girls. I immediately thought, "I want to try!"

I'm a name lover. I don't have one or two favorite names, I have hundreds. This was a good exercise in separating the wheat from the chaff and asking the question, "If I were having a child right now, which names would I be campaigning for?"

Have you ever tried ranking your favorites? It's really hard to do. I'm also a little nervous about sharing this list because I like odd names and those always seem to invite derision. But a lot of people like to see other's favorite name lists, and posts of my favorites were always popular back on the old blog. So hopefully, you can appreciate this journey into my thought process.

So let's start, shall we?

Girl #50. Anais. Let's start with a name that I keep going back and forth on. Anais is widely thought to be a variation of Anna, but it might be more likely to come from the name of the Persian goddess of love. But I love this name because of Anais Nin. If you don't know who that is, she was a famous author who was very forward thinking in terms of sexuality and was something of a feminist quotation generation machine. The only thing that I can't get over is the pronunciation. I've listened to recordings of people saying it over and over again and I still go, "What?"

Boy #50. Oleander. This is low on my list because it's a very new favorite. It's a flower name, which is interesting because there aren't very many of those that work for guys. The plant has a bit of a dark connotation because it is very poisonous (kind of like Belladonna and Hemlock). But if I wasn't comfortable with dark connotations, I wouldn't be Wiccan. Leander doesn't work for me for some reason, but Oleander I love.

Girl #49. Violante. This name belongs in the same family as Viola, Yolanda, and Iolanthe, so you could probably guess what it means. It's a very old Italian name used by royalty in the Medieval period. It is a little on the long side, so it probably would make a better middle name.

Boy #49. Rohan. Sanskrit for "ascending." Because I love to travel, I love a lot of names from other countries. This name is rated #633 in America currently. The reason why it's not more highly rated on my list is because of the Tolkien association. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against nerdy names (which will become apparent the more you read this list). It's just that I've never read The Lord of the Rings. If I'm going to pick a nerdy name, I would like to have a relationship with the source material.

Girl #48. Maeve. An Irish Gaelic name meaning "she who intoxicates." My favorite names are heavily influenced by my Spanish and Italian heritage, but not my Irish heritage so much. That's usually because of the pronunciation issues, but I don't have that problem with Maeve. I love this name because of Queen Maeve from Irish mythology, and Queen Mab of the faeries. The reason it's so low is because I've been noticing it being used a lot, which makes a name lose it's magic for me. It's currently ranked at #482 in the United States. It's not quite at my cut off point in terms of popularity but it's getting there.

Boy #48. Yule. Yule is obviously the name of the winter solstice celebration. I seem to remember loving this name for a very long time, but I'm not sure exactly what the catalyst was. Why is it so low on my list? Because I wouldn't name a son Yule unless he was born around Yuletide. I mean, I could, just like you could name a child Easter or Autumn regardless of their birthdays. But I don't love this name enough to use it just because.

Girl #47. Remedios. Spanish for "remedy." Remedios Varo is the name of one of my favorite painters. I first saw her work at a traveling exhibition in the National Museum of Women in the Arts and I instantly fell in love with her name and her work. Even in Spanish speaking countries, this name is pretty rare. One of the drawbacks of this name is that it's one of the names of the Virgin Mary. But Catholic overtones is really hard to get away from with Spanish names, so I forgive it somewhat. Another problem is that it's a lot of syllables. It's probably better middle name material.

Boy #47. Sirius. Latin for "burning," this is the name of the "dog star" in the constellation Canis Major. It's also the name of one of my favorite Harry Potter characters. This is kind of a hard name to pair with, it always looks like I'm talking about a serious *insert name here.* It would probably stay in the middle slot.

Girl #46. Ceres. A Roman goddess name meaning "to grow." It sounds like "series," which bothered me for a while, but I've come around. Something you're going to notice as I go through my list is that I'm definitely more into Katniss names than Hermione names. Seriously, almost all of these sound like they could be a character in The Hunger Games. I'm all about huntress names over princess names. And Ceres is definitely huntress-y.

Boy #46. Oberon. A name meaning "elf power." Most people know that this is a name from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's a very strong sounding name that satisfies my Pagan-y and literary criteria.

Girl #45. Muse. In mythology, the muses are goddesses of creative inspiration. I assume that most name nerds would prefer that I just pick one of the muses, but I love this name because of it's meaning as a verb: "to ponder" or "to think." I consider this a virtue name because I would encourage my daughters to be curious and question things. It would probably stay as a middle name candidate, though.

Boy #45. Kit. This is another new name on my favorites. For a while my opinion on this name was, "That's really cool. What does it mean? Oh, it's a nickname for Christopher? Pass." So why did I change my mind? Because a kit is also the name for a baby fox. I happen to really like foxes, both in real life and in mythology. Yeah, that does mean that it would have the same vibe that Fawn would (which would be on this list if I was doing my top #60 favorite names for girls), but I don't really care.

Girl #44. Primevere. French for "primrose." It was used during the Middle Ages, or at least I think it was. I don't see it on DMNES. So I might be wrong. Anyway, primroses are commonly used for love spells, so it's a nice name to use for a child born near Lupercalia or Beltane. I've always been kind of "meh" about Primrose, but I love Primevere.

Boy #44. Onyx. This is a type of gemstone that symbolizes protection and emotional healing. And although it can come in a variety of colors, it's most widely known for being black. I see this more on girl's name lists, and it would be good for a girl too. But it feels like more of a boy's name to me.

Girl #43. Ocean. A great water element name that, to me, feels very peaceful. I consider this a travel name because you often have to cross oceans to get to new, exciting places.

Boy #43. Archer. Whether we're talking about Katniss, Robin Hood, or Artemis, there's just something cool about archers. When I bounced this name off my mother she wrinkled her nose and said it was too "old money." She pictured Draco Malfoy, basically. I don't see it that way at all. I picture the heroes of old. I'm even starting to warm up to it as a girl's option. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that Archer is the new Hunter. At number #303 it's dangerously close to my cut-off point in terms of popularity, and I think it's just going to get even more popular.

Girl #42. Kestrel. This is the name of a type of falcon. This name is also on my boy's list, so I'll talk more about it when it pops back up again.

Boy #42. Sabin. It's a form of the Italian name Sabino. The Sabines were a tribe of people that played a big part in the founding of Rome. There's only one big problem: it was my grandpa's name. I would not necessarily mind naming a son after my grandpa. I loved my grandpa and he was a great guy. But honor names is a bit of an emotionally charged subject with my father and my other grandpa. And I hate the names from their side of the family (their naming style is "conservative Irish Catholic") so naming children after them will not be happening. If I were to name a son Sabin, I fear I would have a lot of passive aggressive guilt tripping on my hands. It's sad, but that's why I'm anti-family names.

Girl #41. Sitara. This is a Hindu name meaning "star," but I'm sure that there are other origins. When I first heard this name, I thought it was related to the sitar. You know, the musical instrument. If you think you don't know what a sitar is, listen to "Within You and Without You" by The Beatles. The nerd in me also likes that it sounds like Katara.

Boy #41. Gryphon. An English name meaning "lord" or "prince," and is also the name of a mythical creature. This is a name that I've loved for a long time. I read the Griffin and Sabine trilogy when I was way too young to be reading them and got hooked. Griffin now rates at #241, so it's technically out of my comfort zone. So I fell in love with a respelling because I'm not above being a hypocrite. Yes, I know that using a different spelling does not make it more unique. But it can make it feel fresher.

Hope you enjoyed that! Stay tuned for the rest of the countdown...

Monday, October 12, 2015

Blast from the Past: Mili

Illustration by Maurice Sendak

I've said before that I have trouble remembering the names I loved as a child. But after I wrote the post for Kiyomi, I remembered another name that I'm surprised I forgot: Mili.

My youthful obsession with this name came from the underrated Maurice Sendak classic Dear Mili. The story is a retelling of an obscure Brothers Grimm tale. Mili is a young girl who is forced to separate from her mother and flee into the woods. She stays in the forest for three days, befriending all sorts of characters. But when she gets home...well, I won't give away the ending because this is not a well known fairy tale. Sendak's illustrations are gorgeous, of course. It also has some Holocaust imagery in it, which totally flew over my head as a child. I don't think this book is still in print, but if you can find a copy I definitely recommend it. It was my favorite book as a child.

Unlike Kiyomi, I can see this name catching on. For one thing it's incredibly multicultural: it's Hindu, it's Hebrew, it's Japanese, it's Nordic, it's a nickname for Wilhelmina and Millicent, the list goes on. Mili also has a very current sound, similar to Maddie and Hattie. So if this name popped on the charts it would not surprise me. It's probably going to be spelled Millie, though.

As for me, this name is no longer amongst my favorites. It's a little too nickname-y for me. But Mili is probably the name that kicked off my name obsession, so it's still important to me.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Name Magpie: End of Summer

This post is a little late in the month, isn't it? But it's better late than never, right? Here's some new names that have been on my mind lately:

Primarosa. I've been searching for new names on pinterest, and this one came up. You don't need to speak Spanish well in order to figure out that this means "first rose." This name is also a form of Primrose.

Corabella. Another pinterest find. I think this smoosh-name could catch on. The Bellas are hot right now and Coraline is rising up the charts.

Aegyptus. Yet another pinterest find. Aegyptus is a king from Greek-conquered-Egyptian mythology.

Loxo. Roses and Cellar Doors had a post on Triple Goddesses, and a lot of these are new to me. This is the name of one of Artemis' archery attendants. Her name means "angling."

Thallo. Thallo is one of the Horae, Greek goddesses of the seasons. Her name means "blossom."

Romola. This name was invented by George Elliot for her novel set in Florence. It seems very obviously inspired by Romulus.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Miyazaki-san (Part 1)

 
When I was growing up in the 90s, Disney animation ruled the world. My parents and both sets of grandparents had every movie on video cassette. Parents were naming their daughters Ariel and Jasmine. The Disney Store was in almost every mall I visited. So when I see parents of my generation go overboard on trying to recapture the whole Disney thing for their kids, I sort of get it. But (and this might alienate half of my readership) I don't think Disney animation is that great. Or at least, it's not as great as we've built it up to be. I think a handful of their films are great, but that is a topic for another post. Instead, my child will probably get a steady diet of Studio Ghibli.

For those who don't know, Studio Ghibli was created by master animator Hayao Miyazaki who directed most, but not all of, the movies. These films are a favorite amongst both animation fans and the modern Pagan crowd, and how could they not be? The great stories! The Pagan friendly morals! The complex characters! The creatively designed monsters! The wonderful aerial action scenes! And most of the time it's all hand drawn! That's what you're missing by myopically sticking with Disney.

Hayao Miyazaki retired last year, and a lot of people are sad about that. The reason why I'm writing this post is because I've heard something even more upsetting: that Studio Ghibli might be closing their doors forever. I'm getting emotional just typing that. The Studio says that they're just taking a hiatus, so I'm hoping that's true. But just in case it's not, I wanted indulge my nerdiness and go through all of the Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki movies and give a short review. And, just to tie it in with names, I've included some intriguing ones with each movie.

The Castle of Cagliostro. Before there even was a Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki made his directorial debut with this film. The hero of this movie is a charming gentleman thief named Arsene Lupin III. He manages to successfully rob a casino only to find that the money is counterfeit. So the whole movie is about him foiling this counterfeit operation while saving a pretty damsel in the process.

This movie is based on a manga series, and I could tell that. It feels like an episode in the middle of a television show. The story just expects you to know who these characters are and their history together. It didn't make it too confusing, I just would have liked to know what his samurai friend was doing in Italy. But that's really the only negative thing I have to say. While I wouldn't say that it touched me emotionally, this is a fun adventure movie and it's great to see Miyazaki's style in its infancy.

Arsene
Lupin
Clarisse
Lazare
 

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic future in which a war destroyed most of mankind and created a toxic jungle filled with giant insects called the ohm. One of the few towns to survive is the Valley of the Wind, because the spores from the forest get blown away. The princess of this land is Nausicaa, and she is the only person who believes that they could all live peacefully with the forest. One day, a cargo plane from a neighboring kingdom crash-lands into the valley. The cargo has the embryo of a Giant Warrior, one of the genetically engineered weapons that caused the destruction of the war. Naturally, there are people who want this thing and they come to the valley to claim it. Princess Kushana, who is more general than princess, intends to use it to destroy the toxic jungle and all of it's creatures. Nausicaa agrees to be her hostage in order to spare the lives of her people and to find a way to stop Kushana's scheme.

This is the movie that made Japan take notice of Miyazaki, and he had to fight hard to get this made because no one wanted to finance it initially. All that work paid off. This was the only work of science fiction he created, which is a shame because this world is so intriguing and I could actually believe that something like this could happen. The only problem I have with this movie is that it makes it painfully obvious that Nausicaa is going to be the savoir. In the beginning they show a tapestry of this prophetic story and the heroine looks exactly like Nausicaa. Really? You couldn't even try to make her look different? Again, not a big deal because overall Nausicaa is an amazing character. None of the Disney princesses have a quarter of her awesomeness.

Nausicaa
Asbel
Kushana
Yupa


Castle in the Sky. Studio Ghibli began with this film. The story begins with a mysterious girl gently falling from the sky with the help of a glowing amulet. A boy named Pazu catches her. He has a dream to continue the work of his father, and explorer who believed in the existence of an ancient city floating in the clouds called Laputa. The girl, who's name is Sheeta, is the last descendant of Laputa royalty, and there are bad people after them who want to use her and her necklace in order to find the castle in the sky.

This is my favorite of Miyazaki's early movies. I'm afraid of heights, and the animation is so great that there were scenes where I was genuinely frightened for their safety. There are air pirates in this movie who also want to find Laputa and they are led by a woman named Captain Dola. All of her henchmen are her adult sons, which led to a lot of funny moments. My favorite scene is probably when Sheeta and Pazu finally find Laputa. Their joy and awe is moving. My one complaint is that I have no idea how old the two main characters are supposed to be, but whatever. This is a fantastic adventure movie that will appeal to everybody.

Sheeta
Pazu
Dola
Muska
Charles
Louis
Henri
 

Grave of the Fireflies. This is the first Ghibli film directed by Isao Takahata, and I would say that this is the heaviest story to every come out of their studio. It begins with a starving teenage boy dying in a train station. The spirit of the boy, named Seita, is reunited with the spirit of his little sister Setsuko. The rest of the film is a flashback into their lives during the later months of World War II.

Some parents have this weird idea that they need to protect their kids from sadness, so they would shy away from this. That does them a disservice. Stories help you explore difficult emotions safely. On top of that, this is a realistic portrayal of what happens to kids in wartime, and they need to know what that's like. I wouldn't say, "buy it," because it's not a film I would watch more than once, but your kids need to see this movie. I don't care if you wait until they're teenagers, they need to see this movie. When the time comes, that's what I'll be doing.

Seita
Setsuko
 

My Neighbor Totoro. Although this movie takes place in the same time period as Grave of the Fireflies it's a lot less heavy and a lot more whimsical. Two sisters and their father move to the country with their dad (their mother's in the hospital). The two girls come into contact with forest spirits including Totoro, a giant cat-like monster that is now Studio Ghibli's logo and easily it's most recognizable character.

There's not a lot that "happens" in this movie (with the exception of the climax, which I won't give away). It's really about the girls relationship with the forest and with each other. Of course I love Totoro and the Catbus, but I also love the realistic and touching sibling dynamic (particularly if you watch the version where they're voiced by Dakota and Elle Fanning). I first saw this movie in a world religion course I took in college when we studied Shinto. That's another great thing about this movie: it delves into Japanese culture in a way that Miyazaki's previous movies didn't. Adorable and educational? I'm sold!

Satsuki
Mei
 

Kiki's Delivery Service. The story begins when a thirteen-year-old witch named Kiki who leaves her parents home in order to train as a witch and make her own way in the world. With her talking black cat Jiji by her side, she finds a quaint little town and decides to open a delivery service. While she's there she makes new friends, but also has to wrestle with her insecurities.

This one is a favorite for a lot of Witches, for the obvious reason. I'm going to be honest, this movie is almost too "girl power" for it's own good. It gets really corny in places. Which isn't to say that I don't like it. I love this movie. Kiki is a spunky and fun heroine, but she has baggage that make her very interesting. It says a lot that she has an easy time making friends with adults but her confidence is easily shaken when she meets other kids. Do you know a kid like that? Were you a kid like that? You'll emphasize with this story. But, in my mind, Miyazaki's best was yet to come.

Kiki
Jiji
Ursula
Tombo
 

Only Yesterday. Directed by Isao Takahata, this film was a bit of a trailblazer. It's an animated drama for adults and, since it was a surprise success, it proved that those could actually make money. The story is about a 27 year old woman named Taeko. While visiting home she thinks about her life as a child and wonders if she has remained true to herself as an adult. I laughed, I cried, I...never saw it. Although this movie was a critical hit in Japan, it's not well known in America so it's kind of hard to find a copy of this in the library. Obviously I have to pick this one up somehow. Until then, I'm just going to move on...

Taeko
Toshio
 

Porco Rosso. Porco Rosso is a WWI veteran pilot who is cursed to have the face of a pig. The movie is about him working as a freelance bounty hunter catching air pirates while wrestling with his past. There is also a love triangle here with Porco, a woman named Gina, and an arrogant American pilot named Curtis.

While I do like this movie, I would be lying if I said that I watch it a lot. There are some nice comedic moments and it has great aerial action. But I don't know anyone who would say that this is their favorite Miyazaki movie. I wouldn't say that the characters were bad necessarily, but they weren't that interesting either. And where I thought Kiki's Delivery Service was slightly too "girl power," the girl mechanic named Fio is obnoxiously "girl power." Unless you're a completist and you want to say that you've watched all the Miyazaki films, this one might be okay to skip.

Marco
Gina
Curtis
Fio
 

Ocean Waves. To be honest, when I was researching Studio Ghibli films and came across this title, I had never even heard of it. In fact, a lot of people have never heard of it. Directed by Tomomi Mochizuki, it was made for Japanese television and concerns a high school love triangle. It is available on DVD in the United States, so it looks like I'll have to check this one out.

Taku
Yutaka
Rikako
 

Pom Poko. Directed by Isao Takahata, this movie follows a group of raccoons (who can shape shift, apparently) as they try to save their forest home from developers. I tried to watch this one. I don't know if it was because I found the English language voice acting obnoxious or the dialogue was just that bad, but I could not get into it. All the screenshots look cool, so I might give it another try one day.

Oroku
Gonta


Whisper of the Heart. Directed by Yoshifumi Kondo (the only film he ever directed before he died), this story is essentially a romance set in junior high. That might sound trite, but it's not what you do it's how you do it. Shizuko is a realistic teen that reminded me of myself quite a bit, in that she's an aspiring writer and very bookish. Her romance begins when she notices that someone is checking out all the same library books that she likes to read. Come on, how could she not fall for him? Eventually she does write a story that is inspired by a cat figurine she finds at an antique shop, which leads to some very cool fantastical scenes.

I'm a little embarrassed that I like this so much. It is essentially a "chick flick" and I usually hate those. Granted, I knew that she was going to wind up with Seiji immediately because on their first meeting she hates him. That is such a chick flick cliché. And every time that "Take Me Home, Country Roads" song plays I start groaning and rolling my eyes. But this film gets everything else completely right. Shizuko feels like she's not good enough for Seiji because she's not pursuing her passion with the same investment that he's pursuing his. Her family, especially her bossy older sister, doesn't really understand this and would prefer that she just concentrate on school and go through all the "correct" hurdles to get the "correct" jobs like she's "supposed" to. That's not superficial nonsense. That's hard stuff. It's sad that the director died after this. It's clear he was on to great things.

Shizuku
Seiji
Yuko
Baron
Hubert
Nishi
 

Princess Mononoke. This epic fantasy story begins when a boar god cursed with hate attacks the village of Prince Ashitaka. He saves the village and the boar god dies, but not without transferring his curse to Ashitaka's arm. The prince leaves his home in order to find a cure and find out how the boar got cursed in the first place. Eventually he finds Irontown, led by Lady Eboshi. She wants to destroy the magic forest by killing the Forest Spirit, believing that doing so would help her people. But her nemesis Princess Mononoke, a.k.a. San, stands in her way, along with the wolf gods who raised her. Ashitaka has respect for both sides, and soon finds himself in the middle of a war between the man-made and natural worlds.

This movie is a favorite for a lot of people and it deserves every bit of praise it has gotten. The characters are great. The forest and everything in it is both beautiful and creepy. The climax is intense. The only problematic character is Jiko-bo, another guy who wants to kill the Forest Spirit. His motivation is gaining status and immortality, so immediately I just didn't care as much. The story could have done just fine without him. Also, the cursed arm plot device wasn't utilized as much as it could have been. I kept waiting for that to be more of a problem, but aside from able to decapitate people with a single arrow, he really doesn't seem that effected. But it's still one of Miyazaki's best. It's also his most violent, so this is probably not for really little kids.

Ashitaka
San
Eboshi
Moro
Kaya
Jiko-bo
 

My Neighbors the Yamadas. Directed by Isao Takahata, this is another one that I haven't seen. It's basically a series of vignettes looking into the everyday life of the Yamada family. The most interesting thing about this movie is the animation style. It's done in an unusual comic strip style. Pencil sketches, really. I don't know if there's much to check out here. Perhaps I will pick it up one day.

Takashi
Matsuko
Noboru
Nonoko
Shige

There's so much to say about these films that I need to split this into two parts. Part 2 will probably be longer because I actually have watched all of the later movies. Kudos to you if you've read this far Miyazaki fans!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Name Profile: Echo

Everyone knows what an echo is. You have probably been to a cave and shouted dirty words so you could laugh when you heard them repeated, or listened to an orchestra and heard to the last note linger throughout the concert hall. There is something very pleasant about them. Echo (pronounced "EH-koh") is a Greek name meaning "sound" and you might also recognize it as belonging to a nymph from Greek and Roman mythology.

Echo is known for having terrible luck with men. She, along with a lot of other nymphs, liked to consort with Zeus/Jupiter. His wife Hera/Juno became suspicious and decided to go to earth to investigate. But whenever she was about to catch Zeus/Jupiter being unfaithful, Echo would distract her with a lengthy conversation. Eventually, Hera/Juno caught on to what she was doing and cursed Echo with the ability to only speak the last few words that were spoken to her.

Then, Echo met Narcissus. She immediately became infatuated with him but, alas, Narcissus spurned her affections because she was a weirdo who couldn't speak properly. Instead he saw his own reflection and fell in love with himself. Echo could only watch as he wasted away. Her body eventually wasted away too, leaving only her voice.

So given a story like that, why should anyone be attracted to this name? Why would anyone use it if it has a negative mythical story attached to it? Well, there is what I said in the beginning, echoes are a pleasant natural phenomenon that everyone has a memory of. But lets look at it from a Wiccan spiritual level.

Wiccans believe in something called the Rule of Three (a.k.a. the Three-fold Law or the Law of Return). Basically, if you do something good, good things come to you three times or three times as strong. It works with negative things as well. You put negativity into the world, you get negativity back. In other words, what you do in this life echoes back to you. So, if I named a daughter Echo that's what I would be referencing. The hope that all the good things she does comes back to her.

Echo had a brief stint on the American top 1000 during the early 1980s, but it has never been a popular name. It is a favorite to many name enthusiasts, myself included. Could Echo also be used as a boy's name? Sure, but it wouldn't have the same historical weight. Whether it's worn by a boy or a girl, Echo gives off a cool bohemian vibe.

Some Name Combos:

Echo Vivienne

Echo North

Echo Harper

Echo Isabella

Echo Rowan

Related Names:

Ekko

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Midsummer Dream

"The Quarrel of Titania and Oberon" by Sir Joseph Noel Paton

Blessed Litha, everyone! Although I do prefer the term Midsummer for this holiday, probably because of the Shakespeare play. It's just more poetic.

Litha marks the day of the Summer Solstice. Many cultures in Ancient Europe had a solstice celebration, but they were particularly important in northern countries like Sweden, Norway, and Latvia. It's still celebrated with great enthusiasm in that region (most likely under the name of St. John's Day). Wiccans believe that during this day the Horned God, as represented by the sun, is at the height of his power.

There is no one god or goddess that is especially important on this day. But you might remember the Holly King/Oak King mythology of the Winter Solstice, which says that the old Holly King is slain by the youthful Oak King. Well on the Summer Solstice, the opposite happens. The kings do battle again and this time the Holly King wins. This day is also a good time to honor any kind of sun god, obviously.

In many ways, Midsummer celebrations look quite similar to Beltane. You still make and wear flower crowns, build a bonfire, and dance around a maypole. But there are a few differences:

  • A good way to celebrate the power of the sun and take advantage of all the daytime hours is by spending lots of time outside. This holiday coincides with Renaissance Fair season, which is like catnip to Modern Pagans. If you live in an area that has them, try to find some fireflies at night.
  • Another way to celebrate the solstice is by inviting friends for an cookout. Common foods for this holiday include watermelon, strawberries, peaches, lemons, oranges, pineapple, broccoli, leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, grilled meats, smoked fish, milk, cheese, pastries, and ice cream.
  • This holiday is very much associated with faerie folk, probably more than any other Wiccan holiday. It's very common to dress up as a fairy, make fairy houses, and perform rituals based on A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • Sun related crafts are popular this time of year. You could make sun wheels with colored yarn, ribbons, or paper. They're good for decorating an altar.
  • In some countries they release floating lanterns on the night of the Summer Solstice. Yes, like the ones from Tangled.
  • Midsummer is a good time to make spells relating to fertility, marriage, protection, communication with the faerie realm, and manifesting goals.

Enough talk, onto the names!

Mythical beings associated with the season:

Oak King (Celtic)

Holly King (Celtic)

Greenman (English folkloric)

Juno (Roman)

Lugh (Celtic)

Aphrodite (Greek)

Venus (Roman)

Apollo (Greek/Roman)

Freya (Norse)

Ra (Egyptian)

Bastet/Bast (Egyptian)

Horus (Egyptian)

Sunna/Sol (Norse)

Helios (Greek)

Hyperion (Greek)

Kali (Hindu)

Pele (Hawaiian)

Vesta (Roman)

Amaterasu (Japanese)

Other ideas:

Midsummer

Lithe

Solstice

Soleil

Sunny

Somerled

Sunrise

Sunshine

Sunday

Suvi

Anatole ("sunrise")

Marisol

Ravi

Faye

Mab

Oberon

Titania

Lysander

Lysandra

Demetrius

Hermia

Theseus

Hippolyta

Puck

Robin

Wren

Emerald

Jade

John

Dandelion

Heliodore ("gift of the sun")

Heliodora

Avery

Alfred ("elf council")

Aubrey ("elf ruler")

Auberon

Elvin ("elf friend")

Siofra ("elf, sprite")

Parisa ("fairy")

Momo ("peach")

Thyme

Rose

Gardenia

Draco

Revel

Revelry

Golden

Phoenix

Pazia ("golden")

Eve

Wisteria

Firefly

Dragonfly

Natsumi ("sunny beauty")

Clemency

Fallow

Lux ("light")

Haru ("sun, sunlight")

Samson ("sun")

Super fun combo time:

John Demetrius

Hermia Sunrise

Faye Firefly

Anatole Phoenix

Natsumi Lux

Samson Lysander

Cancer the Compassionate

"Crab Canon" by M.C. Escher
 
"...Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that's where you renew your springs that never dry up."
--Pearl S. Buck, novelist and Cancer

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 of Cancer begins. This sign lasts from June 21 to July 22, depending on the year. Cancers have one of the more compassionate and mothering signs in the zodiac, but that doesn't mean that they're are pushovers. Like their symbol, the crab, Cancers have a strong survival instinct and are very protective of themselves and those they love. Cancers like security and alone time. They are private, sensitive people who only open up to trusted friends. They can also be sentimental about objects with a history attached to them. One negative character trait of Cancers is that they don't handle conflict very well. When their feelings are hurt (which will happen often as Cancers are very sensitive) they tend to react by withdrawing. They also have a reputation for being moody. But if you manage to stay on their good sides, Cancers are caring and dependable friends.

Cancer might be the hardest zodiac sign to make a list for because there really aren't any "crab" names in existence. Fortunately, Cancer is ruled by the moon, and there are a lot of "moon" names:

Moon Names:

Luna
Amaluna
Altaluna
Artemis
Diana
Chandra
Selene
Koray
Esmeray
Cresent
Monday
Moonbeam
Moonlight
Moonrise
Moonlily
Moonstone

Water Names:

River
India
Indio
Ocean
Oceanus
Rain
Pearl
Delphine
Delfino
Cascade
Rumi
Otter
Mortimer
Undine
Riverlily
Margaret ("pearl")
Coral
Coraline
Coralie
Tallulah
Lotus
Haven
Havelock
Rosmerta

Time Names:

June
Juno
July
Julius
Jules
Summer
Somerled
Solstice

Yellow, Orange, Purple, and Silver Names:

Xanthe ("blond, yellow")
Xanthus
Saffron
Amber
Electra ("amber")
Orange
Marigold
Lavender
Violet
Viola
Silver
Argent ("silver")
Grey
Grayson
Arianrhod ("silver wheel")

Attribute Names:

Temperance
Clemency
Clement
Prudence
Ophelia ("help")
Edmund ("wealth protection")
Liv ("protection")
Amparo ("protection, shelter")
Faramond ("journey protection")
William ("will protection")
Sigmund ("victory protection")
Rosamund ("horse protection")
Chester ("fortified place")
Alma ("nourishing" or "soul")
Admetus ("untamed")
Frida ("peace")
Remedy
Remedios
Wilder
Wilde

Other ideas:

Opal
Henry
Leveret
Ceres
Ballad
Madrigal
Graham
Esmeralda
Reuben
Cloud
Sylvan
Lorelei
Dove
Notus
Paloma
Anais
Lupine
Genevieve
Magdalene
Franco
Reverie
Billie
Liam
Porter

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Name Magpie: One Thing After Another

You might have noticed that this blog has been more quiet than usual. I am working hard at finding a job overseas, and that means lots of paperwork and a lot of research. That has been my priority for the past few months. Where am I going, you ask? You'll see. In the meantime, I am still occasionally poking around the blogosphere for new names.

Most of my discoveries have been from the Dictionary of Medieval Names. It's a relatively new website and I encourage you to look through it. I was surprised to find that Indigo, Bono, and Paxe were used during that time. Some new (for me) monikers that stood out to me are:

Cherubina ("cherub, angel")
Unica ("unique, sole")
Sapience ("wisdom")
Tedesco/Tedesca ("of the people, popular")
Fabrissa ("craftswoman, female artisan")
Consolat ("consoled, comforted")
Solomona (feminine form of Solomon)
Bellavita ("beautiful life")
Transmundus ("on the other side of the world")
Omnebon ("all good" or "every good")
Zoete ("sweet")
Bonamice ("good friend")
Guardia ("guard")
Recuperate
Basile (feminine form of Basil)
Calomaria ("beautiful Mary")
Olivera (feminine form of Oliver)
Savage
Ursilda
Thorkill ("thunder kettle")

Now for some others:

Theory. Found this one when First and Middle Baby Names answered a reader question. The commenter was actually thinking about Thyri, but Theory is an interesting idea too.

Ojas. If you had asked me what language this name comes from I would not have guessed that it was Sanskrit, but there it is. It means either "vigor" or "appearance."

Poema. Spanish for "poem." I might have just made this up, but it's wonderful isn't it?

Kaguya. I recently saw The Tale of Princess Kaguya. I'm working on a post about Studio Ghibli movies, so I'll talk more about it there. But I believe the heroine's name means "bamboo."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Gemini the Twins

 
"Pink Twin, Purple Twin" by Walasse Ting

"I do not know whether we can be saved through the intellect, but I do know that I can be saved by nothing else."
--Dorothy Sayers, writer and Gemini

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 Gemini. Gemini lasts through May 21 to June 20 and it's symbol is the heavenly twins Pollux and Castor.  This is fitting because it sometimes seems as if Geminis have two different personalities. They are highly adaptable and can fit themselves into almost any social group or situation. They like to keep busy and are generally pleasant people. Gemini is an air sign, so intellect and communication is important to them. People with this sign are very curious and love to learn, but they're not great at specialized information because of their short attention span. Geminis usually have many friends and social contacts but, at the same time, it can be hard to connect with them on an intimate level. Because they change themselves to fit any situation, it can be difficult to know what a Gemini is really thinking or feeling. They're easily swayed to the opinions of others. They cannot always be trusted to keep secrets or maintain loyalty. Also, people with this sign don't always care about the deeper issues in life, preferring to keep everything light and fluffy. Whether you love them or hate them, Geminis are never boring.

Twin/sibling/friend names:

Pollux
Castor
Thomas
Tavish
Tamsin
Amy
Bellamy
Bonamy
Adelphi
Adelphie
Amity
Beningo
Darwin
Tomoko
Ruth

Air names:

Aria
Anemone
Bird
Birdie
Kestrel
Zephyr
Caraway
Breeze
Sirocco
Paloma
Lark
Vox
Feather
Boreas
Notus
Whisper

Time names:

May
Maya
June
Juno
Spring
Primavera
Summer
Somerled
Suvi
Trinity (It's the third sign)

Orange names:

Orange
Mandarin (a type of orange)
Valencia (see above)
Cam
Saffron
Marigold
Clementine
Sienna
Cinnabar
Ginger
Tigerlily
Amber

Attribute names:

Grace
Charm
Blythe ("cheerful")
Fantin ("charming, seducing")
Mohandas ("charming, enchanting")
Mohan
Sophia ("wise")
Cato ("wise")
Sage
Keen
Revel
Revelry
Lively
Merry
Kavi ("wise man, sage, poet")
Allegra ("happy, cheerful")
Sunny
Erato ("lovely")
Rei ("lovely")
Mercy
Rama ("pleasing")
Gioconda ("pleasant, delightful, happy")
Niomi ("pleasantness")
Pleasance
Cosmo ("order, decency")
Cosima
Cosimo
Cosmina
Isaac ("he laughs")
Wilder
Wilde

Other ideas:

Clover
Griffin
Minerva
Pearl
Nestor
Margaret
Margot
Rhett
Hazel
Conrad
Alfred
Daisy
Lotus
Dexter
Orchid
Jasmine
Eve
Rainer
Myrtle
Linnea
Green
Tallulah
Arcadia
Raphael
Gypsy
Mabon
Romulus
Romilly

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Festival of Fire

"Maibaum" by Kristi Malakoff

Hope you're having a blessed and happy Beltane!

Beltane, also known as May Day, is based on an old Celtic holiday. This celebration was mentioned numerous times in Irish mythology and early Irish literature. Some people see this day as the beginning of summer, others as the height of spring. As late as the 1800s, people in Ireland and Scotland would take their cattle and walk around, or jump over, a bonfire as a way to herald the coming summer on this day. At it's core, Beltane is a day that honors life. This is the time of year in which the earth's energy is at it's most fertile.

In Wicca, Beltane is the time of year in which the Horned God and the Great Goddess have their sacred wedding. And with the wedding comes the wedding night. Therefore, this holiday has a huge emphasis on (hetero)sexuality. It's what makes Beltane so great, but it's also what makes Beltane so potentially alienating. What if you want to celebrate with children? What if you're gay? What if you're not dating? Some people can feel completely left out during this holiday. However, there is actually a whole breadth of fun activities that you can use to celebrate Beltane.
  • Like most modern Pagan holidays, Beltane is celebrated with a feast. Traditional foods for Beltane include oatmeal, strawberries, dairy, mushrooms, oysters, honey, red wine, fruit punch, herbal greens, venison, mead, and any food traditionally believed to be an aphrodisiac. Sometimes food and drink are offered to the faeries.
  • One very well recognized tradition is the Maypole. The pole has a ring of flowers on the top and colored ribbons streaming down. In the Maypole dance, everyone grabs onto the end of a ribbon and then they dance in a circle, weaving in and out of each other so that the ribbons will braid around the pole. In the modern Pagan world this tradition has sexual symbolism, but you don't have to tell the little kids that.
  • Flowers are a big part of Beltane. Making and wearing flower crowns is a fun activity. There is also the tradition of leaving flowers on neighbors doors. The May Bush is an old Irish custom that involves decorating a small tree with flowers and ribbon, which may or may not come from an ancient tree rite. Altar decorations can be simple flower arrangements.
  • Beltane means "bright fire," so obviously there has to be a bonfire. The flames, smoke, and ashes of a Beltane bonfire are believed to be especially magical. Modern Pagans still jump over the bonfire as a way to purify themselves and increase fertility (use caution when doing this).
  • If you are fortunate enough to attend a Beltane festival you'll see many other activities including morris dancing, sword dancing, music, archery competitions, and hobby-horse riding.
  • A large part of this holiday is the Great Rite, or going "A-Maying." The Great Rite is a sacred Pagan ritual in which a man and a woman choose to, or are selected to, perform sex magic in the guise of the Horned God and the Great Goddess. This may or may not be performed outside. This may or may not be performed in front of an audience of other Pagans. They are sometimes referred as the May King and Queen. A-Maying is less formal but basically has the same idea: a couple spends the night in the woods together and comes back home with hawthorn branches (hawthorn is very sacred to this holiday). This day can be seen as a sort of Pagan Valentine's Day that honors romantic love.
  • But many Pagans use this day to honor any type of love and any type of passion, not just physical love and passion. They celebrate mother-child and friend relationships and encourage new hobbies and goals.
  • There is some debate over whether or not this is an appropriate time to get married. Some modern Pagans say that a wedding during the month of May is inauspicious because only a fool would upstage the God and Goddess. But just take a look through Offbeat Bride and you'll see that Beltane weddings are rather popular.
  • I feel like I can't talk about this holiday without mentioning the Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Judging from the photographs of the event, it's absolutely stunning. They have also started festivals for Imbolc, Lughnasadh, and Samhain, but their Beltane festival remains the biggest. If you're a Pagan who loves to travel and this isn't on your bucket list, then what are you doing with your life?
Enough talk, onto the names:

Mythical beings associated with the season:

Artemis (Greek)

Diana (Roman)

Bacchus (Greek)

Dionysus (Roman)

Cernunnos (Celtic)

Flora (Roman)

Hera (Greek)

Juno (Roman)

Kokopelli (Hopi)

Pan (Greek)

Priapus (Roman)

Greenman (English folkloric)

Maia (Greek)

Aphrodite (Greek)

Venus (Roman)

Freya (Norse)

Balor (Irish)

Other ideas:

Beltane

May

Primavera ("spring")

Mayday

Ember

Phoenix

Hawthorn

Maythorn

Quickthorn

Whitethorn

Birch

Rowan

Lilac

Walburga

Jack (as in Jack-of-the-Green)

Robin (as in Robin Hood)

Primrose

Primeveire ("primrose")

Morris

Vivian ("alive")

Vivienne

Rose

Fiammetta ("little fire")

Spark

Hazel

Bright

Finn ("white")

Galatea ("milky white")

Myrtle

Aiden ("fire")

Cinder

Garland

Roux ("red")

Silver

Crimson

Queen

Regina ("queen")

Reign

Basil ("king")

Rex ("king")

Faye

Parisa ("like a fairy")

Siofra ("elf, sprite")

Alfred ("elf counsel")

Orchid

Euphoria

Joy

Soleil

Sol

Nymphia

Nymphadora

Wilder

Wilde

Fun combo-time:

Jack Maythorn

Rex Wilder

Faye Primavera

Hazel Reign

Artemis Wilde

Finn Silver

Juno Vivienne

Monday, April 20, 2015

Taurus the Steady

 
"Taurus" by Remedios Varo

"A minute's success pays the failure of years."
--Robert Browning, poet, playwright, and Taurus

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 enters Taurus. This zodiac sign lasts roughly from April 20 to May 20. Like their symbol, the bull, Taurus people are always solid and rooted. They are dependable, steady, and industrious. But they also know how to relax. Taurus people delight in simple sensual pleasures like great food, colorful art, and warm beds. Security and stability is very important to Taurus, and they tend to be very traditional. However, like the bull, they can also have a nasty temper when provoked. In terms of intellect, they can be a little slow (not necessarily stupid, they're just slow thinkers), and very fixed in their opinions. Their desire for security can translate into being possessive, of people as well as things. But if you're willing to look past all that you will have a loyal friend in a Taurus.

Bull names:

Fintan ("white bull")
Byron ("place of cow sheds")
Eniko ("cow" or "deer")
Gopal ("cow protector")
Krishna
Taurina
Volos
Springer ("a cow close to birthing")
Luke
Damaris ("calf, heifer, girl")
Bison

Earth names:

Gaia
Sita
Mythily
Demeter
Octavian
Octavia
Octave
Gardner
Serpentine
George
Georgia
Farmer
Holon
Terra

Blue names:

Blue
Sapphire
Sappho
Azure
Royal
Sunil
Nila
Indigo
Sky
Ocean
Azzurra
Aoi

Time names:

Spring
Primavera
April
Avril
Averil
May
Maya

Attribute names:

Paz
Pax
Peace
Erato ("lovely")
Amanda ("lovable")
Valentine ("strong, vigorous, healthy")
Valentino
Valentina
Comfort
Adagio ("at ease")
Bellamy ("beautiful friend")
Bonamy ("good friend")
Amy ("friend")
Mungo ("gentle, kind")
Carys ("love")
Concordia ("harmony")
Concord
Solomon ("peace")
Salem
Placid
Placida
Placido
Zosimus ("likely to survive")
Zosime
Ruth ("friend")
Fidel ("loyal")
Zeal

Other ideas:

Ursa
Ursula
Florence
Hawthorne
Geoffrey
Amadeus
Baldwin
Emerald
Orchid
Philip
Hazel
Peridot
Quentin
Freya
Swan
Olive
Huxley
Paloma
Lavender
Tallulah
Mary
Atlas
Jasmine
Shiloh
Langston
Briar
Orlando
Albion
Leopold
Susan
Oberon
Juniper

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Name Magpie: Happy Birthday to Me!

I'm thirty years old. I don't know how that happened. I must have left my time turner at my parents house. It's okay, my birthday trip to Harry Potter land in Orlando is helping to sooth the pain. In the meantime, here's some new name gifts that the world has given me:

Nightsky.  Names 4 Real is a great resource on interesting middle names. She found a boy named Nicholas Nightsky, and I am into it.

Huguette. There is a biography out called Empty Mansions: the Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. Apparently she was a wealthy heiress and philanthropist who lived to be 104. Interesting name except...how is it pronounced exactly? Huge-et? Nope, it's closer to Hugh-ette. Still, it might be a stinker of a name to try to bring back.

Rabbie. A variant of Robert that caught my eye when everyone was posting Irish names during Saint Patrick's Day. Behind the Name says that it's Scottish, but perhaps it's widely used in Ireland?

Pasco. I'm not sure how I never heard of this, and I have Waltzing More Than Matilda to thank for bringing it to my attention. It's a variant of Pascal, which means "relating to Easter."

Thais. Well, I'm not sure how I missed this one either. Thais is a Greek name that possibly means "bandage." It was the name of a famous courtesan during the time of Alexander the Great. It's currently a top 100 favorite in France.

Akoya. This one stuck out to me when I made the Claire Pettibone round-up. It may or may not be Japanese for "seawater," but it is definitely the name of a type of pearl/oyster.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

6 Naming Rules that Make Me Go "Huh?"

Fellow name enthusiasts, I like you guys. You enable my obsession, after all. But sometimes the things you say make it seem that you...how do I put this delicately...have a tendency to overthink things. Take, for instance, "how to name your baby" posts that I see time and time again. They're designed to be "helpful," I suppose, but they're more of a window into the values of the people who wrote them if you ask me. In the interest of providing a variety of opinions, here are some common naming "rules" that I have very different feelings about:

1. "A name is off limits once a celebrity uses it for their baby."

Um, why? Do you live in Hollywood? Do you know this famous family personally? No? Then this should not be a concern at all.

Part of the reason this "rule" exists is because people are worried that a name will shoot up the popularity charts once a famous person uses it. In some cases this is true, but it's not like Shiloh immediately became the new Sophia after Angelina Jolie gave it to her daughter. Becoming a top 100 name is a process that takes years if not decades. Another thing I hear a lot is the worry that all of their friends will believe that the namer is copying the celebrity. If that happens, just explain that that's not the case. If they still don't get it, then you need better friends.

If you love the names North, Shiloh, Valor, or Esmeralda, use them. Don't worry so much about the little people in the TV.

2. "The last letter of the first name should not be the same as the first letter of the middle/last name, otherwise it will be too difficult to pronounce."

Say this name aloud: Christopher Robin. Did you have trouble with that?

Don't get me wrong, sometimes the same sounds together can be a problem. But this "rule" is not ironclad. It's more of a case-by-case guideline. So don't just assume. Say the name aloud a few times.

3. "Children should be given names that will help them succeed in the corporate world."

Okay, great! Here's my suggestions: Li, Hiroshi, Mohammed, and Arjun. ...What? That wasn't what you had in mind? Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize that they had time machines in the 1950s.

4. "Rule out names with bad childhood associations because you'll never get over them."

Again, not necessarily true in all cases. I always roll my eyes when people say that a name is bad because it was given to a Disney villain (Ursula comes to mind). I love the name Marceline even though I vaguely remember that a girl named Marcy bullied me in second grade. Perhaps this depends on how good your memory is. But if that kid that barfed on you when you were seven is enough to keep you from a name you love then you have a problem with grudges.

5. "Make sure that a traditional/formal name is on the birth certificate as an 'insurance policy.' You can always call them whatever other name you want."

With all due respect to other name bloggers and those who have done this with their own kids' names (I know this is a fairly common thing to do), but I believe this advice is misleading and unrealistic. I also thinks that this "rule" comes from the fear that a unique name is going to hold them back in some way which, as we see time and time again, isn't always a concern based in reality.

Here's why this tactic almost never works: parents don't get to pick the nicknames. That's up to the child and his peer group. Therefore, the only guarantee that a child will be called something is to make it his real name.

If you just love formal names with a myriad of unusual nickname options that's a different, and completely valid, thing. If you just like traditional names with a history, that's also valid. But the push for "serious" legal names is counter-productive when you really just want to use the unique name.

6. "Family honor names should automatically trump all other names."

No, that is definitely not true for everyone. And depending on the family, this could lead to more drama and regret than it's worth. I don't even believe in fulfilling the obligation with a middle name if that's outside of the parent's comfort zone. Or, let's just call a spade a spade, if it's outside the mother's comfort zone. More often than not, it is the father and the father's family that is invested in the honor names. Not everyone values tradition, and that should be given equal respect.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Aries the Warrior

"Ram's Head, White Hollyhock and Little Hills" by Georgia O'Keefe

"Hope, like faith, is nothing if it is not courageous; it is nothing if it is not ridiculous."
--Thornton Wilder, playwright, novelist, and Aries

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 shifts into Aries and it will last from approximately March 20 to April 19. My zodiac is filled with almost all Aries and Scorpio, so this is a very special sign for me. Aries is considered to be the "first" sign, which is a hint to their personality traits. Aries are direct people who value innovation and being the first to accomplish a task. They always need to be doing something. They like quick action, planning isn't really their forte. They tend to live in the moment. Aries are also known for their courage and independence. Like the ram, Aries like to face their problems head on. Aries is considered to be the "youngest" sign (although technically Aries is "born" first, I never understood how that worked), therefore they always maintains a certain youthfulness throughout their lives. Sometimes to the point of immaturity. The bad side to an Aries' childlike qualities is that they could be narcissistic, self involved, and naïve. However, when they're in balance their inner warrior will allow them to accomplish anything.

Ram names:

Jubilee ("ram's horn")
Ovid
Amun
Ishtar
Thor
Faun
Agnes ("lamb")

Warrior names:

Hero
Paladin
Athena
Minerva
Earl
Bellatrix
Charles
Oya
Morrigan
Bast
Duncan
Perseus
Krishna
Nike
Indra
Achilles
Beowulf
Gonzalo
Hera
Clovis
Ajax
Theseus
Gunnar
Viggo
Koa

Fire names:

Phoenix
Seraphina
Seraphim
Vesta
Blaze
Smoky
Ember
Draco
Drake
Sirius

Time names:

March
Mars
Marceline
April
Avril
Averil
Spring
Primavera
Equinox
Ostara
Eostre
Easter
Una

Red, white, and black names:

Roux
Flannery
Garnet
Ruby
Rohit
Russell
Fox
Rhydian
Gwen
Albion
Galatea
Blanche
Haku
Finn
Sable
Raven
Nox
Shadow
Jet
Onyx

Attribute names:

Brave
Bravery
Wilder
Wilde
Valor
Verity ("truth")
True
Junius ("youth")
Neo
Nova
Novella
Fergus ("man of vigor")
Mohan ("bewitching")
Mohandas
Regulus ("little king")
Ferelith ("true ruler")
Rex
Fabrice ("craftsman")
Resolute
Courage
Leopold ("bold people")
Admetus ("untamed")
Melchior ("king city")
Lorcan ("little fierce one")
Noble
Adelaide ("noble kind")

Other ideas:

Genevieve
Aslan
Hawthorn
Eagle
Tigerlily
Nephele
Opal
Richard
Pendragon
Clove
Betony
Thorne
Sabin
Sabine
Dominique
Domino
Fern
Sappho
Alice
Godric
Conor
Fifer
Lilac
Zephyr
Leveret
Theodore
Theodora
Firebrace
Rue
Tempest

The Beginning of Spring

"Feeding the Rabbits" by Frederick Morgan

Blessed Ostara, or Eostre if you prefer!

Ostara is a holiday based on ancient Germanic traditions and takes place on the Vernal Equinox. This time of year is synonymous with rebirth and rejuvenation in many spiritual traditions. Night and day are balanced, and the Earth is starting to awake from her winter slumber. In Wicca, the Horned God and Great Goddess are a young couple, and this is the time in which the next years Horned God is conceived.

The patron deity for this holiday is obviously Ostara/Eostre. Eostre was the Teutonic goddess of spring and the dawn who frequently took the form of a white hare (see the connection?). Her name is where the words "east" and "Easter" come from. Unfortunately, we don't know a lot about her in terms of how she was honored in ancient times. She is a "lost" deity, we know she existed but we don't know her mythology. All of the stories about her were made recently.

This time of year is a bit of a soft spot for me. I was born on Easter Sunday so a lot of my birthday parties growing up were Easter themed. I just loved the symbolism of the rabbits and the colorful eggs, and it's lucky that that's carried on into my adopted religion. It's cute to be born on a holiday as a child. As I've grown older I've come to like it less and less (you can't exactly do much on your birthday if all your friends are with their families and everything is closed).

In any case, many Ostara traditions are going to look familiar to outsiders:
  • Traditional foods for an Ostara feast are eggs, ham, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, honey, mead, candy, dairy, hare/rabbit, chocolate, and breads. However, a lot of modern Pagans prefer to fast on this day instead, as a way to clear out toxins that were stored in the body during winter.
  • Painting and searching for colored eggs is a beloved tradition. The practice of dying eggs reaches back to the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks. In Europe, eggs were often used in folk magic made to bless women with children, since eggs are such an obvious symbol of fertility. Many modern Pagans try to make their own dye from natural materials. While some believe that the tradition of the Easter Egg hunt might have roots in some nasty history (in particular the trading of money for the eggs), we tend to let it slide.
  • A slight variation to the above tradition is hollowing the eggs out to insert a fortune or confetti (or both!) inside of it. The downside of this is that the lovely painted eggs will have to be broken in order to read the fortunes.
  • Eggs can be used for a whole assortment of crafts. There's eggshell candles, eggshell garden cups, egg wreaths, and egg hats.
  • Since springtime has officially begun, this is a good time to plant seeds or start a magical garden. It's also a nice time to fill your home with baskets of local flowers.
  • I think most children would rebel if there weren't any chocolate bunnies. Why not try making your own? Modern Pagans must remember to leave one on the alter for the Goddess.
Enough of that, on with the names:

Mythical beings associated with the season:

Ostara (Germanic)

Eostre (Teutonic)

Eos (Greek)

Freya (Norse)

Osiris (Egyptian)

Artemis (Greek)

Diana (Roman)

Cybele (Anatolian/Roman)

Aurora (Roman)

Mithras (Zoroastrian)

Coyote (Native American)

Raven (Native American)

Ishtar (Babylonian)

Venus (Roman)

Aphrodite (Greek)

Faunus (Roman)

Pan (Greek)

Kore (Greek)

Isis (Egyptian)

Astarte (Mesopotamian)

Other associations:

Spring

Primavera

March

Jonquil

Xanthe ("yellow")

Xanthus

Coral

Coraline

Coralie

Violet

Iris

Hyacinth

Flavia ("yellow, golden")

Flavian

Ochre

Lourdes ("pale yellow")

Lemon

Crocus

Rabbit

Ester

Harlan ("hare land")

Leveret ("young hare")

Bunny

Catkin

Taliesin

Easton

Dawn

Primrose

Donna ("lady")

Matrona ("lady")

Junius ("youth")

Mabyn ("youth")

Ash

Birch

Shashi ("having a hare")

Sahar ("dawn")

Zora ("dawn")

Alder

Flora

Anemone

Lily

Robin

Narcissus

Narcissa

Forsythia

Pascal

Lark

Serpentine

Bluebell

Woodruff

Olive

Peony

Chloe ("green shoot")

Haru ("spring")

Midori ("green")

Fawn

Undine

Jasper

Moonstone

Fun combo time:

Jasper Harlan

Zora Lark

Pascal Woodruff

Artemis March

Junius Leveret

Midori Fawn

Flora Lourdes