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 na├»ve. 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

Saturday, March 14, 2015

"So much universe, and so little time."



Two days ago Sir Terry Pratchett died, and there has been an outpouring of love and grief from both nerds and Pagans. For those who aren't familiar with his work, Terry Pratchett was a fantasy author best known for his Discworld novels. His work was heavily inspired by mythology and magic and his fans feel in love with his hilarious wit and great insight. Pratchett himself was an Atheist, so it's a little ironic that so many Pagans point to his work as an major influence in their spirituality. Pratchett had been suffering from Alzheimer's for some time now, so this was expected. But it's still sad.

I'm going to be honest. The only Terry Pratchett book I've read is The Hogfather, which is amazing. I am told that The Wyrd Sisters is required reading for all Pagans, so I'll be sure to get to that. But for now, I've collected some of the names of the characters that sprang from his marvelous imagination:

Rufus
 
Sybil
 
Havelock
 
Gaspode
 
Ponder
 
Agnes

Esmeralda
 
Tomjon
 
Eskarina
 
Lily
 
Verence
 
Io

Mort
 
Ysabell
 
Lucy
 
Tiffany
 
Roland
 
Letice
 
Otto

Adora
 
Bluejohn
 
Rosemary
 
Errol
 
Setha
 
Inigo
 
Verity
 
Roberta

Gunder
 
Findthee
 
Mica
 
Reynold
 
Lupine
 
Stoker
 
Drum
 
Cohen
 
Bethan
 
Juliet
 
Glenda
 
Marmaric
 
Desiderata
 
Olwyn
 
Lias
 
Myria
 
Tolliver
 
Gladys
 
Xeno
 
Sally
 
Igor
 
Rhys
 
Wolfgang
 
Serafine
 
Achmed
 
Lorenzo
 
Carelinus
 
Quimby
 
Methodia
 
Silver
 
Leiv
 
Nisodemus
 
Crowley
 
Sacco
 
Milo
 
Solomon

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Blast from the Past: Kiyomi

People ask me when I started obsessively collecting names and I honestly don't remember. Definitely from a very young age. I'll be 30 years old in a month, the blanks in my memory tends to multiply. I draw an even bigger blank when asked to recall exact names that I loved. As much as I would love to post my long, eclectic childhood name lists so we could laugh together, those sort of things don't survive multiple cross-country moves and spring cleanings. I remember loving Isabel and Sophia as a child (apparently, I'm a product of my generation), but those aren't particularly interesting to talk about.

But today I was at my parent's house going through old books, seeing what I can sell or get rid of, and I found this:


The first thing I thought was, "How do I still have this?" Secondly I thought, "Oh yeah! I was obsessed with this little deer character! Kiyomi was on my favorite name lists and I was constantly drawing her!" Almost all of my favorite names come from books, so this isn't really surprising.

Kiyomi is a Japanese name. Kiyo means either "holy" or "pure," depending on the kanji used and mi means "beautiful." It's also the name of a genetically made hybrid fruit. I can't say that Kiyomi would be on my list of names today, but it is definitely beautiful and elegant.

Surprising the memories you can unearth sometimes!