Saturday, July 23, 2011


Another Harry Potter creature with a great name is Nagini, but this character's not so nice.

Nagini (pronounced "nah-GEE-nee") is Voldemort's pet, a giant green snake that kills at his command. He used Nagini's venom in order to stay alive when he was in a spectral state after attempting to kill the infant Harry Potter. But she's more than just a pet. This snake is also...well, maybe I shouldn't say it just in case someone hasn't seen the final movie.

This creature's name is rather straightforward. Naga is Sanskrit for "cobra." In some cases today, this word is used as a generic word for "snake" in India. A female snake is a nagi or nagini. This makes me wonder of she is called something different in the Hindu translation of the books, Nagini would be like naming a snake "snake" in India. Cobras are well respected in India, but they also have a genuine fear of their venom. In the Hindu religion, nagas are considered sacred, both divine and demonic.

The benevolent nagas wrap their coils around the earth's treasures to protect them. They're also a symbol of reincarnation, as they shed and regenerate their own skin. It is also believed that they control water. Vasuki, the many headed snake king, used his body as a rope to assist the gods in their task to churn the oceans. Vishnu rests with the multi headed snake Sesha. A cobra is even said to have sheltered the meditating Buddha. He encircled his body around him and used his hood as a cover.

The demonic nagas are part human and part snake (which gives you a hint as to why Nagini's special to Voldemort). The serpent demon Rahu swallows the sun and the moon, causing eclipses. He is simply a detached head, but manages to still be a master of deception and signifies cheaters, drug dealers, uncleanliness, and all sorts of other nasty things. Ketu is the name of his detached serpent body.

So could Nagini be used as a baby name. Well, anything could be used as a baby name. The question is, would anyone use it? It is unique, and I'm sure there are plenty of snake lovers in the Neo-Pagan culture. But even I feel that it crosses a line somewhere. Is the evil Harry Potter connection too much?

The Little Book of Hindu Deities by Sanjay Patel

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  1. Rahu and Ketu are the names given to the nodes of the Moon in Vedic astrology, as these are connected with eclipses. The nodes have more importance in Vedic than in western astrology, and are intricately linked with karma. They are seen as something quite dark that can lead you down a path of self-destruction; however, from this suffering can come great spiritual enlightenment.

    I think Nagini seems like a very dark name indeed - but perhaps through that darkness, there is a chance for light?

    It's a very "heavy" name to give someone.

  2. It's a tricky one. To Pagans, snakes have a lot of very positive connotations, but 2000 years of the dominance of Christian thought and teaching has left them thoroughly maligned in the modern collective consciousness.

    I'm all for changing this, and using names which have snaky meanings is a great way to do it -- but even I would think twice about Nagini too, at present time. It's a word that was unknown outside of India before HP, and I think it is just too closely associated with You-Know-Who's snake at the moment.

    But that may change. I'm pretty certain that all but the die-hard fans of HP will forget the snake's name in a few years time.

    Then the obstacle Nagini will face is the fact it begins with 'nag' -- which has a whole lot of different baggage!

  3. Yep, love the name but better for a pet snake than child methinks ;)


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