Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Griffin

I'm a cheerleader for the strange names. We all know that. But according to this small sample, most Neo-Pagans choose subtler names for their children. So for one month, or for however long I last, I'm going to profile names in the American top 500. Hey, I'm just going by what I see in the greater Neo-Pagan community. Let's find the magickal in the mundane, hmm?

Griffin (pronounced "GRIH-fin") is a name with somewhat debatable meaning. Some list it as a Latin name meaning "hooked nose." In Ireland, the name is often associated with the Welsh name Griffith, which depending on who you ask means either "red" or "prince." What is not debatable is that the griffin is also a mythical creature.

Griffins are depicted with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. Sometimes they are portrayed without wings, and these creatures might be given rather odd names like alces or keythongs. It's considered to be the king of all creatures. Some people believe that the creature was born from misconstruing the fossils of dinosaurs found in modern day Kazakhstan. Griffin imagery was most common in Ancient Greece, but there are depictions dating to Ancient Egypt and the creature is probably Persian originally. A similar creature called the hippogriff is said to be the offspring of a griffin and a horse. Griffins are revered for being bold and courageous fighters. It is considered to be a protector from evil.

The creature was adopted by the Christians. It was believed that griffins mated for life, and when their mate died they would not find another. This went nicely with the early Church's stance against remarriage. They also took the hippogriff as a symbol for Jesus, because they are half earthly and half divine. This is why both creatures can be found in Churches. There are several well known statues of griffins like the one in London, the one in Pisa, and the one in Persepolis. This creature is often common in heraldry. If you have a griffin in your coat of arms, it means that you had an ancestor that was strong and courageous, and probably served in the military.

I was heartbroken to see that Griffin has become so well used. I have loved that name ever since I read Griffin and Sabine as a child. It was calculated that in 2000 Griffin was the 114th most common surname in America. That probably is the largest contributing factor to it's popularity as a first name, as they are currently in fashion. Although it had a small amount of popularity in the 1880s, it's peak was in 2010 at #231. For some reason it is especially popular in Vermont and New Hampshire. it's used even more in Canada, in 2008 it ranked #124. Variations include Gyphon, Gryffin, and Gryffen. Griff is also sometimes listed, but I would advise against it. "Griff" is an old term for a mulatto person who looks mostly Caucasian. It isn't always used in the nicest fashion. But to be fair, I'm not sure how many people are familiar with that term anymore.

There are many famous namesakes that have Griffin as a surname, but there are a lot less that bear it as a first name. One exception is a fictional character from a science fiction classic, Griffin is the main character in The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. I've read in on source that one set of parents were concerned by this name's connection to the television show Family Guy, but decided it wasn't enough to stop loving the name.

Griffin is a great name for those looking for a strong, Wicca-lite name. It's integrated enough that no one will know that the family is Neo-Pagan just from looking at it. But at the same time, it's deeply linked to our mythical past.

Website News:

I've been toying with the idea of starting a facebook page for this site (If I can figure out how, you would think that facebook would have a how-to page, but no). Would you like it if I did that?

Sources:
http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/1/Griffin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griffin_(surname)
http://www.babynamewizard.com/namipedia/boy/griffin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griffin

Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

5 comments:

  1. Griffin and Griffith are such fantastic names- definitely my cup of tea. While not one of my favourites, it does have a certain charm that would make me seriously consider it.

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  2. I've never met a "Griffin" before at least as a first name, but I had a horrible teacher named "Mr. Griffin." Ugh, he kind of ruined the name for me. He was extrememly uptight, had horrible breath and had dandruff dusting his tacky polyester suits that he wore. Shame really as I love the name and I love the photo of the little boy you used for a "Griffin."

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  3. I've also been toying with the idea of a Facebook page. I happen to admin a couple other pages because of what I do for a living, so on my homepage, in the left column under my name, there's a heading called 'Pages'. When I click that, it takes me to my Pages page, and like the Events page, there's a button at the top that says 'Create a Page.' Once you've created a page, you'll have the option to switch between updating Facebook as Bewitching Names when you're doing stuff for your site, or as yourself when you're using it for personal things.

    As for Griffin, I've always liked it, too - and in Canada, I've never been a single person who used the term 'griff' to mean what you highlighted. I think of Griff Tannen from Back to the Future!

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  4. Sorry, now I'm spamming - also on your homepage, at the footer, there is a bunch of options to click like Advertising, Developers, and Create a Page is one of the options. Very bottom of the page. You should have this, too, regardless of whether you have the option to click to Pages from the left column.

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