It's a blue moon tonight! For those not familiar with the term, a blue moon is when a full moon occurs twice in one month. It happens every two and a half years, so I hope you're planning to magick up something important tonight. But it also makes it the perfect time for me to profile Bluesette.
The name Blue has been getting a lot of press lately thanks to Beyonce. Her daughter Blue Ivy got immediate attention from name enthusiasts, and the reaction ranged from ambivalence to mild dislike. Personally, if I was the mother and I had to use those elements I would have pushed for Ivy Blue, because it sounds more like a name and not like a species of ivy, but whatever. In the scheme of "crazy" names, not a big deal. And ever since Blue Ivy, other little Blues have born too.
With that type of press it might look like the parents of a Bluesette are trying too hard. But it's more likely that they're just really into jazz music. "Bluesette" (sometimes written as "Blues-Ette") is a jazz standard written by Toots Thielemans in 1962. He does instrumental work, and is famous for his harmonica playing as well as his guitar and whistling. Lyrics written by Norman Gimbel were later added, and it became a worldwide hit when it was sung by Ray Charles. The song is about a girl Bluesette and the singer is comforting her by saying that "love's 'round the corner."
Bluesette has never been a common name in the United States. But with Blue now getting so much attention, someone is bound to come across it. And it's even got a botanical reference: bluesette is a variety of dahlia.
Bluesette presents a bit of an aesthetic challenge. The song has since faded into obscurity and to people who don't know anything about jazz music, the name looks...fake. It looks made up. Technically it is made up, but some people equate "made up" with "thoughtless and meaningless" when it comes to naming children. That's not meant to deter anyone, I like Bluesette. But if you get some negative reactions that's probably why.
Blue or Blusette would be a meaningful choice for any child born during a blue moon. A rare name to go with a rare night.
Friday, August 31, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Why did I think that Phoebe meant "bird"? Phoebe (pronounced "FEE-bee") is a feminine form of the Greek name Phoibos and it means "bright" or "shining." This origin makes sense if you think of the name Phoebus.
Phoebe is another name for Artemis. It was also the name of a Titan. Phoebe, sometimes called Phoibe, was the goddess of the moon before the Olympians were born. She is the daughter of Uranus and Gaia and the mother of Leto (who gave birth to Apollo and Artemis) and Asteria (who gave birth to Hecate). This name appears on other characters in Greek mythology as well. Phoebe was one of the Amazons that fought against Heracles. Another Phoebe was the sister of Helen of Troy.
People started to use Phoebe as a given name in England during the Protestant Reformation. A character with this name appears in the New Testament on a female minister in the Church at Cenchreae. Some Theologians believe that Phoebe was responsible for delivering Paul's epistle (a type of formal letter) to the Roman Catholic Church.
As it turns out, there is a bird called a phoebe. It lives in North and South America that prefer to hunt for insects in open areas. So it is a bird, but it doesn't mean "bird." This name also has a botanical namesake as well. Phoebe is a genus of evergreen trees belonging to the laurel family. Phoebe is also one of the moons of Saturn.
Phoebe has always been in the top 1,000 except for the 1960s through the 1980s. It rose dramatically in the 1990s. What happened in the 1990s? The television show Friends happened in the 1990s. Phoebe was the quirky one in the bunch. It still shows no signs of really slowing down. It peaked in 2010 at #309 (although if we just look at the numbers it was highest during the 1880s at #246). It's up at #310 currently. It's also popular worldwide. In 2008 it ranked #31 in England, #53 in Australia, and #94 in Scotland.
Although it's peaking right now, I associate it with my parent's generation because it's the name of one of my mother's college friends. Which is odd, since she was born in the 1960s and the name would not have been popular then. I also have a problem with spelling it, always switching the "o" and "e". But that's just me personally. Phoebe is a great Wicca-lite name that most everyone is familiar with but still has tons of witchy cred.
Found via http://pinterest.com
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Enid (pronounced "EE-nid") is a Welsh name. The meaning is uncertain, but most sources connect it to the Welsh word enaid, meaning "soul." It is a word used as a term of affection, although I'm not sure how often it is used now.
Enid, sometimes spelled Enide, is an important character in Arthurian legend. Depending on which version you read she is the wife of either Erec or Geraint, but no matter which one you go by the story is basically the same. While the knight Erec/Geraint is on a quest, Enid's parents provide him with food and supplies. They fall in love and get married. But Enid begins to worry that she is damaging her husband's reputation because since the marriage he has put off his chivalric duties. Erec/Geraint overhears her crying and assume that she's having an affair. Erec/Geraint forces her to accompany him on a long, dangerous trip and forbids her from talking. Enid breaks that rule repeatedly in order to warn him of danger, and her love is proven to be pure. Historians believe that this story was most likely based on an earlier myth that has since been lost.
When I first saw this name I thought, "Gee, this sure looks like something that would have been popular the same time Ethel was popular." And I was right. It's peak was during the 1910s at #471. It hasn't been on the charts since the 1940s.
There are plenty of namesakes but most of them were born in that time period. Enid Kent played Nurse Bigelow on M*A*S*H. There is also a silent film actress, a children's author, and an author/playwright. One more recent namesake is a literary one, Enid is the lead character in the comic book series and movie Ghost World. I've never watched the show, but apparently Enid is the name of an icy boss that Carrie has at one point.
I have to admit that this Enid doesn't have a sound that I would gravitate to. It's like Astrid. I don't see the appeal in Astrid either, but a lot of name enthusiasts and Neo-Pagans like it. Judging from the types of fictional characters this name is often given to, I think the general public sees it as old, nerdy, or cold. But if you're into your Camelot stories, it has a great past. Some name enthusiasts believe that Ethel will make a comeback, so why not Enid too?
Found via http://ffffound.com/
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Apollo (pronounced "ah-PAH-loh") is a god from Greek and Roman mythology. No one is certain where the name came from, but there are a few educated guesses. One theory is that it comes from the Indo-European apelo meaning "strength." Others think that it might be a variant of Appaliunas, the name of an Anatolian god meaning "father lion" or "father light." There is another possibility that Apollo might have come from a Dorian god called Apellon. The Greeks themselves often associated this name with the word apollymi, meaning "to destroy." Other possible word that it comes from is apolysis ("to redeem"), apolousis ("purification"), and aploun ("simple").
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto and the twin brother of Artemis. It is said that he was born on the seventh day of the seventh month. He is depicted as the masculine ideal of his time, a young, athletic, beardless youth. He is the ruler of the Muses, and is pretty good with a lyre himself, and is therefore considered the god of music and poetry. His association with Delphi also makes him the god of prophecy, divination, and visions. The Delphic Oracle had many sayings, many of which were believed to have come from Apollo like, "Know thyself." While his sister is considered the goddess of the moon, he is considered the god of the sun. It was believed that he could never lie, so oaths were sworn to him in much the same way that Christian people would swear to God today. Not all of it was so great though, Apollo could also bring plague and disease to any town that displeased him. Apollo is usually seen as a civilized god ruled by logic as opposed to Bacchus/Dionysus who is ruled by pleasure and instinct. I find that somewhat humorous as Apollo is not above chasing women. Out of all of his loves only one was not murdered, a family member, or transformed into a tree. He also presides over matters of law, archery, and the sciences.
Apollo is unique in that he managed to keep his name when he moved over to the Roman Pantheon. Okay, the Greeks called him Apollon, but it's still pretty close. Closer than Zeus and Jupiter. But he has many other names including Delphinian, Pythios, Pheobus, Loxias, Iatros, and Lukeios. Modern day Neo-Pagans can honor Apollo by enjoying the arts everyday, watching the sunrise or the sunset, learning divination, or taking up archery.
Aside from being very strongly Pagan, this name also appears in the Bible. Saint Apollos was the name of one of Jesus' first disciples. It also has a celestial feeling to it because of the Apollo missions to the moon. Although Apollo is the Ancient Greek name for the planet Mercury, that association didn't carry on into the Ancient Roman culture (Mercury is the Roman name for Hermes).
Apollo is a name I've seen used on real people a number of times. One of them is Olympic speed skater Apollo Anton Ono. There was also an American rocket scientist and a vice admiral of the United States Navy. Despite that, the name has still never charted in the United States.
But why not? Apollo's a great name with strength and history. It's one that I would consider.
Found via http://pinterest.com
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Kismet (pronounced "KIZ-met" in English, it's probably different in it's language of origin) is often listed as an Arabic name meaning "fate." It ultimately derives from a Turkish word qismet (which does mean "fate" or "portion"), which comes from the Arabic root word qasama meaning "he divided." Kismet apparently used as a title to a novel made in 1877, which is when English speakers began using the word. It is not used as a given name in any Arabic country and is instead only used as a vocabulary word.
Neo-Pagans deal with the idea of fate in different ways. Some believe in it, others do not. What I do know for certain is that there is no such idea as "God's plan" in any Neo-Pagan faith. Usually when we talk about fate we talk about the fate we make for ourselves. There are also The Fates of Greek mythology, which isn't what Kismet is referring too.
Theater fans might already be familiar with this name. Kismet is the name of a classic Broadway musical that isn't performed much anymore. Seriously, I couldn't tell you one song from it. I've heard that this is because it was tailored specifically for Alfred Drake who was a major stage star at the time. Supposedly his performance was phenomenal. He did receive a Tony award for it. It came out in 1953 which was before my parent's time so I wouldn't know. Perhaps people feel that no one could match what Drake did. The story is pretty standard Broadway musical comedy fare: there's a wily poet that gets in and out of trouble and a love story between a princess and a Calif. It's set in some romanticised Arabic place. Kismet was adopted from the play of the same name and was made into a movie. Aside from that, Kismet is also the name of a super-heroine from Marvel comics.
Kismet has never been a popular name in the United States. The name does sound a lot like "kiss," which might have some people running. Perhaps they think that the fodder for boyhood teasing is just too obvious. But you all know that I think that avoiding names due to teasing is silly. It is almost always listed as a girls name, but I see no logical reason why it can't be used for boys. Variant forms are Kismat and Qismat.
I love Kismet as a middle name. I don't know if I would use it as a first name personally. But it's been one of my favorites since I was a child. I would love to see it used more.
Found via http://pinterest.com
Sunday, August 12, 2012
I've recently been reading The Glow, a photoblog featuring artistic working mothers and their children. Something struck me when I collected these names. Doesn't it seem like all these kids could be...related? Or at the very least, in the same neighborhood? Well, it turns out that most of these kids live in New York City, and the ones that don't live in Los Angeles. So technically, they do live in the same neighborhood of "chic urbanites."
Zoey & Sydney (g)
Stellan & Leif
Lowe (g) & Valentine (b)
Isabelle & William
Kit & Gigi
Roxy, Bowie (b) & Valentine (b)
The first hurdle this name presents is the pronunciation. Anyone who is familiar with the opera will not pronounce the "t" at the end, making it "tur-an-DOH." However, "tur-an-DOT" is technically the correct version used originally. Turandot comes from the Persian name Turandokht, meaning "daughter of Turan." Turan was an area in Central Asia that was a part of the Persian Empire.
Turandokht is a Persian fairy tale that can be found in the book One Thousand and One Days, not to be confused with the more famous One Thousand and One Nights. This story of a cold princess might have been based on an actual person. Turandokht Sassanid was a princess of the Persian Empire that lived during the 600s. She was the sibling of Azarmidokht and Purandokht. Purandokht was the oldest and actually acted as Empress for a time.
So why Puccini decided to set his famous opera in China, I have no idea. It came out during the 1920s and I understand that all things Orient were fashionable then. But still, from my modern point of view, it seems like an incredibly boneheaded thing to do. The name Turandot doesn't even look a little bit Chinese. With the exception of the place and time, the details of the fairytale remain the same.
Turandot is a princess with a cold heart who has promised herself that she would never be dominated by a man. She makes it a rule that any man who wants to marry her must answer three riddles. If he can't come up with the answer, he is beheaded. The former Prince of Tartary, who is living as a commoner after his home was conquered by the Chinese, falls in love with her on sight. The Prince accepts the challenge and succeeds. Turandot is completely distraught, so the Prince says that if she can guess his name by sunrise she can kill him. The Prince's father and his servant Liu, who is in love with the Prince, are around Turandot's ministers know that they know each other. Liu says that she knows his name but will never tell it. She is tortured by Turandot, but continues to refuse. Turandot asks what the source of her strength is, and Liu replies that it is love. Liu stabs herself. The Prince scolds Turandot for her cruelty but kisses her anyway. Turandot admits that she both loves and hates him and asks him to leave. The Prince tells her his name, Calaf. By morning, Turandot agrees to marry him and her bloody reign ends.
Turandot is a daring name to use. There is nothing really like it on the charts. It has a few things going for it. If you're an opera fan or you have Persian ancestry I see no problem with using the name. Because the fairytale is, or at least was, popular in Europe the people living there might recognize the reference quicker than Americans. It is an interesting way to get to Dottie or Anne. But...in a way it feels like naming a child Pele or Nefertiti. I think that you have to have a specific type of personality in order to wear this name well. On the other hand, if you don't pronounce the "t" at the end it has a softer sound, which might work on a quieter girl.
I have conflicting feelings about using the name, but not the name itself. The name itself is fantastic. I love it's strength and uniqueness.
Found via http://pinterest.com
Friday, August 10, 2012
A little while back another name website made a list of names from the Hunger Games that said that Glimmer and Gloss weren't usable. Uh...why not? Granted, Glimmer isn't a very nice character and she doesn't last very long (no, I don't consider that a spoiler). But neither is Clove and that name quickly became a darling on name websites. I actually think that Glimmer would fit in wonderfully into today's namescape.
The meaning of Glimmer is a positive one. It comes from the Proto Germanic glim, meaning "brightness." The word got a bit more specific as time went on, now it means "to shine dimly." People associate light with goodness, so that adds to the name's appeal.
Names that end in "-er" are increasingly being used for both genders. Think Harper, Archer, Hunter, and Piper. So Glimmer fits in in that way as well. Glimmer reads more girly to me personally, but I see no practical reason why it can't be used for boys as well.
I don't think the usual problem with fictional namesakes is going to happen with Glimmer. While Suzanne Collins did essentially invent this name, I don't think the character makes much an impression. She's only shown a few times and we don't really know anything about her except that she was very attractive. Unless they mention her again in the other books, I don't know. I'm trying to be good and not google the remaining two books in order to not spoil it for myself.
If the name was Glitter I could see it being seen as slightly ridiculous and a little too cute. But Glimmer? Totally usable. In fact, it might become one of my favorites.
Found via http://pinterest.com
When you watch the modern Olympic games you can always find a lot of new, interesting names. Looking through the names from the ancient Olympics will yield some interesting finds too, although they are admittedly a lot less varied in terms of language of origin. Here's some that I found:
1. Leonidas. You know, with a name like Leonidas you're kind of obligated to be a great athlete. Leonidas of Rhodes was the most famous runner of his time. His record of twelve crowns in four Olympics was unmatched.
2. Horus. I found this one back when I profiled the name Horus. He was a boxer from Roman occupied Egypt. He's not one that historians pay a lot of attention to. I'm not even sure if he won anything. Still, I love his name.
3. Nero. Yup, it's that Roman Emperor Nero. He won as a steerer of a ten-horse chariot, but you kind of have to wonder if he really earned it.
4. Cynisca. The only woman on this list, she won the four-horse chariot race. The ancient Olympic games were almost entirely male-dominated and women were not actually allowed to ride chariots. The award for this type of event did not go to the actual rider, but to the person who trained and owned the horses. Since women weren't allowed in the stadium, it's highly unlikely that she saw her victory. Cynisca was a Spartan princess.
5. Diagoras. He was a celebrated boxer, but was also celebrated for producing sons and grandsons who also competed and won in the Olympics. Legend has it that he died from happiness when his sons won.
6. Milo. This name's probably the most likely to be used today. Sometimes called Milon, he competed several times as a wrestler and achieved near mythical status. He is the subject of many works of art and is referenced in literature.
7. Koroibos. The very first Olympic champion ever was not a member of royalty or a man with great fame, but a humble baker. Koroibos, sometimes written as Coroebus, competed as a runner.
8. Astylos. He was very successful as a runner and won several times. Unfortunately, Astylos led an unhappy life. When he decided to compete for another city-state, the people in his hometown demolished his statue and turned his home into a prison, while his family disowned him.
9. Orsippus. Although he was a runner he is most well known for being the first to compete naked, though some might argue that.
10. Tiberius. He was a steerer of a four-horse chariot. I'm sure that the fact that he was the stepson of Emperor Augustus didn't hurt his chances.
11. Chionis. If what records say are true, Chionis could compete in the long jump today and stand a good chance of winning. He could jump at a then-record of 7 meters and 5 centimeters.
12. Dorieus. Diagoras had three sons who were all Olympic champions. But his youngest son, Dorieus, was the most successful of them all. I cannot, however, find out what event he competed in. His name has an uncanny similarity to Dorian.
13. Varastades. The last recorded winner of the ancient Olympic games. He competed in boxing. He was also the crown prince and future king of Armenia.
Friday, August 3, 2012
Expedite's connection to the Olympic games is less obvious, but I think it's very fitting.
Expedite (pronounced "EK-speh-dyt") is a Latin word derived from expeditus, meaning "free the feet from fetters" or "liberate from difficulty." In Ancient Rome, expedites were types of foot soldiers. Because they carried very light equipment so they were the fastest warriors and often marched away from the pack. And yes, this is where the term "expedite shipping" comes from. Expedite is also the name of a controversial saint.
Historical details on Saint Expedite's life are hard to come by. Some sources say that he was a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity and was later martyred. Others say he was Armenian. All the statues certainly portray him as a handsome, young soldier of some sort. Along with Saint Bridget and Saint George, Expedite is one of the more magickal saints that have a reputation for assisting the witchy persuasion. This leads some to believe that Saint Expedite is actually Mercury in disguise, the Roman deity of messengers. Of course, many Christian devotees will deny that.
But that's not the only reason that he's so controversial. Saint Expedite first became popular in the Middle Ages. He was particularly well liked in Sicily and South Germany. He became so popular that he had his own cult, and the Vatican was afraid that it would splinter the Roman Catholic Church. They failed at putting an end to Expedite's worship. But they did manage to get him removed from the official roster of saints. Even today, finding his name there would be very unlikely.
Saint Expedite is the patron of speedy deliveries, fast action, and quick solutions. He has no patience for delays or bureaucracy of any kind. He wants things done yesterday. He's the guy you turn to when you have an emergency and there is not a moment to loose. Saint Expedite is particularly popular in Voodoo, where he is used to represent spirits of the cemetery.
Expedite has never been a common name in the United States, and you're bound to have a hard time finding it in baby name resources. I think that this name has fallen so far into "vocabulary word" territory that it might be a little hard to accept it as a given name again. But it does have variations like Expeditus, Expiditos, Expedito, and Espedito. And any name associated with speed would be great for an athletic person. So I like it.
Encyclopedia of Mystics, Sages, and Saints by Judika Illes.
Found via http://pinterest.com
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Another name that is Olympics related is Laurel. A laurel wreath was the traditional prize of the Ancient Olympic games. So let's take a look at Laurel.
Laurel (pronounced "LAW-ruhl") is an English name ultimately derived from the Latin laurus, and it's always been in reference to the plant. Laurels are evergreen trees that grow in the Mediterranean region. The plant is actually called the bay laurel, and this is where the bay leaves used in cooking come from. Although the flavor is popular, the leaves can damage internal organs when eaten, so they are typically removed after cooking. They also make berries and small yellow flowers.
In Greek mythology, laurels have a strong connection to Daphne. Daphne was the one who took a vow of chastity and turned into a tree when Apollo pursued her. The tree she turned into was a laurel tree and daphne is the Greek name for this species. Laurels are particularly sacred to Apollo and they should adorn any altar dedicated to him. The famous wreaths were symbols of high status. This association was adopted by the Romans as well, who believed that the laurel was a symbol of victory. In Christian tradition, it is a symbol of the Resurrection as well as prosperity and fame.
Today, Wiccans can use the plant for banishing. When an unwanted person in your home finally manages to leave, smudging the house with laurel will ensure that they never find their way back. It cal also be used for dream magick, protection, or luck in athletic competitions. People who practice traditional medicine might know that the plant's essential oil is often used in massage oil. It is also used for women's troubles like tearing during birth and vaginal infections.
Since the name first saw use in the 1800s, Laurel has switched genders throughout the ages. It experienced some use as a boys name in the United States during the 1920s, where it peaked at #972. Depending on how old you are or how eclectic your film tastes are, you might remember the names Laurel and Hardy, a comedic pair in Hollywood's early cinema. Laurel is considered a masculine plant in Neo-Pagan traditions. But it has been used far more as a girl's name, particularly in the 1950s when the variant Laura was also popular. It peaked at #283. It now ranks at #927 after a two year hiatus from the charts. The feminist historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is famous for uttering the phrase, "Well behaved women seldom make history."
Unfortunately, I can pretty much assure anyone who wants to use this name that it will constantly be confused with Laura or Lauren. But if you really love it, go for it. It's a name I could never use because I have a hard time pronouncing it, but I love it for other people's witchlets.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Anyone with a passing familiarity with Greek myths knows the story. Girl is given a box that she is told never to open (it was an actually a jar, but it was mistranslated as a box and it stuck). Girl opens box. All the evils of the world spring out and torment mankind forevermore. But Hope flies out too, so something positive does come out of this.
But there's a detail that's usually glossed over, and it's kind of a big one: Pandora was the first mortal woman. She is essentially the Eve of the Pagan world. After Prometheus gave the secret of fire to mankind (apparently there were only mortal men at this point), the gods thought that we were having too easy of a time. They wanted to make something that was really going to make their lives difficult again. So Zeus ordered Hephaestus to make the first woman out of clay. The gods wanted her to be as alluring as possible, so they each gave her a special gift (like weaving, speech, pretty clothes, etc). This is why she has the name Pandora (pronounced "pan-DOH-rah"), meaning "all gifts."
The language used to describe Pandora in a lot of the oldest versions of the story is pretty awful. Remember, Ancient Greece wasn't very kind to it's women. So in some ways this is a pretty standard "women are evil" type story. But did the gods know that Pandora was going to open the box? I think they would be fools if they didn't. There is no indication that Pandora maliciously opened the box, she was just curious. And they're the ones that wanted mankind to suffer.
If Pandora was a goddess, she would be the goddess of curiosity and hope. Neo-Pagans really focus on the fact that Pandora brought hope into the world. We don't blame her for the evils of the world. She's called upon when we need to have faith in difficult times. This is why Pandora is used quite frequently as a magickal name. It's only the muggles who seem to have a problem with it.
Pandora has never charted in the United States. This might be taken the wrong way, but I don't think non-Pagans have any business feeling offended by the name Pandora. It's definitely not untouchable. People have gotten over Eve, why can't they get over Pandora?
Found via http://pinterest.com
Blessed Lammas/Lughnasadh everybody! Unless you're bellow the equator, then it's Blessed Imbolc! Since this is the first of our harvest holidays, I thought it appropriate to profile Harvest.
The word harvest comes from the Old English haerfest, which in turn came from the Proto Germanic harbitas. It has pretty much always meant the same thing: the time of year in which the crops are ready to be eaten. It is both a noun and a verb. Before the 1500s, people said "harvest" instead of "autumn" or "fall."
If you farm the old fashioned way with no machines, harvest time is the most work intensive time of year. I've yet to try to grow my own food. I know that it involves lots of bending over. Which is probably why the harvest holidays typically take place the day before working, I guess they needed a little revelry before tackling the mountain.
Harvest festivals vary throughout different regions, but typically they involve lots of eating. Aside from Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain, American Wiccans will also celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving. You could also argue that all our county fairs are harvest festivals. Jewish people observe Sukkot, which has it's roots in harvest traditions. Holi is a popular Hindu holiday celebrated by bonfires and throwing colored powder at each other among other things. One of the most widespread harvest festivals in the world is the Chinese Moon Festival. This is celebrated by eating mooncakes, lighting lanterns, and matchmaking. The Harvest Moon refers to the time closer to the Autumn Equinox.
I remember seeing Harvest used once as a middle name. I'm sure it's been used more than that, but I can't remember specifics. It has never charted in the United States. But I think it could work really well, particularly as a unique nature name for boys. It's got gentle strength to it.
So if you're looking for an unused gem of a name that will signify this time of year, Harvest is a great pick.
Found via http://pinterest.com