Monday, May 30, 2011


The Tony Awards are coming, and you will have to excuse my nerdy impulses. I'm wondering if the musical Spring Awakening will create any little Melchiors.

Melchior (pronounced "MEL-kee-or") is a Persian name derived from Farsi elements. Melk means "king" and quart means "city," so together they form "king city." In Christianity, this is the name of one of the Three Wise Men, who brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

If you use this name, you won't have any shortage of namesakes. It appears that Melchior was a popular name, in Europe anyway, between the late Middle Ages into the 1800s. Many of them are well known for religious reasons and one of them is a saint. Melchior Hammellmann was beheaded for Witchcraft in Germany in 1628. There's also a sizable amount of artists, travelers, writers, and politicians. And that's just the ones who have Melchior as a first name, it is also a well used family name.

Now on to Spring Awakening. The hero of this musical is a rebellious 14-year-old boy named Melchior Gabor. The musical is based on a play by Frank Wedekind, which premiered in Germany almost exactly 100 years before the musical. Wedekind's Spring Awakening criticized the sexually oppressive culture of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The play shocked viewers, and was often banned.

In the musical, the story pretty much remained the same. Melchior Gabor is an Atheist who often challenges the teachers at school. Unlike his fellow students, he knows about the "facts of life." He becomes attracted to Wendla, a girl that he knew ever since he was a child. I don't want to give away too much of the story for those that haven't seen the play. But the musical adaptation came during a time when people were willing to embrace it, it won eight Tony Awards.

Melchior has never appeared in the top 1,000 in the United States, which makes it a unique option. Due to it's Christian past, it could be a good option for people living in the Bible belt. And it's a unique way to show off you're love of all things Broadway.


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The end of springtime is fast approaching. With the seasons now in flux, it's time to profile this god of growth.

Vertumnus (pronounced "ver-TUM-nus") is derived from the Latin vertere meaning "to change." In Roman mythology, he is the god of change, the seasons, and plant growth. Some sources are convinced that he was originally an extremely important Etruscan god. The Etruscans lived along the northwest coast of Italy and had a distinct culture and language older and separate from the Ancient Romans. They called this god Voltumna. He obviously has nothing to do with the pantheon adopted from the Greeks, they're all either siblings or children of each other. Vertumnus is not in the "family." He is uniquely Italian.

Vertumnus' cult arrived in Rome around 300 BC. There was a temple dedicated to him, which had a bronze statue made in his likeness that was decorated in accordance with the seasons. His feast day, Vertumnalia, was celebrated on August 13th.

The most well known myth regarding Vertumnus is the one that involves Pomona. Pomona was the goddess of fruit and abundance. Vertumnus fell in love with her, but she was a committed virgin. He disguised himself as an old woman in order to walk into her orchard, and then told her a story that warned her of the dangers of turning down a suitor. Eventually, she married Vertumnus. This story appeared in Ovid's Metamorphosis. This story was used as an inspiration to many works of art and variant retellings, many of which are quite erotic. My favorite is the one in the play by Mary Zimmerman, when Vetumnus finishes telling the story, Pomona looks at him and says, "Why are you wearing that ridiculous wig?"

I could not find any instances in which this name was used as a given name for a person. This is partially because he's not a very popular god anymore and people are unfamiliar with the name. Maybe some parents find it unwieldy, although it doesn't really have a lot of syllables. I personally quite like the French variation, Vertumne, but that doesn't seem to be used as a name outside of restaurants and flower shops.

Why not consider it, though? Vertumnus seems like a nice enough god, Roman god names are popping up on the top 1,000 these days, why not honor him by using his name? I'd love to meet a little Vertie.


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I wonder if American parents would give this name a chance.

Percival (pronounced (PUR-si-vahl") is an invented name based on existing names. Percival first appeared as one of King Arthur's knights in the poem "Percival, the Story of the Grail" by Chretien de Troyes. The character and his name is based on the earlier Welsh hero Peredur, who's moniker means "hard spears." The new spelling was possibly influenced by the Old French percer val, "to pierce a valley."

In the story, Percival is of noble birth, although the name of his father changes with each retelling. His mother is usually unnamed, but plays a big part in his life. After his father dies, his mother takes him to live in the forests of Wales, untouched by the influence of men until he reaches the age of 15. When he watches some knights pass by through the forest, he is struck by how cool they look. He decides that he wants to be a knight himself, and travels to King Arthur's court. He is invited to join the Knights of the Round Table after he proves that he's a worthy warrior.

The character is most notable for his connection to the Holy Grail. He meets the crippled Fisher King and spots the Grail, but doesn't recognize that it is "the" sacred Grail. He fails to answer the question that would have healed the King. Once he realized his mistake, he vows to find the grail again and fulfil his quest. In the original story, that's where it ends. It has since been continued by many other writers. Some versions say that after he heals the Fisher King, Percival becomes a King himself and marries a woman named Blanchefleur. Others say that Percival died a virgin after completing his task, the poor sod. In a common version, Galahad is actually the hero of this story, who finds the Grail with Percival's assistance.

In America, the name peaked in the 1880s at #843, which is pretty mild popularity. It doesn't even seem to be all that popular in England or Wales. It looks like it's more common as a surname than as a given name (meaning that there might be female Percivals in the future? That's kind of an interesting thought). There are not many real-life namesakes that have Percival as a first name, but there are a few fictional ones. Dr. Cox from the television show Scrubs has it as a first name. There is also Percival "Percy" Weasley, Ron's stuck-up older brother, from the Harry Potter world.

When I was younger, I thought that Percival was effeminate, stuffy, and very British. My opinion was probably influenced by the pug in Disney's Pocahontas. But you know, I'm starting to like Percival. Percy, not so much. And it'll be kind of hard to avoid the name's most common nickname. So maybe that's why people aren't using it so much in the United States.

It's not for everyone, but Percival is a dignified name that gives the impression of nobility. I'll be interested to see when, and how, Percival resurfaces into the namescape.

Website News:

You might have noticed that there is now a master list for the girls names (a.k.a. The Maidens) featured on this site. The boys and unisex lists are coming. Hopefully, this will make it easier to find names as the website gets more and more profiles.

I have to give props to Abby on Appellation Mountain, who did this when her site had a lot more names than mine. It's much more time consuming than it looks. I was thinking, "Oh yeah, I can totally knock off all three pages in one night!" and, well, um, no.


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Sunday, May 29, 2011


Is your kid so exuberant that there might as well be two of him? Maybe you should have named him Gemini!

Gemini (pronounced "JEM-in-ai") is Latin for "twins." It's the third sign of the Zodiac. People who are born between May 22rd to June 20th. Like all zodiac signs, it has a constellation and a story.

In Greek mythology, these twins have names: Castor and Pollux. Their mother was Leda, the Queen of Sparta, but they have different fathers. Castor was fathered by Tyndareus, the King of Sparta, and Pollux was the son of Zeus. Together, they are called the Dioscuri. Not quite as catchy as the Wonder Twins. They just so happen to be the siblings of Helen of Troy. They are very naughty, one myth involves them stealing some cattle. The constellation is very close to the Milky Way, which was described in mythology as being a herd of cattle. The brothers were also very close. When Castor died, Pollux begged his father to give Castor immortality. He granted this wish by placing both brothers in the night sky.

The constellation is important to other cultures as well. In Babylonian mythology, it represents the two gods Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra. In Chinese astrology, the stars were broken up into two different constellations: The White Tiger of the West and The Vermilion Bird of the South. In Norse mythology, it's heavily associated with the god Loki.

Gemini is ruled by the element of air, which will become obvious when you research it. Traditional Gemini traits include intelligence, communication, adaptability, and youthfulness. Like children, they are very imaginative and curious. On the flip side, they are a bit...well...two-faced. People who know Gemini's don't know which personality is going to come out. They're well known for being flighty and scatterbrained.

This sign has inspired people looking for names in the past. It's the name of an observatory. And, I know this is shocking, coming from me, but this is also a name that's well used in comic books. How many real-life people have this name? Not many. But it's yet another cool and unique name that could be an interesting way to reference the time of year in which the child was born.


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This name has been given some attention recently because of the new movie based on the comic book character. And some sources have been trying to drum up some fake controversy about Neo-Pagans being offended by the film (long story short, no prominent Priests or Priestess' have made any such claim). So it's the perfect time to profile this manly name.

Thor (pronounced the way it looks) is Norse for "thunder." Not-so-coincidentally, Thor is the god of thunder, but also of lightening, power, strength, oak trees, destruction, farming, healing, fertility, and protection. He is the son of Odin, the husband of Sif (goddess of the earth), and the lover of the giantess Jarnsaxa. He has red hair, a red beard, fierce eyes, and is well known for carrying a hammer named Mjollnir. Thor interrupted the dwarfs while they were making it, which is why it has such a short handle.

It was believed that during a thunderstorm, Thor rode through the skies in his chariot drawn by two goats. Lightening would flash whenever he threw his hammer. During Ragnarok, Thor will fight his most difficult battle against his enemy, the giant serpent named Jormungand. He will defeat him, but will only walk nine steps before dying from snake venom.

It's impossible to overstate Thor's influence on the Germanic peoples. He remained extremely prominent throughout their history, from Roman occupation to the age of the Vikings. Emblems of Thor's hammer were worn as a defiant reaction against Christianization. Thor's prominence continues to this day. Thursday means "Thor's day." During Roman occupation, the Germanic peoples adopted their calender, but replaced the names of weekdays to reflect their own deities (if you know the Spanish names for weekdays it's easier to figure out which god the day was originally named after).

He also inspired the comic book Thor, who essentially is the same character as the god. After Stan Lee created the Hulk, he pondered as to how someone could be stronger than the strongest person. The answer was to make him a god.

During the Viking Age, personal names that had something to do with Thor flourished, and might have also been used to make an anti-Christian statement. In Norway, Thor ranks #185, so even today it's fairly well used. There are a number of recent namesakes for Thor which includes an explorer, a serial killer, a film producer, and a few athletes. But it's rare in America. Generally, I think Americans find the idea of giving this name to a child a little odd, that it's way too powerful for a little baby.

But he's not going to be a baby forever. Thor is a "real man's" name. I know that I should never say never, but I find it highly unlikely that it will ever be used for a little girl. There will be no confusion. Names like that are disappearing at a rapid rate. Because of that, it will have an appeal to certain parents.


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Saturday, May 28, 2011


Wendy has requested another name, Devorah, which she says appeared to her in a dream. However, because it's variation Deborah is more well known, I'm kind of profiling both.

Devorah (pronounced "DEHV-rah") is a Hebrew name meaning "bee" or "a swarm of bees." Bees are prominently featured in mythology around the world.

-They are very important for pollination and are generally held in high regard, and beekeeping has been practiced since ancient times.
-In Ancient Egypt, the bee was the symbol of Lower Egypt. In their mythology, bees were created from the tears of the sun god Ra when they hit the hot sand.
-The Ancient Greeks believed that bees bridged the natural world with the underworld, and many early tombs were shaped like beehives.
-Images of the Mayan bee god, Ah-Muzen-Cab, have been found amongst ruins of Mayan cities well known for producing honey. The Mayans considered honey to be the food of the gods.
-Mead, an alcoholic beverage made from honey rather than grapes, was invented by the Cretans and is older than wine. Many Neo-Pagans still enjoy it and it's traditionally served at holidays and handfastings.
-They were commonly used by many political theorists as an example for human civilisation due to their diligence and cooperation.
-Despite all this, mellisophobia is very common (I have a deep phobia of being attacked by a swarm of bees, and I still can't stand the sound of fluttering insect wings, so I can relate).

Debora is the name's most common permutation, and is also the name of a biblical heroine. In the Old Testament, Deborah was a prophetess of Yahweh, the god of the Israelites, and the fourth Judge of pre-monarchic Israel. She was the only female Judge in the history of that country. She is well known for leading a successful counterattack against the Canaanites. "The Song of Deborah" is the earliest example of Hebrew poetry, and is also one of the earliest portrayals of strong women.

Because of this, Deborah has always been a favorite amongst Jewish families. English Christians began to use it after the Protestant Reformation. It also became popular with Puritans. Today, Deborah remains well used. Deborah peaked in the 1950s at #5, so many people you meet with this name should be Grandmas by now. Although it hasn't left the chart since then and is tentatively climbing back up the ranks. It's currently #777.

Devorah, on the other hand, is nowhere to be seen. As far as I can tell it has remained obscure throughout the centuries. I see no reason why not to use Devorah, other than people will constantly confuse it with the well-known Deborah. It's a minor challenge, and it'll be a great way for a Neo-Pagan to honor Jewish heritage as well as the honey producing insect.


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Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Some people might put this name down for being "fake" or devoid of history. Before looking into this name I might have said the same thing (well, not the "fake" part, I don't know how a name can be "fake"). But what I found about this name was quite surprising.

Jinx seems like it would be perfect for Neo-Pagan parents. It is, after all, Latin for "spell." Or so some sources say. Others say that the name is derived from Iynx, the name of a nymph from Greek mythology. There are several conflicting stories regarding Iynx. She might be the daughter of Echo and Pan, or of Peitho and Pan. Iynx was a sorceress who invented a love charm that she named after herself. It consisted of a spinning wheel with a wryneck bird attached. Some stories say that she used this charm to make Zeus fall in love with her. But in the more popular versions, she used the charm to make Zeus fall in love with Io, who he raped. Hera was not amused, and transformed Iynx into a wryneck bird herself.

In another story, Iynx was one of the nine daughters of Pierus. The nine sisters entered a musical contest with the Muses. When they lost, they were all transformed into birds, Iynx turning into the wryneck bird.

What the heck is a wryneck bird? It's a type of woodpecker found in Africa and Eurasia that used to be quite common in Greece, and was very important to them spiritually. The bird is remarkable due to it's ability to turn it's head around 180 degrees, which is how it got it's English name. When it feels threatened it engages in odd, snakelike behavior, elongating it's neck and twisting it around while hissing. It was that bizarre ability that caught the attention of the Ancient Greeks. They occasionally used this bird for magic and divination, and they associated it with passionate, relentless love. According to legend, Aphrodite gave this bird to Jason, who then used it to excite the passion of Medea. The genus name of the wryneck bird is, you guessed it, Jinx.

The earliest known use of the word jinx that described something other than the bird was used in the context of baseball, of all things. It appeared in the short story "The Jinx" in 1910, and it was described as something that brought bad luck to ball players. After that, the meaning evolved into a type of curse that brought minor misfortune. It could also refer to talking about the future with too much confidence. Testing the Fates results in bad luck. It's original meaning seems to be forgotten even by Neo-Pagans, they also use the word to describe a curse or a charm.

Jinx is a common name, at least in the comic book world. Jinx is a supervillainess in Teen Titans, a bounty hunter in the graphic novel of the same name, and a martial artist in the G.I. Joe world. Giacinta "Jinx" Johnson was the Bond girl in Die Another Day, and was portrayed by actress Halle Berry. If you're looking for real-life namesakes, there is Jinx Dawson, who was the vocalist for the American rock band Coven. Coven is well known for it's biggest hit "One Tin Soldier," and for inventing the sign of the horns that's used in rock culture. There is also the Spanish/Chilean model-turned-actress Jinx Falkenburg (born Eugenia Lincoln Falkenburg, nicknamed "Jinx" by her mother).

Knowing all of that, I now think the name is awesome. But of course, not everyone is a name nerd and not everyone is going to get it. There are some that would think that this name is too...vampish for a child. Or too unlucky. Which might mean that you would have to explain it a lot. But if you're willing to accept those challenges, it's a cool name. With loads more history than people think. Damn, did I get schooled.


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The lilacs have just started blooming in my backyard, and as that is my favorite flower I couldn't be happier.

Lilac (pronounced "LYE-lak") is derived from the Persian lilak, a variant of nilak meaning "bluish." The plant's official name is Syringa. Syringa is derived from the Greek syrinx meaning "pipe" or "hallow tube." However, I never heard that term actually used before.

As it's name suggests, the plant originated in eastern Asia and southeastern Europe. It has since spread out into most temperate regions including the United States. Strangely, no lilacs come in blue. They come in light purple and white. In fact, lilac is also used to describe light purple. In Greece, Lebanon, and Cyprus, the flower is strongly associated with Easter and is known as Paschalia. Wiccans associate it with protection, banishing evil, love, and harmony.

Lilac trees have been used for many practical purposes. The wood is extremely dense and has been used for engraving, reed pipes, flutes, and knife handles. A tea can be made of their flowers, leaves, and branches, which some claim cause feelings of euphoria. Mostly it is simply used as a garden plant. The flowers are quite popular and there are many lilac festivals that celebrate their blooming. Spokane, Washington and Lombard, Illinois are known as the Lilac City and the Lilac Village, respectively. They both hold a lilac parade every year.

Lilac is an older given name than some people would think. During the Victorian Era, people became very obsessed with flowers. The Language of Flowers, in which you use certain flowers to convey certain messages, developed during this time. So it was fashionable to give botanical names to daughters. Lilac was actually one of these names, but it didn't become a classic the same way that Rose and Violet did. So it reads as being newer than it actually is.

Lilac is a favorite of mine. Not only is it my favorite flower that I associate with childhood, it is also one of my favorite colors, and "Lilac Wine" by Nina Simone is one of my favorite songs. So it's kind of a no-brainer. It's a unique name that encompasses many things that I like. Hopefully whoever I wind up having kids with will share my love.


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Saturday, May 21, 2011


Will this strong boy's name see more use in the future?

Octavian (pronounced "ock-TAY-vee-an") is a variant of Octavianus, which means "eight." It has many variations including Octavius, Octave, Octavo, Octavio, and the feminine Octavia.

This name was forever touched by an Ancient Roman ruler. Before he became the first Emperor of Rome, Julius Caesar Augustus was Gaius Octavius Thurninus, but was often known as Octavian. He changed his name when his uncle posthumously adopted him. Afterward, the name was often given in reference to Julius Caesar and his family.

There was Octavius Mamilius, the ruler of Tusculum. Octavius was a legendary King of the Britons in Welsh tradition. Prince Octavius was the thirteenth child of King George III, who died tragically at age four. Other Octavians include Octavius Oakley, a painter from the Victorian Era. In the Spiderman comic books, Doctor Octopus' real name is Dr. Otto Octavius. And Octavian is the real name of Gus, the mouse in Disney's Cinderella.

According to sources Octavian is, or at least was, popular in Romania. In any case there are a great deal of namesakes from that country. Octavian Goga was a Romanian poet, playwright, and politician. Octavian Bella was a gymnastics coach. Stefan Octavian losif was a poet and translator.

In the United States, Octavian and it's variant forms have had moderate to low popularity in recent years. Octavia's height of popularity was in the 1880s at #381, and experienced another peak in the 1980s at #628, but is not currently in the top 1,000. Octave's peak was also in the 1880s at #857. Octavio first appeared much later, in 2000 it held spot #683. Octavian and Octavius have yet to make an appearance.

But I don't think that it'll take too long. It's new and fresh for American parents and yet it has deep roots. It sounds similar to ultra popular boys names like Christian and Sebastien, so Octavian would fit right in.


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Friday, May 20, 2011


Most people associate this gemstone with the month of September. But the sapphire is also the gemstone for Taurus. So before we move on to the next zodiac sign, let's take the time to talk about Sapphire.

Many people agree that sapphire (pronounced "SAHF-ire") is derived from the Hebrew word for "gem," Sapir. Curiously, both the Persian word (sani-prijam) and the Sanskrit word (shanipriya) for this stone mean the same thing: "precious to Saturn."

The Hebrew boy's name Sapir and the feminine variation Sapphira aren't widely used. That's because Sapphira is the name of a Biblical "bad girl." Sapphira was the wife of Ananias. The first followers of Jesus shared all of their possessions with each other, including land. Ananias and Sapphira sold their land, but kept a portion of the profit to themselves. When Ananias presented his donation to the apostle Peter and claimed that it was the full amount, Peter somehow knew that he was lying. Peter further stated that by lying to him he also lied to God, and Ananias died on the spot. Three hours later, Sapphira was also struck dead when she told the same lie. Once again, I'm not convinced that a Biblical "bad girl" did something so terrible that her name should stay virtually unused.

Anyway, back to Sapphire. Sapphires are most well known for being a deep blue, but they also come in yellow, pink, purple, orange, and green. When they're red they're considered to be another stone entirely, the ruby, even though they're chemically the same. Sapphires can be found in Eastern Australia, Eastern Africa and Madagascar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Montana. They are commonly used for jewelry, but because of their hardness they are also used for practical things like in scientific and electronic equipment.

This stone has a number of magickal properties. It is especially important to Buddhists, who traditionally associate this stone with religious devotion and spiritual enlightenment. The Ancient Greeks connected this stone with Apollo, and the oracles used it to strengthen their prophetic abilities. It is believed that wearing a sapphire will protect the owner from being kidnapped. The gem is also used to heal ailments of the eyes and to boost the immune system.

Sapphire as a given name is rare, but it's been done. Think hard about recent pop culture and you might come up with the most well known Sapphire. Sapphire (born Ramona Lofton) is the American novelist behind Push, which was adapted into the film Precious.

Sapphire, Sapir, and Sapphira are more gemstone names that aren't used all that much. Which is a shame, because I think they are beautiful names. I would love to meet someone who wears it with pride.


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Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Oh, thank you Baby Name Wizard member-controlled Namipedia. You give me so many delicious name goodies. Even though this particular one didn't make it through the website owner (grr).

Because it didn't pass the editor, I can't find this woman's website again. This is a woman who's an author of fantasy books, or maybe comic books? I can't remember, I just remember thinking she was awesome. But this name isn't worn by any of her characters. It's the name of her daughter.

Unfortunately, the mother had yet to share how she came up with this name, so I'll just have to speculate. Evidence resembles the old Puritan virtue names like Abstinence, Obedience, Temperance, and Providence. In more recent years, parents have come up with newfangled options like Benevolence. This meant that my initial impression of Evidence was that the family was Christian.

But evidence isn't exactly a virtue. It's proof that something exists. So the baby is proof that something exists, but what? The Gods? Love and goodness? Your partner's sperm?

For a while, I wasn't sure that Evidence sounded "namey" enough. Now that I''ve had time to roll it around in my head, I get a great buzz off of Evidence. I always say that parents should look at names and pretend that they're telling their child why they picked it. I would far prefer a name with meaning that a name that just "sounded good." I get the sense that Evidence has a story behind it. I just wish I knew what that story was.

If you're now thinking of using Evidence, I would get ready for some quizzical looks and double takes. But if you're convinced that your child is proof of something great, it could be an interesting option. You could use Eve or Evie as a nickname if it's a girl. If it's a boy...Ed, maybe? In light of some other new word names, it's not that strange.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The Celtic tree month of Hawthorn is upon us. Lets take a look at the history of this botanical name.

Hawthorn (pronounced "HAW-thorn") was known as Huath (pronounced "HOH-uh") by the Celts. The tree is native to temperate regions of Europe, North America, and Asia. They don't grow to be very big, they are only 5 to 15 meters tall. The tree is also sometimes called a thornapple, because it has both thorny branches and a small apple-like fruit.

The Hawthorn Moon is associated with the fertility, virility, and the fire element. This time of year is considered the best time to try to conceive a child. It is customary to decorate the house with hawthorn branches on Beltane. In Ancient Greece it was common to carry hawthorn branches during wedding processions. Branches were also popular for rune inscriptions. The idea that Jesus' crown of thorns came from this plant gave rise to the French superstition that it cries and moans on Good Friday. It is believed that hawthorn makes a particularly good stake for killing vampires. In Ireland, strips of cloth were tied around this tree as part of a healing ritual. This tree is also associated with the realm of faerie and sacred wells in Gaelic folklore, and it's considered bad luck to uproot a hawthorn.

The tree has many practical uses. The fruit is a favorite Chinese snack item, that is also used to make juice, jelly, and alcoholic beverages. In Mexico, the fruit is traditionally stuffed into pinatas. The American pioneers often ate this fruit during the winter. The leaves are also edible, and can be used in salads. Hawthorn has been used in traditional medicine, believed to strengthen the cardiovascular system and the digestive system. The tree is also used to create a mild sedative, but this shouldn't be done during pregnancy.

If you find this name in baby name websites and books, you'll most likely see it spelled Hawthorne, in reference to the author. Nathaniel Hawthorne was the American writer who created The Scarlet Letter, among other stories. His real surname was actually Hathorne. He was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and had an ancestor that presided as a judge during the Salem Witch Trials. Supposedly, he added the "w" in order to distance himself from this person.

Hawthorn seems like a name that should be used more than it actually is. River and Avery are making great strides, as are Harper and Atticus. But Hawthorn remains rare. Somehow, I doubt that it will stay rare. I think it will sneak into the top 1,000 at some point in the future. In the meantime, it's literary, manly, and woodsy, and that's not an easy thing to do.


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Monday, May 16, 2011


I remember reading a post about how this woman's daughter loved the name she gave her when she had to do a report on the history of her name for school. Her name was Kestrel. I loved it too. I thought that this was an awesome animal name the moment I first saw it.

Kestrel (pronounced "KES-trel") is the name of a type of falcon. It's derived from the Old French crecelle, meaning "rattle." This is in reference to the sound of the bird's cry.

Kestrels differ from other falcons in a number of ways. First is their coloring, they have light brown feathers. This plumage is slightly different between male and female kestrels, and the female kestrel is usually bigger. Their hunting behavior is also unique. They can hover over a field at 10 to 20 meters before swooping down on their prey. Types of kestrels exist all over the world. They have adapted very well to urban environments, often living on buildings and by roads.

Many designers have been inspired by the bird. Kestrel is the name aircrafts, spacecrafts, a train, a helicopter, and a glider. The bird appears in literature and movies. The novel A Kestrel for Knave by Barry Hines is about a troubled boy who's only solace is training his kestrel. It inspired the movie adaptation Kes, which remains a classic in England. This name has also been used in fiction. Kestrel is worn by many video game characters. The webcomic Queen of Wands features a Pagan character named after this bird. The Melbourne Kestrels is an Australian netball team.

There seems to be a disagreement as to which gender this name belongs to. Some are bizarrely insistent that it's a girls name (maybe because the female kestrel is physically larger, but I doubt that most people know that). Other sources list it solely as a boys name. I'm not sure why they don't just say it's unisex, because it would work great for either.

I keep wanting to say that it has a Medieval flair, although that's not logical at all. Of course it wasn't used as a name back then. It does have a woodsy, fantasy-Medieval feel to it, though. And I always picture it on a young knight, no matter if it's on a boy or a girl (hey, Joan of Arc wore a suit of armor). Kestrel is a name I would definitely pick for a child.


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Friday, May 13, 2011


I got a request for the name of Jesus' most celebrated disciple from Wendy.

Mary Magdalene (pronounced "MAG-dah-lin," "MAG-dah-leen," or "mahk-dah-LEE-neh," depending on where you're from) was so named because she hailed from the fishing town of Magdala. Magdala could mean anything from "tower," "fortress," or "magnificent." It is unclear if this name is Latin or Greek, and information is conflicting. In the Bible, she mostly goes by the Magdalene as a way to distinguish herself from all the other Marys.

According to the Bible, Magdalene and Jesus were very close. They met when Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons," which could either mean diseases or vices. She was the leader of all the female disciples, and was a visionary leader for the early Christian movement. She was the first to see Jesus after he rose from the dead. She was made into a saint, and the Cult of Mary Magdalene arose in Provence, France. It is believed that Magdalene spent her last days fasting alone in the wilderness. In contemporary culture, the theory that Magdalene was Jesus' wife has been popularized in many books and movies. There are no historical records that support that.

Magdalene wasn't always so popular. In fact, there was something of a smear campaign against her because she was allegedly a prostitute before she met Jesus. She is often depicted as having long red hair flowing down her shoulders (this would have been considered improper as Jewish women kept their heads covered). The Bible never specifically states that she was a prostitute. But realistically, how many other options were there for unmarried women back then?

That all makes Magdalene an interesting name option. But the name Wendy actually requested was Magdalena. Magdalena has been mentioned in baby name blogs recently because it just left the top 1,000 most popular names. Most variations of Magdalene's name were last popular during my great grandparents generation. Magdalene's peak was in the 1910s at #513. Magdalen had a similar trajectory, it peaked in the 1890s at #629. Magdalena, on the other hand, hung on for a really long time. The French version, Madeline, has also been quite popular throughout the ages. The only variation that has yet to catch on is Magda.

The question about Magdalene is does it come into conflict with Pagan values? Don't get me wrong, Magdalene's a great name. One of my favorites, in fact. And Magdalene seems like a badass gal. But she's very Christian. A part of me wants to say that it's not in conflict, but after reading about her I'm not so sure. Still, Neo-Pagans do love strong women. And there are Christian Wiccans out there. So it will be up to the parents to decide what their feelings are on the subject.


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Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Could parents become inspired by the boy that dared to fly towards the sun?

Icarus (pronounced "IK-ah-rus") is the Latin variation of the name Ikaros, which might mean "follower." Not exactly a positive meaning. And it doesn't suit the original namesake at all.

Icarus was the son of Daedalus, a brilliant builder who created the labyrinth that held the Minotaur. He also gave Ariadne the ball of twine, which she gave to Theseus so that he could escape the maze after slaying the Minotaur. King Minos, furious at his betrayal, imprisoned Daedalus and Icarus in a tower.

While they were trapped, Daedalus built and designed two pairs of wings made from feathers and wax. Before they set out, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun or too close to the sea. When they started flying, Icarus became giddy with a sense of freedom. He wanted to see how high up he could fly. But the sun melted the wax on his wings, and Icarus fell to his death. The sea that he fell into was named after him, it's called the Icaran Sea. There is also a nearby island that that bares his name, Icaria.

Technically, Icarus was a foolish boy that didn't listen to his father. But for some reason, no one remembers him that way. For many, Icarus is a symbol of ambition. The fact that he didn't succeed is irrelevant to some people. What matters is that he pushed himself.

The only challenge with Icarus is the sound. I've read that someone believed that Icabod was forever off limits because it sounds like "icky bod." Icarus has a similar "ick" sound at the beginning. Personally, I find that a silly reason to weed it out.

Icarus, or Ikaros, or the feminine Icaria, are names that fit in nicely with the growing popularity of mythical names. There great names for adventurous children.


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Name Round Up: Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

Blogger removed my two newest posts for some reason so I have to rewrite them. Sorry for the repeats.

The Tony awards are coming up. You might not know this about me, but I'm a musical theater nerd. And aside from Les Miserables, the soundtrack that I grew up with and got me into Broadway was Cats. Yes, I know that ruins my musical street cred. But it's true.

But come on! It has a song about names! What blog did you think you were reading anyway? "The Naming of Cats" was my most favorite poem when I was a little girl. And the song adaptation is wondrously creepy.

So here's a name round up with names from the musical and names from the original poems by T.S. Elliot. In it you'll find sensible everyday names, as well as deep and inscrutable singular names.

Bill Bailey
Bustopher Jones
Rum Tum Tugger
Old Deuteronomy
Mr. Mistoffeles

Okay, I need a kitten now.


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Print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Many Neo-Pagans believe in the mythical creatures that are said to reside in the forests. So would that make Pixie an option for these parents?

A pixie (pronounced "PIK-see") is a mythical creature similar to a fairy. Pixies and faeries used to be taken very seriously throughout much of Britain and Ireland, and in some locales the belief never left. The people in Buckland St. Mary believe that there was a war between the faeries and the pixies that the pixies won. Some places are named after the pixies said to dwell there. Many historical accounts talk about pixies as having the same stature as humans. No one seems to know where the pixies have gone, as they are rarely seen anymore if they actually existed at all.

According to accounts, pixies lack fashion sense and often go unclothed or in rags. But they wish to be clothed and even a piece of ribbon will delight them. It is believed that pixies disguise themselves as a bundle of rags to entice children to play with them. They are drawn to horses and like to ride colts. They are very fond of music and dancing. Like faeries, they are generally helpful and kind to humans. They do have a mischievous streak but it's not as pronounced as it is in faeries. They are not usually depicted with wings.

The etymology of the word pixie is uncertain. Some believe that it's Celtic in origin, although there is nothing to prove that. It bares similarities to the Swedish word pyske, which means "fairy." There could also be a connection to the ancient Pictic tribes. The Pictic people lived during the Iron Age in Northern Europe, and they used to paint or tattoo their skin blue. The blue skin is an characteristic attributed to pixies. But this connection is also not proven.

The terms "pixie" and "fairy" are often used interchangeably these days. But there are some modern literary references. Pixies play a big part in Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Gilderoy Lockhart lets some blue Cornish pixies escape in his classroom. In the Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison, a pixie named Jenks teams up with the witch Rachel in order to save various creatures and defend the defenseless.

I would expect a girl named Pixie to be a little quirky, a bit of a daydreamer, and maybe physically small and dainty. On the right person, it's a great name. But it does run the risk of being a little too cutesy. As charming as it is, I would use it with caution, maybe in the middle spot. I'm still enchanted by the idea of using it as a first name, but for someone else's kid.


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This being a blog about witchy names and all, I'm kind of shocked with my not including any moon names until now. I'll get to the super obvious Luna in a few months, but now I'm going to profile an exotic option from our friends in India.

Chandra (pronounced either "CHUHN-drah" or "SHAWN-drah") is a Sanskrit name meaning "illustrious." In Hindu mythology, Chandra is the god of the moon. In Hindu astrology, the moon is considered a planet, and it's considered to be one of the best planets to be born under as it promises wealth and happiness.

But if you study Hindu mythology, it doesn't seem that Chandra has been very fortunate in his life. Chandra was born in the Ocean of Milk (the gods were churning it for a millenia in order to create immortal life), and nearly blinded the gods with his bright, glowing body (hence why he has a name that means "illustrious"). The gods unanimously decided to give Chandra the status of a planet and sent him into the cosmos.

Chandra is known for having a series of disastrous love affairs. His first lover, Tara, was the wife of another man. From their union, Tara became pregnant with Budha
(a.k.a. the planet Mercury, not to be confused with the other Buddha). Because of how he was conceived, Budha hated his father, and their rivalry continues to this day. After that, Chandra, set out to marry the twenty-seven daughters of Daksha. Daksha allowed this on the condition that the moon not favor any daughter over the others. Chandra failed to do this, and Daksha placed a curse on him that took away his luster, which accounts for the moon's waxing and waning.

In India, Chandra is a common surname. But in America, the name has always been used as a girls name. It appeared on the popularity charts in the 1950s, peaking in the 1970s at #343, before disappearing in the 1990s. The name has several variations including Chandrah, Chaundra, and Chondra. I'm just pondering here, but perhaps Chandra was used as an alternative for the at-the-time-hugely-popular Cynthia.

This name has been worn by several actresses in the past few years, particularly one that appears on Gray's Anatomy. Perhaps the name's most prominent namesake is Chandra Levy, who's claim to fame is her mysterious death in 2001. Hardly the happiest of associations. A quick search indicates that this name has several other challenges according to people who have it. First, there's the pronunciation. Many claim that "SHAWN-drah" is the "correct" one, but the two people I know with this name say it like "CHUHN-drah." Another one stated that she had trouble gaining employment because people assumed that she was Black.

If you're willing to take on the challenges, Chandra is a lovely name, if a little out of fashion. I wonder if anyone would give this name to a boy, since that would technically be more culturally accurate. No matter what, it would be an interesting option to honor the power of the moon.

The Little Book of Hindu Deities by Sanjay Patel

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There's no hiding from the magickal associations of this name.

Rune (pronounced "ROON" or sometimes "ROO-neh") is an Old Norse name derived from run, meaning "secret" or "whisper." Runes are a popular method of divination today. If you're Neo-Pagan, you're going to hear about runes at some point.

Runes started out as a alphabet used by the Ancient Germanic peoples. The origins of this alphabet are uncertain, although the oldest known runic inscriptions date around AD 150. There are many different types of runic alphabets as the language evolved over time. But this was no ordinary alphabet. These letters would be used specifically for magickal charms and curses. There is no evidence that suggests that they were used for divination at this time. Due to the word's meaning, it's logical to assume that runes were a secret language only used by a certain class of people. Each rune can be an interesting inspiration for names, but I'll come back to that some other time.

During the Viking Revival of the 18th century, people became increasingly interested in runes, and the fascination hasn't faded. An Austrian mystic named Guido von List published Das Geheimnis der Runen ("The Secret of the Runes") in 1902, and the runes in this book would later capture the interest of the Nazis. J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling were also inspired by runes, as they are mentioned or used in both of their books.

Runes are particularly important to Germanic Neo-Pagans. They are usually used for divination. Each rune is carved on a stone and they're laid out like tarot cards. Some groups also practice runic gymnastics in which they must mimic the shape of a particular rune with their bodies.

It's not clear when Rune became a given name, unless someone out there knows something that I don't. Rune is a popular name where Norse names are popular. It's rated #38 in Belgium and #374 in Norway. But in the United States, it's rare. I suppose that it could be used as a girls name, but I've never seen it suggested for girls.

Rune is one of my favorite boys names. It suggests someone who's pensive and strong. It seems like a name that would be popular with Neo-Pagans, but in practice I've been seeing a lot more Rowans, and really no Runes. I would love to see it used more in the namescape.


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Monday, May 9, 2011


If you've browsed Offbeat Mama long enough (and if you don't, why the hell not?) you'll know that the website's creator is a little obsessed with a Russian Goth mama named Pushba. She just recently gave birth to a second child, named Alexander (I think). But it turns out that the name of her first child, Lada, has a rather interesting history.

Lada (pronounced "LAH-dah") could be used as the short form of the Slavic name Vladislava, meaning "glorious rule." She is also the Slavic deity of happiness, youth, love, beauty, and good times. Except she isn't. She never actually existed in the Ancient Slavic pantheon. Lada is fakeloric. How did this happen?

Once upon a time, during the Renaissance, the Italians, French, and English became more interested in the ancient pantheons. The Slavic historians wanted to get in on the new trend. Trouble was, these historians didn't have much to go on, and were also incompetent. When they couldn't find much information, they made stuff up.

In the 15th century, the Statute of Krakow forbid the singing of any songs that mentioned Lado. There is no question that Lado was an actual Pagan deity, but people weren't sure if this god was a girl or a guy, or precisely what he/she was a deity of. While the debate continued, Lada was derived as the feminine form of Lado.

And yet, I find Neo-Pagan and baby name websites touting her around as a "real" goddess. Which begs the question: if something is believed long enough, does that make it "real?" What makes a deity legitimate?

I don't know what the status of this name is in Russia. But in America it's an unusual option that is easy to spell and pronounce. And super short names are rising in popularity for girls. There would certainly be a place for Lada here.


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Sunday, May 8, 2011


On a parenting blog, I saw a photo of someones adorable baby boy named Severus and did a double-take. If I made a list of Harry Potter names that would inspire and be used by new parents, Severus would probably not be on there.

Severus Snape is a well known character from the Harry Potter world, and when you read the books it's difficult to discern what side he's on until the last moment. You first meet him as the potions teacher at Hogwarts who has an instant dislike of the hero. Eventually, it's revealed that he and Harry's father did not get along when they were students. And I'm not going to say too much because I don't want to give anything away for the eight people in the world who haven't read the books or watched the movies.

Severus (pronounced "SEV-eh-rus") is an Ancient Roman surname meaning "stern." Septimus Severus was a little known Roman Emperor who had several ancient buildings named after him. This name was also given to several saints.

Despite it's history, anyone who hears this name will think of the book character first. And Severus Snape is not the most appealing character. He is not as good looking, or as cool, as Alan Rickman. In fact, he has all of the same physical characteristics of the old-fashioned racist portrayals of Jews. Black greasy hair, a hook nose, black beady eyes, pale skin, you get the picture. He also has more rages in the book. However, a lot of people love the character.

Even if it wasn't the name of a famous wizard, Severus sounds...well, sever. It's appropriate for the character, who never really smiles and hasn't been happy for a long time. But for a child?

Maybe I should keep my mouth closed as it is the name of at least one real life boy. And I know that he's adorable. Maybe he'll wear the name well. Maybe it'll be redefined after a few other parents use it too. Who can say?


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Happy Mother's Day, everyone! In celebration, I'm going to profile a name that is very dear to both me and my mother.

My maternal grandmother's name was Gladys Mildred. She always hated it. My great-grandmother Mercedes and great-grandfather Pedro gave all of their children "normal American" names so that they would "fit in" (they were from Puerto Rico originally). But my abuelita always wished that she was given a Spanish name. So Gladys often went by her nickname Gladiola, after her favorite flower.

The meaning of the word gladiola (pronounced "glah-dee-OH-lah") isn't as dainty as one would think. Gladiola is the feminine form of Gladiolus, a Latin name meaning "little sword." It was given to the plant because the flowers grow on tall stalks, which makes them look like little swords. The flower is believed to symbolize strength and integrity, but also infatuation.

Gladioli originate in warm climates like the Mediterranean, tropical and South Africa, and Asia, but manage to do fairly well in temperate areas like America and Britain too. They come in a wide variety of colors: red, pink, light purple, orange, and white. Historically, the British used the gladiola to treat a variety of physical ailments. They would use the stem base as a poultice to drive out thorns and splinters. They would also grind the stem base, mix it with goat milk, and feed it to infants in order to cure the symptoms of colic. However, if you plan on using this plant medicinally, use extreme caution. Parts of the plant are poisonous when ingested, or may cause skin irritation when handled.

Having adopted a culture that really values women and motherhood, the idea of honoring the mother of my mother is appealing to me. But it would make no sense to honor a daughter while my abuelita's name when the original Gladys didn't feel honored to have it. Gladiola, on the other hand, is beautiful. I'm surprised that Gladiola isn't really included as a flower name for little girls.

The name Gladiola sounds...well, glad and happy. And the flower is gorgeous. But despite the flowery reference, I think a little Gladiola might grow up to be a little gladiator. It's a really strong feminine name. Strong yet spunky. What's not to love?


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Friday, May 6, 2011


Here's a name that is poised to be a big hit in the years to come, Jasper.

Jasper's etymology is uncertain. Most likely it's derived from the Persian genashber meaning "treasure master." But it's also listed as a Greek name. In the Bible, Gaspar is the name of one of the three wise men. In English history, Jasper Tudor was Henry VIII's uncle.

Jasper is also the name of a semiprecious gemstone. It is an opaque stone that is usually red, yellow, green, or brown. On rare cases it could come in blue. In the ancient world it was primarily used for ornamentation. The brown variety is the one that is considered the most beautiful. With its markings, it's sometimes referred to as Egyptian marble.

Jasper was particularly an important stone for the Native Americans, as jasper can be found in Montana, Utah, and Wyoming as well as Brazil, Uruguay, and Egypt. Native American believed that the stone brought rain. It's other magickal properties revolve solely around grounding and centering. Jasper will help relieve insecurity and fear.

Although Jasper has never left the popularity charts, it was the most fashionable in the 1880s. Back then it was ranked at #166. It did experience a drop in popularity during the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, but it's been experiencing a recent revival. It's now at #286. Around the world, Jasper ranks #33 in Belgium, #99 in Australia, #121 in Canada, and #385 in Norway. Variations include the ghostly Caspar and the French Gaspar.

This is a name that I never saw growing up. Ever. Except on one of Cruella Deville's lackeys. But I've been seeing it all over the place in the past two years or so. It's lost it's old man smell, so it's not out of the question that it will rebound in a big way.

Other Name News:

The Social Security list of the top 1,000 baby names of 2010 came out yesterday. Perhaps I should say something about it, but I'll leave it to those that are more inclined/better at number crunching and popular culture: Appellation Mountain, The Baby Name Wizard, You Can't Call It "It!"


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Thursday, May 5, 2011


It's getting more and more lovely outside. I'm hoping for a lovely month of May.

The month of May was named after the Greek and Roman goddess Maia. That's one explanation. The Roman poet Ovid gave a second possibility, that it's derived from maiores, the Latin word for "elders" or "ancestors." But most believe that it's after the goddess. Maia is the daughter of Atlas, and was associated with growth and the earth. A common variation of Maia is Maya.

Maya is a name of many cultures. She is also a goddess in the Hindu religion, and her name in Sanskrit means "illusion." Queen Maya was also the mother of Buddha, and has a mountain named after her in Japan. The Japanese use it as a short form of Mayaka or Mayako. In Hebrew, Maya is derived from ma'ayan meaning "brook." It means "generous" in Persian, and it's used as a variation of Mary in Eastern European countries. It could also be used to honor the Mayan civilization of Mexico and Central America, as well as the indigenous Maya people of Australia.

Maya is the third important character in the novel The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk. She is Bird's mother, a woman that lived through the transition from the world that was to the world dominated by the Stewards. Since the story takes place in the year 2048, Maya represents the first generation of Neo-Pagans.

Many well-known women have this name. But the reason I fell in love with this name was Maya Deren. Avant garde film already existed in Europe, but it was Maya Deren that brought it to the United States. Born Eleanora Derenkowsky, anti-Semitic sentiments forced her family to flee from their native Ukraine when she was only three years old. She grew up exploring dancing, choreography, photography, writing, and poetry. Then she met her first husband, a film maker named Alexander Hammid. Her most famous work was a short film staring herself called "Meshes of the Afternoon." She was also an champion for women directors in the 1950s, a time when women were told to stay in the kitchen.

How Maya Deren died is a little bit of a mystery. She decided to film a documentary about Voodoo in Haiti. She participated in the rituals and eventually became a Voodoo Priestess. While working on this film she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage caused by malnutrition, but others insist that her death was more supernatural.

I had a major name crush on Maya until I decided it was too common. In the United States it ranked at #57 in 2006, and now it's #62. Around the world its #5 in Israel, #17 in Canada, #45 in Australia, #72 in Belgium, #75 in Scotland, #79 in England, and #107 in Norway.

Still, it's popular for a reason. Maya has a lot of history to a lot of different cultures. It has a simple spelling and a simple pronunciation. It could be the girl next door or it could be a mythical goddess. Maya has something for everyone.


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Tuesday, May 3, 2011


The hyacinths have been blooming for a while around here, and I've been wanting to profile this unusual botanical name.

Hyacinth (pronounced "HIE-ah-sinth") is a Greek name derived from Hyakinthos. No source is telling me what it means. If you've never seen a hyacinth they're kind of like lilacs only they come in a lot more colors and they grow out of the ground instead of a tree.

Just like Orchid, Hyacinth started out as a masculine name. In Greek mythology, Hyacinth was a young man who became caught in a love triangle with two powerful deities, Apollo, god of the sun and archery, and Zephyrus, the West Wind. Zephyrus became jealous when Hyacinth seemed to favor Apollo over him. While the two were playing with a discus, Zephyrus blew the discus off course so that it hit and killed Hyacinth. Apollo would not allow Hades to claim him, so Hyacinth's spilled blood turned into the flower.

Despite it's connection to Greece, the flower actually originated in Iran and Turkmenistan. Because they flower early in the spring, the Persians associated hyacinths with rebirth. They are traditionally used as decorations for the Persian New Year.

Hyacinth has been used as a name for other objects besides flowers. It's also a gemstone, color, and animal name. The hyacinth gemstone, sometimes called jacinth, is a variety of zircon when it is red, orange, or yellow. And the hyacinth macaw is a beautiful tropical bird with bright blue feathers. One source lists that it was used by the Ancient Greeks to describe a sapphire/violet color.

In history, the name has been given to several saints. Most of these Saints were men, except for Hyacintha Mariscotti, an Italian nun of the Third Order of Saint Frances. So why is the name now only suggested for girls? Because not many parents today would consider naming their son after a flower.

My darling mother, who mostly likes my bizarre name tastes, has an issue with Hyacinth. The same problem she has with Archer and Henry, it's too "old money." What? I have no idea where she's getting that. There was a television show in Britain that featured a social climber named Hyacinth, but I highly doubt she's familiar with that and in any case that would make it "new money," wouldn't it?

Aside from Hyacintha, Hyacinth has an ocean of variations to pick from: Hyacinthie, Hyacinthia, Giacinta, Jacenta, Jacinda, Jacinthe, Jacynth, and Cinthie to list a few. I believe that a Hyacinth would fit right in with the Violets and the Lilys, and it's similar to Cynthia if you think about it. It has a clunky, exotic charm to it that I really love.


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Whenever anyone makes a compilation of Indian names that would work well in the United States, I'm always surprised when Deepak doesn't make the list. It seems so obvious to me.

Deepak (pronounced...well, the way it looks, "DEE-pak") is a Sanskrit name meaning either "shining brightly" or "little lamp." It give the impression that it's meant to connote a boy who is very bright or clever. It's sometimes also spelled Dipak, and is derived from Dipaka. Dipaka means "inflaming," and it's another name for Kama, the Hindu god of love.

Deepak Chopra is the most famous namesake. Chopra was born in New Delhi, India. At first, he followed in his father's footsteps to become a Doctor, which he technically still is. He eventually became more interested in alternative medicine and spirituality. He is well known for being a public speaker and an author of a whole collection of books. He is also a magnet for controversy, both conventional medical professionals and conservative religious groups don't like him so much.

The reason that this profile is categorized under "well known Pagans" is because I once read a list of current Neo-Pagans that included him. But I'm not sure how accurate that is. Judging from the list of books he wrote, his beliefs seem to be all over the place. He's written books about Jesus, the Kama Sutra, Yoga, Kabbalah, Buddha, Mohammad, a fictional story of Merlin, holistic medicine, and everything in between. I believe that it would be safe to say that he's an eclectic.

I'm kind of surprised that Deepak isn't used more in the United States. Considering how popular the author is, I find it hard to believe that no one has heard of it. The bi-cultural Bodhi is getting more and more popular, so why not Deepak?

So for the India loving parents out there, consider Deepak. It's like Derek, only more exotic!


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It's time for yet another astrological name, Taurus.

Taurus (pronounced "TAH-rus") is a Latin name meaning "bull." It is the root of the Spanish vocabulary word for "bull," toro. Other variations include Taurean, Taurino, Tauro, and Taurinus. The later was the name of a saint, who is well known for raising a girl back from the dead after she died in a fire.

Taurus is the second sign in the zodiac. The constellation was identified as a bull very long ago, some historians say even by the Paleolithic peoples who's cave drawings of bulls may be in reference to the constellation. The Ancient Babylonians and Egyptians also saw the bull.

In Greek mythology, Taurus is believed to be Zeus. As the story goes, Zeus was enamoured with a Phoenician woman named Europa. He once took a bull's form in order to blend into her father's herd. While picking flowers, Europa saw the pretty bull, went to pet it, and eventually climbed onto his back. The Zeus-bull took off towards the ocean and swam all the way to Crete with Europa on his back. Once they landed, Zeus revealed his true identity, and Europa became the first Queen of Crete.

Another explanation is that Taurus represents the mythical Cretan Bull. King Minos of Crete refused to sacrifice his favorite bull to Poseidon. Poseidon was pissed off, and decided to make King Minos' wife feel lust for the bull. The Queen made a wooden cow that she could wait in that would entice the bull to mate with her. This union created the Minotaur. How charming.

A person born under the sun sign of Taurus is tenacious and has great focus. They are very dependable and honest, and make great friends. On the flip side, they are also very stubborn and can hold a grudge for a long time. Also, their love for material things could make them a little petty.

So is Taurus a suitable name for a little boy? Sure. I would hold off on explaining the Minotaur connection, but it's a very strong name for a determined little boy.


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Sunday, May 1, 2011


Blessed Beltane to all my witchy friends today! For those that don't celebrate it, allow me to educate you.

Beltane (pronounced "BEL-tayn") comes from the Celtic God Bel, meaning "bright one," and the Gaelic word teine, meaning "fire." So the name roughly means "bright fire." The holiday of Beltane takes place on May 1st if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Variations of this holiday go all the way back to Ancient Egypt.

Beltane is the time of year in which the God and the Goddess get married. This is why it's bad luck to get married in the month of May, you don't want to upstage the God and Goddess. But it's still a time to celebrate love, partnership, and fertility. It's Christian counterpart is May Day, which is not really a holiday here in the United States, but I know that it is still observed in Europe.

Beltane is arguably the most important Wiccan holiday aside from Samhain. It's celebrated in a variety of ways. Like Yule, it's a gift giving holiday. There are also Beltane fires, which participants must leap over in order to cleanse themselves of evil spirits, and lots of dancing around the fire as well. People hang rowan branches on their doors for protection, because this is the day in which faeries and spirits are especially active.

I'm not going to lie, there's a lot of sexual imagery in Beltane traditions. For instance, the maypole. The pole itself represents the God and his virility. The ribbons are the Goddess. The ribbons entwining the pole symbolize their union. There's also an old tradition called Great Rite. A May Queen/Maiden and a Green Man/Robin are selected at random amongst the participants, or sometimes they're the High Priest and High Priestess, in order to embody the God and the Goddess. They join together sexually as an act of worship. In front of everyone else. To be honest, I don't think that it's practiced much anymore. Traditional Gardenerian-type covens might still do it, but it's kept very hush-hush. However, couples might like to do a variation of it in the privacy of their own homes. They might also practice a "greenwood marriage" or go "a-maying," in which the couple stays up all night collecting flowering hawthorn, watch the sunrise together, and make love in the forest.

Babies born on (and I imagine conceived on, although no source has mentioned that) Beltane are considered very lucky. So it would make sense to give them names that celebrate it. Beltane is a masculine name that could also be spelled Beltine, Beltain, or Bealtaine. It's a powerful name for a lucky little boy.

Everyday Witch A to Z by Deborah Blake

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This is the last entry for Pagan Culture's Blogoversery Party! It was a good run, but I'll be glad that I can just profile whatever names I want again.

Ultima (pronounced "UL-tih-mah") is a Latin name meaning "the end" or "the farthest point." So it's fitting that it's the last party member.

Ultima is an important character in the young adult novel Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. It's the first book in a trilogy that includes Heart of Aztlan and Tortuga. Although it's hailed as an important piece of American literature, it's also one of the most frequently challenged and banned books. Take a wild guess as to why.

The story is set in Guadeloupe, New Mexico during World War II. The story is told from the eyes of Antonio, a young boy. At the beginning of the story, a curandera named Ultima comes to live with his family. A curandera/o is a traditional shaman from Hispanic culture. Ultima recognizes that Antonio has a gift, and takes him along when she goes to help people. Much of the story revolves around Ultima stopping the Witchcraft of the three Trementina sisters, whose father Tenerio Trementina is the main villain.

Which brings me to a question, is there really much of a difference between a shaman and a Witch? Neo-Pagans would say no, but it seems that everyone else makes a distinction. That's not fair, that people would behave in front of a shaman because it's "another culture," and would scoff or run away from a Witch because it's "evil."

Ultima is not a common name, either in Hispanic or non-Hispanic circles. Because I know the names meaning, I would suspect a girl named Ultima to be either an only child or the youngest in a big family. But maybe that's just because that's how I plan to use it, on a child that I know will be the last. But most everyone that doesn't study baby names will probably think that it means "ultimate."

Ultima is a lovely name full of magick and power. Even though it is not the name of any God or mythical being, it would fit in well with those types of names. I hope you enjoyed the parade of fictional Witches!


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