Friday, July 29, 2011

Name Round-Up: Real Documented Romani Names

We interrupt the Harry Potter name profiles to bring you awesome. I have found a catalogue of old birth certificates of Romani children with their parent's names.

My understanding is that all of these records are from England with births throughout the 1800s and early 1900s. So many of the names are what I would expect from that place and time: Kate, Henry, Oliver, Matthew, Eliza, Sarah, James, Benjamin, Annie, Mary, Charlotte, Robert, get the idea. But here, I'm paying special attention to the glittery bits. There are some here that I can genuinely say I've never seen before in my life.

Keep in mind that these are from England only. There are many more unusual names from Gypsies in Spain, Turkey, Italy, Hungary, Germany, etc.






Image Credit:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


The Harry Potter character is monstrous, and the deity is quite frightening as well.

Fenrir Grayback is a werewolf who fights on the side of Voldemort. He is vicious, savage, and enjoys attacking children. He wants to create a race of werewolves to overthrow the wizards. His plan is to bite young children and raise them away from their parents. Voldemort promises him prey in return for his services. He's not a particularly prominent character, but he leaves Bill Weasley badly scarred in a battle.

Not surprisingly, Fenrir Grayback has two names that have something to do with wolves. Grayback is most likely in reference to grayback wolves. Fenrir (pronounced "FEHN-rir" I think) is a monstrous wolf from Norse mythology. His name is Old Norse for "fen dweller." He is the son of Loki and the giantess Angrboda. He has two wolf children named Skoll and Hati, who chase the sun and the moon respectively.

When he was a puppy, the other gods paid him no attention. But as he grew to an enormous size, the gods got nervous. It is foretold that Fenrir and his family will kill Odin on Ragnarok, and therefore destroy the world. The gods agreed that they had to neutralize his power.

However, no one had the courage to face Fenrir. So they decided to trick him. They told him that they believed him to be weak. Fenrir wanted to prove himself, so he let the gods chain him. He broke all the chains very easily. But then they brought out a magic chain that looked as thin as a ribbon but was immensly strong. Fenrir became suspicious when he saw this chain, so he asked the gods if one of them would place his hand in Fenrir's mouth. Only Tyr, the god of war, was brave enough to do this. Fenrir could not break free of the magic chain, and bit off Tyr's hand in revenge. The gods carried him off and chained him to a rock. Astronomers were inspired by this deity when they bestowed his name to a moon of Saturn.

Fenrir as a name has caught the imagination of those that love wolves. Alternative names include Fenris and Fenric. I seem to remember a reader saying that she considered Fenris for her son. It has never been a popular name except in comic books and video games, and it's history may explain why. But it's going to appeal to some because it is a strong warrior's name. If I met a young Fenrir on the playground, I would be very intrigued.


Image Credit:

Monday, July 25, 2011


Here's another exotic Harry Potter name that doesn't get much attention.

Parvati Patil, along with her twin sister Padma, has been in the Harry Potter books since the beginning. However, Parvati was sorted into Gryffindor and Padma into Ravenclaw. Classmate Dean described as being the most beautiful girls in the school. Parvati's favorite subject is divination, and Professor Trelawney told her that she could be a seer. She was also Harry's date at the Yule Ball, but for the most part was ignored by him. Parvati is the less serious of the two sisters. She is known to enjoy gossip and fashion.

Parvati (pronounced "par-VAH-tee") is the name of a very popular Hindu goddess. Her name means "she of the mountains." This is because she is the daughter of Himavan, the personification of the Himalayas. She is a consort to Shiva, god of destruction and rejuvenation. Parvati is the supreme Divine Mother, goddess of love and devotion, and all other goddesses are incarnations or manifestations of her. She is also the mother of Ganesh and Karttikeya. She is often depicted riding a tiger or a lion.

When Parvati was a child, a priest came to the palace of her parents. The priest predicted that Parvati would marry a great yogi. Her royal family was not pleased, as they certainly did not want Parvati marrying anyone poor. But they couldn't dissuade her from falling in love with Shiva. Shiva was reclusive and spent all day meditating in a cave. Parvati could not get his attention. So she decided to retreat into the forest and meditate herself. She created so much concentrated energy that Shiva found it impossible to ignore her. He eventually stepped out of his cave to accept Parvati as his wife.

It is thought that the inspiration for Parvati Patil's name, as well as that of her sister's, is the model and cookbook author Padma Parvati Lakshmi. If this is the case, J.K. Rowling is not the only author to use her as a muse. Padma Lakshmi had an eight year marriage to controversial novelist Salman Rushdie. There are two characters named Padma and Parvati in his book Midnight Children. Midnight Children is an allegory for historical events in India after it's independence from Britain. It's main protagonist is Saleem Sinai, who is born at midnight on the first day of independence. He has telepathic powers because of this, and discovers that other children born at the same hour he was also have special powers. So he assembles them together into the Midnight Children's Conference. One of these children is "Parvati-the-Witch."

On one hand, I understand why people listing Harry Potter names tend to forget Parvati. Parvati is a secondary character in the books. The name's association with the Hindu religion is much greater than it's association with the "boy who lived." It's a very common name in India. As for it's use in America...well, let's put it this way. Anything connected with India is going to seem hippy-dippy to some people. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I think it's a beautiful name and would like to see more of it.

The Little Book of Hindu Deities by Sanjay Patel

Image Credit:


Many of the Harry Potter name lists on other name websites only include Welsh, Gaelic, and Latin names for the most part. The more foreign names tend to be ignored. But not here.

Cho Chang is a Ravenclaw student first introduced in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She meets Harry while playing against him at a quidditch match. Harry has a crush on her from the moment he first sees her. But in the next book, Cho is dating Cedric Diggory. Cedric's death greatly upsets Cho, and makes her determined to fight against Voldemort. She also started to date Harry, but the relationship was doomed from the start, and it shortly fell apart.

Given the character's last name, my assumption was that Cho was a Chinese name as well. It is used in China, but sources only list it as a Japanese name meaning "butterfly" (it's a variant of Chou) or as a Korean surname. As a Korean surname, Cho is very common. Famous namesakes include Korean go players Cho Chikun and Cho Hunhyun, Korean rock musician Cho Yong-pil, American comedian Margaret Cho, and (unfortunately) the boy responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre, Seung-Hui Cho.

Butterflies have many different meanings in Japanese culture. Metamorphosis and transformation are the most obvious. Taking this metaphor one step further, there is a Japanese belief that butterflies are the souls of the dead. Butterflies are messengers, if you follow one they will lead you to a mystery's end. They symbolize spring and therefore represent joy. They are also a prominent symbol in Shinto weddings, as they are used to symbolize womanhood and happiness in marriage. It's a tradition to give a newlywed couple two large paper butterflies. Butterflies are a popular motif in Japan, appearing on many traditional family crests.

J.K. Rowling usually picked names for their meanings, so I had to wonder why she selected Cho. I have to admit that I didn't see the connection to the character other than it's Asian descent. But in this case, you have to look at the first and last names together. Chou Chang is Chinese for "melancholy." This might be in reference to the character's emotional state after Cedric's death. In the Mandarin translations of the book, the character is called Zhang Qiu, Zhang being a variant of Chang and Qiu meaning "autumn."

So we know that Cho is a common name in many Asian countries. I don't see why it couldn't be used by a non-Asian family. Would it look strange? Maybe. But we live in a culturally diverse world and I don't see why we can't respectfully use each other's names.


Image Credit:

Saturday, July 23, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

The Little Book of Hindu Deities by Sanjay Patel

Image Credit:

Friday, July 22, 2011


She's not a big character in Harry Potter, but her name made an impression.

Madame Rosmerta (pronounced "rohz-MER-tah") first appears in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She is the owner of the Three Broomsticks, a pub in Hogsmeade that the three heroes and the teaching staff at Hogwarts like to visit. She is described as an attractive woman with a curvy silhouette. But she is quite old, as she was working as a barmaid when James Potter and Sirius Black were students.

This name is likely to appeal to people who like "rose" names, like Rosetta, Rosalind, or Rosario. But Rosmerta has nothing to do with the flower. Rosmerta is a Gaulish (an extinct pre-Celtic language) name meaning "the great provider," and is in reference to a goddess.

There's a lot of talk about pantheons in Neo-Paganism. Pantheons are a relatively new concept made to catalog gods into their designated cultures/countries and keeping them there. In reality, it's not quite so cut and dry. Deities like Rosmerta (and also Epona) are a testament to that. Rosmerta is a goddess for both the pre-Celts and the Romans.

After the Romans conquered the area where the Gauls resided, they adopted Rosmerta as their own. She became a consort of Mercury, the messenger god of trade. Rosmerta is a goddess of fertility and abundance. She is sometimes shown holding a caduceus wand, which would suggest that she is responsible for healing magick. As for her original position as a pre-Celtic goddess, not much is known about what exactly she presided over. In their artwork, she is depicted holding a cornucopia. Some sources state that she is the goddess of sacred springs (which would make it appropriate for the owner of a pub) and other sources list her as a goddess of fire.

I like this name a lot. Due to her association with the cornucopia, Rosmerta would be an excellent choice for someone born during the harvest or on a harvest holiday like Lammas, Mabon, or the American Thanksgiving. The goddess has no negative stories associated with it (that we know of anyway) so even the camp that is wary of using the names of deities will have little to fear. It's kind of a wonder that this name isn't used more often.


Image Credit:


I have a whole sea of Harry Potter names waiting in the que, and it's kind of overwhelming. With my brain screaming, "Oh, just PICK ONE ALREADY!" I start this post.

I have to admit, the only time I put one of the Harry Potter books down in disgust was because of Gilderoy Lockhart. I found him so relentlessly obnoxious. He becomes the professor of defence against the dark arts in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He is also an author, writing about his encounters with dark creatures (which all turn out to be done by other people) and he becomes a celebrity for that. Gilderoy wants to be connected to Harry Potter for publicity, which embarrasses Harry numerous times. Seriously, you want to punch him throughout the book.

He does have a snazzy name though. Gilderoy (pronounced "GIL-deh-roy") is a variant of the Irish Gaelic name Gilroy, meaning "son of the red-headed." Some sources might list it as a French name meaning "gilding of the king," which seems intuitive but it's not true. Some names are tricky like that.

This name also belonged to one of the "King of the Gypsies." Sometimes, people who took this title had no ties to the Romani people, but other times this was the name of a low standing person who acted as a laison between Romani and non-Romani people for a specific purpose. Gilderoy Scamp (what a great name that is) was such a person, but not much is known about him.

There are several other places where this name appears. Gilderoy is also the name of a rural neighborhood in Victoria, Australia. A novelist named Algernon Blackwood created the children's novel Dudley & Gilderoy: A Nonsense. The book was about a cat and a parrot who befriend each other. The expression "to be hung higher than Gilderoy's kite" meant that you would be punished more severely than the worst criminal.

Gilderoy has never been a popular name in the United States. Maybe some people find it too...aristocratic? It sounds like it could be aristocratic. The name doesn't appear to be tied to any nobility, so I don't see it that way. The Gypsy connection is enough to get me to like it, and it's similar to another name that's growing on me: Pomeroy. But will it catch on with other parents?


Image Credit:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Merope Gaunt never appeared in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. And while I understand why, it wasn't a necessary scene anyway and it would have made the movie longer for no reason other than to satisfy completionists, I'm still a little sad because she is an interesting character. You see, Merope is Voldemort's mother.

Merope (pronounced either "MAIR-oh-pee" or "mer-OH-pee") is a Greek name with unknown meaning. Merope Gaunt is the daughter of Marvolo Gaunt and a descendant of Salazar Slytherin. The Gaunts were once a powerful wizarding family, but family abuse and cousin marriages led them into a life of squalor and violence. Merope falls in love with an aristocratic Muggle named Tom Riddle. It is suggested that she tricks him by using a love potion. They get married and Merope becomes pregnant withing three months. At this point she stops administering the potion hoping that Tom has grown to love her, but he abandons her. Heartbroken, she wonders through the streets of London. She gives birth to her son in a muggle orphanage, names the boy Tom Marvolo Riddle, and dies. The rest, as they say, is Harry Potter history.

Merope is a name that could be in reference to several heroines from Greek mythology. One Merope was forced to marry the murderer of her last husband and two older children. She manages to stow away her youngest son, Aepytus, and when he was grown he returned to take revenge. Another Merope is said to have brought wine making to Chios, and was assaulted by Orion when he had too much to drink. A Merope is also the adoptive mother of Oedipus.

But J.K. Rowling was most likely referring to the myth of the star Merope that is located withing the constellation Taurus. This Merope was once one of the Pleiades (nymphs) that accompanied Artemis. All of the Pleiades were turned into stars because Orion had fallen in love with them and was pursuing them. This transformation was made to keep them safe. Merope is the dimmest star because she is the only one to have married a mortal, and covers her face in shame.

Merope is also the genus that has only one species: the earwigfly. It lives throughout the east of North America from Ontario to Florida, and as west as Kansas. Not much is known about them, they're very secretive and like to stay away from humans.

Merope has an adorable sound, similar to Penelope. So for that reason I think it's pretty. It's just...look at all those stories. They all seem kind of negative, don't they? On the other hand, that doesn't stop anyone who loves Ophelia, me included. I would consider Merope to be a romantically dark name like Lenore. In fact, siblings named Lenore and Merope would be awesome. So in all, it makes a good selection for the gothic Harry Potter lover.


Image Credit:

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Ah Luna. Sweet, lovely Luna. Here is the name of a character that everyone just fell in love with.

Luna Lovegood first appears in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and she belongs to the house of Ravenclaw (w00t!). In interviews, J.K. Rowling described her as the "anti-Hermione" because she relies on faith rather than logic. Her personality is very spaced-out and dreamy, and she's prone to saying weird things and believing in odd things. This leads to her being socially isolated. But, a girl after my own heart, she doesn't care about other people's opinions. She becomes friends with Harry because they had both watched someone die. Luna had witnessed the death of her mother when she was nine.

Of course, this name is very appropriate for Neo-Pagans. Luna (pronounced "LOO-nah") is a Spanish, Italian, and Latin name meaning "moon." The moon has long been associated with female power for many cultures (in Japan and India it's different, both deities of the moon are masculine). In Wicca, the moon is the Goddess who sits alongside the God as an equal. Unlike many other religions, the Goddess is generally seen as more important and some traditions, like Dianic Wicca, ignore the God entirely. Wiccans pay a lot of attention to the phases of the moon, so the Goddess is a Triple Goddess. While the moon is waxing, full, and waning, the Goddess is the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. These three phases symbolize virginity, fertility, and wisdom. Wiccans are required to observe thirteen Esbats (ritual days)a year. It's thirteen because there are thirteen full moons a year.

Luna is also sometimes used as another name for either Artemis or Selene. Artemis is a widely venerated Greek goddess who holds dominion over the moon according to most sources, others say this is Selene's job. If you're born under the sign of cancer, you could use this as a name because cancer is ruled by the moon. On another note, the word lunatic comes from Luna. Somewhere in history, it switched from the moon causing magick to the moon causing madness.

A notable namesake is Luna Leopold, a male hydrologist and environmentalist well known for his radical notion that the natural world needs to be taken into account when managing water resources. Clearly, having a feminine name didn't hold him back. There is a masculine variant, Luno, but this is rarely used.

Thanks to Harry Potter, Luna has made a major comeback. Starting in 2003, what was once a "grandma name" appeared on the charts again. In the years following it's numbers shot up at an alarming rate. What year was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix published? 2003. There is a very obvious connection. It peaked in 2009 at #322, and it has just started to wane. It's also popular in other countries, it's #16 in Belgium, #76 in Germany, and #87 in Spain...but is not used much in England. I say this because apparently Hermione got popular in England but not in the United States. So why did Luna succeed in this country, and not Hermione?

My theory is that this is due, at least in part, to our country's substantially larger Hispanic population. Hermione won't click with a Spanish speaking person. The letter H is very rarely used in Spanish, and when it is they keep it silent. And they treat the letter R differently as well. Luna's more accessible. They see it as a word name.

When Neo-Pagans try to think of names that invoke the Goddess, Luna is usually their first thought. It's popularity should not deter anyone who is truly in love with it, but for the sake of variety there's also Luneth, Lunette, and Lunetta. And despite it's use, I would never put it in the Wicca-lite category. It's witchy-ness is still very strong, and I think it will never really leave it.


Image Credit:

Friday, July 15, 2011


This is one of my favorite names from the Harry Potter series. Most people only pay attention to the names of the human characters, so they sometimes miss the lovely names that were given to the non-human characters as well.

Firenze (pronounced "fih-REHN-zey") is a centaur. He plays a large part in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in which he saves Harry from Voldemort and carries him to safety. He is not at all as traditional as the rest of his kind, who find working with humans beneath them. He is cast out of his herd for allowing Harry to ride on his back "like a common mule." When Professor Trelawney was sacked, Firenze became the new divination teacher.

So why did this name appeal so much to me when I first heard it? Probably because I've heard it before? Firenze is what the Italians call their lovely city of Florence. I once spent the summer touring Italy with my high school music department, so I remember the Italian names very fondly.

Florence was established in 80 BC as a settlement for retired soldiers. It was originally called Fluentia, because it was situated between two rivers. The name was eventually corrupted into Florentia, which is why many sources list it as meaning "blooming." Later it became the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and it was culturally, economically, and politically one of the most important cities in Europe during this time. It is also the city where Galileo Galilee, arguably the most important astronomer of all time, chose to live out his final years. In this, there is an interesting connection to the character, because Firenze and the other centaurs spend a lot of time stargazing. His divination class centers on astronomy and astrology, as opposed to Trelawney's tea leaves.

I've noticed that Florence is getting a lot of attention from name enthusiasts, which has an old-fashioned charm in the United States even though it's more popular elsewhere. But personally, I love the Italian names for their cities more. Firenze for Florence, Venitia for Venice, Roma for Rome, Napoli for Naples, they're all somehow more poetic. But I'm half Italian American, so I'm biased.

I can see Firenze as a daring option for some Neo-Pagans. It could work for either gender. And I'm not sure how many people would immediately connect it to the centaur, since he's a secondary, nay, tertiary character. I think that they'll just see it as an exotic oddity. It's a unique name that's connected to the books without being dominated by them. And to that end, Firenze is awesome.


Image Credit:


Readers, rejoice! For for the rest of the month, I will be profiling nothing but Harry Potter names. Why? Because it's the end of an era. I might actually start weeping at the end credits of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. I won't be doing all the names from Harry Potter because oh my Gods there's a lot of them, but these are the ones that have caught my attention. Let's start with the awesome, strong, bookish heroine: Hermione!

J.K. Rowling has stated that Hermione Granger is an exaggeration of herself when she was a child, and recalls being a little "know-it-all" when she was the character's age. A girl after my own heart, she carries every book she owns wherever she goes. However, behind Hermione's snootiness is an insecurity and fear of failure. She is repeatedly told that she is the "brightest young witch of her generation," and yet she also encounters discrimination due to her status as a "Mudblood." This is an example of what the books are really about. They don't really have anything to do with Witchcraft. They have to do with the importance of fighting bigotry and authoritarianism.

Hermione's name is derived from the Shakespeare play A Winter's Tale. Queen Hermione is the wife of King Leontes of Sicilia. King Leontes is best friends with King Polixenes, who is visiting Sicilia but wishes to turn home. Leontes asks his very pregnant wife to convince his friend to stay, which she does in three sentences. Leontes becomes deeply suspicious that she was able to convince him so easily and becomes convinced that the two are having an affair and that the baby is Polixenes'. He tries to poison Polixenes (this fails and he flees to his homeland) and arrests Hermione on charges of adultery. The baby is born, and Leontes arranges for it to be abandoned. Hermione faints at her trial and is said to have died, and Leontes finally becomes aware of his bad judgement. In the last act of the play when their daughter is grown up and reunited with her father, the two visit a statue of Hermione. The statue comes to life, and the family is reunited again.

But Hermione has a more ancient history than that. Hermione is derived from the Greek god Hermes, whose name possibly means "pile of stones." In Greek mythology, Hermione is the only daughter of King Menelaus and Helen, although the couple also had three sons. Little Hermione was nine years old when her mother ran off to be with the Prince of Troy. While her father took care of that problem, he promised Hermione's hand in marriage to Achillis' son Neoptolemus, even though she was already promised to her cousin Orestes. When she was married to Neoptolemus, she came into conflict with Neoptolemus' concubine and widow to Trojan prince Hector, Andromanche. Hermione blamed Andromanche for her infertility, believing that she was casting spells to keep her barren. She asked her father to kill Andromanche but he refused, so Hermione fleed from her husband so she could be with Orestes. I guess some things are genetic.

So, did the wildly successful books and movies inspire a slew of little girls named Hermione? Well, no. Not in the United States, anyway. First of all, there's the matter of pronunciation. Anyone who has watched the movies know that it's "her-MY-oh-ne." But people have trouble with it. I remember in one interview J.K. Rowling confessed that if she could write the books over again, she would have named the character Jane. Another tidbit (and if this is really true, I find her reasoning very odd) is that she wanted to give this character a name that not many real little girls would have because less children would be teased for sharing the name with her character. It's interesting to note that although she creates such interesting monikers for her books, in real life J.K. Rowling is a very conservative namer. Her children are Jessica, David and Mackenzie.

For the non-conservative Witchy namer, there is lots to love with Hermione. It has an oddball charm and great for someone who wants a girls name that is not very frilly. If you don't want a strong connection to the Harry Potter character (although I don't really understand why anyone wouldn't, she rocks my socks) there is also the variant Herminia, which peaked in the 1920s at #902. Can't you just picture your bookish little witchlet sharing this name?


Image Credit:
Found via

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


We are now almost in the middle of July, and the dog days of summer are here in the upper hemisphere. It's a good time to profile a name related to this month.

Julian (pronounced "JOO-lee-in") is the name of Greek origin who's meaning is somewhat debated. One source lists it as "Jove's child." Jove is another name for Jupiter/Zeus, king of the Gods in the Roman/Greek pantheons. Another source states that it's possibly derived from the Latin word lulus, which was used to describe the first hairs on a young man's chin. Because of this, "youth" is also used as an accepted meaning. In any event, Julian is a variant of Julius, which was the clan name of many Roman rulers.

The month of July was named by Augustus in honor of his predecessor Gaius Julius Ceasar, who was born during this month. The month was previously known as Quintilis, meaning "fifth." Ceasar is well known for amassing power through populist tactics, meaning that he relied on the support of his citizens. He was also the first Roman ruler to cross both the Rhine and the English Channel. When he assumed control of the government, he reformed Roman society and government, which lead to his assassination.

But there was an Emperor that is perhaps more important to the Neo-Pagan religion: Flavius Claudius Julianus, also known as Julian the Apostate. He was made Caesar during the Constantian Dynasty, and was the last non-Christian ruler of the Roman Empire. He rejected Christianity in favor of Paganism, and was trying to bring the Old Religion back to the Empire. Unfortunately, he died in battle, so his vision was never completed. Many Neo-Pagans today wonder how history would have been different had he succeeded.

There have been more recent namesakes as the years have gone by. John Lennon's son Julian is now a musician himself, and was the inspiration for Paul McCartney's "Hey Jude." The song was originally called "Hey Jules," but Paul decided that that would make it too personal.

If you are looking for a Wicca-lite name that won't look out of place in a group of non-Pagans, Julian is a good choice. It has never left the top 1,000 in America but is now enjoying massive use and ranks at #53. It's also #10 in Austria, #13 in Germany, #18 in the Netherlands, and #37 in Norway. If you are like me and you have an allergy to any name that is mega popular regardless of how much you like it, Julian is sadly out. Let's see how it's variations rank.

Julius has never been out of the top 1,000 either, but it's peak was in the 1910s where it ranked #112. Jules peaked during the same time and is currently not a popular boy's name, and is now occasionally used for girls. As the Hispanic population grows in this country, so will sightings of little boys named Julio, which peaked in 2005 at #227. Julien has generally been more popular in France, but it peaked in the United States in 2009 at #535. If uniqueness is your goal, you could go with the medieval Joylon or the new-fangled July. There are also many feminine variations, which I will post about when I profile Juliet.

No matter how you feel about it's current popularity status, Julian is a lovely name. It's an ancient clan name that has an air of authority but also sounds like it could be a sweet, thoughtful little boy. I can certainly see why it's enjoying a lot of use.


Image Credit:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Name Round-Up: Real and Not-Real-Yet Offbeat Names of Epicness

Not to stomp all over the blogging territory of the excellent For Real Baby Names, but Offbeat Mama recently posted a reader question asking how offbeat parents came up with, or how they think they will come up with, their children's names. The comments that followed, and the names that were shared, warm the cockles of my nerdy heart. You can take a look here.

What? You don't want to leave my charming self? Not a problem, I've compiled most of them for you, and most of these are real born children:

Liam Jordon
Atreyu Allen
Mathilde Claude Justine
Aiden Marie (g)
Marley Lennon (g)
Callista Amaya
Lydia Jane
Nola Imogene
Medea Claire
siblings Mahala Tahree and Brennen Layne
Melanie Regine
Sloane (g)
Nixon Mathieu Le
Abraham August
siblings Rhiannon Mattea, Shoshana Michal, and Asher Mason
Graham (g)
Pepper Lily
siblings Troy Jones and Alexander Carlo
siblings Rose Dorothy and Elwood Graymont
Angelina Marie
siblings Morgan Shea, Ian Thomas, Owyn Lee (b), and Kaia Dylan
Samual Aegis
siblings Skylar (g) and Lyra
Zen Vader (Yes, he is named after who you think he is named after.)
siblings Joseph Aven and Jacob Maddox
Paulo Henry
Liam George Reid
Miles Healy
Tiernan Gunner Seth
Madeline June
Natalie Teneile
Tabitha Catherine
siblings Cohen Alexander and Evelyn Paige
Peyton Sophia
Genevieve (Pronounced the French way.)
Georgia Ellen
siblings Kira and Emmett
siblings Jonah and Rui

There are also some stand-out name stories as well:

-"Jonathan after his paternal grandmother (Johnnie Mae), and Sebastian because we liked it. If I ever have a girl I would name her Annali or some variation, after my foster mother (Annie Lee), or Gianna, with middle name Parker (family name)."

-"For my son, we wanted an Irish or Scottish name because both our families are from that area. I originally wanted Liam, he wanted Ian (we agreed on Connor for his middle name pretty quickly), but when he was born, neither name seemed to fit! My mom said, after about 8 hours of him being first-name-less, "what about Gavin?" I was holding him while he slept, and asked him, "Are you Gavin?" and he opened his eyes and looked right at me. I looked at his dad, he nodded, and that was that."

-"While I was heavily into hair metal as a young teen in the late 80's-early 90's, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to other music. One of my favorite songs from those days was "Veronica" by Elvis Costello; the video still makes me cry to this day. While the song itself is so sad, I get the sense that the Veronica of the song once had a very strong spirit and was well-loved. So my little girl is named Veronica."

-"My mom went to our Theravada Buddhist temple and consulted with the monks, whom refer to an 'ancient' script-type thingy and used his "due date" to provide my mom with a list of potential names. A list for every day of the week (some days had two; a daytime and a nighttime name) for when my unborn son decided to come. To be honest,some names we did NOT like… We liked two specifically— Thursday and Sunday. I pleaded with my mom to let us pick either but being the hard-core (read: superstitious) Buddhist that she is, we had to succumb to whatever Bebe Boy decided. Guess what day my water broke 9 days after my due date? Sunday."

-"My son is Drake Alexzander Arthur. When I was pregnant we were calling him the little dragon because of the heartburn he was so generously giving me. That morphed into Drake. Alexzander was because we like Alexander and Zander. And Arthur is my step fathers middle name."

-"Comic books, historical figures & virtues. That's where our three name choices came from. Our boy's choice was Remington, because I wanted Remy (for Remy LeBeau aka Gambit). Our two girl's options were Mercedes (for the virtue) and Tesla (for the genius scientist). The boy's middle name is Dean, a family name passed down for the past three generations on my husband's side. And the girl's middle name choice was Rose, because it's classic and I like it.

Luckily, we had our boy Remington Dean so we didn't have to decide between two awesome girl's names".

-"I'm biracial (Hawaiian, German, Scottish, & English) my husband is 100% Tongan. Polynesians have a tradition of giving our children the longest names ever, and we're beginning to understand why.

I'm not pregnant yet, but we have discussed baby name options quite a bit (since most of our friends are pregnant or have children). It's been important to us that our kids have names that represent each of the families/cultures they come from:

Names for the girls:
1. Lark (English) Melelani (Hawaiian) Fetetuki (Tongan)
2. Malia (Hawaiian) Penina (Tongan) Adele (German)

Names for the boys:
1. Kawika (Hawaiian) Linwood (English) Alo-i-houma (Tongan)
2. Sini Holani (Tongan) Rudy (German) Lainaholo (Hawaiian)

In the Polynesian culture, the tradition is to name your children after family members you admire so that you child will 1) know their history and 2) adopt those admired traits as their own. Each one of the names we picked out are family names."

-"My daughter's name will be Shannon Christina. Shannon (after the area my husband's family immigrated from, and because the name means Little Owl or Wise Person. My granddad was Etowah Cherokee, a clan of teachers who wore cloaks of white feathers.) Christine is a family name dating back 150 years in my family and was the name of my great-great-grandmother, who raised a daughter Anna- who had a college degree before women had the right to vote, ran a successful business in the Great Depression, and visited the old folks in the nursing home in her 70s. He had no idea of the history when he suggested it, but once said… the name felt perfect for her."

-"I once had a dream where I was a mother to a little girl. I never said her name aloud in the dream, but when I woke up, I was absolutely convinced that it was Galaxy Rae. Since dreams mean so much to me, I took it to heart, and I've planned on giving that name to my first daughter ever since.

Unfortunately, TJ wasn't up for it at first. I'm not sure when the change happened, but while we discussing where we planned on living in the future, he said he didn't want to raise Galaxy in the city like he was."

-"When I had my son (who is turning 4 now shortly) I was a single offbeat mama with the last name JOHNSON. Yeah, so the last thing I wanted was for him to grow up with a name that 15 other people in his class would have. I loved the name Riley, but I know seven or eight different Riley. So I changed it up and named him Rhyle. Rhymes with Kyle. It works for him he's riled up all of the time and fits him to a T!"

-"I used to work at a call center, and kept a list of first names I thought were cool and interesting. Through this method, I found the name Everly, a boy's name (listed in my giant baby name book as Everly, meaning "singing"). I liked the ring of it, and since my husband and I are both musicians, we loved that it had a musical meaning. I had it in my mind that if I had a boy, I would name him Everly. Then when we found we were having a girl, we decided to go ahead and keep the name, but change the spelling to a slightly more feminine version: Everleigh. That's our name story. Everyone who thinks it's weird always asks, "is that a family name?" It is now. It is now."

-"My boys are Rain and Eden. I wanted them to have names that were softer and less gendered than typical boy names, but not so odd that they'd get teased their whole lives. It probably helps that I live in the Pacific Northwest, where hippie, nature-ish names aren't all that uncommon."

Rock on, Offbeat Mama. Seriously though, go check out the comments thread.

(As a side note, I have no idea how that one parent got the idea that Everly means "singing." It means "boar meadow." Just don't say that to her face.)

Image Credit:
Found via I think

Monday, July 4, 2011


Here's the last of our American names for Independence Day, the adorable sounding yet historically momentous Tripoli!

Tripoli (pronounced "TRIH-poh-lee") is a Greek name that means "three cities." It is the name of the capitol of Libya, which was founded in the 7th century B.C. by the Phoenicians. They were attracted by it's harbor and easily defensible peninsula. The city was usurped by many cultures, including the Greeks, Romans, Muslims, Spanish, Ottomans, Italians, and then finally by the Libyans themselves. There is also a separate Tripoli in Lebanon.

This might not sound very American. But there is a connection. A really good connection if you practice a form of Neo-Paganism. Bigotry is a sad fact for Neo-Pagans living in America, even though we do have it better than Neo-Pagans living elsewhere in the world. But there may have been a time when someone has asked you, as condescendingly as possible, "Do you know what religion this country was founded on?" You most likely simply stared into the void of deep stupidity and tried not to punch said person. But today, I'm proud to give you a rebuttal: "Have you heard of the Treaty of Tripoli?"

The historical context is this: shortly after the formation of the United States, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean became a playground for piracy. We didn't want our commerce stolen. In an attempt to come to an agreement that didn't involve war, we wrote numerous treaties to the pirating nations and cities.

This particular treaty was written by our nations 2nd President John Adams. The entire treaty was read aloud on the Senate floor, and ratified unanimously. An Arabic translation was sent to Tripoli. It was then published in full in three different newspapers. There was no outcry from the public.

For the most part, the Treaty of Tripoli is a pretty straight-forward diplomatic agreement. But this clause in the English version is what's interesting:

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,--as it has in itself no character or enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Mussulmen,--and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

...Well. There you have it. Granted, the treaty didn't work and we wound up going to war with them anyway, but still. The wording could not be more clear. It's an official evidence that the founding fathers did not base the American constitution on Christian theology.

Of course most people already know this. Neo-Pagans know this. Good Christians know this. Good government officials know this. Our small children know this. The bigots? They refuse to accept it. It's genuinely frightening when a popular government official goes on television and claims that the constitution is only meant to protect Christians and Jews. They only take the pieces of history that suit their agenda. Pathetic, really.

In this way, Tripoli is a truely patriotic name. Ripe for boys or girls, and rarely used before. Because we'll worship whatever religion we please, dammit! And screw those that don't like it! That's the American way!


Image Credit:


I've talked a lot about the exodus of European settlers heading to the west. But this name is associated with another type of exodus all together.

Sojourner Truth is the self-given name of Isabella Baumfree, born in 1797. She was one of the "ten or twelve" children of James and Elizabeth Baumfree. Her father was captured from what is now Ghana, and her mother was the child of slaves from Guinea. Elizabeth never accepted her slave name, so to those that knew her well she was Mau-Mau Bet. The family belonged to Colonel Hardenbergh, who's estate was located 95 miles north of New York City. She grew up speaking Dutch.

When her owner died, Sojourner, known as Belle at the time, was sold away from her family along with a flock of sheep when she was nine years old. Her new owner repeatedly raped and beat her. She was eventually sold twice more, and while at the second home she met and fell in love with another slave named Robert from a neighboring property. But Robert's owner forbade the relationship because he didn't want his slave to produce children with a slave he did not own. Sojourner was forced to marry another slave named Thomas. She had one child fathered by Robert named Diana. The other four were fathered by Thomas.

In 1826, Sojourner escaped to freedom along with her infant daughter Sophia, leaving her other children behind. Eventually Sojourner learned that her son Peter, who was five years old, was sold illegally to a owner in Alabama. Sojourner took the issue to court, and after months of legal proceedings she was granted custody of her son. And with that, she become one of the first Black women to go to court against a White man and win.

In 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and traveled around the country preaching about the abolition of slavery. She also supported women's rights, pacifism, and religious tolerance. She would become famous for the "Ain't I a Woman" speech, which was most likely re-written to make it sound consistent with southern speech patterns, which is not how she would have talked in real life. Responses to her ranged from loud cheering to hisses and groans. During the Civil War, Sojourner helped recruit Black troops for the Union Army. She spent her life trying to improve conditions for African Americans.

Sojourner (pronounced "SOH-jurn-er" or "sah-JURN-er") is a name that means "one who stays temporarily" or "traveler." It's easy to understand why this rare name has been so far regulated to the Black community, Sojourner only exists in the namescape because of Sojourner Truth. But here's a question, why is this name only appropriate for African Americans? Doesn't her story belong to all Americans? And why only girls? In this comic book I used to read as a child there was a male character named Sojourner, but I won't bore you with my intense nerdiness.

So if you want to name your child after an American hero, I would suggest Sojourner. I would take the qualities of Sojourner Truth over General Patton any day.


Image Credit:
Found via


I've been mentioning the Louisiana Purchase a lot this week. It ties in with a major historical event called the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It's named after it's two leaders, and their full names were William Clark and...Meriwether Lewis? His name was really Meriwether?

Meriwether (pronounced the same as "merry weather") is a Middle English name that means...well, I think it's pretty apparent, don't you? I assume that it was also used as a moniker in England, so maybe this name isn't 100% American, but I love the Lewis and Clark expedition so I'm profiling it.

Thomas Jefferson completed the Louisiana Purchase, which essentially bought the rest of what is now the United States from the French. He put together the Corps of Discovery, which would a) record scientific data on the animal and plant life and b) establish sovereignty over the Native peoples. The Corps was an eccentric group of people, a combination of privates, sargents, French Canadian trappers, one Native American woman with her baby, Clark's Black slave, and a newfoundland dog.

Meriwether was given his name because it was his mother's maiden name. In his youth, Lewis was known for his interest in plants, which was encouraged by her mother, who used herbs for medicinal purposes. His keen observation of flora and fauna would serve him well later in life. As an adult, one of his hobbies was sneaking out in the dead of night during the wintertime to hunt with his dogs. He grew up to become a child protegee of Thomas Jefferson. It was only natural that Jefferson give Lewis the honor of heading the expedition. Lewis wanted another commander with him, so he wrote to his best friend Clark asking for him to lead by his side.

Given the cheerful meaning of his name, it's kind of ironic that Meriwether Lewis suffered from depression. Although in excellent physical condition, he was prone to being "moody, speculative, and melancholic." His death after the expedition is generally accepted as a suicide from a gunshot to the head, although there is some debate. He never married or had children.

I would like to think that I'm pretty open minded when it comes to names. But even I would be uncomfortable with the idea of naming my son Meriwether. I think a lot of people would agree with me. But it would make a lovely girl's name! I read somewhere in the baby name blogging world that someone met a little girl named Merryweather.

Meriwether's sad ending might be a turn-off for some people. But I prefer to think of the person he was and what he accomplished, which is pretty extraordinary. It's particularly appropriate for a child born in...well, good weather. Or someone with a cheery deposition. Meriwether is great for someone with a sense of adventure.


Image Credit:


Here's another rarely used state name that sounds like it should be more popular.

Iowa (pronounced "IE-oh-wah") is the 26th state in the union, located in what is often referred to as the "American Heartland." What should not surprise you by now is that this state is named after the Iowa, a Native American tribe that lived in this region. A report from the 1879 General Assembly of Iowa claims that this name means "beautiful land." That is not true. That is not what the name means at all.

The Iowa actually called themselves the Baxoje. Iowa is derived from the Dakotan word ayuhwa, meaning "asleep." I guess the Dakota people thought the Baxoje was a bunch of lazy bums. Oftentimes European explorers would call Native American tribes the nicknames that another tribe had given them without realizing that the tribe called itself something completely different.

When the native people settled in Iowa over 13,000 years ago, they were living in an ancient glacial landscape. Over the years they became a settled culture with a complex system of farming, economics, and government. White settlers upset their culture as well as brought diseases like smallpox.

Like Missouri, Iowa was a part of the French colony originally. After the Louisiana Purchase, settlers established an agriculture based economy in the region. Even today the state is known as the "Food Capital of the World." Much of the prairies, forests, and wetlands that used to exist in this state is now gone due to farming and building.

I can't help but see the similarities to this name and Indiana. Of course, Indiana has a famous fictional namesake attached to it, but neither one of them has ever charted. Both could be used for either gender. And both are firmly American. Iowa could be an alternative to Indiana. If you're looking at this name from a Neo-Pagan perspective, where you name with intention, this could also be a good name if you want your child to sleep through the night. Io could be a possible nickname if it's a girl. Seriously, there's so many cool things about this name, it's a wonder that it's so rare.


Image Credit:


A while back there was a post on modern hero names on Nameberry. Here's one that wasn't listed.

Gershwin (pronounced "GERSH-win") is a name synonymous with famous siblings George and Ira Gershwin. George was a composer and pianist. Ira was a lyricist, who worked with George on his Broadway projects and on popular standards. When the two were children, their parents bought a piano for the elder brother Ira. But to their parent's surprise and Ira's relief, George was the one that showed an aptitude for music. George also used his talents for the concert halls. He was inspired by the jazz movement at the time, and is credited for introducing this type of music to a wider audience. His most well known pieces are "Rhapsody in Blue," "An American in Paris," and "Porgy and Bess."

Together, Ira and George collaborated on many early Broadway musicals including Lady Be Good, Oh Kay!, Funny Face, Strike Up the Band, Show Girl, Girl Crazy, and Of Thee I Sing. The latter was the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize. George also worked on several Hollywood productions, like Shall We Dance and The Goldwyn Follies. Sadly, George met a early death due to a malignant brain tumor. The brother's career spanned from the 1920s to the 1930s.

It's interesting to note that Gershwin was not the family's original surname. George Gershwin was born Jacob Gershowitz. The brother's parents were Russian Jews. Their father Moishe changed the family's name shortly after coming to New York City, and Moishe changed his name to Morris. It would be difficult to find any American decedents of immigrants who didn't have a story like this somewhere in their family tree. My great-grandfather changed from Pedro Vega to Peter Vegas. For the sake of "fitting in," they suppressed their original cultural identity. Also, back in those days people high in the ranks of show business wouldn't have hired someone with a name that sounded "too foreign." Some people in show business still change their names for this reason, but I would like to think that we're more open minded now.

Anyways, Gershwin is a name that brings the old New York City to mind. A time when Broadway was at it's infancy. There's more to Americana than the old wild west. To be fair, I've never seen this name used on a baby boy. But it would be awesome if it was.


Image Credit:

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Here's a strong, mighty American moniker that has not seen much use.

Yosemite (pronounced "yoh-SEH-mih-tee") National Park is located in east central California. The park and Yosemite Valley is recognized worldwide as an area of spectacular natural beauty. The park supports a large diversity of plants and animals, many of which are endangered. And in an uninterrupted habitat roughly the size of Rhode Island, they have lots of room.

This valley was originally called Ahwahnee by the Native Americans, which means "large gaping mouth." Yosemite is derived from Yos s e'meti, which is a name that was given to the tribe living in this region by the surrounding Miwok tribe. The Yos s e'meti was composed of renegades from multiple tribes and had a fierce reputation. Their name means "those who kill."

Yosemite Valley was given it's name by L. H. Bunnell. Because of the The Gold Rush, the number of White settlers in the area increase dramatically within a short period of time. And "those who kill" didn't like it. L. H. Bunnell was in the Mariposa Battalion, who drove the Yosemite out of their home. It was common for settlers to disregard native place name and to exchange it with another Native American word, which is why the area is called Yosemite and not Ahwahnee.

James Mason Hutchings and Thomas Ayres were responsible for creating interest for tourism in the area. In 1855, they created magazine articles and and even whole issues about Yosemite. In particular, Ayres highly detailed drawings garnered attention and were shown in art galleries in New York City. As the years went on, the park has maintained a balance between tourism and wildlife protection.

Yosemite has never been a popular given name. However, you might be familiar with this name if you watched Loony Tunes as a child. Yosemite Sam is the grumpy cowboy that hates Bugs Bunny. Are Loony Tunes still on television? I only seem to hear about the newer cartoons nowadays. So this character will most likely not be a obstacle.

Yosemite is a name forever tied with a wild west that exists today only in small areas. With buffalo and wolves and big rocky mountains. It would definitely be an unconventional choice for a name, but a cool one.


Image Credit:

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Here's a name that screams Americana to so many people, so it would be a mistake not to include it.

Huckleberry (pronounced "HUH-kul-beh-ree") is a name that could apply to a number of different American plants. Western huckleberries belong to a different genus from the ones in the southeast. There is also the garden huckleberry, which is considered to be a member of the nightshade family. Attempts to grow the plant domestically have failed miserably, and people still rely on harvesting the berries from the wild. But there are still very specific times that are safe to gather them, because huckleberry is still a major dietary staple for bears. It's also a favorite food source of deer, birds, insects, and rodents.

The huckleberry got it's name by mistake. An early colonist misidentified it as a European blueberry called a hurtleberry. Eventually the word become corrupted and it changed into huckleberry.

The huckleberry was a major food source for Native Americans in the northwest and Rocky Mountain region for thousands of years. They would set the berries to dry in the sun or smoke them, then mash them into cakes and store them. This plant is associated with faith and simple pleasures. The berry is used mostly for deserts, it's used in ice cream, jam, wine, pie, syrup, or sometimes just eaten on it's own. Huckleberry picking is particularly popular in western Montana. In the olden days it was not only a way to gain a nutritious meal, but a way for White settlers and Native Americans to interact peacefully and for the younger set to find lovers.

Huckleberry also has it's place in archaic American slang. When someone said, "I'm your huckleberry," he meant, "I'm the best man for the job." To say, "a huckleberry over my persimmon," meant that a task was beyond their abilities. Huckleberry was also used as a term of affection for someone small, like a baby or a sidekick.

Huckleberry will be forever tied to Huckleberry Finn. The Mark Twain character first appeared in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Also known as "Huck" he is the son of the town's vagrant drunkard. He has no education and wears rags. Huckleberry is described as "idle, and lawless, and vulgar, and bad" qualities which gain the admiration of the other children. Despite this, he does good things like help Jim escape slavery. Being the son of a violent alcoholic, Huckleberry is strongly opposed to drinking. At the end of the book, he is adopted by Widow Douglas and sent to school. Another fictional namesake is the cartoon character Huckleberry Hound, a blue dog that talks with a southern drawl.

Huckleberry has never been a common first name in the United States, but it's still a name that everyone is familiar with. I think it's used more often as a surname. I see no reason why Huckleberry should only be used for boys. Parents are starting to name their daughters Sawyer now, so why not Huckleberry? It would be awesome for either gender. No matter if it's a boy or a girl, Huckleberry is a sweet name that is in tune with the natural world.


Image Credit:


If you think about it, there are a lot more states that could be used as baby names than we actually are using. How do you feel about Oregon?

Oregon (pronounced "OR-eh-gun") is the 33rd state in the union and it's located in the Pacific Northwest. There are several theories as to where it's name comes from, and many of them reference the Columbia River, the largest river in the area which forms the state's northern border. Some believe that it's a severe butchering of the Portuguese phrase Aure il agua, meaning "hear the water." Others believe that it comes from the French word ouragan, meaning "windstorm" or "hurricane." Areas of the Columbia river are known for having very powerful gusts.

Oregon contains many diverse ecosystems. There is the Pacific coastline, the volcanoes of the Cascade Mountain Range, evergreen forests, lots of waterfalls, and deserts in the east. When the Europeans arrived the state was home to many different Native American tribes including the Chinook, Nez Perce, Umpqua, Bannock, Chasta, Klamath, Takelma, Molalla, and Kalapuya.

The first Europeans to explore the area were Spanish, late in the 1600s. James Cook explored the coastline looking for the Northwest Passage. French Canadian trappers and missionaries soon followed. The Oregon coast was the end of the road for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Starting in 1842, the Oregon Trail brought many settlers into the area.

Today, the coastal cities of Oregon are known for being particularly friendly to Neo-Pagans, because they have something of a hippyish culture. The area is also known for it's Tony Award winning Shakespeare Festival. The state produces 95% of the country's hazelnuts, and wine production is a significant industry. It's also known for being the state where the Twilight movies were filmed.

Personally, I think Oregon could really work as a given name, particularly for a boy. I like the strong ruggedness of it. It's the same ruggedness that Dakota and Montana seem to embody. I think all it would take is for someone famous to use it, or for it to be used on a character in a popular television show, which will give it the little push it needs to enter the namescape. Until then, it'll be a gem for someone wanting unusual Americana.


Image Credit:


If you want to honor African American arts and culture, Treemonisha might be for you.

Treemonisha is the name of a "ragtime opera," although it features more types of music besides ragtime, composed by Scott Joplin in 1910. Scott Joplin wanted to create a distinctly African-American opera. Despite glowing reviews, Treemonisha did not receive a proper performance until 1972, shortly after it was rediscovered and well after Joplin's death.

The story of the opera is this, Monisha and Ned find an abandoned baby under a tree and decide to name her Treemonisha. Treemonisha grows up to be a young, educated Black woman who arrives at a plantation in the south shortly after the Civil War. Her goal is to educate the community. When local conjurers try to sell Monisha a "bag of luck," Treemonisha, who doesn't believe in superstitions, denounces them. In anger, the conjurers kidnap her and try to throw her into a wasp's nest. But her boyfriend, Remus, rescues her. Accepted by her peers, she starts her campaign. I don't think I need to tell you what they mean by "conjurers."

There is speculation that the character of Treemonisha is based on Scott Joplin's second wife, Freddie Alexander. Alexander was also a well-read, educated Black woman. She was a major figurehead in women's rights and African American culture at that time.

Even if I didn't know the name's source, I could have guessed that it was somehow related to African American culture. Treemonisha follows the (stereo)typical sound of many Black urban names. Regardless of where you live, you've probably heard a Shaniqua joke, or about the "jello" twins, at some point. Sadly, the play isn't all that famous, so other people may not recognize it as a "legitimate" moniker.

Neo-Pagans might be uncomfortable with this name because Witchcraft isn't depicted very nicely in the opera. If you're willing to look past that, Treemonisha is a unique name with an interesting history. It would be great for an African American family that wants to honor it's achievements.


Image Credit: