Saturday, August 20, 2011


Out of all the astrological signs, Leo is the most established as inspiration for baby names. This name and variations of it have appealed for parents for hundreds of years.

Leo (pronounced "LEE-oh") is a Latin name meaning, you guessed it, lion. Pretty much all cultures have looked up at this constellation and interpreted it as a lion. It was particularly sacred to the Ancient Egyptians because when the sun entered Leo, the waters of the Nile rose and lions came to the river to escape the heat. Ancient Egyptian society depended on the Nile River rising and watering their crops. Other names of this constellation include Ser or Shir from the Persians, Artan from the Turks, Aryo from the Syrians, Arye from the Jews, Simha from the Indians, and Urgula from the Babylonians. All of these names mean "lion."

In Greek mythology, Leo symbolizes the Nemean Lion. Slaying this creature was the first of Hercules' twelve tasks. This lion was sent to Nemea in order to terrorize the city. When Hercules fired at the cat with a bow and arrow, he quickly realized that it's golden fur was impenetrable. So he stunned it with his club, and then strangled him to death.

Of course, lions are important to mythology all over the Old World, because back then their habitats expanded to a much wider range. Despite the real risk of attacks, these animals are generally viewed favorably. In many cultures, they are a symbol of royalty, nobility, and bravery. Which is probably why people with Leo as a sun sign are usually...well...a little vain. If you've read about the attributes of those born between July 22nd to August 22nd, you would know that Leo is considered to be a masculine fire sign. Like lions, they are great leaders and are usually very dignified. But they can also be arrogant. Their sense of self importance comes from a genuine desire to change the world and make it better. They are also very hard workers and are the first to blame themselves when something goes wrong.

There are many well known Christians who bare this name, including thirteen Catholic Popes. One, Saint Leo the Great, is famous for persuading Attila the Hun to not attach Italy. But there is also a well known Pagan with this name. Leo Ruickbie is a Pagan author, historian and sociologist. He was awarded his PhD for his thesis: The Re-Enchanters: Theorising Re-Enchantment and Testing for it's Presence in Modern Witchcraft. He is also credited for launching Open Source Wicca, which aims to make Wiccan texts more available.

Not only has this name never left the top 1,000 in America, it remains a popular name worldwide. It peaked at #44 in the 1900s, and now hangs out comfortably at #193. As of 2008 it's also #16 in Sweden, #43 in England, #65 in Germany, #74 in Norway, #81 in Scotland, and #90 in Australia. There are also many related names, which all have a separate enough identity to deserve their own profiles in the future. In short, that's a lot of Leos, which makes this a perfect Wicca-lite option.

Leo has a lot going for it. It's peak in the 1900s gives it an old fashioned charm, and yet it doesn't seem grandpa-ish. It doesn't have any nicknames. It's rising up the charts, so people looking for a unused option won't find it here. But it's still a lovely name for any little cub.


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  1. Leo is high on my list of great names for Wiccan and Pagan parents generally. It's got Pagan credentials by the bucket-load, but is mainstream enough not to shout out, 'hey, guess what, we're Wiccans/Pagans!' which is an important consideration for many.

    I've noticed some people (in the US) commenting that they don't think it is substantial enough, and leaning towards choosing names such as Leonardo to shorten to Leo. This is really so unnecessary! As you demonstrate well, Leo really is a perfectly 'legitimate' name in its own right!

  2. Very handsome and simple name, suitable for pretty well everyone!


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