Friday, December 23, 2011


According to the Celtic Tree Months, the tree for the day after Yule is another popular holiday staple, the mistletoe.

The etymology of mistletoe is a subject of dispute. It might be related to the Old German elements mist, meaning "dung," and tang, meaning "branch." This might have been used because mistletoe seeds can spread through bird feces. To the Celts and Druids, it didn't really have a name. It was considered too sacred for the written word.

The mistletoe isn't exactly a tree. It's an evergreen parasitic plant that grows on trees. They use their host trees for water and nutrients. They grow in a mass of stems that gave it it's nicknames: "witch's broom" in Europe and "basket on high" to the Navajo. Many people today see the plant as a pest, but it is important to the ecology of forests. Many animals depend on the mistletoe for food.

The mistletoe is very important to a number of mythologies. Roman poet Ovid once said, "Ad viscum Druidae cantare solebant" ("The Druids are wont to sing to the mistletoe"). The Druids would gather the mistletoe on Midsummer, cutting a piece with a golden knife making certain that it didn't touch the ground. Two oxen would be sacrificed during the ceremony. A mistletoe growing on an oak tree is extra powerful. In Greek mythology, it is believed that The Golden Bough of Aeneas is a mistletoe. A sword named Mistilteinn (Old Norse for "mistletoe") features prominently in several Norse myths. The plant is also associated with Loki, Osiris, Hercules, and Shu.

The Celtics, Romans, and Germans all believed that the mistletoe was the key to the supernatural. It works best for spells involving healing, protection, and dreams. Many Pagans believe this plant symbolizes divine male essence because the berries resemble semen. So the plant stands for sex and fertility. This is why there is a tradition of kissing under in during the Yuletide season. The plant is also used for protection, making sure that the children of the house will not be kidnapped by the Fae. Mistletoe is also a great material for magickal tools like wands, rings, talismans, and incense.

In herbal medicine, mistletoe is used to raise blood pressure and sooth muscles. The plant can also induce menstruation and treat postpartum hemorrhaging. It is known as an effective treatment for tumors in some animals. Considering it's "fertility plant" status, it's slightly ironic that the berries are known to cause miscarriages when eaten. It is often used to cause contractions in the uterus or intestines.

As a name, Mistletoe is daring but also overly cute. And personally, I would pause before giving anyone a name that means "dung twig." But most people don't know that. For Neo-Pagans, it's energy is very masculine, but people are probably more likely to give this name to a girl. I think it would work for either gender, provided that the person who's getting it is the type of personality that works well with it. Plus, it's perfect for the season.

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The nominations for Pagan Name of the Year are officially closed. Look for the winners next week!


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Horus is of one of the oldest and most important gods of Egypt, and his name has a long history.

In Ancient Egypt, Horus' (pronounced "HOH-rus") name would have been pronounced Haru, literally meaning "falcon." The name has some more poetic meanings like "the distant one" or "one who is above." Horus was also sometimes known as Nekheny, also meaning "falcon." Some believe that Nekheny is a different falcon god that was merged with Horus later on.

Horus is the son of Isis and Osiris. Isis retrieved all of the dismembered parts of her murdered husband except for his phallus, which was eaten by a catfish. She used her magick to resurrect Osiris and fashion a golden phallus for him in order to conceive their son. Once Isis became aware that she was pregnant, she fled to the marshlands to hide from her brother Set, who killed Osiris. There, she gave birth to Horus. Isis instructed her son to protect the people of Egypt from Set, god of the desert. Horus has had many battles with Set, both to avenge his father and to claim his rightful place as ruler. Set and Horus are the patrons of Upper and Lower Egypt, respectably. Neither god prevailed until all the other gods decided to side with Horus.

Horus is depicted as either a falcon (either a peregrine or a lanner) or a man with the head of a falcon. His right eye is the sun and his left eye is the moon, and they transverse the sky when he flies across it. He is also the god of war and hunting. The Eye of Horus is an ancient symbol of protection that remains popular with Neo-Pagans today.

The only person I can find who bore this name was an athlete in the 4th century. He was an Olympic boxer and a philosopher in Late Roman Egypt. Presumably he was Pagan, but Christianity would certainly be around at that point. And yes, he did win in the Olympics.

Horus has never been a popular name in the United States. It sounds almost exactly like Horace, a name associated with the older generation. I don't know if that makes it more accessible or less accessible. And, of course, there's the popular Neo-Pagan idea that you can't name someone after a deity. Clearly, not everyone believes that.

I think Horus is a great name, and Haru is quite nice as well. I think that it fits in with names like Atticus and Romulus. It's a strong name with a vibrant past. It would be great if someone gave this name to their son or to themselves.


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Thursday, December 22, 2011


According to the Celtic Tree Months, the silver fir is the tree for the Winter Solstice. You may have been able to guess that.

The etymology of the word "fir" (which is a homonym with fur) is somewhat contested. In Old English there is the word furhwudu, meaning "pine wood." But it's more likely that it's derived from the Pre-Germanic furkon, which in turn is ultimately derived from the Proto Indo European perkos, originally a word for the oak tree. The Ancient Celts called the silver fir tree ailim (pronounced "AHL-em" I think.)

Just like yew is the "Tree of Death," the silver fir represents rebirth. They are often considered to be sisters, representing the circle of life. The silver fir is one of the tallest trees native to Europe, and it can grow over 160 feet tall. It is sacred to many goddesses including Diana, Artemis, and Druantia. Both Osiris and Attis were imprisoned in fir or pine trees, so the tree is sacred to them as well. The Druids believed that the silver fir was a symbol of hope. The tree is used in magick to invoke insight, power, protection, change, progression, and birth. Burning the needles or sweeping around a bed with it's branches is said to protect mothers and their newborns. It is also been used in shape shifting rituals, which is something I would like to see.

The silver fir has many practical uses. It makes very pretty wood used to make up the interior of buildings. It is also a popular wood for musical instruments. The oils are often used in perfumes and lotions to give a woodsy sent to these products. The sap of the silver fir can be made into turpentine like oil. In herbal medicine, it can stimulate mucous tissues if taken in small doses. In large doses it is a purgative.

The fir is also considered to be the quintessential Yule or Christmas tree. The first documented instance of the tradition was in the 1400s in Livonia. There is a popular notion that this tradition was taken from Saturnalia, and that's not quite true. Pagans did not chop down whole trees and take them into their houses. They would decorate with small pieces of evergreen shrubs. So it's similar in spirit but not quite the same thing, plus there's really no proof that one was taken directly from the other. And the growing of Christmas is quite profitable for local businesses. In America there are more fir trees than people.

Fir isn't a name that most people would think if. I think it would make a nice middle name, because in the first spot it just sounds too much like "fur" to me. But to each her own. It's a great name for someone with an affinity for the Yuletide season.


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I've had a lot of good luck finding Pagan friendly holiday songs. The Internet is a many splendid thing. One particularly lovely song I found recently is called "Rozhanitsa." That was a new name for me.

The song describes Rozhanitsa (pronounced "roh-jhuh-NEET-sah") as a entity that protects people during the winter months "'til spring breaks through." My first thought was that it sounded like she was a goddess. You can listen and buy the song here.

As it turns out, Rozhanitsa is indeed a goddess. A very obscure Slavic goddess that had a feast day in late December in Russia. She is a winter mother goddess who is depicted with antlers. She gives gifts on her day, and her worshippers gave her gifts of honey, bread and cheese. It was also a tradition to make and give white, deer-shaped cookies. Some Russian women continue to celebrate the Feast of Rozhanitsa.

As I've mentioned before on the profile for Lada, the Slavic pantheon is a bit messed up. There is a lot of confusion, errors, misinterpretations, and downright inventions in scholarly research. You can never be too careful. Some of the gods listed in sources for Slavic Paganism were never worshipped. I'm not sure that there's enough proof that Rozhanitsa is genuinely Pagan. It is believed that her feast day has existed at least since the 1100s, which is hardly Ancient times. I could also find no mention of the name's meaning.

That doesn't stop her from having a lovely name. Rozhanitsa has a lot going for it, I think. One is that Rozhanitsa is a unique way to get to the nickname Rose. It might be a bit long and hard to pronounce at first, but it has a lovely sound once you get the hang of it.

If you want a unique name that's got a great Yuletide carol to go with it, Rozhanitsa might be for you.


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Blessed Yule, everybody! And if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, Blessed Litha! Either way, you're celebrating Solstice! Not all Neo-Pagans celebrate Yule, but most if not all do something for the Winter Solstice.

Solstice (pronounced "SOL-stis") is derived from the Latin word solstitium, meaning "point at which the sun seems to stand still." It is the name of an astronomical event that occurs twice a year when the sun's appears to be at it's northernmost and southernmost extremes. The apparent movement of the sun path north or south appears to stop before switching directions.

The idea that the earth was spherical was first discovered by the Ancient Greeks, even if the Christians took a while to accept it. As soon as they figured that out, the devised the concept of the celestial sphere. They believed that the night sky was a spherical surface rotating the heavenly bodies.

Just like honoring death is a shared experience at the end of October, celebrating rebirth and the return of the light on this day is a human thing. There is Yule, Saturnalia, Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, and Kwanzaa. If you're Persian, you celebrate Yalda. Korochun is celebrated by the Slavics. Japanese celebrate each solstice and equinox with a holiday called Setsubun. On the tip of South America, the Mapuche people celebrate their New Year with We Tripantu. In the Hindu calender, both solstices are named Makara Sankranti.

Solstice has never been a common name in the United States (or anywhere, as far as I know). There aren't any names that I can think of that sound like it either except for maybe Celeste. There have not been enough people given this name to determine it's gender, although it reads feminine to me.

This would be a beautiful name for any child born on this day. Solstice has a unique, soft sound. It's a name that I wouldn't mind giving to one of my own daughters someday.


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011


In the Celtic Tree Months, Yew is the tree for Winter Solstice Eve. This evergreen tree has a lot of history.

The word yew comes from the Pre-Germanic iwa or iwo. It is ultimately derived from the Proto Indo European ei meaning "reddish," "motley," or "yellow." The Celts called the tree idhu (pronounced "IH-huh," I think). Mostly what I'm talking about here is the European Yew, but there are a lot of different species of yew trees around the world.

The yew tree had extraordinary importance to the Ancient Celts. One of the oldest surviving wooden artifacts is a yew spear head estimated to be 450,000 years old. Many Celtic chiefs and warriors took their own lives either by their swords or by yew poison rather than submit to the Romans. The Yew is known as the "Tree of Death" throughout Europe. It is sacred to many dark goddesses including Hecate, Morrighan, Almathea, Cailleach Beara, Banbha, and Berchta. The tree is said to root in the mouths of the dead and release their souls. On the other hand, due to the tree's ability to live for a very long time, it is also the symbol of stability and immortality in Celtic culture. It is often used as the central "World Tree" in ritual spaces.

The yew also has a long history of being used to make longbows. The longbow is an early war weapon developed in Northern Europe. The 5,000 year old "Ice Man" found in the Alps had a bow and ax handle made from yew. Unfortunately, since most of the wood is too knotty they were chopping down trees only to discard most of it, which predictably lead to a shortage of quality mature yews. This lead to having to buy the wood from other countries, which lead to monopolies and deforestation starting in the 1200s. In the 1500s, the Bavarian government sent a plea to the Holy Roman Emperor to stop the cutting of yews, as it was doing great damage to the forests by breaking up the canopy and leaving other trees to wind damage. But it was a profitable business and the Holy Roman Emperor did nothing. By the 1700s there were no mature trees, but at that point longbows were being replaced by guns. The more things change the more things stay the same, huh?

It is inappropriate to do spell work on the day before Yule because it is a time of death. Instead, Neo-Pagans should conduct rituals relating to reincarnation. Yew wood is often used to make magickal tools like wands. It is also dried and burned as incense used to contact the dead or, legend has it, bring back the dead. You've probably noticed that I've mentioned that this tree is poisonous, so herbal remedies are few. Recently it has been used in the cancer drug Taxol (and due to this, the population of yews is threatened again, so conservation measures are needed). The needles and branch tips have also been used to treat lung and bladder problems.

Yew has never been a common name in the United States. But I think it's lovely. It's short and simple but magickal sounding. Yew would be a great name for any witchlet.


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011


This name is an old favorite that has fallen out of favor. Is there any chance that it could be picked up again?

Orange is ultimately derived from the Sanskrit word naranga, meaning "orange tree." The word was not used to describe the color until the 1540s. The orange tree originally hailed from Northern India. Well, that's not completely true. There's a Persian orange that grew in the Mediterranean, but that one has a very bitter taste. When these sweeter oranges were discovered, they quickly displaced the other one. Only in Greece do they still distinguish the bitter variety (nerantzi) from the sweet one (portokali). The plant was spread around by sailors, who planted them on trade routes in order to avoid scurvy. Now it is the most commonly grown fruit tree in the world.

Considering that, you would think that there would be a lot more mythology concerning oranges, but I haven't been able to find very much. This fruit has long been associated with good fortune and wealth because of their golden color. Because the tree is an evergreen tree, it has become a symbol for fruitfulness. Depending on where you are, orange blossoms are popular for bridal bouquets and floral crowns. The meaning of the color orange changes quite a bit from culture to culture. It could stand for fire, lust, vigor, wholesomeness, attraction, justice, adventure, excitement, success, or endurance. In Wicca, orange is a stimulating color as well.

The orange has many practical purposes. One of the obvious ones is as food. Neo-Pagans sometimes use the peels in herbal medicine. The bitter tasting peels have compounds that lower blood pressure. It can also be used to stimulate appetite in people who have been sick for a long time. Traditionally, the peels are brewed into tea. Women who are trying to get pregnant should not try this. Oranges are also used to make juice, oil, perfume, scones, marshmallows, tea, marmalade, and slug repellent.

Today, Neo-Pagans like to hang oranges, apples, and lemons or leave them as offerings to the gods at Yuletide. This is because they're round and have the colors associated with masculinity, so they're used to symbolize the Horned God and the sun. Some like to spray orange water on their Yule trees, but that might be to keep the cats from climbing on them (cats supposedly don't like the smell of citrus). But the giving of oranges is a Christmas tradition as well, and it has to do with the story of Saint Nicolas. There was once a poor man with three beautiful daughters, but he was worried for their futures because he couldn't afford to marry them off. But the father was too proud to accept charity. Saint Nicolas was passing through town and decided to help. While they were asleep he left three gold pieces in each of the girl's stockings that were left out to dry. They awoke the next morning and found the gold pieces and were able to get married after all. People would place oranges in Christmas stockings in order to symbolize the gold pieces. I do remember that when my grandfather was a child the only gift he got on Christmas was an orange.

It might surprise some people to learn that this was once a well-used boy's name. It peaked in the 1880s at #719. This is probably because Orange is also a surname. Unfortunately, it doesn't really feel like a name today. But thanks to the birth of Apple, I would say that it's possible that someone could use it again.

It definitely sounds unconventional to a modern person's ears. But if you want to revitalize this name, I'm not going to stop you.


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Sunday, December 18, 2011


Judging from the way I can't find it in most baby name sources, Alcyone might be a new one for some people. But it's very appropriate for this time of year.

Alcyone (pronounced "al-SEE-eh-nee" or "al-SIY-eh-nee" I think) is a name from Greek mythology. The name pops up twice, it's the name of one of the Pleiades (basically they're stars), and the other one shows up in the myth of Alcyone and her husband Ceyx. According to the story, they were very much in love. Then one day, Ceyx went out to sea and never came back. In some versions of this story, the gods were angry that the couple sacrilegiously referred to each other as "Zeus" and "Hera" and arranged for Ceyx to die, but it most versions it's just a random tragedy. Anyway, Morpheus (god of dreams) disguised himself as Ceyx in order to break the news to Alcyone. Wild in her grief, Alcyone threw herself into the sea. But the gods had compassion, and brought the two back to life in the form of immortal halcyon birds. This is why most sources list this name's meaning as "kingfisher."

The reason Alcyone is associated with Yuletide is due to her nesting habits. Every winter, she nests for two weeks. During that time, the gods make sure that the sea is calm and peaceful so that she can lay her eggs. These seven days on either side of the Winter Solstice are known as "Halcyon Days," but the term could also refer to an idyllic time in the past.

Kingfishers are generally shy birds, so it's surprising that they appear so much in mythology. This might be because, depending on where you live, they have very colorful plumage. They were venerated by the Polynesians who believed that it controlled the ocean waves. The Dusun people of Borneo believed that is was a bad omen, and if warriors see one on the way to battle they should return home.

Most species of kingfishers bear a name relating to either Alcyone and Ceyx, even if it's just their scientific name. They even have their very own opera based on the Greek myth, written by Marin Marais titled Alcyone. The myth is also a favorite subject of poets, including Archibald Lampman and T.S. Eliot.

Alcyone has never been a common name in the United States. It could be a challenge pronunciation-wise, but since it's pretty much spelled the way it's said I think most people will remember it after you explain it. Variants include Halcyon and Halcyone.

Alcyone is a great Witchy name, particularly for those that have an affinity with the ocean, birds, or romantic myths. It's a sweet sounding, calm name for any little girl.


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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bewitching Names First Birthday!

It's hard to believe, but one year ago today I started this blog. Happy First Birthday Bewitching Names! Do I get presents?

Well, I have a present for you at least. Here's a picture of me when I was around the age of one year old. Imagine this little girl twenty five years later and you have an approximate idea of what I look like now.

I would like to thank all of my fellow name bloggers and all my viewers. My goals were pretty modest when I made this blog, 10 followers would have made me happy. I've done quite a bit more than that!

Total Page Views: over 53 thousand.

Website that sent the most viewers my way: Appellation Mountain.

Search term that brings the most viewers: "Bewitching Names," of course, but also "pixie names."

Strangest search terms that bring viewers here: "Winter girls" or "girls in winter." I don't know what to make of that.

Three most viewed name profiles:

1. Icie
2. Pixie
3. Kahlo

Countries that view this blog the most (highest page views to lowest):

1. United States
2. United Kingdom
3. Australia
4. Canada
5. Greece
6. Germany
7. New Zealand
8. India
9. Russia
10. Romania

Where do I get these awesome pictures?

Oh, you know. Around.

Note on Pagan Name of the Month:

In retrospect, I probably should have made the voting time shorter. But I'm closing the voting on the day after Yule (that's December 23rd to you non-Pagans) because I have a lot more seasonal names waiting. I think I'm going to have three runners up and a winner, and the way things are shaping up now you might be surprised.

Here's to another year!

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Picture of me is from my parents.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Here's a name that is a whole lot of Disney with a dash pop star.

I'm not the type of person to say that a movie changed my life, but Fantasia certainly influenced me in a profound way. I remember watching it when I was three years old and being completely captivated by it. To my great surprise, Fantasia was only Walt Disney's third full length animated picture. I didn't realize it was that old.

The evolution of the film is an interesting story. Mickey Mouse was declining in popularity if you can believe it, so Disney wanted to make a short film based on "The Sorcerers Apprentice" that centered around the character. He met with conductor Leopold Stokowski, who agreed to work for him at no charge. Stokowski also suggested the idea of making it into a full length feature of multiple shorts set to classical music, but Disney originally passed on the idea.

So the music was recorded and the animation was completed. But due to Disney's demanding standards, the short cost a lot more to make than a short would usually cost. If "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" was released on it's own there was no way that he could recoup the money it took to make it. So he revisited the full length movie idea, a project that was originally titled A Concert Feature. Disney hoped that this would attract a wider audience to classical music. The title Fantasia was picked by Stokowski, who pronounced it "fahn-TAH-zee-ah." Fantasia is an Italian musical term meaning "musical composition that sounds extemporaneous." It is derived from the Greek word phantasia, which means "perception," "image," or "imagination." Nowadays, people are likely to pronounced it "fahn-TAY-zhah."

Unfortunately, when the movie was first released in 1940, it was not the huge hit they wanted. People didn't get it. It was before it's time. The film was applauded by movie critics who recognized that it stripped away all conventions, music critics were resentful of the idea of putting images with classical pieces. Some other comments have been made that Fantasia is "not a kid's movie." They say that kids are fidgety and bored during this film and that it's really only "for adults and very nerdy kids" (hey!). There is also a bizarre controversy over "The Pastoral Symphony" because the original movie showed several black centaurs as servants for the white centaurs. They weren't edited out until 1969.

Still, the legacy of Fantasia cannot be ignored. It's scenes are now iconic and are the subject of many parodies including an Italian film called Allegro Non Troppo. In 1999, Fantasia 2000 was released, which I also love.

Fantasia is regarded as a very Pagan friendly movie. I mean, think about it. Greek mythology comes to life in "The Pastoral Symphony." The consequences of irresponsible spellwork are explored in "The Sorcerers Apprentice." The land of faerie dances in "The Nutcracker Suite." You travel back in time with "The Rites of Spring" (music which was originally about Slavic Pagans). And the raw sexuality of "Night on Bald Mountain" followed by the dull monotony of "Ave Maria" is enough to make anyone Pagan.

As far as I know, the only famous namesake for this name (aside from the movie) is Fantasia Monique Barrino, who is simply known by her first name professionally. This R&B singer won American Idol one year (I'm not a fan of the show, please don't make me look it up). She has an interesting sound. She certainly must be thanking her parents for giving her such a distinctive name.

Despite all that, I still wouldn't use the name Fantasia personally. I'm more likely to use the name Fantasy, and even then it's middle name territory. Still, I can certainly see the appeal for Fantasia. Some people might think that Fantasia has a stripperish quality. I'm not so certain that I disagree, but when I meet a little Fantasia I will certainly keep an open mind.


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Still from Fantasia found via


Tallulah has requested a profile of Bryony. And by the way Tallulah, you did it right. Pretty much I just have readers leave name requests in the comments. Since I have a theme planned for the month of January, this is really the only time I can get around to it.

Bryony (pronounced "BRIY-eh-nee" or "BREE-eh-nee") is a Latin name derived from bryonia, and it means "to swell" or "to sprout." The bryony plant is a type of vine related to cucumbers. It is native in Europe, the Canary Islands, North Africa, and South Asia. It has small greenish flowers, which is a rather unusual color.

This isn't a plant that you can find in many Neo-Pagan herbal sources. There's a reason for this. Although some species have been used in herbal medicines, most are poisonous and can be fatal when ingested. Two species, the white bryony and black bryony, were used as powerful purgative. No bryony should be used without medical supervision. A popular film suggests that this could be used in a love potion (the source didn't say which popular film). Don't even think about it.

Bryonys were considered wicked during the Middle Ages. Scammers would pass of bryony roots off as mandrakes, and then sell them to women wanting the later as fertility charms. Today, Neo-Pagans consider bryony roots to be a good substitute for mandrakes, even though both are equally difficult to find in the United States. In Poland, the plant was fenced in when found in order to protect it. They believed that since the leaves resembled a child, destroying a bryony would destroy their own child's happiness.

Generally, when I think of this name I think about the United Kingdom. England's Royal Navy named two of their ships HMS Bryony after the plant. My first encounter with the name was with the book and film Atonement. In the book by Ian McEwan, Briony is a young, imaginative girl who aspires to be a writer. She witnesses a moment between her older sister and her friend that she doesn't fully understand, and sets of an unimaginable chain of events. Other fictional Bryonys can be found in novels that include Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart, Belladonna: A Novel of Revenge by Karen Moline, And Justice There Was None by Deborah Crombie, and Night in Eden by Candice Proctor.

Bryony is a relatively new coinage. One source says that it didn't enter "naminess" until the beginning of the 1900s, another says it was popular during the 1700s. The name is most often found in Scotland, where bryonys are common plants. As of 2008, it ranked #433 in that country. Alternate spellings include Briony, Bryonie, and Brioni.

However, Bryony is not a common plant or name in the United States. One person with this name says she has trouble from those who assume that Bryony is a form of Brian. Although I think that this name could very easily be used for a boy, history suggests that it's primarily a girls name.

I find it interesting that she appears in a novel as the daughter of someone named Belladonna. Clearly, they're both poisonous plants, but Bryony comes off as the less sultry, no nonsense version of Belladonna. She sounds like the brainy girl, and it's full of woodland beauty. I don't know if it's for me, but it would be wonderful to see it more on the playground.


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Because of the ancient holiday of Saturnalia, Saturn could be a great name for the season.

Saturn (pronounced "SAH-turn") is a Latin name, but surprisingly I can't find any meaning. In Greek mythology, Saturn is known as Cronus. He's the Titan who fathered Zeus and by extension most of the ruling generation of Olympians. In Roman mythology, Saturn, sometimes known as Saturnus, was a god of the harvest, justice, and strength. He is the son of Terra (the earth) and Caelus (the sky).

As the story goes, Terra and Caelus also gave birth to three children with fifty heads. Caelus hated them and imprisoned them under the earth. Terra was furious and asked her titan children for help in putting an end to Caelus' cruel treatment. Only Saturn responded. He either castrated him or sliced him into pieces and threw him into the Underworld. There is a mythical Golden Age in Roman history in which Saturn is said to have ruled.

According to myth, Saturn was the ruler of the Universe for untold ages. But it was prophesied that one day he would loose his power when his child killed him. Therefore,every time his wife Ops gave birth, he would eat the baby. This is famously depicted in Fransisco Goya's painting "Saturn Devouring One of His Sons." When the sixth child, Jupiter, was born, Ops had him spirited away and gave her husband a stone in swaddling clothes. Saturn was deceived, and ate it. When Jupiter grew up, he secured the job of cup bearer to his father. With the help of his grandmother Terra, Jupiter made a potion that would cause his father to vomit. He pucked out Jupiter's siblings Veritas, Ceres, Juno, Pluto, and Neptune, who managed to still be alive. Saturn was either castrated or chopped up into pieces with his own sickle, and cast off into the Underworld. And the cycle of domestic violence continues.

Saturnalia is often listed as the Pagan source of Christmas celebrations. Saturnalia did not begin as a celebration for the Winter Solstice. The holiday was instituted in 217 BC as a way to boost moral after the Roman's crushing military defeat in the battle against the Carthaginians. It was originally celebrated on December 17th, but it's popularity grew until it became a week long festival. Attempts at shortening the celebrations were met with revolts.

Saturnalia was celebrated a number of ways. They had the usual sacrifices to Saturn, which were performed at his temple. School was usually closed on this week. People would also make and give small presents. The role of master and slave were temporarily reversed and rules of etiquette were loosened. The customary greeting was, "Lo, Saturnalia!" Personally, I think our Yuletide celebrations have more to do with the Norse celebration involving Odin with a little bit of Saturnalia thrown in.

Of course, Saturn is also the name of a planet. It's the sixth planet from the sun with all the rings. It's about nine times the size of Earth and has at least sixty two moons. The planet has been observed by man since prehistoric times, and it was the most distant planet that they were aware of. So yes, the name is spacey, which might put a few people off it. Planet names are usually considered off limits by the name police except for Venus.

But despite the horrifying cannibalistic stories associated with it, I kind of like Saturn. It's strong and very unusual. And I think the spaciness is a plus, I like the association with another mysterious world. So Saturn is a great name for a daring namer.


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Monday, December 12, 2011


As far as fictional appellations go, Ebenezer is Ichabod's grouchy brother.

Like Ichabod, this is a very Jewish name. Ebenezer (pronounced "eh-beh-NEE-zer") is a Hebrew phrase Eben ha-Ezer and it means "stone of help." In the Bible (presumably the Old Testament), this is a name of the memorial stone set up by the prophet Samuel to make an important victorious battle in Jewish history. The battle took place in a town called Eben-Ezer, and the battle was between the Israelites and the Philistines (invaders that immigrated to their territory).

Apparently, Ebenezer only came into "naminess" because the Puritans. But Ebenezer Scrooge remains it's most famous namesake. He first appeared as the principle character in Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol in 1843. It has remained a classic ever since. I can't imagine any person who doesn't have a passing familiarity with this story, but here's a recap anyways.

Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old curmudgeon who hates Christmas. All he cares about is money, and he is not well liked in his town. He says, "Bah, humbug!" a lot. But on the night of Christmas Eve, he is visited by three spirits (well, four if you count his old pal Jacob Marley). They are the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. They essentially scare him into being a good person. On Christmas morning he awakes a changed man, and from then on he strives to be a generous and loving during the time he has left on earth.

Charles Dickens got the inspiration for the character's name from a tombstone. The grave marker was for Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie, and it listed his profession as a meal man (he sold corn). But due to Dickens' mild dyslexia, he read it as "mean man," and the rest is history. If you want to go hunting for this tombstone, you're out of luck. It was removed during renovations and misplaced.

"Scrooge" has become slang for a miserly person, but what about Ebenezer? I have to admit that it would be tough to separate the name from the character, just like it would be for Ichabod. And if that worries you there are a few variations: Ebeneezer, Ebenezar, Ebnezer, Eveneser, Evenezer, Eben, Ebbie, Eb, and Ebbaneza for girls (which I immediately find my heart fluttering over for a girl). But Ebenezer in an of itself is a lovely name.

What I don't understand about avoiding Ebenezer is that the character redeems himself at the end. Shouldn't it be a positive association? Isn't it good to use his name? I think it is.


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Sunday, December 11, 2011


I wonder if Robin is going to come back anytime soon. My guess is no, but that's due to no fault of its own.

Originally, Robin was simply a diminutive form of Robert. The prefix Rob- is Old Germanic for "fame," and -in is an Old French diminutive. Nowadays the name is not often used as a nickname for Robert, but is used independently. This French invention was brought to England by the Normans. Before the bird was called a robin, it was called a ruddock, a word related to "red."

There are two different types of robins: European Robins and American Robins. They do look slightly different even though they both bear red breasts. In Europe, Robins are featured prominently in British folklore and not much anywhere else. They were associated with storm clouds and sacred to Thor. Do you remember what else is sacred to Thor? Oak trees. I've mentioned that the robin often symbolized the Oak King while the wren symbolized the Holly King, and wrens were ritually stoned during the Winter Solstice. I've seen no mention of a similar stoning of robins during the Summer Solstice. That hardly seems fair. In Christian folklore, a robin sang to comfort Jesus while he was dying on the cross, and that's how it's breast became stained with blood.

On the other side of the globe, the American robin features prominently in Native American mythology. In many stories, the robin got it's red breast by getting burned. A robin fanned the flames of a campfire in order to save a man and his son. In the Pacific Northwest, the Tlingit people believe that the Robin is a gift from the Raven. He was sent down to please mankind with his singing. And just to clarify, it's the American robins that have the light blue eggs. The term "robin's egg blue" would make little sense in Britain, where robins eggs are brown.

The robin has been a symbol for the Christmas season for years. This may be because of the battle between the wren and the robin, but a source listed another explanation. In Victorian England, the postmen wore red uniforms and were nicknamed "robins." The bird was often depicted on cards in order to represent the postman.

Robin has been a popular name since the Middle Ages. Two of the earliest fictional bearers are Robin Goodfellow (another name for Puck) and Robin Hood. Other well known characters include Batman's sidekick and Kermit the Frog's nephew. There are countless real life namesakes like actor/comedian Robin Williams, actress Robin Wright Penn, and pop singer Robyn Rihanna Fenty (who, as we all know, simply goes by Rihanna).

To American namers, this name may remind them too much of their parent's generation. This traditionally masculine name peaked in the 1950s at #182. It's use as a girls name is relatively recent. It peaked in the 1960s at #34. Neither of them are in the top 1,000 today. It doesn't stop it from being a lovely name, but it is a dated one.

If that doesn't bother you, then this would be a lovely name to use for either a girl or a boy. It's a name that everyone is familiar with, but not one given to the current generation of babies very often. In the meantime, I think it's more likely to reappear on the charts when our children are naming their children, when it is fresh and new again.


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Let's get back to the fun, shall we? And as far as fun names go, Mirth is pretty high!

Mirth is an English word name ultimately derived from the Pre Germanic murgitha, meaning "joy" or "pleasure." Mirth is one of the Wiccan values listed in Doreen Valiente's Charge of the Goddess. Mirth joins humility, honor, reverence, strength, beauty, power, and compassion.

So, why is mirth a virtue? Basically, it helps Wiccans take joy in their practice and in everything they do. We don't take ourselves or religion too seriously. You might think that this comes into conflict with another Wiccan virtue, reverence, but I don't think it does. It has to be a balancing act between the two, and figuring out which one is appropriate for a given situation.

Joy is a name often mentioned this time of year. But Mirth? Not so much. Mirth isn't an established name with a long history of use the same way that Joy is. But I think it's especially appropriate for the holiday season. Aside from the fact that mirth, joy, and happiness are associated with Yuletide in general, mirth is almost a homonym with myrrh. Myrrh is one of the spices that the Three Wise Men gave to baby Jesus. Myrrh was also used by the Ancient Egyptians to embalm mummies, so it has some Pagan cred too.

Personally, I see Mirth as a boys name. I have no logical reason for it. But, big surprise, if you see it listed at all it's listed as a girls name. But depending on how old you are or how eclectic your taste in television is, you will recognize Mirth as the name of the son of Mork and Mindy. Most people are not likely to remember that, as Mirth didn't make an appearance until the last season.

So if you want an unusual name that fits in with the holiday season and screams happiness, then Mirth could be for you.


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The Comment Policy

I've had to delete my first two comments, and I've notice that I've never made any formal comment policy on this blog. That's probably not very fair. I'm going to remedy that.

So here it is. You write something I don't like, I'll delete it.

Oh, you need more explanation than that? Ugh.

I take my commenting inspiration from Ariel Meadow Stallings, who runs the Offbeat Empire. Offbeat Mama is linked in the sidebar. She has made all of her various websites a safe haven for the offbeat. And she wants to keep it that way, so her commenting policy is very strict. She's had to delete a lot of them.

I want this blog to be a safe haven for name lovers, particularly weird name lovers (but I love you Wicca-lite people too!). A lot of the strange names get put down on other websites. I would like to think that I'm hear to give another perspective. And I don't tolerate vitriol. Ever. Whining over free speech doesn't work in Internet land. This blog is my own tiny dictatorship.

The two comments I had to delete were on Lucifer, which is predictable as that's a very controversial name. And the second comment was something to the effect of, "I'm glad to see other opinions aren't welcome here." If you look around at other comments you'll find that your wrong. You're opinion wasn't the problem. It's an opinion a lot of people share, and I'm honestly on the fence about the name. But whether I agree with you or not isn't the issue. It was how you chose to express your opinion. It was mean, vicious, and not deserving of a place here. If you don't like how I handled it, that falls under the category of tough shit. You can go to some other blog that has a different policy. I won't miss you.

You're not supposed to like every name featured here. I don't even like every name featured here. Other people are going to love names that you hate, that's just the nature of the beast. What you are supposed to be is open minded and courteous to others. If you're not, then I'm wishing your comment away into the cornfield.


This botanical name might sound little and cute, but don't underestimate it.

Thistle (pronounced "THIH-sil") is an English word ultimately derived from Proto-Indo-European steyg meaning "to prick." This name is telling. The plant is covered with sharp prickles, which discourages animals from eating it. They also have equally prickly-looking fuchsia flowers. The plant is native to Asia and the Mediterranean area, but can now be found throughout Europe and the United States.

This plant has many nicknames including Holy Ghost Herb and Cardin. In the olden days it was used to cure many ailments, including the plague. Today, it is used to help mothers produce breast milk and cure upset stomachs. However, ingesting too much of this plant could be hazardous as it induces vomiting. For men, it was used as an aphrodisiac. The Pagans associated with Pan, Mars, and Loki, and therefore it has a strong masculine sensual energy. The plant was thrown into fire as an offering or as incense. Wiccans also use this herb for ritual bathing, purification, and calling spirits.

The thistle has been on the national emblem of Scotland since the 1200s. According to legend, the Norse army was trying to sneak up on the Scottish army at night. One of the barefoot Norsemen stepped on a thistle and cried out in pain, thus alerting the army to their presence. Today, the thistle can still be found on police force emblems and the Encyclopedia Britannica (which originated in Edinburgh). Several football clubs bear it's name, and the Order of the Thistle is an important chivalric order in Scotland.

I thought of this name because in the poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (which I don't think is it's real name but that's how people know it). In it Santa and his reindeer fly away from the house "like the down of a thistle." This expression refers to the seeds of a thistle, which are very similar to dandelion seeds. They are feathery seeds meant to be carried away in the breeze.

Thistle is a name that does not usually appear in baby name sources, but I've seen it mentioned a few times in blogs. It's a cute name without being prissy, and I think it could be a great natural unisex name.


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Saturday, December 10, 2011


I have to admit, Greensleeves would be an interesting one to find in the playground, but it could be a great option for daring namers.

"Greensleeves" is a traditional English folk song about a scorned lover. It was first marketed in 1580 as "A New Northern Dittye of the Lady Green Sleeves." Contrary to popular belief, King Henry VIII did not write this song in order to seduce Anne Boleyn. The song has an Italian style composition that did not reach England until their daughter Elizabeth was Queen. And it apparently didn't take too long for it to become popular, as it is mentioned in Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor.

There are a number of different interpretations of the song. At the time, the word "green" had sexual connotations. This comes from the phrase "a green gown" because clothes becomes grass stained while having sex outside. So Lady Greensleeves could be a promiscuous young lady. She could also be mistakenly assumed to be promiscuous by the song's narrator, which is why he was cast off discourteously. The color green was also seen as a symbol for the lightness of love.

This song is only associated with the holiday season because of "What Child is This?" This song is a popular Christmas carol that uses the same tune as Greensleeves. Recently, it has also been used for a Pagan Yule carol called "Lady Greensleeves." In this version, Lady Greensleeves is the Goddess. You can listen (and purchase) a very good version of this song here. Other modified versions of this song include Leonard Cohen's "Leaving Greensleeves," Jacques Brel's "Amsterdam," and Debbie Reynald's "Home in the Meadow."

Obviously I think this has naminess potential, otherwise I wouldn't have suggested it. Greensleeves would make a great magickal name, and a unique middle name option. But as a first name? I'm not so sure. But to each his own. Greensleeves has romance and love attached to it, so there's no negative association there.

So if you want a uniquely musical name that brings this time of year to mind, Greensleeves just may be you're gal.


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Right now we are in the middle of the sun sign Sagittarius, and this zodiac sign might be slightly cumbersome to bear but I'm profiling it anyway.

Sagittarius (pronounced "saj-ih-TAIR-ee-us") is a Latin name meaning "archer." The feminine variant is Sagittaria. The constellation becomes a sun sign between November 22nd and December 21st. It is associated with the transformation from autumn to winter. The constellation Sagittarius is supposed to look like a centaur drawing a bow. This image is as old as the Babylonians, who identified the constellation with a centaur-like god named Nerigal. Nerigal was generally depicted with two heads (one of a panther and one of a human), wings, and a scorpion stinger above the typical horses tail.

In Greek legend, centaurs are known for being wild, lusty, and prone to violence while intoxicated. But one centaur, Chiron, was quite the opposite. Then again, he was not directly related to other centaurs. He was the son of the Titan Cronus and the nymph Philyra. Cronus had been in the form of a horse during Chron's conception, which is how he got his centaur form. Chiron was a respected healer, astrologer, teacher, and oracle. Achilles, Theseus, Perseus, and Dionysius were his pupils. He married a nymph named Chariclo and had three daughters (Hippe, Endeis, and Ocyrhoe) and a son (Carystus).

He was placed in the stars because of a heroic action. Being the son of a Titan, Chiron was born immortal. Another Titan, Prometheus, had been punished for giving men fire by being chained to a rock and left to die. Chiron asked Hercules to arrange a deal with Zeus that would exchange his immortality for Prometheus' life. Chiron was poisoned by an arrow that was laced with the blood of a Hydra. Because of his noble sacrifice, Zeus gave him a place in the heavens. This constellation is called Centaurus in Greek, and Sagittarius in Latin.

According to astrologers, Sagittarius is a masculine fire sign. The people born under this sign love adventure, and these are the wanderers of the zodiac. Sagittarians are extremely independent and like to look for knowledge and truth in faraway lands. They are known for being great communicators who value social status. On the other side of things, they have trouble watching their tongues. They don't like being told what to do. Trouble with addictions can also arise because they like too much of the pleasures of life and have little self control.

Sagittarius can be quite a mouthful and it doesn't sound overly "namey." If a parent wants to honor this sign, she is more likely to consider the name Archer than Sagittarius. But who knows, maybe somewhere in the world someone will see this name and their heart will start fluttering.


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In the process of becoming a Wiccan, I am ready to give up on all sorts of Christmassy things I grew up with. Eggnog? Never liked it anyway, I've got wassail! Christmas songs? I've been able to find Pagan Yule songs, so I'm okay. But if you want to take away my Nutcracker, you'll have to pry it out of my dead Witchy hands. That's a tradition I'm not giving up.

Even though I have no intention of using it on a daughter, I have a soft spot for Clara because of the Nutcracker ballet. The ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was adapted from the book The Nutcracker and The Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman. The original production was not a success. People criticized it for not being faithful enough to the original story and for featuring too many children. Tchaikovsky detested his own work on the piece. And look at it now! It's the most famous ballet and one of the most famous classical compositions ever.

When I read the original Nutcracker story book by E.T.A. Hoffman, I was surprised to find that the heroine's name is not Clara, but Mary. In some versions of the ballet the character is called Marie, but never Mary. In the book, Clara is the name of one of her dolls. It is unclear why or when they changed the name.

Clara is a Latin name derived from clarus meaning "light," "clear," or "famous." A variation of Clara, Clare, has always been very popular throughout Europe and England. This is because it is the name of a well loved saint. Saint Clare of Assisi (born Chiara Offreduccio) was the most important female follower of Saint Francis. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, commonly known as the Poor Clares, which was specifically for women. She also wrote the Rule of Life, which was the first monastic rule to be written by a woman.

Clara remains a popular name throughout the world. As in 2008, it was ranked #3 in France, #6 in Belgium, #11 in Denmark, #25 in Germany, #34 in Austria, #42 in Spain, #56 in Quebec, and #81 in Ireland. It's a classic in America as well. 1880s. In the 1880s, it ranked at #9. It has never left the top 1,000, but now it's ranked #199. Clara even appears in the charts as a boys name ranking #681 in 1880s. Other variations include Claire, Clarabelle, and Klara.

Given it's popularity, it shouldn't be a surprise that it has a ton of fictional and real namesakes. Here are just a few of them. Clara Barton was an American who founded the Red Cross. Clara Bow was the quintessential flapper girl, and her movie Wings won the very first Academy Award for best motion picture. In the film Heidi, the lead character teaches Klara how to walk again. Clara is a kind mother with special powers in the novel House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. A Clara Page appears in the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel This Side of Paradise.

Clara is a lovely Wicca-lite name for those wanting a name that symbolizes light and hope. These two things are very much associated with this time of year.


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Cinnamon may be associated with this time of year, but Peppermint is even more so.

The word peppermint was first attested in the 1690s. It is unclear how it got it's name. The peppermint is a mutt of a plant. It's a cross between a spearmint and a watermint. It doesn't need a lab with technicians in order to exist, this hybrid plant occurs in nature. It was originally cultivated in London, but can now be found around the world. It is considered to be an invasive species in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. It especially likes moist, shady habitats, like streams or drain ditches.

Peppermint (and all mints in general) has a long tradition of medicinal use, probably because it's one of the best tasting remedies out there. It has a high menthol content, which is an anesthetic. This is the reason that peppermint is often farmed for it's oil. It is used as a flavoring for tea, ice cream, candy, toothpaste, and chewing gum. Peppermint has a very sharp aroma which is used to help memory and cure insomnia. It's oil also acts as a natural pesticide.

Peppermint's magickal attributes are often lumped together with spearmint, but Wiccans believe they bring luck, money, and strength. Tea made from this plant is often used as a natural aspirin. Inhalation of boiling leaves is recommended for head colds and asthma. It's ideal for indigestion, headaches, toothaches, flatulence, and general fatigue. Perhaps this plant became associated with this time of year because this is the time when people most often get sick.

You might recall that I once blogged about a family that has a child named Peppermint Aries. The sex of the child is unclear because the family is really into gender bending. But I looked at that name and thought, "My Gods, I hope that's a girl." Is that hypocritical of me? I mean, I'm usually very pro-unisex when it comes to unusual nature names. But I see Peppermint as really cutsie and sugary, and therefore difficult for a boy to wear.

This might be because of Peppermint Patty, who is a character in the comic strip Peanuts. The character's real name is Patricia Reichardt. Peppermint Patty is a joke name referring to the york peppermint patty, a tasty mint and chocolate cake.

As I said before, this name is just too cute for me. But if you're a family that likes cute, then there's nothing wrong with cute! It's an unusual, sweet name for the daring namer.

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Just a friendly reminder that nominations for Pagan Name of the Year are still open!


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Thursday, December 8, 2011


A reader named Kitsune has left a comment that intrigued me greatly. She said that she and her husband have decided that their third son, should they ever have one, will be named Lucifer. So this profile is greatly dedicated to her and her family.

But let's get into the name's history first, which is actually not malevolent at all. Lucifer (pronounced "LOO-sih-fer") is a Latin name derived from lucem ferre and it means "light bearer." Many people think that this name first appeared in the Bible, but they are wrong. In Ancient Roman times, Lucifer was the name for the planet Venus when it appears in the east before sunrise. Because it "brings the light" of day, get it? Nowadays, no one calls it by that name and instead call it the Morning Star. Back then, people believed that stars were real celestial beings, which might have been what started belief in angels. Lucifer was actually a common given name during Ancient Rome, and was associated with a few goddesses like Diana Lucifera, who assists childbirth.

You might be reading this and thinking, "Wait, Lucifer is Old Testament, right? How did a Latin name find it's way into a Hebrew manuscript?" I got news for you: It didn't. There is no Lucifer in the Jewish religion. In the original Hebrew Text, the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah is not about a fallen angel. It's about a fallen king. This Babylonian king persecuted the Jewish people during his lifetime. The text refers to this king as Helal at certain points, which means "day star" or "son of the dawn." This name was given to him because he wore opulent golden robes.

The Roman Catholic Church who were the first to translate these texts for their Bible all spoke Latin. They saw the word Helal and changed it to Lucifer. They didn't make a mistake. That's what the "day star" was in Latin. It is unclear precisely when he transformed from a king into an angel, but presumably they changed it because they thought it would make a better story.

You should notice at this point that there is still no mention of Satan. In the original story, Lucifer is one of the archangels until he gets a little power hungry and God has to kick him out...and that's it. It ends with Lucifer continuously flying in the air above the abyss. It is not suggested that he's the Devil, and many scholars today believe that they are two separate beings. Even in the original New Testament, the "adversary" is given many names, but Lucifer isn't one of them.

So what's the problem? The King James version of the Bible. Yes, the same one that says, "Thou salt not suffer a witch to live." It also says, "Lucifer is Satan: so says the word of God." Except the Lord said no such thing.

Christians today generally believe that the Devil has been around since the beginning of time. That is, if you follow the Bible literally. If you believe that something has existed since the dawn of time, then you assume that everyone before you believed in it too. The truth is that the Devil is a relatively new creation that evolved over time, and the early Bible authors didn't believe in it at all. Heck, some people believe that he got busy with Diana and fathered Aradia.

Some people also believe that Lucifer's negative image might have something to do with a real life "Saint" Lucifer. I say "Saint" Lucifer because his status as such is still a controversial topic within the Catholic Church. Lucifero Calaritano was the Bishop of Cagliari, Sardinia (an island nation off the coast of Italy) who lived during the 300s. He was a fiery opponent of Arianism, an early branch of Christianity that believed that Jesus Christ (or God the Son) was created after and therefore distinct from God the Father. Lucifer was well known for being a stubborn and argumentative man, and he might have been excommunicated. However, he is still a very popular figure in Sardinia and wherever Sardinians have immigrated.

And so the debate. Does the negative association with Lucifer make this name too much of a risk, like it does with Baphomet? Or should people become more culturally literate and get over it, like with Jezebel? Only you, Kitsune and husband, can decide this.

This name might be risky, but it's not a risk that you would be alone in taking. Nine American boys were named Lucifer last year. Still, that's not very many, and the incorrect "Lucifer is Satan" assumption holds as much sway over popular culture as "Witches are evil." This name has even been banned in a number of countries. The ironic thing about all the vitriol against Lucifer is that the name's meaning, "light bearer" or "bringer of light," is often attributed to Jesus.

Kitsune, I was rather amused when you said that you're husband's number one problem with Lucifer was not the stigma, but finding nicknames that weren't Lucy. I'm extremely interested now in what you're two sons are named! You already thought of Lucky, but I'm going to add a few more: Lucas, Luca, Lux, Sif, or Fife.

So when little Lucifer (or whatever you ultimately decide to name him) is born, congratulations. Should people give you grief over this choice, you have all this ammunition to give them. Or you can just refer them to this post.

Encyclopedia of Mystics, Saints, & Sages by Judika Illes

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Sunday, December 4, 2011


This is the time of year when there's lots of talk of stars, which made me think of this name.

This name has a lot in common with Coraline. Yvaine (pronounced "ee-VAYN") is a name that was introduced to the world through a Neil Gaiman book. Yvaine is the name of a fallen star who lands in Faerie, where stars are living beings. The hero, Tristran, vows to find the star and give it to a village girl named Victoria as proof of his love. She is also pursued by witches and princes who want her for their own nefarious purposes. When Tristram realizes his love for her, she abandons his courtship with Victoria and marries Yvaine. They cannot interbreed and therefore never have children.

Well, I read Stardust and...well, lets just say that it's not one of my favorite book. The ending of Stardust is anti-climatic to the extreme. The movie adaptation was better, but not overwhelmingly fantastic. And it doesn't look like it inspired many parents to use this name.

Some sources list Yvaine as a Scottish name literally meaning "evening star." I'm not sure where they're getting that from, and I don't think I buy it. I think it's more likely that it's a feminine form of Yvain. Yvain is the name of an important figure in Arthurian legend.

Sir Yvain (also known as Ywain, Owain, Ewain, or Uwain) was a Knight of the Round Table and the son of King Urien. He is one of the oldest characters in Arthurian legend and was one of the most popular in it's day. He appeared in Chretien de Troyes Yvain, The Knight of the Lion. In the story, Yvain seeks to avenge his cousin Calogrenant by killing the Knight Esclados. He succeeds, and also falls in love with Exclados' widow, Laudine. With the help of Laudine's servant, he wins her heart. But Gawain convinces Yvain to embark on an adventure. His new wife allows this on the condition that he return after a set period of time. Yvain has so much fun during his exploits that he looses track of time, and Laudine forbids him from coming home. Yvain is devastated, but is determined to win her back. In the end, Laudine eventually allows him to come back home. The character is based off of the historical Owain mab Urien, who was King of Rheged in Great Britain during the 500s. If this is where the name Yvaine comes from, that would make it a form of Owain, a Welsh name meaning "youth."

Yvaine has a Medieval feel to it that is likely to appeal to some people. You're going to have to explain the pronunciation and spelling more than once, as Yvaine is not as familiar a name as Coraline. However, it has a strange loveliness to it that sounds very magickal.


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Name Round Up: Cirque du Soleil

Ah, Cirque du Soleil. You either love it or you love to hate it. For me, it's mostly the former with a little bit of the later. They create incredibly imaginative and beautiful shows (and there's no animal abuse!), but at the same time it's a company that sometimes makes cringe worthy decisions in the name of money.

What I can tell you is that Cirque du Soleil a unique name lover's goldmine. All the influx of cultures and crazy creative people mean that they use some interesting monikers. This is just a fraction of the names of shows, songs, and people who worked on the shows that I collected. Let's bask in the colorful strangeness, shall we?


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Every time someone compiles a list of names inspired by artists, I'm always surprised when Rembrandt isn't mentioned.

Rembrandt (pronounced "REM-brahnt") is a Germanic name composed of the elements ragin, meaning "advice," and brand, meaning "sword." A more lyrical interpretation of the name may be "sword wisdom." The name was primarily used by the Dutch.

The most famous namesake is artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, who often signed his work with his first name only. He is considered to be one of the greatest painters and print makers in European history. In his youth he achieved success as a portrait painter, and married his art dealer's cousin, a woman named Saskia. After that his personal life went downhill. Their first son, Rumbartus, died when he was two months old. Their first daughter, Cornelia, died at three weeks old. The second daughter, also named Cornelia, died after one month. And Saskia died after the birth of their fourth child, a boy named Titus. Titus lived to adulthood. Later, Rembrandt had a relationship with a maid named Hendrickje. They never married but they raised a child together named...Cornelia. This must have been his favorite girls name. Rembrandt had a problem with living beyond his means, and his later life was characterized by financial problems.

Rembrandt is renowned for blending the mundane and the spiritual in his work. He is especially praised for his narrative paintings, which mostly consisted of Biblical scenes, but occasionally included other stories like the abduction of Europa. The house he lived in was located in the Jewish quarter, and would use the neighbors as models.

There is more than one Rembrandt. There are two other artists with this name. Rembrandt Bugatti was an Italian sculptor and Rembrandt Peale was an American painter. A fictional character named Rembrandt Brown appeared in the television show Sliders. It's also the name of a dental cosmetic whitening product, but my first thought is still the artist.

Most everyone is familiar with this name. People are going to forget the silent "d" in the name, which wouldn't be incorrect. Originally, his name was spelled Rembrant and that's how he signed it. But otherwise, Rembrandt seems like an excellent option. It falls in line with Monet and Kahlo. It would be awesome if more people considered this name.


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Painting by Rembrandt.


Wren's been gaining more and more attention by name enthusiasts, and this season is an appropriate time to profile it.

Wren (pronounced "REHN") is is an Old English name derived from wrenne and wraenna. Many of the names used in reference to this bird mean "king" or "little king." It was called Regulus in Latin, Kinglet in Old High German, Reytelet in French, Bren in Welsh, and Konije in Dutch. This is due to a legend about a competition to find the king of the birds. The crown was to be given to the bird who could fly the highest. The eagle out flew all the other birds, but the wren won by hiding in it's feathers and jumping up at the last minute.

The wren is considered the most sacred bird in many cultures, particularly to the Druids. In Irish Gaelic, it's called the drui-en or Druid bird. The Welsh word dryw means both Druid and wren. The bird symbolized wisdom, divinity, the underworld, healing, and cunning. Around New Year an apprentice Druid would go out by himself into the woods to find hidden wisdom. If he found a wren, it was a sign that he would be blessed with knowledge in the coming year. The wren is a very tiny bird that is hard to spot, although its impressive voice makes up for it (it's song is ten times louder than a rooster's). The wren's elusiveness is taken as a metaphor for finding the elusive divinity within all things. The Druids also used the wren's calls for divination. There are many myths that state that the wren was the animal that brought fire to mankind, and several myths that feature a shape shifting wren.

But just because the wren is king doesn't mean that people always treated the bird with kindness. In Celtic-speaking areas, the wren was hunted and killed in a ritualistic way, usually by stoning. This was done for several reasons. Some may have been enacting the idea that if you kill a king, his powers pass on to his successor. It may also be due to the Pagan Yule tradition of the battle between the Holly King and the Oak King. The wren represents the old Holly King that dies at Yule, and the robin represents the reborn Oak King. The Winter Solstice was the only time a wren could be hunted down, any other time it was extremely unlucky. The Christians adopted this tradition on St Stephen's Day, or Wrenning Day. It was believed that a wren's song betrayed St. Stephen, who was hiding in martyrdom. Thus on December 26th, they would take revenge for St. Stephen's stoning by killing a bird. There is a traditional Yuletide carol called "The Hunting of the Wren." Generally, the senseless slaughter of tiny, helpless birds is frowned upon by most Pagans today, but a variation of this tradition still exists in Ireland. Children and adults go throughout the neighborhood asking for food, money, or alcohol in exchange for seeing a captured wren.

History points towards this being a boys name. However, most modern baby name resources list it for girls only. But as far as I can tell it has never charted for either gender in the United States. It is much more commonly seen as a surname. The most well known fictional namesake is a boy, Wren McCormic from the movie Footloose. Although I also remember it as the name of Shia LaBeouf's overachieving sister in the television show Even Stevens. A well known Neo-Pagan is Wren Walker, who co-founded the popular website The Witch's Voice. The name is more used in Australia than in any other country, both for girls and boys.

So if you would like to use Wren, it's a great name for this time of year, if slightly macabre. It's a no-frills name for a girl, and a gentle nature name for a boy. Wren's a great name with lots of meaning for a little Witchlet.


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