Friday, March 2, 2012


I've seen a couple of Wolfgangs, and Amadeus is getting some attention, but what about Mozart?

The famous composer was baptized Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. His surname has an interesting history, to put it mildly. Before surnames came into use, moz was an Early New High German word meaning "wether" (castrated ram), and was used as an insult. Moz was combined with the Old Swabian word motz, meaning "stupid fool" or "dirt." The earliest appearance of this word as a man's name was in 1284, recorded as "Gebhard called Motze." Once surnames became necessary, people saddled with Motze decided to dress it up and added the Germanic warrior ending -hart. Gradually it transformed from Motzhart, to Muczhart, to Mozhart, to Mozart (pronounced "MOH-tzahrt").

From what I know of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he would have been more amused by his name's history than insulted. He was multilingual and loved playing around with his various names. It seems like not one of his signatures had the same exact name. He invented different variations like Mozartini, Mozarty, and Mozartus. He was a name enthusiast.

Mozart, of course, was very prolific and wrote many famous compositions, but the most important work from a Neo-Pagan perspective might be The Magic Flute. It was Mozart's last work, premiering in Vienna on September 30th, 1791. The book was written by Emanuel Schikaneder, who also originated the role of Papageno. It features a prince named Tamino who accepts a quest given to him by the Queen of the Night. He must rescue her daughter Pamina from the clutches of Sarastro, the Priest of Isis and Osiris. His reward is marriage to Pamina. Tamino heads out with his magic flute and his new friend Papageno, a bird catcher. Coincidentally, Sarastro is also holding a woman well suited for Papageno as well. As you could probably figure out, the heroes triumph and they are married. The opera was immensely popular almost instantly. It had at least 100 performances, but Mozart didn't live to see it, as he was extremely ill and died during the run. Today, it is the most frequently produced opera worldwide. Many point out the play's Masonic elements, as both Mozart and Schikaneder were both members. The strong elements of ritual mysticism will appeal to anyone of the witchy persuasion.

Okay, I'm going to be honest. I like this name because I saw it on a deer. When I was a child I took a tour of an animal reserve and they had one male deer that came right up to the bus. He trusted humans to much and couldn't integrate with his own species very well, so he was never going to be released in the wild. But he was such a sweet deer! And I think it's silly to write off names because they're used on animals.

Hero names have been experiencing something of a reinvention. There are new ones popping up all the time, like Kahlo, Harlow, Lennon, Edison, and Presley. So why not Mozart? The "castrated ram" history isn't common knowledge. The name's most famous namesake has overruled that. Most everyone would think about beautiful music and geniuses and powdered wigs. I don't think this name would be out of place on a child.


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