Friday, August 30, 2013


Reader xxdiediedie requested this an eternity ago, so I guess I better get off my comfy procrastination couch and profile it.

Abraxax is actually the more "official" spelling, but I've seen this version more often in baby name resources. This name doesn't have a meaning in the traditional sense. It has more of a mystical meaning. The seven letters that make up the name are meant to represent the seven planets known in antiquity: the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Historians have proposed other etymologies but none of them had any proof to back up their claims.

Abraxas (pronounced "ah-BRAKS-us") is a Gnostic name that appears in many ancient texts. I should probably explain what "Gnostic" means, otherwise the rest of this profile will not make much sense. Gnosticism is an ancient belief system that states that in order to be fully embraced by God's world, you must reject the material world. Gnostics were dedicated to the search for wisdom and philanthropy. And they were most certainly spellcasters. I'll be honest, I'm having a hard time understanding Gnosticism, so please bear with my broad, sweeping generalizations.

Abraxas is a complicated figure whose image has changed with the passing of time. A lot of what we know about him was recorded through the filter of Christian heresy hunters who, as we all know, were not always right. But as far as we can tell, originally he is the head of 365 other spiritual beings worshipped in Gnosticism. He was oftentimes depicted as a half-man/half-basilisk creature, which we know because of all the ancient amulets with his image engraved on them.

In more recent years, Abraxas has been interpreted as a deity that mixes both God and the Devil into one being. That was the opinion of psychologist Carl Jung, which he recorded in his book Seven Sermons to the Dead. In other texts Abraxas is an Aeon, meaning that he's an emanation of the superior God. In medieval demonology he is a demon. Sadly, this is probably how a lot of people are introduced to this name.

Interestingly, some believe that this name is the origin of the famous magic word Abracadabra. Abraxas is also mentioned in several works of fiction like Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie and Demian by Herman Hesse. It's the name of Draco Malfoy's grandfather in the Harry Potter series.

Abraxas has never been a common name in the United States. I can't decide if that's because of the "devil" tag or because of unfamiliarity. It's probably the later. I don't think it's well known enough to be considered a controversial name. I'm not certain how many modern Pagans will be familiar with all of this. Demonology is not really a facet of the Wiccan religion, I don't care how many crappy paranormal television shows state otherwise. And Gnosticism remains mysterious to most people.

Still, Abraxas does have an appealing sound. And some people will pick this name because of the dark associations. I just can't imagine many Pagans using it.


Image Credit:
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Thursday, August 1, 2013


Blessed Lughnasadh to all in the Northern Hemisphere! As this holiday is all about the harvest of grain, it's the perfect time to profile a goddess of grain.

Ceres (pronounced "SEER-ez") is derived from the Proto-Indo-European ker, meaning "to grow." This is also the root of many other English words like cereal, kernel, create, grow, corn, and increase. Throughout the Ancient Roman era, Ceres' name was synonymous with grain and bread.

Ceres is the Roman counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter, and all of her mythology is the same. She is the daughter of Saturn and Ops and sister to Jupiter, Juno, Vesta, Neptune, and Pluto. She is the goddess of agriculture, fertility, and motherly relationships, and is considered to be the protector of laws. She is still the mother of Persephone, but she is also the mother of Liber, Libera, and Proserpina (who is sometimes, but not always, thought to be the same person as Persephone).

Ceres was a very popular goddess in Ancient Rome. It was believed that before she gave agriculture to mankind humans lived off of acorns and had no laws. She was commonly honored during marriages (which took place at night) with a torch as that is one of her symbols. Her holiday was Cerealia which occurred from mid to late April. It was celebrated by, amongst other activities, setting foxes tails on fire and letting them loose in the chariot stadium called Circus Maximus. Not all Pagan traditions should make a comeback. Much of Rome's grain was imported from Sicily, and for that reason the island was considered Ceres' "earthly home."

Ceres' legacy lives on. In the United States you can still find her image in many state buildings, particularly if that state is known for it's agriculture. This goddess appears as a character in William Shakespeare's The Tempest. Ceres is also the name of the first asteroid/dwarf planet ever discovered. It is the only dwarf planet in the Inner Solar System (Pluto is too far away). It was discovered on January 1st, 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi. It possibly harbors life as there is evidence to suggest that it has an ocean.

Ceres has never been a common name in the United States. It's pronunciation might be slightly unappealing, it sounds like "series." I've heard it said other ways, but this is what the dictionary says and is therefore the most official. I prefer the sound of Demeter better, but Ceres is still a great name.


Image Credit:
Found via