Monday, November 28, 2011


During the Mayflower's voyage, a woman gave birth on board. The mother named her son Oceanus Hopkins because, well, he was born in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This is the last Thanksgiving name this year, I promise!

The fact that a Puritan would use this name is rather interesting because Oceanus is the name of a Pagan god. Oceanus (pronounced oh-shee-AH-nus") is the Latin form of the Greek Okeanos, and I think the meaning is pretty apparent. In Greek mythology, Oceanus was both a Titan and a pseudo geographical feature.

Oceanus was the son of Uranus and Gaia, the brother of Cronus, and the uncle of Poseidon. Some scholars say that Oceanus was originally the god of all bodies of water. The Ancient Greeks believed that there was one world ocean that surrounded the world like a giant river. But the farther away the Greeks traveled and the more accurate geography became, Oceanus became the god of scary, unknown waters while Poseidon of the new generation of gods represented the Mediterranean Sea.

In early works of art, Oceanus is depicted as a man with a fish tail, holding a fish and a snake as gifts of bounty and prophesy. Later depictions show a regular-looking, if impossibly muscular, man. Oceanus' consort was his sister Tethys, and he is the father of all the ocean nymphs and all of the rivers, fountains, and lakes of the world. Oceanus chose not to fight against the Olympians with his fellow Titans, and instead drew from conflict. This meant that he is still on good speaking terms with his ruling gods.

In Wicca, the ocean is sacred because that's where all life originated. Particularly, it's a symbol of the Goddess. Water is a feminine element, and the ocean represents the world's womb. When we moved onto land, the ocean traveled with us within our bodies. The sea water flows through our veins.

This has never been a popular name in the United States. I've seen Oceanus listed as a girl's name only. I guess you could use this name for a girl, but placing this in the girls column goes against historical usage. There are female variations, like Oceana and Oceane, and you could use Ocean for either gender.

I love Oceanus. It's a strong yet calm name much like the element it represents. Oceanus is a wonderfully Witchy name for a little boy born during the Thanksgiving season. Or any season, really.

Website News:

Nominations for Pagan Name of the Year kind of trickled to a stop. I know there are most suggestions out there! I'm going to keep bothering you all until I get more!


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This may be the ultimate Thanksgiving name, aside from maybe Mayflower.

Samoset (I'm not sure one the pronunciation) is a either an Algonquian or Wampanoag name, the most famous Samoset belonged to both tribes and most sources don't list a language besides "Native American." But they all agree that it means, "he who walks over much." It can be interpreted as someone who travels. The Thanksgiving Samoset did a lot of that.

Samoset was born into the Abenaki tribe, which resided in what is now Maine. This was also a region in which the English and French fought for fishing and fur rights. Samoset had frequent contact with these men, and was able to pick up a working understanding of the English language.

Though he was a chief himself, he also acted as the number one man to Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag, who lived in Massachusetts. This is the area where the Pilgrims landed. Earlier attempts at conversing with Native Americans were a failure, they had simply scampered away whenever the Pilgrims came near. Which was probably just as well, as the Pilgrims were so weak at that point that they were incredibly vulnerable to attack.

So imagine the Pilgrims shock when virtually naked Native American man strode through the middle of Plymouth Colony and greeted them in English. Samoset was in the area, so he introduced himself. He was the first Native American to do so. He explained who all the surrounding tribes were and introduced them to Massasoit and Squanto. Thanks to him, they were able to trade for goods with the Native Americans and survive. Later, Samoset was also the first to sign a land sale contract with the colonists. Poor sucker.

This is the perfect name for someone born during the Thanksgiving season. Samoset may not be a common name, but Sam is a common enough nickname. It's particularly a good name for someone who wants to honor the Native American side of the story.


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Sunday, November 27, 2011


I have to admit, I was surprised to see that Desire was used as a girls names by the Pilgrims. There was one aboard the Mayflower. I'm not quite sure what this name it supposed to suggest. Maybe a desire to be closer to God? That seems likely.

But let's look at the word's history. Desire is ultimately derived from the Latin phrase de sidere, meaning "from the stars." This suggests that the original meaning of "desiring" was "awaiting what the stars will bring." This gradually evolved into "wishing," "longing," or "expecting." It wasn't used as a synonym for "lust" until the 1300s, but that's still early enough for the Puritans in America to be familiar with it.

So have we ever heard of this name anywhere else? In comic book land, yes. Desire is one of the seven Endless (god-like creatures) in the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. Desire is a strikingly beautiful character whose gender is mutable because he/she represents all that someone could desire. He/She is often referred to as "sister-brother" by the other Endless. He/She is the cruelest of all the Endless and is obsessed with causing trouble within the family. He/She is as fickle and self centered as the emotion itself.

A French variation (or, at least, a Frenchified variation) of Desire have been given to daughters for quite a while. Desiree (pronounced "DEHZ-ih-ray") peaked in the 1990s at #138, and is now at #474. Desiree Clary was once a fiance of Napoleon, and there's a Desiree in the musical A Little Night Music. Granted, all the Desiree's I have known have not been very nice, but that's another story. If you take that into account, using Desire makes more sense.

Desire has more of a diluted sensuality than, say, Passion, and is definitely more usable than Vixen. And a diluted sensuality might make it a great option for a Neo-Pagan family. To us, sex is a sacred act. Besides, desire could also be seen as another word for motivation, as in, "She had a great desire to become the best pole vaulter in the world."

Desire could be a very daring first name option or a lovely middle name option. I see it as a girls name, and that's how it has been used historically, but it's possible that it could be used for a boy as well. It's an unusual name with more history than one would expect.


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Saturday, November 26, 2011


I've loved this name ever since I thought it up. Let me share it with you.

Hickory(pronounced "HIH-kor-ee") comes from the Powhatan language. The Powhatan tribe originated in what is now Virginia. But beyond that, no one really knows what the word means.

The word refers to the hickory tree. It can be found in a variety of countries including China, Indonesia, Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The tree does not seem to be terribly popular with Neo-Pagans, many sources won't list it's magickal properties. What I could find says that it brings discipline and direct action.

I don't see hickory mentioned in any mythology. But the name does appear in American history. When Andrew Jackson took the office of presidency he had absolutely no experience as a statesman. He was a battered old soldier. He was crass, unsophisticated, rude, and ignorant, boisterous, brave, and rugged. He was the type of man that later candidates only pretended to be. The American people loved him, and Jackson became the first commoner in office. The seventh president's nickname was "Old Hickory." He used his namesake to create physical paraphernalia during his election campaign. They sold canes, brooms, hats, and buttons that had either Jackson's image or the image of a hickory tree.

The hickory tree has many practical uses throughout the years. It has been made into bows, wheel spokes, tool handles, carts, paddles, and the bottom of skis. Golf club handles are still sometimes called "hickory sticks" even though they are now made from steel or granite. In the old days, hickory was made into the switches used to beat children. The wood is praised for it's strength and toughness. It is also a preferred wood for smoking cured meat and heating.

I see Hickory as a strong and beautiful nature name. There's just one problem. "Dickory Dock." As in, "Hickory, dickory, dock/The mouse ran up the clock/The clock struck one/The mouse went down/Hickory, dickory, dock." That nursery rhyme is going to get old really fast. That's probably why no one else thought of it as a name option. And I'll be honest, sometimes it bothers me. But most of the time it doesn't bother me enough.

If you're willing to give it a shot, Hickory is a great name for either gender. It's got a strength and robustness, but at the same time it's very lyrical sounding. It's American the same way that Huckleberry is. I wish more people would consider this unique option.


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Friday, November 25, 2011


Well, I would like to thank Cotton Mather for making this name completely unusable for any Neo-Pagan in the foreseeable future, you fool!

Cotton Mather was a Puritan minister well known for his role in the Salem Witch Trials. He was named after one of his grandfathers, who's name was John Cotton. Some historians believe that he caused the hysteria in Salem by publishing books that encouraged witch hunting. He was obsessed with catching witches or "curing" them, and stated that anyone against the witch trials were witch advocates. On the other hand, he did encourage people to get inoculated against smallpox. Good, but not good enough for the Witchy community, Mather. And it's not like he's an unknown historical figure. Most Americans have a passing familiarity with this man. At the very least, they know that Cotton is a Puritan boys name.

It's a shame really, because Cotton could be a sweet nature name in the same vein as Clover and Saffron. Cotton is ultimately derived from the Arabic qutn, which might have came from an Ancient Egyptian word. The meaning is unknown as far as I can tell. Cotton is also a verb meaning, "to get along with," but this use must be very old because I've never heard of it.

The cotton plant is originally from tropical and subtropical areas like Mexico, Africa, the Middle East, and India. I have distinct memories of cotton floating in the air when I was a child in Connecticut, which is not very tropical. So clearly the plant has moved beyond those regions. Different species were cultivated independently in both the Old World and the New World. One hilarious story involves the import of cotton to Northern Europe during the Middle Ages. They had no knowledge of how it was made other than it coming from a plant, so they concluded that they must have come from a plant-borne species of sheep.

This plant has been used to make fabric since prehistoric times. This fabric comes from the fibers that surround cotton seeds, which are harvested and spun into thread. The United States had been the number one exporter of cotton for years, but recently that honor had been usurped by China. I've seen cotton advertised as the eco-friendly fabric. That's slightly misleading. Cotton farms are known for having a particularly high pesticide rate, so check to see what the companies harvesting practices are first. In addition to fabrics, cotton is also used to make fishing nets, coffee filters, cottonseed oil, gunpowder, and paper. In the American slavery times, cotton bark was used as a folk remedy to induce a miscarriage.

If you don't think about the past bearer, this name has a gentle, rustic feel to it. Only time will tell of Cotton's reputation could be reinvented and given to children without a bad aftertaste. You're welcome to give it a try.


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Technically, it's after Thanksgiving. However, I have to participate in making two more dinners for this particular holiday. So if I'm stretching it out in real life, I'm stretching it out here.

Tallulah (pronounced "tah-LOO-lah") is a Choctaw name meaning "leaping water." The Choctaws lived in what is now Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. This particular tribe is notable for becoming the first major non-European ethnic group to become official American citizens. And yes, there is a waterfall named Tallulah. Across the pond, it is also a Gaelic name meaning "fruitful woman."

Tallulah was thrust into the naming world when Tallulah Bankhead became famous. Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was a classic film and stage actress well known for her outrageous personality. She had a deep voice, romances with both men and women, and supported liberal causes. Very unusual for a Southern woman. She was named after her paternal grandmother, who in turn was named after the Georgia town Tallulah Falls (yes, that's where the waterfall is).

Unlike other well known woman of the day like Greta Garbo and Billie Holiday, Tallulah Bankhead seems to have faded into history. Most people would not associate this unusual name with her. But there are namesakes, mostly celebrity children. It is the name that belongs to one of the "9 by Design" children and is also a daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. The actress that plays Mary Bennet in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is named Talulah Riley. As for fictional namesakes, a young Jodie Foster plays a Tallulah in the film Bugsy Malone.

This name has never appeared in the American top 1,000. But for some reason I expected it to have appeared at some point. The name's got a lot going for it. It's lyrical and happy. Nicknames include Lulu, Lucy, Lula, Tulla, and Tilly. It even has some famous people attached to it. I'm not sure why it's never charted.

So if you want a bi-cultural name that is beautiful and lovely for some one born during the Thanksgiving season, Tallulah would be interesting to consider.


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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Name Round Up: Very Bizarre Puritan Names

My personal distaste for their culture aside, Puritans used some very charming names. These are not amongst them. I'm reluctant to say that any name is unusable, because you never know what will become fashionable in the future. But I, for one, would not be sorry to see these go. And yes, these are all first names as far as I know.

Be Strong Philpott
Be Courteous Cole
Faint Not
Fear God
Fight the Good Fight of Faith
Hate Evil
Help on High
If Christ Had Not Died for The Thou Hads't Been Damned
Jesus Christ Came Into the World to Save
Judas-Not Iscariot
Kill Sin Pimple
More Fruit
Pontius Pilot Pegden
Revolt Morecock
Sabbath Clark
Search the Scriptures
Sin Deny
Sorry for Sin
Stand Fast on High
Tribulation Wholesome
Zeal of the Land

The New Book of Magical Names by Phoenix McFarland

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I don't know how many people outside of the United States are familiar with the American Girl company. For the uninitiated, it's a big thing. They're mainly well known for their pricey dolls, which could cost up to a few thousand dollars if you buy all the accessories. They also publish magazine and books. The books are generally tools to sell the dolls. Each doll comes from a particular time in American History, and the books are meant to tell their story. In 2002, they introduced a new character named Kaya'aton'my, shortened to Kaya. The name took off.

Kaya in the books is a Nez Perce girl. That's interesting because the sources I have state that the name is Hopi. The Hopis were located nowhere near the Nez Perce. Kaya (pronounced "KAH-yah" or "KIY-ah") is short form of Kakahoya, which means "my elder little sister." This name denotes someone who is wise beyond her years.

But this name also happens to be multinational. This is also a Japanese name referring to the yew tree. So it should be no surprise that it's most popular for girls in Hawaii, which has a rather large Japanese population. If you've watched the Studio Ghibli movie Princess Mononoke, you know that there is a minor character named Kaya.

For another Native American tribe called Quechuan living in Colombia, Kaya means "tomorrow." In some European countries, it is used as a form of Katherine. In Indonesian it means "wealthy." Kaya is also a common traditional Turkish boy's name meaning "rock." In Ancient Sanskrit, Kaya is a word referring to the physical body, and has come to mean "skin" in some areas of India. There is a successful line of cosmetics with this name in that country. Unfortunately, this might not be a name you want to use if you plan on going to Jamaica a lot. There, "kaya" is slang for marijuana. Remember the Bob Marley album?

Kaya did not appear anywhere on the charts before the American Girl books came out. It turned out to be an alternative to the ultra popular Maya and Kayla. It's peak on the top 1,000 was at #542 in 2003. Now it rests at #771. Possible variants, depending on what culture you're using, could be Kaia and Kaja.

Personally, I love Kaya. It's strong, accessible while being exotic, and a good option for someone born during Thanksgiving. I'm not surprised that it had a small boost of popularity. It looks like it's star is fading somewhat, but it would still make an excellent name for any little girl.


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Peregrine is a favorite for name enthusiasts, and it always get mentioned around Thanksgiving. This is because the first child born off of the Mayflower in the New World was named Peregrine White.

Peregrine (pronounced "PER-ah-green" or "PER-ah-grin") comes from the Latin name Peregrinus meaning "traveler" or "wanderer." In Ancient Rome, Peregrinus was their term for someone who wasn't a citizen of the empire. It's also where the word "pilgrim" comes from. The name was used a lot by early saints, so one might say that it used to be quite popular.

A Neo-Pagan is likely to get excited about this name for two reasons. One is that it's a nature name. A peregrine falcon is also known as simply the peregrine, and sometimes as the duck hawk. They are bluish-black to slate gray with white underparts. Females are noticeably bigger than males, which is common for raptors. They love to live in mountain ranges, coastal regions, river valleys, and are increasingly found in cities. It is the fastest member of the animal kingdom, it can fly at speeds up to 202 mph (325 km/h for you non-American folks). They use this skill to hunt small to medium size birds, small mammals, small reptiles, and insects. Along with kestrels, they are a favorite for falconry. It can live nearly everywhere on earth except for polar regions and New Zealand. Despite this, peregrine falcons are endangered because of the pesticide DDT which causes a weakening of their eggs. But since DDTs have been banned, the population has recovered. This bird has long been associated with royalty and bravery. Mississippian Native Americans would bury powerful men in costumes associated with peregrines because it was a symbol of celestial power.

The second association is from The Lord of the Rings. Peregrin Took is best known as Pippin, a Hobbit who plays a major role as one of Frodo's friends. He is the son of Paladin Took II and Eglantine Banks, and has three sisters named Pearl, Pimpernel, and Pervinca. He is best friends with his cousin Merry, who also plays a major role in the books. Many Neo-Pagans love The Lord of the Rings. I am not one of them, but if my partner turns out to be a huge Tolkien fan I would push for Peregrine.

This name is mentioned in many other contexts as well. In astrology, Peregrine is a name given to any celestial body lacking in "essential dignity," which basically means that it has no strength in the zodiac. Howell Peregrine was the name of a British mathematician. There are other fictional namesakes as well, like the charmingly named Peregrine Pickle. But Pippin is the most famous.

Perhaps not surprisingly given today's trends, some parents have given this name to their girls in recent years. There was a female Peregrine in the reality television show Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, but it's possible that that is a nom de plume. I have to admit that it would make a charming girl's name, but I still prefer it for a future son. It has never been in the top 1,000 for either gender, at least not while there has been a top 1,000. Other variations include Peregrino and Peregryn.

I adore Peregrine, and I know that there are others that share my love. So hopefully I will have the opportunity to use it.


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Continuing on with our Thanksgiving theme, here's another great Native American name.

Nokomis (pronounced "noh-KOO-mis," I think) means "grandmother," but there seems to be some confusion as to what language it comes from. Different sources list it as Chippewa and Cheyenne, but it looks like the Ojibwe have the greatest claim to it. This name is used in traditional stories that also feature a character named Nanabozho, and it is believed that Longfellow's poem "The Song of Hiawatha" is partially inspired by this mythology.

Nokomis is an important character in both the poem and the original stories. She is the daughter of the moon and fell down to earth, which is why the meaning of this name is sometimes listed as "daughter of the moon." Eventually she bears a daughter named Wenonah, who allows herself to be seduced by Mudjekeewis (the spirit of the West Wind) despite her mother's warnings. Mudjekeewis abandons her, and Wenonah dies while giving birth to Hiawatha. Nokomis raises and educates her grandson.

This name has been given to many towns and natural landmarks in America. There is a Nokomis in Florida, Alabama, Illinois, and Minnesota. There is also a Nokomis in Saskatchewan, Canada. So it is well used as a place name.

On people, it's another story. Nokomis has never been a popular name in the United States. I can't think of any other more popular name that even sounds like Nokomis. Plus I have to mention that it has the same "grandma" quirk that Nona does. Some people might find that slightly odd to give a child. But we all hopefully become old sometime. I suppose that you can say that it's a crone name showing wisdom.

So if you want a beautiful, unique, literary Native American name, Nokomis is you're girl.

Website News:

I see that I've had a lot of hits on the Pagan Name of the Year entry (thanks to Appellation Mountain), but only one new comment. I know there are more! Keep the comments coming!


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Monday, November 21, 2011


Is it shocking that it took me this long to profile Salem? I'm a little shocked at myself, actually. But it seems like the most obvious Puritan name to start with.

Salem (pronounced "SAY-lem") is a Hebrew name meaning "peace," "whole," or "complete," and is related to Shalom and Solomon. It is also another name for the city of Jerusalem in the Bible. That would make it the perfect name for a overly Christian town like the infamous Salem of Massachusetts.

It's obvious that this name holds great importance for the Neo-Pagan community because of the Salem Witch Trials. It's a textbook case of mass hysteria that Neo-Pagans, and most reasonable people, remember with a shudder. Back then, the inhabitants of Salem Village were forbidden to participate in any course of conduct that was believed to be "devil's work." They not allowed to dance, play with or make toys, play or listen to music that wasn't church hymns, or celebrate holidays. No wonder they went crazy. Part of the reason why the hysteria burned out of control was that it gave people permission to talk about and act out forbidden, but natural, impulses.These trials were actually carried out throughout a few neighboring towns, not just Salem. Over 150 people were imprisoned, with many more accused. 19 people were executed.

Because of this history, Salem's Godly image has been replaced by Witchy cred. Today, Salem, Massachusetts has a large Neo-Pagan population. It is the home of the Salem Witch Museum and the local school is called Witchcraft Heights Elementary School. No matter how much others might want to move away from that image, the only reason Salem is a tourist destination is because of it's Witches. But it is not the only American town that bears this name, Salem is also the capital of Oregon state.

Salem is also attached to a famous black cat. In the comic book series Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Salem Saberhagen is a male witch (they use the incorrect term "warlock") who was transformed into a cat as punishment from the Witches Council for trying to take over the world. But Salem could still talk, an ability which he uses to make sarcastic comments. In some adaptations, Salem is just a regular pet cat. Some people won't like this name because they associate it with pets.

But Salem is also the name of an American hero. Salem Poor was an African American man born into slavery. He managed to buy his own freedom in 1769. It cost a little under $60, which I'm sure was a lot more money back then. He married a free Black woman named Nancy. In 1775, he enlisted in the militia and fought as a Patriot in the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, not much is known about his post war life.

Traditionally, Salem is a boy's name. However, I've noticed an increasing use for girls because, I assume, it's seen as being Witchy and it falls into today's naming trends. But it has never been a popular name in the United States for either gender.

Salem is a good name for those that either wish to wear their Witchiness on their sleeves or are slightly macabre. It could be a surprising option for a child born during Thanksgiving.


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Sunday, November 20, 2011


Oh my various Gods! Thanksgiving is only in a few days! Where did the time go? Since the American names theme worked so well back during Independence Day, I'll do it again for Thanksgiving, focusing on Native American and Puritan names.

Hiawatha (pronounced "hiy-ah-WAHTH-ah") is best known for being a character in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "The Song of Hiawatha." The poem presents a distorted European view of Native American culture and myths. In it, Hiawatha falls in love with Minnehaha, invents the written language, and discovers corn amongst other things. At the end, "the Priest of Prayer, the Pale-Face" arrives, and Hiawatha joyfully accepts his message of Christianity. Uh-huh. Right. Sure he does, Longfellow.

Longfellow's poem is a work of fiction that doesn't have anything to do with the real Hiawatha. The real Hiawatha lived during the 1500s, and he was known as a great leader. Depending on which narrative you follow he was either a leader of the Mohawk or the Onondaga. Hiawatha was a follower of a spiritual leader and prophet known as The Great Peacemaker. This man believed that all the Iroquois tribes  concentrated in what is now New York should be united into one nation. Hiawatha is legendary for being very charismatic and a great public speaker, and he used those skills to make The Great Peacemaker's vision a reality. He was instrumental in forming the Iroquois Confederacy, which fought against British colonization. The Iroquois Confederacy has since been disbanded, but the Iroquois League still exists.

Hiawatha is derived from the Iroquoian name Haio-went-ha, meaning "he who combs." I assume that it was given to him because it fit his personality. I have no idea if this name is meant to suggest someone very vain (he combs his hair a lot making sure he's presentable) or if it denotes someone very thorough (he combed the land until he found food to bring back to his family). Either explanation is quite interesting.

The common American instinct with names that end with -a is to give it to girls. Indeed it does have a history of use as a girls name in the Cajun South. However, I don't think anyone would dispute the fact that it's masculine because it's recognized by most everyone.

Hiawatha is a great name for someone who wants to honor Native American heratige and Native American heroes.


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This is one of my favorite unisex names. That's right, unisex.

Juniper (pronounced "JOO-nih-per") is derived from the Latin juniperus. Junio means "young," and parere means "to produce." Hence it means "producing youth," bestowed on this plant because it's coniferous and doesn't seem to age. It is also believed that Juniper is a variant of the Welsh name Guinevere, but some might argue that. The Juniper tree grows from the Artic all the way to tropical Africa, and in Central America.

This plant has many mythical associations. The Druids would mix the berries with thyme to make incense used to stir visions. It is also believed that planting a juniper tree by your front door will discourage thieves and that stringing mature berries in your home will attract love. The spirit of the juniper tree is named Frau Wachholder, and she was often invoked to make thieves return stolen goods. In Ancient Wales, this tree was sacred and it was believed that chopping one down would bring the cutter's death a year later. It's mentioned several times in the Bible as a benevolent object, and was used as a symbol of chastity in Renaissance art. In the Grimm brother's fairy tale "The Juniper Tree," a woman magically becomes the spirit of the tree and a bird living in it after her body is buried beneath it. She avenges the death of her son while in her bird form, dropping a millstone on her son's stepmother.

This plant has many practical applications as well. Native Americans, particularly the Navajo, have long been using it as a treatment for diabetes which is under clinical testing today. Many prehistoric peoples lived in juniper forests which provided them with food, fuel, and shelter. The berries are used to spice up culinary dishes and are well known for being the primary flavoring in gin ("gin" is a shortened version of genever, the Dutch name for this plant). In Asia, it's a popular species to use for bonsai trees.

The gender police is going to have a hard time convincing me that this name should only be used for girls. Originally, Juniper was a boy's name. Girls would have more commonly been named Geneva, Genevieve, or Ginevra which are all considered variants. And there are tons of well known masculine namesakes.

Saint Juniper was a friend of Saint Francis. That would make him a Franciscan, which is arguably about as Pagan as you can be while still being Christian. Saint Juniper was known for his sense of humor and is sometimes called the patron Saint of comedy. He was also known for his patience, and was described by Saint Francis as the perfect Friar. Another Friar named Junipero ("who-NIP-eh-roh") Serra is also very well known. I first found his name because the church that he preached in was very close to the town where I was born! Unfortunately, he is well known for not being particularly nice to the local Native American population, which does not make him a very good namesake for a Neo-Pagan family.

Other namesakes include Juniper Sage, the pen name of Margaret Wise Brown, and Juniper Shuey, a male contemporary artist. There is a character called Brother Juniper in both the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thorton Wilder, and in the comic strip of the same name by Fred McCarthy. As for the girls, there is the children's book series Junie B Jones by Barbara Park, the cartoon series The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, and the character of Joon in the movie Benny & Joon. Juniper also shows up as a surname, as Tony Juniper is a well known environmentalist.

In order for this name to be "taken" by the girls, it would have to be bestowed on a significant number of girls. But it hasn't. Juniper has never been in the top 1,000 for either gender. So it is still very much for grabs. Nicknames include Ginny, Jenny, Juno, June, or Nipper. I would like to see this name used more for any sex. Juniper is just so happy, free and nonconformist.


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Friday, November 18, 2011


You may laugh, but with Parents looking for more and more unique names, Zorro may have a chance.

Most everyone recognizes this name as it was invented for an iconic hero. The masked bandit was created by American pulp fiction writer Johnston McCulley in 1919. "The Curse of Capistrano" was published in five parts in the magazine All-Story Weekly. The story was soon picked up by Hollywood, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford selected it for their new studio while reading it on their honeymoon. The silent film The Mark of Zorro was released with huge success. Due to the public demand fuel by the movie, McCulley wrote 60 more Zorro stories until he died in 1952.

Zorro is the alias of Don Diego de la Vega. In the first stories, he is a nobleman living in Spanish colonial California. His mission has remained the same throughout all the adaptations: to defend the people of the land against tyrannical villains, and publicly humiliating said villains in the process. He has exceptional athletic and acrobatic skills, and knows how to use a whip. The image we have of him clad in black is a creation of the original silent film.

Zorro is Spanish for "fox." Obviously, this denotes that the character is very foxlike and cunning. It also could be a reference to Reynard the Fox, as some scholars suggest that the character is based on this earlier folk image. Zorro could also easily be based on Robin Hood. In the first story, Zorro acts like a "dandy" while a nobleman so as to avoid suspicion, which is similar to The Scarlet Pimpernel. And there were also many real life bandits living in the Wild West that could have inspired the character.

Recently, the newest actor to play Zorro is Antonio Banderas. He appeared in both The Mask of Zorro (the 1998 version) and The Legend of Zorro. I have to admit that this makes the name appealing. But then again, I'm Puerto Rican. Even my Abuelita had a teenagerish crush on Antonio Banderas.

Some people might think I'm nuts to even suggest this name. But if people use Huckleberry, Mowgli, and Kal-el, then they can use Zorro. It's only a matter of time.

Website News:

Now there are four comments on Pagan Name of the Year! That's good! But they still haven't toppled the two contenders I have in my head. I need more! MORE! Nominations are the elixar upon which I sup!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011


This clunky antique is the birthstone for Scorpio.

Beryl (pronounced "BEHR-el") is derived from the Greek beryllos, which was their word for sea-green gems. Beryllos is also the root for the word "brilliance." But it's ultimately derived from the Sanskrit word vaidurya. Once source listed it as a Yiddish name, but I doubt that.

Strictly speaking, beryl is not a specific type of gem but a category of gem that includes emeralds, morganites, golden beryls, goshenites, red beryls, and aquamarines. Therefore it's found in many places including Norway, Brazil, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Columbia, Ireland, Mozambique, Madagascar, South Africa, Zambia, and the United States. Finding this stone's magickal properties and mythical history is tough because it's actually a lot of different stones. In the Bible, the eighth foundation stone of the wall of New Jerusalem was made out of beryl. It's often not listed on Wiccan sites. So I can't help much there.

Luckily, this name has many prominent namesakes, mostly women. There's the alliterative Beryl Bender Birch who introduced "power yoga" to the United States. Beryl Markham was a Jill-of-all-trades as an aviatrix, horse trainer, and author living in Kenya. There's artist Beryl Cook, novelist Beryl Bainbridge, ballerina Beryl Goldwyn, jazz singer Beryl Bryden, and Australian politician and feminist Beryl Beaurepaire.

This name came into fashion at the end of the 1800s. In the United States, Beryl was most popular as a girls name in the 1900s. It peaked at #410. As a boys name it's highest height was in the 1910s at #793. So clearly it was seen more as a feminine name, even though it seems more masculine to me personally. Berilo is a variant masculine form.

I'm not overly found of the sound of this name, I keep hearing "barrel." But that's not so much of a big deal that it should deter anyone who really loves it. There is a section of name enthusiasts that really are enamored with these no-frills, clunky old names. I think that Beryl fits into that category.


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I received a request for names from the Hunger Games. I'll be profiling more of them in the future, but let's start with Katniss.

Katniss Everdeen is the heroine of the young adult Hunger Games novels by Suzanne Collins. In this post-apocalyptic trilogy, the United States is a country called Panem. The Hunger Games are an annual televised event in which one girl and one boy are selected from each county to compete in a fight for the death.

Katniss (pronounced "KAT-nis") is a botanical name that was unheard of before the books came out. It's the common name of the plant sagittaria. Think it has anything to do with Sagitarrius? Well, they are derived from the same word, the Latin sagitta, meaning "arrow." It's a flowering plant, and it's roots are similar to a potato. It grows primarily in North, Central, and South America, but some species can be found in Europe and Asia. It's usually used as an ornamental plant for aquariums and ponds. Collins picked the name because the plant is edible and allows for survival. It was a common food source for the Native Americans. None of that really says where the name Katniss comes from, but it makes the name attractive anyways.

It's interesting to note that the whole series is inspired in part by a Greek myth. In the myth of Theseus, the hero goes to Crete in order to kill the Minotaur and stop the King of Crete from taking sacrificial virgins from his kingdom. The story is also based off of a blend of reality television culture and the war in Iraq.

There is a movie version of the books coming out, and I have to say just from looking at the cast I'm not impressed. They don't look like they're in the right age group, these actors look too...developed. I get the feeling that the studio is trying too hard to copy Twilight's success. Hopefully I'm wrong. But when that film does come out, it's likely to open more people up to the name Katniss.

Will more people use Katniss on their own daughters? I find that to be a definite possibility. But only time will tell if it reaches popularity.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Today I'm profiling a name is something of a mystery.

Most people recognize O-Ren from the film Kill Bill Vol 1. O-Ren Ishii is the half Japanese half Chinese American assassin played by Lucy Liu. As a child, the character watches the murder of her parents and seeks her revenge. Luckily, she got it rather quickly, stabbing the murderer when she was eleven. She made a career out of killing people, received the code name Cottonmouth, and became acquainted with The Bride. That's all back story. Within the course of the movie, The Bride is seeking her revenge by killing O-Ren, among a lot of other people.

Director Quentin Tarantino claims that this name is not made up. In an article that I can't find anymore, he asked around to Japanese people about what they thought of this name, and they said, "Oh yeah. That's a really unusual name. But it's real." The impression that I got was that naming a girl O-Ren in Japan would be akin to naming a girl Dorcas over here in America.

But that doesn't help us figure out what it means. I have yet to find O-Ren in any baby name source. So I can only speculate. Ren is a common Japanese name currently popular for boys. Depending on the kanji used, it could mean "lotus," "love," or "romance." I read somewhere that placing an O in front of a name is an honorific. So..."great romance"? I guess? Maybe someone who knows Japanese could fill me in.

The main challenge here is pure unfamiliarity. People will confuse it with Oren. Oren is a Hebrew and Gaelic boys name with a different pronunciation. It certainly doesn't look like any other girl's name I can think of. And then those that are familiar with it might joke, "She's not going to kill me, is she?"

Despite that, I do really like O-Ren because of how different it is. The movie just gives it an added strength. But what can I say? I'm a sucker for girls with katanas.


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We are in the Celtic Tree Month of Reed, which is a great masculine nature name.

You might have read that first sentence and thought, "Uh...reeds aren't trees." When you see the word Reed in most Celtic lore, they are actually referring to what is now know as the dwarf elm tree, not the type of grass that usually grows by water. This month is sometimes called the Elm month by modern Neo-Pagans. So I'm going to be switching between the two words a lot. It's Celtic name was Negetal, pronounced like "nyettle." The month of Reed starts on October 28th and ends on November 24th.

This tree is strongly associated with Samhain. It's appropriate then that Reed symbolizes the mysteries of death. If you would like to have a seance, this is a good time to do it. But it could also be associated with royalty and the hearth. It is also very popular with elves, and sitting under an elm tree while singing will give you a good chance of attracting one. This month is considered to be a great time for magick relating to music, probably because reeds were often used to make flutes (or is that the grass? I'm sure you can make a flute from both). A bag filled with elm twigs were hung around the necks of babies so that they could be eloquent speakers later in life. Regeneration, fidelity, boldness, and protection are all qualities this tree possesses.

Reed has many practical applications as well. In particular, Slippery Elm bark has many medicinal uses. In the olden days, this bark was powdered and turned into "milk" for babies that were lactose intolerant (I wouldn't suggest this for people inexperienced with herbs). You could turn it into a tea to help with insomnia or an upset stomach. It was also turned into a poultice that could treat poison ivy, burns, wounds, infections, and ulcers.

When I first saw this name, my initial thought was the Nile River because there's lots of that type of grass there. I think. Someone else might think of swamps, though. My second thought was music. In my band nerd days, I played the clarinet and the oboe, respectably single reed and a double reed instruments. For those that didn't play woodwinds, reeds are pieces of woods that cause the vibrations necessary to produce the sound. There are even triple reeded instruments out there, which blows my mind.

But Reed has long been an Old English surname meaning "red." The name most likely started out as a nickname for someone with red hair. There are many variations including Read, Reade, Reid, and Reyd. Usually, it's listed as a boys name, and it has the history to back it up. The boy's name Reed has never left the top 1,000 names in America, but it was at it's peak at 2010 at #380. Recently, parents have also been giving this name to their daughters, but it hasn't reached the same heights. Yet.

So, if you use it for a boy, it's a wonderful Wicca-lite name. If you use it for a girl, it's an unusual nature name. Either way, it's a unique and thoughtful way to honor someone born during this time of year.


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Faye is already taken care of, now here's The Stitch Witch's elder (I think) daughter Avalon.

Avalon (pronounced "AH-vah-lon") is a Welsh name derived from afal, meaning "apple." It's often listed as a Celtic name meaning "island of apples." The Roman Geoffrey of Monmouth used the Latin phrase Insula Avallonis, and in documents sometimes called it Insula Pomorum, meaning "island of apples." No matter what, it has something to do with apples.

Most people know this name through Arthurian legend. In the stories, King Arthur is taken to Avalon to recover from his wounds after battling Mordred. Some say that he died there, others say that he never really died and that he will return one day. Avalon was also the place where King Arthur's sword, Excalibur, was forged. Enchantress Morgan la Fay also lived in Avalon, as the chief of her nine sisters.

There are a number of different people who claim to have found the real Avalon. In 1109, the monks of Glastonbury, England claimed to have found the bones of King Arthur and his wife by their Abbey. Others believed that Avalon was actually Sicily, a small island nation close to Italy (and where some of my ancestors are from!) as well as other Mediterranean locations. An intriguing idea is that this mythical name is based off of a real Avallon located in Burgundy, France. This theory is espoused by people who link the legendary King Arthur to the real Roman-British leader Riothamus, who was campaigning in that area.

This name is also linked to a well loved work of literature in Neo-Pagan circles: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. The book retells Arthurian legends from the prospective of it's female characters. It was made into a television movie, which is also enjoyed by many in our circle. Lots of Neo-Pagans believe that this is one of the few films to accurately portray Pagan beliefs.

Avalon has never been a popular name in the United States. However, it appears to be a popular name for Neo-Pagan organizations and covens. In just one Google search I found "The Isle of Avalon," "The Barge of Avalon," "Ozark Avalon," and "The Fellowship of Avalon," just to name a few. Many use Avalon as their term for the afterlife, so naming a child Avalon might be the Neo-Pagan version of Heaven.

Avalon is a lovely name associated with purity and magick. It's a terrific name to give to a little Witchlet.

Website News:

A whopping zero people so far have cast nominations for Pagan Name of the Year. Come on! There's nothing to loose! I even provided a link on the top to help you! It's no fun if I do it by myself.


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Monday, November 14, 2011


The Stitch Witch has been wanting me to profile the names of her two daughters, so I'm getting started on Faye. As this name has no standard spelling, I profiling it as Fae for no reason in particular other than I just find it aesthetically pleasing.

If you're Neo-Pagan, the meaning to Fae is quite clear. It's referring to the mythical faerie creatures found in folktales and legends in many cultures. The word fae is ultimately derived from the Latin word fata, meaning "fate" and also The Fates. Fae is an Old French word and it came to mean "enchantment." When it was given the ending -rie, the combined faerie meant "state of enchantment." If you're going to be proper about it, Fae is a noun referring to a race of mythical beings, and Faerie is an adjective describing things associated with the Fae. But no one actually keeps that straight and the words are used interchangeably. As we all already know, Fae has multiple spellings including Fay, Fey, Feie, Faie, and Faye.

When most people think of fairies, they think of Tinkerbell. But there are literally tons and tons of myths involving fairies and where they come from. In the olden days, Fey was sometimes a word meant to describe all sorts of supernatural creatures, including goblins, elves, and nymphs to name a few. But other times the word referred to a specific type of being. There are many different stories about what fairies exactly are. One theory states that they are Irish gods and goddesses, who are said to have withdrawn to the sidhe ("fairy mounds") after the Christians came in a diminished state of power. One popular belief was that fairies are a certain class of dead people. Christians called them demoted angels or demons. The one that most believers think now is that fairies are an intelligent species separate from humans. However, they often look like humans according to legends, although sometimes they are portrayed as being short. They are whimsical, mercurial, and may be benign or devilish.

The Faerie World play an important part in two types of Neo-Paganism at least. There is the Feri tradition of Witchcraft and there's Faery Wicca. Feri Witches often see themselves as Fey, and that much of reality is unseen. They have an appreciation for nature, beauty, and creativity.

There are other references to this name in folklore. Faie is known for being one of the names for legendary Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay. On a bit more macabre note, the etymologically unrelated Old English word fey means "fated to die." Clearly not everyone with this name has died prematurely.

Fae as a name is something of an antique, but it doesn't have a grandmother's aftertaste. Fae is sometimes used as a shortened form of a more Christian name: Faith. But it was clear that this name was popular because of it's more mythical origins. Fae peaked in the 1910s at #826, Fay in the 1900s at #218, and Faye in the 1930s at #164. Fairy was common during this time as well, it peaked in the 1900s at #772. This time in history had a famous namesake, Fay Wray is the actress forever known for being carried up the Empire State Building by a giant gorilla. Fay even charted as a boy's name.

Fae is a simple Wicca-lite name that still manages to be incredibly Witchy. The only problem I could spot is that there are so many spellings that someone is bound to misspell the one you choose at some point. But Fae, or Faye, is a great name filled with enchantment.


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Saturday, November 12, 2011


Thanks to a recent children's book, this name is familiar to nearly everyone. But this name is older than most people think.

Coraline is the heroine of the Neil Gaiman book of the same name. She moves into a new house with her parents, and she feels lonely and neglected. There are three other eccentric people living in the house. They keep messing up her name by calling her Caroline. But in her flat there is a creepy, locked door that is bricked up. She unlocks the door when she is home alone and discovers that it leads to a world almost identical to hers, with her Other Mother and Other Father. All the inhabitants of this other world have button eyes, but otherwise this place seems appealing. Then her Other Mother offers her the opportunity to stay forever, on the condition that she sews buttons into Coraline's eyes. Coraline refuses and escapes, but finds that her real parents have vanished. She finds that the Other Mother has trapped them, and Coraline now must face her fears in order to rescue them. It was adapted into a wonderful animated movie in 2009.

When Neil Gaiman wrote the book, he thought that he invented the name. He made a typo changing Caroline into Coraline and decided to keep it. It wasn't until after the publication that he found out that this name had been used before. By chance, he found it on a piece of antique sheet music. Neil Gaiman's blog doesn't have a search engine, so I can't find the entry again. But I'm not making this up, trust me.

As it turns out, Coraline was a part of the Cora/Coral craze of the late 1800s, along with my personal favorite variant Coralie. Furthermore, the sheet music indicated that the name rhymes with "queen," making it sound more like Josephine rather than Caroline.

But it was Gaiman's book that pushed this name into the forefront. Had he not had that typo, this name would just be another antique oddity. He didn't invent it, but he re-invented it. This name would appeal to most people because of his heroine.

Coraline is a great name for someone looking for something unique, literary, and heroic. It might not stay relatively unused for long, I think it has the capability to show up on the Top 1,000 in the future. And we have Neil Gaiman to thank for that.


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Name Round-up: Names of Real Witchlets

Since this is a blog about Neo-Pagan names, it would be interesting to see what real Pagans name their children.

Well, there's a problem there. Witches are still a secretive bunch. Either most Neo-Pagans choose not to have children or they're keeping them hidden from Internet eyes.

This could be done for a number of reason. One of them might be a fear of having their children taken away because of their religion. This is not an imaginary fear. Many times, an ex would use the former partner's religion as a tool against them in divorce proceedings, with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, one of the first lessons I learned researching Neo-Pagan families is that the family court system is not always our friend. Or maybe they just don't want their children to be singled out in their community. Even Pagan Mom bloggers are wary about posting anything specifically related to their kid.

Another consideration is that the idea of a "Pagan family" is a new development. Today, there are books for families and kids, children's activity in Pagan gatherings, and groups that tone down some of the more explicit sexual components of our culture. But as early as forty years ago that was completely unheard of. They had no idea how to deal with kids back then. Most of us didn't grow up in Pagan families ourselves. So logically there wouldn't be as many names to find as I might like. But as more and more of us are starting to have kids, more and more of us start speaking out.

This isn't by any means a complete list. But what kind of conclusions could you draw from this selection?

Well Known Pagans with Children:

Isaac Bonewits had a son named Arthur Shaffrey.

Laurie Cabot has two daughters from two marriages: Jody and Penny.

Sully Erna has a daughter named Skylar Brooke.

Cerridwen Fallingstar has a son named Zachary.

LaSara Firefox Allen and her husband Robert Allen have two daughters.

Silver Ravenwolf has four children.

Z. Budapest has two sons named Laszlo and Gabor.

Witchlets of Pagan Blogs:

Cynthia Elizabeth - The Balanced Witch

Lucas - Bringing Up Salamanders

??? - Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom

Angelus - Domestic Witch

Ostara Faith Avalon - The Goddess Guidebook

"Chickadee" and "Sharkbait," but I highly doubt those are their real names - Musings of a Kitchen Witch

??? - Pagan by Design

??? - PaganDad

Tabitha, Rowan (b), Rhiannon, Archer, Morgan Finn, Wolfie, & Meabh - The Pagan Family

Alex, Claire, & Molly - The Pagan Mom Blog

Hannah, Patrick, Willow, & Cooper - Tales of a Kitchen Witch

Rowan (b) - Witchy Mama

From Witchvox's Pagan Parenting Essays:

One parent had seven sons, no names listed.
"Tree Bear"
Bridgitte & Brieanne

From Pagan Families:

Nefertiti Rene
Sebastian & Aiden
Evelyn Rose Leslie
Acacia Prudence & Rowan Sebastain Aleister

From The Pagan Household:

Rowan Brennis & Ian Alexander
Abigail Raeesa & John David
Luna Marie
Rowan Sky (b)

Witchlets I've meet personally:



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Friday, November 11, 2011


Could a Witchy family use Trinity?

Trinity means, of course, "triad." Trinities are important to Neo-Pagans. To many Wiccans, both the God and the Goddess are triple deities. The Goddess comes in the form of a Maiden, Mother and Crone. As for the God, he takes the form of the Prince, Royal, and Elder. Triple deities exist everywhere within Paganism and Eastern religions, and 3 is a sacred number showing up in many Pagan symbols like the triskele.

But when most people use this name, they are referring to the Holy Trinity from the Catholic religion. The Holy Trinity is made up of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That makes me wonder. Does the name Trinity "belong" to Christians?

Let's examine that. Trinity had a short boost of modest use for boys in the 1970s, it ranked at #935. It had a small boost in the girl's category as well, but it reached mega popularity after 1999. It shot up from #209 to #74 in the course of one year. It's peak was in 2004 at #48, and now rests comfortably at #73. What's to account for it's meteoric rise?

I think you already know the answer to that: The Matrix. Trinity is the kick-ass, science fiction heroine played by Carrie-Anne Moss. It was a boy's name for a similar reason. The 1970s marked the release of a spaghetti western movie titled They Call Me Trinity, with a cowboy bearing the title role.

However, one of the largest groups in the United States that uses this name is Hispanics, an overwhelmingly Catholic group. Whenever I research this name on other baby name websites, they claim that this name is in reference to the Christian religion. And that seems to be the reason why most people pick it. Variations include Trinidad, Trinidade, Trini, Triniti, and Trinitee.

If I met a little Trinity, would my first thought be that the parents were Catholic? Probably. Would it be offensive to people if they found that that wasn't the case? I don't think so. But it's mega popularity, at least for girls, would make it hard to overcome the assumption. And I know that's not fair, since our Trinities were here first. But that's reality.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011


Well, it took me a few months, but I finally found a rabbit name for the Year of the Rabbit, even though technically it's for a different animal. See? I always keep my promises.

Leverett (pronounced "LEH-vehr-eht") is French surname meaning "young hare." And just to make it clear, newborn rabbits are called "kittens" whil newborn hares are called "leverets." Hares have long been associated with fertility, rebirth, innocence, spring, and sexuality. They are often prized for their ability to think and act quickly in moments of danger. They have also been connected to Witches, as the hare is an old symbol of the Goddess. Eostre is said to take the shape of a hare at each full moon and her counterpart, Ostara, is often shown with her white hare familiar. This is where the Easter Bunny comes from.

White hares are said to be transformed Witches in English folklore. In Irish mythology, they are connected to faeries, and grave consequences will come to those who harm them. In many African cultures, the hare is a trickster figure. When slaves came to the United States, this became the basis for Brer Rabbit. Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican culture believes that the dark patches on the moon are hares.

I found this name in Nook of Names post about names from the Stonewylde books by Kit Berry. Leveret is the younger sister of the hero of the stories, who's name is Yul. Stonewylde is about a Pagan community that shuns the 21st century lifestyle and it's citizens.

Leverett is the most accepted spelling. I'm not a huge fan of the extra "t" at the end, it seems a bit superfluous. Luckily, there are a number of different spellings. Leveret, Leverit, Leveritt, Lever, and Leverette.

I have a personal connection to this animal because I was born on Easter, so I've been looking for a good rabbit/hare name. Leveritt seems to fit the bill quite nicely. It's usually listed for boys but with the current surname trend it should fit either gender. This not often used option is a great animal name.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This mysterious and mythical figure in Neo-Paganism might be a new one for some people.

Aradia (pronounced "ah-RAH-dee-ah," I think, from what I know of Italian pronunciations that seems right) was introduced to the worldwide Neo-Pagan community due to the Charles Leland book Aradia: Gospel of the Witches, published in 1899. This book is responsible for starting Stregheria, or Italian-based Neo-Paganism. According to Leland, this gospel was the religious text of a group of Witches living in Tuscany, Italy. Aradia is portrayed as being the daughter of the Roman goddess Diana, their Queen of Witches, and Lucifer, described as a god of light driven out of Paradise for his vanity. She is a Messiah brought down to earth to teach the Italian peasants Witchcraft, so that they may rise up against the upper classes and the Catholic Church. She becomes the very first Witch, and tells her students that "ye shall all be freed from slavery, And so ye shall be free in everything."

This book is a source of a lot of controversy, not least of which is who Aradia really is. Folklorist Sabina Magliocco hypothesized that Aradia is a variant of Erodiade, which is the Medieval Italian pronunciation of Herodias. Herodias is a Greek name meaning, "to watch over." In the New Testament, Herodias is the mother of Salome, the woman who brings about the death of John the Baptist. So generally, she was not a well liked character to Christians. However, there was a Cult of Herodias during this time that practiced Witchcraft and viewed Herodias and Diana as the same person. Herodias was venerated in much of Europe but was especially beloved in Italy, she and Diana are the most frequently mentioned deities in witch-trial transcripts. It is possible that this cult is the basis for the type of Witchcraft described in the Gospel of Witches.

Another theory was presented by Raven Grimassi, who believes that Aradia is based on a real person. Grimassi further stated that the version presented in the Gospel of Witches was a "distorted Christian version." Aradia de Toscano was born in Tuscany in the year 1313. She was taught Witchcraft by her aunt, and she used this knowledge to "challenge the existing order." She recruited followers and started the Old Religion. This scenario is not completely out of the question, but other scholars have had a hard time verifying this claim.

But wait, there's more! According to Romanian historian Mircea Eliade, Arada, also known as Irodiada, is the name of the Romanian Queen of the Fairies in folklore. Some people believe that Arada is an interpretation of Diana. But then how did the name get to Italy?

I highly doubt that we would ever untangle the truth of Aradia's origin, but that doesn't stop her from being one of the most important figures in the contemporary Neo-Pagan scene. Some Wiccans use the name Aradia as the name of the Great Goddess, or the Lady, She is mentioned in other sacred texts written by heavyweights like Gerald Gardner, Z. Budapest, Aiden Kelly, Myth Woodling, and Janet and Stewart Farrar.

This is a blog about names from a Wiccan perspective, but about 95% of the names profiled here could easily be used on a non-Pagan. Aradia isn't one of them. If I met someone with a daughter named Aradia, I would be surprised if they weren't Pagan. Maybe slightly insulted, even. Maybe I'm being overprotective of it and it should be shared with the world, I don't know. But there are very few names that are truly ours anymore, and there might be value in protecting the ones that are left.

In any case, Aradia is one of my favorite girls names, and I hope to give it to a daughter someday.


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Monday, November 7, 2011


I went to a fundraising Neo-Pagan party a few days ago, which was kind of lame. If they're going to do it again they need to pony up on better food. But they did have vendors, and I bought a Bastet plushie and a new, pretty, hand carved wand. It was a beautiful bright reddish wood that reminded me of a cello. I looked to see what type of wood it was made from, and it said "Redheart."

Redheart. Huh. I had never heard of that tree before. But it called to me and I bought it. As the sales woman wrapped it up I though, "I hope that it's not from the rain forest, because then I'll have to offset that somehow."

A few days later, I received the certificate of authenticity. It says, "Redheart wood originates in the southern part of Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula, Belize and Guatemala. Variations of the species can also be found in Central & South America as well as Australia." And that pretty much means the rain forest. Well, I guess I'll be clicking here for a few days.

It's not one of the more popular Witchy woods, so there's not a lot of information out there about it, but here's what I know. Redheart was a popular tree for the Ancient Mayans because of it's durability. In some parts of the world, this was and is a wood used for jewelry. It has many names but Redheart is the most used because of, well, it's color.

This wood makes a good wand for someone who wants to overcome their fears and focus at the task at hand. Redheart brings confidence and self-esteem. It helps the owner find personal truth and inner judgement, aiding in completing goals.

Redheart sounds like a hippyish sort of name, but doesn't fall within the realm of cliche. Heart has been used as a name before, so why not Redheart? So if you're looking for a daring botanical name, Redheart has strength and beauty.


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Bad Names

There's no such thing.

I'm dead serious. There's no such thing as a bad name, at least not in the way that most people judge what names is good and bad. There might be certain names that are just not my taste, but that doesn't make them bad.

While I do believe that there's value in discussing what makes certain names problematic, they too often dissolve into the naming police saying, "Meredith? His name is Meredith?! WHY DO YOU HATE YOUR SON?!"

Meredith is not a bad name. I'll tell you what makes a bad name. A bad name is Amy picked out by the father when the mother finds out later that it's the name of his mistress. A bad name is Adolf Hitler when the parents continually run to the newspapers every time the same bakery refuses to put his full name on the birthday cake. It's using a name that is also the exact same name of a sibling's adopted daughter and not caring because the other girl's not blood related. It's 285 girls named Unwanted.

I've been inspired to post this because of the reactions that Zeffy got when she posted a youtube video, a website that has always been the bastion of thoughtful discourse. Hon, there's nothing wrong with your names, and there's nothing wrong with the naming enthusiasm community. Some people just don't have their priorities straightened out.

What's being played out is the "it's the parent's job to make sure that their children aren't bullied" fallacy. And that's not true. It's the parent's job to make sure that your child doesn't bully other people. If more parents got that right, the world would be a much better place.

I have yet to get those type of comments here. But when I do I'm going to gong those comments so quickly that they'll have no idea what hit them. Because there's no such thing as a bad name.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Oberon is one of my all time favorite boys names. Let's take a look at it, shall we?

Oberon (pronounced "OH-bear-ohn") has slightly questionable etymology. One source list's it as an Old German name meaning "royal bear." Another one claims that it's derived from Alberich, an Old High German name meaning "king of the elves," which seems the most likely. This mythical figure first appeared in Merovingian legend, as the sorcerer king of the elves. He is the otherworldly brother of Merovech, the founder of the Merovingian dynasty of the Salian Franks.

Oberon's first literary turn came in a series of epic poems called Chansons de Geste ("Songs of Heroic Deeds") published in the 1200s. In the story, Huon wins the friendship of Oberon because he returned his greeting even though he was told not to associate with him. Huon had killed the Emperor's son and was traveling to Babylon in order to complete a series of tasks so that he could win a pardon. Only with Oberon's aid does he succeed. Oberon is described as being very short, yet handsome. During his naming ceremony as a baby, he was cursed to have short stature by an faery. But this faery soon felt bad about it and gave him great beauty as a way to compensate. Alberich in the earlier legends was a dwarf, so the connection makes sense. Oberon is said to be the child of Morgan le Faye and Julius Ceasar.

But Oberon's most famous literary turn was in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Oberon is the King of the Faeries, and his Queen is Titania. They are feuding because Titania refuses to give him an Indian boy that he wants to raise as a henchman. Titania wants to raise the child because he is the son of a follower of hers who had died. Furious that she will not let him have his way, Oberon places juice from a magic flower that will make her fall in love with the first person she sees. Unfortunately, the first person she sees is Bottom in donkey form, and hilarity ensues. Eventually, Oberon regrets his trick, and reverses the spell. Unlike earlier depictions, Oberon's height is never mentioned. In all the versions I've seen, Oberon is portrayed as being normal sized, handsome, and strong.

You can see Oberon's influence elsewhere. In European folklore, Oberon was a popular name given to familiar spirits, which were supernatural beings called to assist Witches and Cunning Folk. The are several operas inspired by his myth. There is a classic movie actress named Merle Oberon, who was quite a beauty. A moon of Uranus bares this name.

Oberon is a name loved by many Neo-Pagans as well as name enthusiasts and it's even been adopted by a well known figure in our community. Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (born Timothy Zell, also formerly known as Otter G'Zell) is a co-founder of the Church of all Worlds. He likes to call himself a Wizard (one of the first I've seen to use that term seriously), and was the first one to add the "k" at the end of "magick" in order to distinguish our spell casting from fantasy magic. He is the current Headmaster of the online Grey School of Wizardry, which was partially inspired by Hogwarts. He is married to Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, and together they are influential figures in the polyamory movement.

Oberon has never been a popular name in the United States. The sad truth is that most non-Pagan American men would be uncomfortable with the idea of naming their son after a faery. They've been over saturated with pink, girly, Tinkerbell-like images of what most people think are faeries. That, and "fairy" is slang for "homosexual." One variant is Auberon, which might lessen the impact. But why should we lessen the impact? Because someone else is stupid? I'm sorry, I don't believe in that. It's other worldliness is what makes it great. I hope that at least our community would find the courage to use this wonderful name.

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