Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Some people say that Ancient Roman and Greek names are the "new thing," but Diana has been going strong for years and shows no signs of stopping.

Often Diana (pronounced "dee-AH-nah" or "diy-AH-nah") is generally accepted as the Roman form of Artemis, but it's a little more complicated than that. There was a goddess that was already worshipped in Italy that Artemis probably merged with. Her name is also more complicated than it first appears. Most sources give the meaning as "divine," but it's ultimate Indo-European root word dyeu means "the sky" or "to shine."

Diana's persona is a bit complex. Like her Greek counterpart, Diana is the twin sister of Apollo and the daughter of Jupiter and Latona. In artwork, she is often depicted as a young woman with a practical short tunic, always holding her bow and quiver of arrows. She is associated with light, virginity, childbirth, hunting, wild animals, and royal succession. Later, she took over the role of moon goddess, which originally belonged to Luna. She prefers roaming the high mountains and the deep woods. The oak tree is particularly sacred to her. Diana was worshipped annually on August 13th. She was very popular with lower class citizens and slaves because slaves were granted asylum in her temples. The "royal succession" tag is an interesting one, apparently the only way you could become a Priest of the Cult of Diana is by finding a Priest and challenging him to a fight to the death. And win, of course. Worship of Diana is even mentioned in the Bible, although I suspect that it's not shown in a good light.

Diana remains very popular. She has a whole branch of Wicca named after her called Dianic Wicca. This particular type of Wicca focuses exclusively on the feminine divine. Dianic Wicca was popularized by Z. Budapest and remains somewhat controversial because the covens are not often accepting of men. Diana is also an important figure in Stregheria, in which she is the Queen of Witches and Aradia's mother. And there is another mythical figure with this name, Diana Prince. Also known as Wonder Woman. The whole point of Wonder Woman is that she's an Amazon princess who leaves her home in order to save the world from oppression.

Diana has been used as a given name since the 1500s, and is now well assimilated into the mainstream name pool. She has always been in the top 1,000, but it's peak was during the 1950s at #55. Now it rests at #191. Diana has many variant forms including Deana, Diahna, Diandra, Dian, Didi, Diannah, Dyana, and Dyanne.

This name has been popping up on baby name blogs recently. People wonder if royals William and Kate would name their hypothetical baby Diana. Some figure that this name has to be in the running because of William's late mother Princess Diana of Wales. Years after her death, she is still arguably the most famous bearer of her name as she was well loved by the public. But there are others that say that there's no way that there will be another Princess Diana, the Queen would never allow it (referring to the bad blood after the divorce). Well, here's my two cents: of course Diana is a possibility. Not allowing William to use the name of his own mother would look very, very bad. The Queen had terrible PR after Diana died, I don't think she'll want to go through it again. Don't royals have at least five middle names anyway? I think she'll live.

Us commoners can use Diana without any problems. It will look regal no matter who decides to use it. It will fit in with the crowd and yet it has lots of Witchy cred.


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Finally we're at the month of Alder, which is coincidentally the one I was born in.

The Celtic Tree Month of Alder (pronounced "AHL-der") takes place between March 18th and April 14th. The word is ultimately derived from el, the Proto-Indo-European name for that tree that means "red" or "brown." This is the same etymology as the distantly related elm tree. The tree's Celtic name is fearn (pronounced "FAIR-un"). This tree is often called "the wood of the witches."

The sound of this name would be perfect for a boy. But I'm placing it in the unisex category because the month of Alder is all about the ties between women, particularly the mother-daughter bond. Because the bark of the tree was used to make dye (red dye from the bark, green dye from the flowers, and brown dye from the twigs), the tree became associated with the traditionally feminine art of spinning. Magickal flutes, pipes, and whistles can be made from this tree. These instruments can be used to summon and control the air spirits. The alder is also used for magick relating to construction or building. The tree is good for fairy magick as they enjoy dancing under this tree when it is in flower. The Fey of alder trees are often believed to be water sprites or "dark fairies," and when they leave the trees they take the form of ravens. You can also use this tree for prophecy, duty, intellect, oracular strength, resurrection, teaching, and weather magick.

Alders are spread throughout northern temperate regions as well as the Americas. This tree was used by the Native Americans for many purposes. Some catkins from alder have a degree of edibility, but they don't taste very good so they were only eaten as a last resort. Alder bark contains the chemical salicin, which is an anti-inflammatory. Tea made from the bark can be used to treat diarrhea, toothaches, coughs, and pains during childbirth. You can also use the bark to make a potion that can be used to wash the eyes, treat poison ivy, and help heal swellings and sprains. Much of the pilings that form the foundation of Venice is alder wood.

Alder has some history as a surname, and as a surname it could come from a number of sources. One is that it has to do with the alder tree. Another is that it's a form of the Old English name Ealdhere, meaning "ancient army." It could also be a variant of the German name Alter.

Alder has never been a popular name in the United States. But as I said before, this name seems perfect for boys. It fits in with names like Elder, Sawyer, Archer, and Jasper. So I can see this name being used.


Image Credit:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Blessed Ostara, everybody! And to everyone in the southern hemisphere, Blessed Mabon! I was hoping for a Spring Equinox that was not freezing and wet, but that's too much to ask in the Pacific Northwest. In any case, it is the perfect time to profile the name of a flower associated with this holiday.

Jonquil (pronounced "JAHN-kwil" with a soft "j" almost pronounced like a "z") is a French word derived from the Latin iuncus, meaning "rush" which might be in reference to it's leaves. There seems to be some confusion as to what a jonquil exactly is. Basically they are a type of daffodil and narcissus called Narcissus jonquilla. This variety originated in southern Europe and northern Africa. The word jonquil is most often used in the American south, where it is used to describe all daffodils and narcissus'. They look exactly like daffodils to my untrained eye.

Jonquils have appeared frequently in mythology and culture. Unfortunately, I can't talk too much about it because most of the time the stories reference the more famous narcissus or daffodil. So you'll just have to wait for those posts for a lot of details. The daffodil is the national flower of Wales. It is the birth flower for the month of March. In Victorian flower language, jonquils mean "I hope for return of affection." There are not many medicinal uses as the bulbs of the plant are poisonous. Beware, for they are easily confused with onions. When people use the word jonquil to describe a color, they are referring to a pale yellow.

Jonquil pops up as a name a few times in history. Both Jonquil and Jonquille are French family name. Some sources list this as a boys name as well as a girls name, and it's history as a surname may be why. But it could also be due to a particular warship. The USS Jonquil was used by the U. S. Navy in 1863. It was used during the American Civil War by the Union soldiers. It wasn't used for anything particularly exciting, but the association with battle would have made it a unique choice for boys back then.

This name is not commonly used for boys today. In, fact the name is not commonly used at all. It is such an unfamiliar term for most people today. But it is a beautiful word to say. I profiled Quill a while back, Jonquil could be an interesting way to get to that nickname. You could also use it to get to Jon, although it would be pronounced more like Jean, as in Jean Valjean.

So for someone looking for a really fresh and unusual botanical name, Jonquil is right up your alley.


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Monday, March 19, 2012


I really do wish that this name would be usable in this culture, but I'm dubious.

First things first, the word beauty is ultimately derived from the Latin bellus, meaning "handsome," "charming," and "pretty." Using this word for a woman or child would have been a compliment in Ancient Rome, but was meant to be ironic or insulting when used to describe a man. Not much has changed, I see.

Beauty is one of the Eight Wiccan Virtues listed by Doreen Valiente. These also includes mirth, reverence, honor, humility, strength, power, and compassion. At first glance, beauty as a virtue seems really shallow. Most people will immediately assume that we are talking about physical attractiveness. But the word has a second definition: "goodness."

Neo-Pagans see beauty as loving things the way they are, not as trying to achieve an impossible standard set by others. It's about the appreciation of balance and harmony between the darkness of life and the light parts of life. It can also be about injecting beauty into every part of your day. It could be about what is beautiful on the inside. You know, the type that matters most.

We all know that the heroine in the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast is actually named Belle. The story was originally a French fable, and the earliest known written variant was conceived by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbo de Villeneuve. It seems like some English translators took Belle's name rather literally, and write her name as Beauty. I seem to remember reading versions of Beauty and the Beast in which the heroine's name is Beauty. It seems like we've since stopped that, though.

Unfortunately, I think that most parents would think that this name is too much to live up to. They think about the number of girls who starve themselves or have themselves cut open in order to look like a model that is most likely photo-shoped. Until mainstream culture's narrow conceptions of beauty changes drastically, I don't think this name will be used anytime soon.


Image Credit:
I don't remember.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Cleaning Part 3!

This will be the last of the cleaned up posts for the year I think. Added some more names on the Real Witchlets round up. I can't believe I profiled Julian before without mentioning Emperor Julian. I'm slightly afraid to bring this name up again, but when I heard of a real life "Saint" Lucifer, I had to add it. There are also tiny updates on Wren, Beryl, Orange, and Hathor. That's all for now, hope you enjoyed it!

Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Saturday, March 17, 2012


If you are not overly found of names like Murphy or Saoirse, Clover could be a great Saint Patrick's Day name as well.

Clover (pronounced "KLOH-ver") derives from the Old English clafre, which in turn was derived from the Proto-Germanic klaibron, but the meaning has been lost. It's suggested that it could mean "sticky pap" because the sticky juice of the plant was often used to make honey. To "be in clover" means that a person lives luxuriously, because cattle find clovers extremely delicious and also fattening.

Clovers, also known as trefoils, are most often found in temperate habitats in the northern hemisphere, but some species can be found in Africa and South America. They have small red, white, purple, or yellow flowers. Their leaves have three leaflets, hence the name trefoil. Clovers are a popular staple for farmers because they're impervious to mowing, grow on their own, and are nutritious for grazing animals. However, for everyone else it's considered a weed. I know that because I can't recall ever seeing a full grown clover, my father always plucks them out when they're young.

Clovers have long been a symbol of wealth, comfort, and luck. In some Scandinavian countries, it was believed that clovers repelled evil spirits or negative energy. Planting clover around the house or hanging a bundle of it at the front door can help drive these entities away. It can also help a seer develop physic abilities. Clover can be used for smudging the same way that sage is. Shamrocks, the traditional Irish symbol associated with the Holy Trinity and Saint Patrick, are sometimes considered to be young clovers. Clovers occasionally have four leaflets instead of the unusual three, and these varieties are considered to be especially lucky.

In folk medicine, clovers are used as diuretics. Neo-Pagans can brew clover tea in order to help with digestive issues. In some countries, the flowers can be ground up to make a syrupy paste, which is then applied to open sores and athlete's foot. Clovers are edible, and some enjoy adding them into salads. Some varieties taste a bit like lemon. Red clover is particularly healthy, as it is full of potassium and calcium.

Clover entered "naminess" during the Victorian flower craze of the 1800s. Like Lilac and Betony, it didn't really catch on. Clova could be a variant, but it could also be the feminine form of Clovis. This name is often listed as a feminine name. However, perhaps due to other boy's names like Prosper, Archer, or Asher, I think it could work well on a boy as well. Clove could be a charming nickname.

Clover is a charming name. It's rare, but since it sounds like other names that are popular it's not so jarring. I would love to hear a few more Clovers on the playground.


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com


There was a time when parents were unafraid of the name Merlin. Could we start to see the most famous namesake as a positive again?

The wizard that we all know as Merlin (pronounced "MUR-lin") was originally Myrddin, a Welsh name meaning "sea fortress." It is derived from the Celtic elements mori, "sea," and dunom, "hill" or "fortress." Geoffrey of Monmouth, who translated this name into Latin, might have changed it to Merdinus if it weren't for one small problem: the French word merde. Since he did not want this character to be associated with feces, he decided to call him Merlinus instead.

The origins of Merlin are a little bit murky. Reading about it I got a little confused. This legendary figure may be partially based on Myrddin Wyllt, a bard, prophet, or madman depending on who you ask. Wyllt, in turn, might be based on the historical war leader Ambrosius Aurelianus, recorded in the Historia Brittonum. But Aurelianus lived long before King Arthur was supposedly alive. The story is that Myrddin Wyllt was a bard driven mad after witnessing the horrors of war, and then decides to live in the woods. When Geoffrey of Monmouth got his hands on these legends, he combined them and embellished them.

There are many different variations of Merlin's story, but here's the general idea. Merlin is the son of a Princess. The princess wasn't married and was living as a nun at the time, which lead to the belief that he was sired by an incubus, a type of sexual demon that takes advantage of women while they sleep. The rumor was that when Merlin was baptized, it erased the evil influence but left his supernatural powers intact. This was most likely a story meant to cover up the more obvious truth: Merlin's an illegitimate child. Despite what newer reinventions of Arthurian legends hint, the stories never specifically state that he's a Druid. But since he performs magick, it's implied.

Years later, the land was in turmoil due to Roman withdrawal and royal takeovers. King Vortigern fled his home and went to a fortress in Dinas Emrys. Unfortunately, the fortress was structurally unsound. The King's wizards told him that they had to sacrifice a fatherless child in order to solve this problem. Children like that are hard to find, but Merlin fit the bill quite nicely. But before the sacrifice could take place, Merlin found out through his visionary powers that the fortress kept collapsing because it was over a subterranean pool were two dragons were fighting. He also prophesied that Vortigern would be slain and Ambrosius Aurelianus would take the throne, followed by his brother Uther, followed by the greatest monarch of all, Arthur. This prophecy came true.

More years passed. After 460 nobles were murdered in a peace conference, King Ambrosius consulted Merlin about setting up a suitable memorial. With help from Uther, Merlin gathered large stones from the Chorea Gigantum, or Giant's Ring. He transported these heavy stones with his magickal powers, and re-erected them around the mass graves. This is the legendary explanation for Stonehenge. Arthur is the son of Uther and Ygerna (also known as Eigr or Igraine), the wife of Gorlois. Merlin transformed Uther into the image of Gorlois, which fooled Ygerna. After Arthur's birth, Merlin became the boy's mentor. When he became old enough, Merlin arranged a sword-in-the-stone contest which made Arthur the next king. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Merlin has remained a popular cultural figure and has appeared in many works of literature, film, and television. For example, he is in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and T. H. White's The Once and Future King. The later was turned into the Disney film The Sword in the Stone. He is referenced in Harry Potter, as wizards and witches often use the explicative "Merlin's beard!" Merlin is now a television show, which depicts the title character as a young man.

A well known Neo-Pagan namesake passed away quite recently. Merlin Stone was a sculptor and art historian whose work was groundbreaking. She is most well known for the book When God Was a Woman, which paved the way for goddess religions. As far as I know, Merlin was her real name, I've seen nothing that suggests otherwise except that it seems a bit too Witchy to be possible.

There was actually a time when this name was quite popular. It first appeared on the charts in the 1890s. In the 1920s it peaked at #310. It didn't leave the charts until the 1970s. So maybe it's not the wizard associations that are a turn off for some people. It might just feel old. Variations include Marlin, Marlon, Merle, Merlyn, Merlynn, Merlen, and Merlinn.

Neo-Pagans feel a connection to Merlin, so it makes sense for them to use the name. But they haven't done so very often. Perhaps we should be the ones that bring Merlin back.


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com


While Saint Patrick's Day holds no allure for me personally, it is a very important day for the Irish people. And what better day than this to profile this patriotic appellation. Thanks to Saoirse Rowe for requesting...well, Saoirse.

The pronunciation of Saoirse varies depending on the area, but none of them look anything like the way it's spelled. Many sources will list it as "SEER-sha," but others say it's "SAIR-sha," "SIR-sha," or "SHAHR-sha." Saoirse is an Irish Gaelic name that means "freedom" or "liberty." But just because it's Gaelic doesn't mean that it's based on something Celtic. This name doesn't have very much to do with Paganism at all. It's too new and too specific.

Saoirse first entered "naminess" in the 1920s, during the Irish War of Independence. Before that it was simply a vocabulary word, I think. If you met a child named Saoirse during that time you immediately knew which side of the war the parents were fighting on. Saoirse was exclusively the property of the Nationalists. Republic Sinn Fein is a radical political party that believes in a completely independent Ireland releases a publication called Saoirse. To this day, this name still has political overtones, although more so in Northern Ireland. But because Irish culture is more readily embraced by the government, children are less likely to be "marked" by this name.

A young well known namesake doesn't hurt either. Saoirse Ronan first acting gig was playing Briony in Atonement, which earned her an academy award nomination. She later starred in The Lovely Bones and Hanna, and is growing up to be quite a pretty young lady.

Use of this name is growing in the United States, but it has yet to reach the top 1,000. Technically, this name could be given to either a boy or a girl. However, the sheer number of girls given this name is a bit overwhelming, particularly in Ireland. I believe it currently ranks at #18 for girls in that country. There are no alternate spellings or variations.

Saoirse is lovely but very charged. I cannot picture a non-Irish person using this. It is, however, a very strong name, and a fitting name for children born on this day.


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Friday, March 16, 2012


Could we be seeing lovely Lark on more children soon?

Lark is ultimately derived from the Proto-Germanic laiwarikon, a word with no known meaning. Some Old Norse and Old English sources suggest that it means "treason-worker" but there is no evidence to support this. Today, the word means "songbird." It can also mean "spontaneous outing or adventure" depending on how it's used.

There are several types of larks, like the skylark and the horn lark, but they all share some qualities. They are all known for their melodious singing voice and, unlike other birds, sing while flying. They are also very good at mimicking the calls of other birds. Their plumage is not particularly exciting as they're usually brown to camouflage with the ground. They usually make their nests on the ground or in long grass. Their habitat varies, but many species enjoy living in dry places. Contrary to popular belief, the meadowlark is actually closer related to the starling, but that doesn't stop people from associating it with larks. In cuisine, lark meat is considered a delicacy but due to the bird's shrinking habitat it is harder to come by.

Larks appear in mythology as a symbol of cheerfulness. The appearance of a lark also represents daybreak in many stories. For example, there is a passage in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in which Juliet tries to convince Romeo that the lark singing outside is a nightingale because she doesn't want him to leave. Larks are also often shown as messengers. In Dakota mythology, larks are the messengers of Itokaga, god of the south wind. The meadowlark is a symbol of beauty, fertility, marriage, and fidelity. Some artists used the lark to symbolize Jesus. These birds also have a crescent moon shape on it's breast. Quite lucky for Neo-Pagans. It's lunar symbol makes the lark a symbol of inner discoveries and the concept of self.

Most sources will list Lark as a girls name. But my immediate instinct is to say that it's a boy's name. It was first introduced to me via a male character in a novel/epic poem by Toby Barlow called Sharp Teeth. Although I personally suspect that the character is gay, Lark is a smart leader and successful lawyer who builds himself up again and again after his partners either turn against him or die. Okay, he's a werewolf, like most of the characters in this book. Please don't hold that against it, Sharp Teeth is a fantastic book. It was the first time I heard the name. After that, I started to see it everywhere. But on the other sex.

Lark has never been a popular name in the United States. The only real-life namesake is actress Lark Voorhies, who is most well known for her work in the television show Saved by the Bell. However, I've seen it used as a middle name. Middle names are not recorded in social security baby name lists, so I have no way of knowing how often it's used. But I can see it appealing to the many people who like Rose as a middle name. Since it has yet to really be claimed by either gender, I still think you could get away with using it on a boy.

So if you want a beautiful, natural, no nickname moniker, this one could work for anybody.


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Here is a great name from the art world that you don't really see in the baby name world.

Figaro (pronounced "FIG-ah-roh") is the lead character in a trilogy of plays by Beaumarchais: The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, and The Guilty Mother. This is an invented name. No one is really sure where the inspiration came from, but the theory is that it's a phonetic transcription of fils Caron. I assume that's pronounced "fee-caro." The playwright's given surname was Caron. Figaro has come to mean "barber" in France because that was the occupation of the character.

Figaro's character is inspired by Commedia dell-arte. He's a comic character, but a bit of a cynical one as well. He's a low class servant who takes a number of jobs working for nobility. Beaumarchais' plays, in particular The Marriage of Figaro, was banned in Vienna. The Aristocracy believed that it incited common people against them, and there were tensions bubbling up the decade before the French Revolution so this was a real fear. But the first two plays were adapted into operas anyway. The Barber of Seville was composed by Rossetti, and The Marriage of Figaro was composed by Mozart.

The name lived on after the plays. Spanish author Mariano Jose de Larra often went by Figaro. I keep thinking that Cleo has a cat association because of the Disney film Pinocchio, but Cleo was the fish. Figaro was the cat. Le Figaro is the oldest still-existing newspaper in France. And if you're a fan of the stage musical We Will Rock You, there's a character called Galileo Figaro.

But I've never heard Figaro used as a name for a child. Perhaps because some people might immediately start singing when they hear it? I seem to remember singing this name over and over in a fake opera voice when I was a child. I don't know if the tune was from any of the stage productions, but I have to have heard it from somewhere.

Some might not be comfortable with the idea of this name. But I don't think this name would be all that crazy. If someone can name their son Mowgli, Figaro is up for grabs too.


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


You will remember that on my Names of Real Witchlets round up, there is a girl called Nefertiti Rene. That was one of the bolder choices there. This is also in response to Emily, who requested that I post more Egyptian names. I'll try to, but for now let's just say that you requested Nefertiti.

Nefertiti (pronounced "nef-er-TEE-tee") was the Great Royal Wife (aka Queen) of Ancient Egyptian Pharoah Akhenaten. Her name would originally have been pronounced Nafteta, and it means "the beautiful one has come." Surely you've seen the famous bust? She has an impressive headdress, lovely long neck, and high cheek bones. Some historians call her the most beautiful woman in the world.

I've heard rumors that there is a Cleopatra movie in the works staring Angelina Jolie in the lead role. We don't need another Cleopatra movie. We need a Nefertiti movie. No one knows much about her life before she became queen, we don't know who her parents are or anything about her childhood. But Nefertiti proved very quickly that she was more than just a pretty face.

The reign of Nefertiti and Pharoah Akhenaten is remarkable because they introduced a radical new concept: Monotheism. The two introduced the cult of the sun god, Aten. They simply decided that the whole country was going to follow this new religion. They shut down all the old temples, told the priests to change their ways, and moved the nation's capital to another city. Many historians believe that this sudden switch was not popular. This couple is also interesting because Pharaoh Akhenaten gave a lot of his responsibilities to his favorite wife (he had other wives, but it's clear that Nefertiti was the favorite). It is possible that the Pharaoh was suffering from deformities and was not physically capable of performing his royal duties by himself. So she did a lot of things that women before her were not allowed to do like ride chariots and execute people. She helped promote her husband's religious agenda. Akhenaten made it very clear to his nation that he and Nefertiti were equal partners. There is another famous depiction of her that shows her being very devoted to her children alongside her husband. Pictures of royalty in a family setting were never done before this. Her husband's reign only lasted twelve years, but she was one of the most powerful queens to ever rule.

And then suddenly, Nefertiti completely vanishes. There is no mention of her in historical records at all after that point. A lot of artifacts were destroyed by successors, and the nation reverted back into it's Polytheistic religion. There was a sudden plague at that time, so it is possible that she died. But a lot of people don't want to accept that. There are many other theories. Some believe that she was cast aside because she only had daughters (an heir could only be a male child). Others suspect that she's still in records, she's just dressed as a man and has a new name. There is evidence that she might be Pharaoh Neferneferuaten who ruled for a brief time before the famous King Tut. Her mummy has not been found or identified, so we may never know.

Nefertiti is a lot of name. Not just because it's a little long, but because the queen left such an indelible mark on it. It's an overall positive mark, but it's one that's a lot to live up to. That's probably why it isn't used often. The Egyptian queen is the only real namesake. It's...imposing. Which, depending on the namer, is the intended effect.


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Cleaning Part 2!

More cleaned up old entries. I added the name of Elphaba's granddaughter, Oziandra Rain, to the Wicked round up. Zsuzsana and Orpheus are both altered because I misspelled the names of prominent Pagans. How embarrassing. I had a change of opinion over Tempest. I also have new information on Rowan, Elphaba, Liir, Medea, Bird, and Gainnon.

Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Cassandra is a name with an sophisticated and sensuous reputation, but it's history is quite dark.

Cassandra (pronounced "kah-SAHN-drah" or "kah-SAN-drah"), and it's original spelling Kassandra, are Greek names and possibly means "shining upon man." It's derived from the elements kekasmai, "to shine," and aner, "man." Other sources sometimes list it as "she who entangles men," but I kind of doubt that. If you look at the mythology surrounding Cassandra, it's kind of a wonder that her name has remained so popular.

Cassandra was a Trojan princess, the daughter of Hecuba and Priam and the twin sister of Helenus. She was described as "the second most beautiful woman in the world" and was well known for being intelligent, gentle, and elegant. The god Apollo granted her the gift of prophecy because he was attracted to her. In some versions of the story, Cassandra stays the night at Apollo's temple, and a snake licks her ears while she sleeps which gives her the ability to hear the future. But Cassandra rejected Apollo's advances. Apollo could not take back his gift, so he cursed her so that no one would believe her prophecies. And from that day on everyone thinks she's insane.

This all came to play during the Iliad. Cassandra predicted Troy's fall and nobody believed her. She warned everybody about the Trojan Horse and nobody believed her. After the fall of Troy, she took shelter in Athena's temple, but was violently raped by Ajax the Lesser and taken as a concubine by King Agamemnon of Mycenae. All the way back to the King's home, Cassandra warned him that they would both be murdered and he didn't believe her. Unbenownst to Agamemnon, his wife Clytemnestra had taken a lover while he was away at war. When they arrived home, both the Queen and her lover murdered Agamemnon and Cassandra. To this day, someone who has gloomy, defeatist predictions about the future is often called a Cassandra. Cassandra Syndrome is a coined term to describe people who deliberately ignore apocalyptic warnings due to skepticism.

But there have been other namesakes since then. Cassandra Peterson is better known under her stage name: Elvira "Mistress of the Dark." Cassandra Austen was an English watercolor artist and elder sister to the much more famous Jane. At one time, Cassandra Cain was Batgirl in the comics world. In the classic novel I Capture the Castle, Cassandra Mortmain is the teenage heroine. Cassandra was a character in the film The Scorpion King and she is, surprise surprise, a sorceress who can see the future. This name was also given to the sexy girlfriend of Wayne in Wayne's World. There are many retellings of Cassandra's story. For example, the character of River in the television show Firefly is based on the mythical Cassandra. She is a genius who was driven insane and speaks her prophesies in a jumble of riddles that no one understands until it is too late.

In England during the Middle Ages this name was very common due to the popularity of stories revolving around the Trojan War. It faded into obscurity after that, but it was revived in the 1900s. In America, it first entered the top 1,000 during the 1940s. It reached it's peak during the 1990s all the way up at #67, but it has been falling since then and is now at #328. In 2008 it ranked #131 in Canada and #234 in Norway. There are many variants including Cassandre, Casoundra, Casandera, Casaundr, Cassandrea, Krisandra, and Cassandry. There are also many nickname options, the most obvious are Casey and Sandra.

Cassandra has a timeless quality that many people are looking for. And it would certainly appeal to the Neo-Pagan crowd as well.


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Friday, March 9, 2012


My new favorite webcomic is Gunnerkrigg Court, and I think all fellow Neo-Pagans should start reading it immediately. It takes place in a fantasy version of our world in which the sterile, futuristic city is in conflict with the magical forest filled with fairies and gods. The heroine of this story is a girl named Antimony Carver, who lives in a boarding school called Gunnerkrigg Court where she learns how to be a medium between the two worlds. I was immediately curious about the name Antimony because I've never heard of it before and yet it fits in with the style for girls' names today.

So I looked up the definition of Antimony, because I got the sense that it was some sort of science thing from reading the comic. Antimony (pronounced "an-TIH-moh-nee," I think) is derived from the Middle Latin antimonium. No one is quite sure what that word means or where it originally come from, but most believe it's oldest source is from the Ancient Egyptian stm, meaning "powdered antimony" because it was used to make eyeshadow. Some sources might list the meaning as French for "monk's bane" but this is folk etymology. So it's a brittle, crystalline, metallic element that is now used in alloys. Well, that's not much to go on in the naming world, even if it has a trendy sound.

But the comic also mentioned that antimony, and it's symbol, was important for alchemy. To Alchemists, the elements didn't just have physical properties that you could see, smell, and touch. They also had philosophical properties. Alchemy is pretty difficult to understand because a lot of surviving reference material is incredibly complex. Alchemists wanted to make sure that anyone wanting to learn their craft would stick with it, so the obscure language was a way of discouraging flaky people. But we do know the gist of what antimony meant to them.

Antimony represents the call of the wild, and the symbol is worn when someone wants to embrace their animal power. So Antimony Carver, who was born in a scientific community but has a natural affinity for conversing with the spirit world is named after a metal used to amplify the wild spirit. Simply brilliant. The Russian word for antimony is sur'ma. In Gunnerkrigg Court, Surma is the name of Antimony's deceased mother. The element was also often associated with wolves, which is significant because the forest spirit that is under Antimony's will takes the form of a wolf.

In a world full of little Averys, Kennedys, and Haileys, Antimony just seems logical. It's so logical that when I was first reading the comic it took me a while to realize that I had never heard it before. The only possible downside I can think of is that it could be confused with Timothy. On the other hand, it's a really creative way to get to the nickname Annie.

As far as I know, Antimony has yet to be added to the real-life naming world. Could Neo-Pagans be the ones to add it?


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Thursday, March 8, 2012


The mega-popularity of Sebastian proves that many parents are looking for elegant names for their sons.

This name evolved from the Ancient Romans and Greeks borrowing from each other. Sebastian (pronounced "seh-BAS-tian" or "seh-BES-tian") is derived from the Latin name Sebastianus, meaning "from Sebaste." Sebaste was a Greek town located in what is now Turkey. It's name means "venerable," and it's a translation of the Latin Augustus.

Historically, this name has always been popular because it's the name of a popular saint. Saint Sebastian lived during ancient times, and he was a high ranking soldier in the Roman army. He was very good at his job and was a favorite of Emperor Diocletian. But while he was in the army, Sebastian comforted the imprisoned. He performed many miracles, including restoring a blind girl's sight. Unfortunately for him, he was also a Christian during a time when that was not tolerated. When Diocletian found out that he was converting the prisoners, he ordered Sebastian's execution.

Sebastian was shot full of arrows, but survived. The future Saint Irene rescued him. Once Sebastian recovered she begged him to leave Rome as the entire nation assumed he was dead. But you don't become a saint for running away, I suppose. Sebastian stayed and resumed preaching. He also sought Diocletian out and denounced him, which lead to another execution. This time he stayed dead. Saint Sebastian has always been a source of fascination for artists as he is the subject of paintings by many Renaissance masters, usually showing him with a belly pierced by arrows. He is there in spirit in Frida Kahlo's portrait "The Wounded Deer."

Because of this Sebastian has always been a popular name, particularly in Spain and France. Due to his reputation as a healer, he was very popular during the Black Death era. He is now invoked to help those who suffer from AIDS. He is also the unofficial patron saint of gays and lesbians. I'm not sure why this is, but I think it is most likely because depictions of him from Renaissance paintings show him as a handsome and sometimes androgynous naked youth. If you believe in Santeria or Voodoo, he is syncretized to the African god Ochossi.

This name is also worn by many important historical figures and fictional characters. King Sebastian of Portugal is well known for dying during a crusade against Morocco. Sebastian is the twin brother of Viola in the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night. Johann Sebastian Bach remains a very popular composer. A character named Sebastian Flyte features prominently in the Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited. Belle and Sebastian is an indie-rock band with a sizable following.

A while ago, before I actually looked at the top 1,000, I just assumed that it took a nosedive after The Little Mermaid because of the crab named Sebastian. Nothing could be further from the truth. Quite the opposite. In fact, it is more popular now than it ever was during our parents or grandparent's generation. Before the 1990s, the number of children with this name was very low. It was always at the bottom of the top 1,000 and there were two decades (the 1890s and the 1950s) where it didn't appear at all. But then The Little Mermaid came along in 1989 and it just started soaring up to where it now sits at #68. It's also popular worldwide: in 2008 it ranked #6 in Chile, #7 in Denmark, #9 in Austria, #12 in Norway, #42 in the Czech Republic, #44 in Sweden, #46 in Germany, #51 in Australia, #86 in England, #93 in Canada, and #178 in Scotland. So it's not true that people aren't going to want to use a name just because it's on a cartoon character. Variations include Sebastien, Sebastiano, Sevastian, Bastian, Bas, Seppo, and Sepi. For girls, there's Sebastiane, Sebastiana, and Sebastienne.

I have to admit I was upset when I learned that it was so popular. I thought I was ahead of the curve, but actually I'm just another product of my generation it seems. But in any case, Sebastian is a name that fits in with Julian and Octavian. They are strong and stylish classic names. So it's well used for a reason.

Encyclopedia of Mystics, Saints & Sages by Judika Illes

Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Sunday, March 4, 2012


In retrospect I cheated a little bit on the last Witchitizer, because both Tabitha and Tatiana are reasonably popular. But Tabitha does have a heavy Witch association. Thanks to Moi for requesting this name.

Tabitha (pronounced "TAB-ih-thah") is an Aramaic name meaning "gazelle." Aramaic is a very old Middle Eastern language, and in Ancient Egyptian mythology the gazelle is the property of the god Seth. The name appears in the Bible on a woman who was raised from the dead by Saint Peter (this woman is also called by the Greek form of this name, Dorcas).

This name is particularly Witchy because, like Samantha, it's profile was raised by the television show Bewitched. Tabitha Stephens is Samantha's daughter, whom she gives birth to in the second season. At first, her name was spelled Tabatha in the production credits, but then it was changed to Tabitha during the fifth season. Tabitha and her brother Adam both have magical powers.

But Bewitched isn't the only show in which Tabitha appears. I don't know how many people are familiar with the soap opera Passions, it's still on television apparently. My mother was into the show a few years ago and I just thought that the fact that there was a witch in it was the strangest thing. In the show, Tabitha Lenox was older and had a talking doll named Timmy (or at least she did, I think the actor who played the role died), and it was just bizarre. But Tabitha talked about the other characters in Bewitched as if they were real people, so it's clear that Passions takes place in the same fictional universe.

Tabitha was on the charts during the 1880s, but it then re-emerged in the American top 1,000 in the 1960s. It peaked in the 1980s at #151. It has been steadily declining since then and is now ranked #643. In 2008 it ranked #423 in Scotland. Other spellings include Tabeitha, Tabetha, Tabbitha, Tabita, and Tabytha. There is also the very obvious nickname Tabby. Speaking of tabbies, another namesake is Tabitha Twitchit, mother of Tom Kitten in the Beatrix Potter books.

I don't know if the name's Witchy association has faded over time amongst muggles the same way that Samantha's has. I imagine so. But Tabitha has the same amount of grace as Samantha. I can very easily see it as a sibset. It's a great name for any witchlet.


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Spring Cleaning Part 1!

Throughout this whole month I am going to be cleaning up and rewriting some posts. This week, I deleted some names and added a lot more onto My Style: Worldly Strega (I might update that one yearly). I made an itty bitty changes to this blog's first post Raven, and to Llewellyn. Also updated Holly and Ivy.

Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

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.


Image Credit:

Name Round Up: The Names We Give Ourselves

Some might think that trying to find a Pagan name for a child is silly, because what Pagan goes by her real name? I still want my children to have names that reflect my beliefs, but that is a good point. Many people in Neo-Pagan culture have two names, the one that they're born with and the one they earn as practitioners. It's interesting comparing this list with the names of Real Witchlets. Neo-Pagans are a lot braver when it comes to naming themselves. But not as brave as some people think.

I've seen a lot of opinion pieces about magickal names that profess the existence of people who choose Paganer-than-thou names. Ones that certainly would not fit on a name tag. Ones that include ancient unpronounceable names and invented nature smooshes and fancy titles. And all of them moan, "Why, why, why?"

I think the bigger question is, "Really, guys?" Have you really met someone who introduced himself as Grand High Priest Merlin Archemides Swanblood Hemlock of the Shadowed Plains? You didn't just hear about it from the cousin of a friend of your coven leader? Because I'm beginning to think that this is the Pagan version of the 'jello twins. It certainly doesn't happen with Witchlets, and I'm not even convinced that it happens with magickal names either. Most Neo-Pagan's I've met just say, "Hi, I'm Megan," or maybe, "Merry meet, I'm Elder Wolfheart!" or something. William Butler Yeats takes the cake for picking the most pretentious magickal name ever, but he's a rarity in my research. Most stick with two names, or a name and their title, or one name.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it a good sample of how Neo-Pagans want to be seen. First listed is the name that famous modern Pagans were born with, followed by the name they picked. Sometimes the magickal name is only intended for private circles, but others adopted it as their new identity.

Violet Mary Firth Evans -- Dion Fortune
Pamela Coleman South -- Pixie
Kerry Harvey -- Ciarriadhe
Barney C. Taylor -- Grandmaster Eli
Edmund "Eddie" Buczynski -- Lord Hermes
Gerald Brousseau Gardner -- Scire
Doreen Valiente -- Ameth
William Butler Yeats -- Demon Est Deus Inversus ("The Devil is the Inverse Side of God")
Gregory Hill -- Malaclypse the Younger
Judy Foster -- Calypso Iris
Eleanor Ray Bone -- Artemis
Jessie Wicker Bell -- Lady Sheba
Patalee Glass-Koetep -- Lady Phoenix
Joseph Wilson -- Bearwalker
Albert N. Webb -- Ur
Jodi Montague -- Lady Galadriel
Mimi Rohwer -- Lady Phoenix
Tom Kneital -- Phoenix
Thomas Eddie Hufford -- Balu
Roy Moorman -- Cuchulainn
Stephen Richard Edwards -- Robin Goodfellow
Candace Lehrman White -- Lady Sintana
Len Rosenburg -- Black Lotus
Trudy Herring -- Mama Dragon
Sharon Mitchell -- Lady Bastet
Steve Collins -- Lord Senthor
Bobbie Osley -- Lady Amethyst Avalon
Deborah Blake -- Onyx
Timothy Zell -- Otter Zell -- Oberon Zell-Ravenheart
Diana Moore -- Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart
Miriam Simos -- Starhawk
Zsuzsanna Emese Mokcsay -- Z. Budapest
John Timothy Rothwell -- Arthur Uther Pendragon
Mercedes Elizabeth Kearsey -- Laurie Cabot
Cheri Lesh -- Cerridwen Fallingstar
Jenine E. Trayer-- Silver Ravenwolf
Rogelio Alcides Straughn -- Ra Un Nefer Amen
Linda Rosemary Barrier -- Maerian Morris

Birth Name Unknown:

Lady Circe
Raven Grimmasi
Shekhinah Mountainwater
Seqouia Greenfield
Merlin Stone
DeJoy Peacemaker
LaSara FireFox


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com

Thursday, March 1, 2012


With it's connection to eternity and immortality, there's lots to love in Phoenix.

Phoenix (pronounced "FEE-niks") is a Greek name derived from phoinix, meaning "bright red" or "dark red" depending on who you ask. The name could also refer to the Phoenicians, who were well known for their dyes, among other things. Another source lists that it could mean "palm tree." The popular opinion on Phoenix as a name is that it's brand new and has no history. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are two warriors named Phoenix in The Iliad, for Gods' sakes. Not sure how popular it was, but this certainly suggests that Phoenix was a given name in Ancient Greece.

Of course, phoenix is also the name of a mythical bird. The phoenix is a fire spirit with a 1,000 year life span. At the end of it's life it bursts into flames and is reborn as a chick from the ashes of it's former body. In some variations of this myth, the new phoenix embalms the remaining ashes of the old phoenix in an egg made of myrrh and flies it to Heliopolis, an Egyptian city of the sun. Either way, the phoenix is a clear symbol of reincarnation. Within all of the various representations in different literature and cultures, this aspect remains the same.

Most people believe that this mythical creature originated from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, where a stork-like bird called a benu is mentioned as a sacred symbol of Heliopolis. Description of it appeared in the records of ancient Greek historian Herodotus. He wrote, "Now, I have not actually seen the phoenix, except in a painting, because they are quite infrequent visitors to this country; in fact, I was told in Heliopolis that they appear only at 500-year intervals." He also describes the phoenix's appearance, as a red and gold bird roughly the size of an eagle. It is typically described as a benevolent bird, but that doesn't mean that humans are always safe around it.

The myth of the phoenix spread throughout other countries. In Persian depictions, this creature has a very long tail like a peacock. In China it was considered the feminine counterpart of the dragon, and was the symbol of the Empress. Chinese legend says that if you see a phoenix a wonderful event is about to happen. In a very small number of stories, the phoenix can change into a human. The phoenix has remained a very popular figure. The Firebird is probably the most famous ballet after Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. A phoenix named Fawkes lives in the world of Harry Potter. Phoenix is the name of the capital city of Arizona, because it was build over a Native American settlement (how charming). Phoenix is also a constellation, although having only been introduced in the late 1600s it is relatively new.

Phoenix's appearance on the top 1,000 is attributed to the death of River Phoenix, he died in 1993 and the name entered the charts in 1995. It peaked in 2009 at #367. It's had a similar trajectory in Canada. It has also been steadily crawling up the charts as a girls name, it now ranks #668. It's way higher in Canada, in 2008 it ranked #199. Although Phoenix is traditionally a masculine name, I think it's awesome for a girl too. There are some practical considerations, such as the counter intuitive placements of the "o" and "e," and the name's similarity to Felix. But these are very minor challenges.

I have to admit that I am slightly heartbroken that Phoenix has become so popular. Not only is it popular over all, but it is also a very common magickal name within the Neo-Pagan community. But if you are looking for a Wicca-lite name that is still feels mythical, Phoenix is a very good pick.


Image Credit:
Found via http://pinterest.com